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Interstate Bar-B-Q

2265 S. Third St., Memphis, TN - (901) 775-2304
Posted By Michael Stern on 11/1/2002 4:49:00 PM
Inside and out, Interstate is perfumed by smoke from slow-sizzling barbecue round the clock. That is because proprietor Jim Neely puts his pork shoulders in the pit at 5pm for the next day’s lunch and he starts the day’s ribs every morning. Mr. Neely is a master, and in the city of Memphis, to be a true pitmaster is to be a god.

His restaurant is a modest pork house serving four-star ribs, shoulder meat, sausages, and bologna with all the proper fixins, including addictive bar-b-q spaghetti (soft noodles in breathtaking sauce). You eat at a table in the simple dining room where a “Wall of Fame” boasts critics’ accolades and 8x10s from celebrity fans; or enter next door and get it to go, by the sandwich, plate, or whole slab of ribs.

When you lift a rib and merely poke it hard with a finger, the meat slides off the bone. It is chewy with a deep savor haloed by the perfume of wood smoke. Chopped pork shoulder has a few crusty outside shreds and tatters among the pillowy pile of interior meat; slices are less gooped with sauce, and not as messy … but not as succulent, either. A large chopped pork sandwich is the most Memphian dish on the menu, made as per local custom with a layer of cool cole slaw atop the well-sauced meat. It is a total mess that disintegrates as you eat it, but the most delicious mess imaginable!

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Pork ribs
Barbecue Spaghetti
Sampler Platter
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Jane meant to order a rib dinner ($8.50), but asked for a rib platter ($17.75) instead. She got this rather large formation of pork ribs that we did our best to denude of all meat. On the side were large bowls of bright yellow slaw, smoky beans, and barbecue spaghetti.
"Jane meant to order a rib dinner ($8.50), but asked for a rib platter ($17.75) instead. She got this rather large formation of pork ribs that we did our best to denude of all meat. On the side were large bowls of bright yellow slaw, smoky beans, and barbecue spaghetti."
Michael Stern





Interstate's pork bbq sandwich!
"Interstate's pork bbq sandwich!"
Cliff Strutz


As is the case at so many Southern barbecues, Jim Neely's Interstate is advertised by a happy pig.
"As is the case at so many Southern barbecues, Jim Neely's Interstate is advertised by a happy pig."
Michael Stern


As a rule, we find Sampler Platters slightly frustrating. There's always something you want much more of -- in this case the magnificent chopped barbecue -- and other things you could live without (the too-chewy beef ribs). Still, for those who need to sample some of everything, this immense platter is a good choice. That's a hot link at the very top of the pile to the right.
"As a rule, we find Sampler Platters slightly frustrating. There's always something you want much more of -- in this case the magnificent chopped barbecue -- and other things you could live without (the too-chewy beef ribs). Still, for those who need to sample some of everything, this immense platter is a good choice. That's a hot link at the very top of the pile to the right."
Michael Stern


Sitting in the dining room, you hear a constant thump coming from the kitchen. That is the sound of a cleaver hacking pork shoulder into these lovely shreds, available on a dinner plate or in a sandwich. In our opinion, this is the very best way to savor it.
"Sitting in the dining room, you hear a constant thump coming from the kitchen. That is the sound of a cleaver hacking pork shoulder into these lovely shreds, available on a dinner plate or in a sandwich. In our opinion, this is the very best way to savor it."
Michael Stern


Only in Memphis: barbecued spaghetti. The menu here also lists the local favorite, barbecued salad.
"Only in Memphis: barbecued spaghetti. The menu here also lists the local favorite, barbecued salad."
Michael Stern


A close up of the bbq baloney.  In a city of good bbq baloney sandwiches, this is one of the best.
"A close up of the bbq baloney. In a city of good bbq baloney sandwiches, this is one of the best."
Cliff Strutz


For dessert, the iced lemon pound cake, a.k.a. Sock It To Me Cake.
"For dessert, the iced lemon pound cake, a.k.a. Sock It To Me Cake."
Cliff Strutz


Piggy banks and figurines greet you at the front counter.
"Piggy banks and figurines greet you at the front counter."
Cliff Strutz


The walls of Jim Neely's place are covered with clippings from newspapers and magazines singing the restaurant's praises, as well as with this gallery of family portraits.
"The walls of Jim Neely's place are covered with clippings from newspapers and magazines singing the restaurant's praises, as well as with this gallery of family portraits."
Michael Stern


In a city of great pork barbecue, Interstate represents the peak of excellence.
"In a city of great pork barbecue, Interstate represents the peak of excellence. "
Michael Stern



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