This well-worn storefront on Elvis Presley Boulevard serves fine pork shoulder sandwiches. When you order one, a sufficient amount of meat is heated then vigorously chopped on a wooden block and piled on a bun mixed with your choice of hot or mild sauce. Atop the pork goes a layer of pickly-sweet slaw. The sandwich, available in normal and jumbo sizes, is wrapped in wax paper and held together with toothpicks. It is a royal mess, well-nigh impossible to eat like a normal sandwich by picking it up in one or two hands and bringing the whole thing to your mouth. You can try that, but vast amounts of pork will fall out and sauce will spill and you will eventually be picking up pieces of meat, slaw and even sauce-sopped bun with two fingers as if they were dainty-sized, albeit outrageously messy, petits-fours.
Aside from the charm of the pitmaster, Payne’s is basic indeed: a few scattered tables to which you carry your own food, which is presented ready-wrapped. The menu is posted on a moveable-letter board above the order counter, where the short list includes beef barbecue, sausages, rib tips, and boloney, with sides of beans, slaw and French fries. In our experience none of these is stellar; but the pig sandwich is.
There is another highly recommended Payne’s at 1762 Lamar Ave. (901) 272-1523