Abe’s has been sung about in blues songs and written about in Faulknerian novels set in the Mississippi Delta; and to the traveling foodie, it is a must-eat destination. Its legend goes back to 1924 when Abe Davis opened a snack stall on the street in Clarksdale. Today at the crossroads of Highways 61 and 49 (where bluesman Robert Johnson is said to have been gifted with his talent), Abe’s grandson Pat Davis maintains the name and the high-quality cooking, which includes thin-sliced, crisp-edged barbecued pork as well as that Delta specialty, the hot tamale.
Abe’s barbecue is Boston Butt that is cooked in the haze of pecan wood smoke, allowed to cool overnight, then sliced and heated again on the griddle when it is ordered. While the pork is getting heated, it gets hacked into a rugged hash. The process results in meat with lots of juicy buzz in its pale inside fibers and plenty of crusty parts where it has fried on hot iron. You can have it on a platter or in a sandwich, which is available in two sizes – normal and “Big Abe.” The latter is twice the amount of pork heaped into a double-decker bun. It is served Memphis-style, which is to say the slaw’s inside the bun.
One thing that makes the sandwiches so delicious is the sauce, which is dark red, tangy, with the resonance of pepper and spice, a sublime companion for the meat. Pat Davis told us that it is made from the original recipe his grandfather developed, except for one top-secret ingredient, which he swears he doesn’t use any more. “It is sort of addictive, isn’t it?” Pat Said. “We once had guys order a case shipped to Oklahoma. They called to tell me they were drinking it in shot glasses.”