Mar 4, 2024 - News

Monday Munchies: Central BBQ strayed too far from Memphis

A photo of a bbq pork sandwich and onion rings on a blue plate with sauces and a drink in the background.

The pulled-pork sandwich served with slaw and mild sauce. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Worth here. I've pointed out that my standards for barbecue are lofty.

  • I tried Central BBQ not long after the Memphis chain opened last spring in Fayetteville's South Yard and found it lacking.
  • There was no review because I want to give new places a chance to work out any kinks.

Dig in: Several people asked recently if I'd tried the place — they'd enjoyed it. That's a cue to go again.

Pulled pork, I was told, is the crowd pleaser. The regular-size sandwich ($8) comes topped with slaw — Memphis style.

  • Onion rings ($2) were the recommended side and I couldn't pass up banana pudding ($4) made in-house with cream cheese.
A photo of banana pudding in a plastic cup with a spoon dug in.
The banana pudding. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

👍 👍 What to try: The rings are top shelf. A crispy batter encircles the magic that happens to onions when fried. The serving was enough to pig out on, but not enough to feel like a pig.

  • The pudding is a winner — it's a hearty and thick portion with graham cracker crumbs. Not too sweet.

👎 What to skip: Unfortunately, the pork falls short. It was tender but not particularly flavorful. This was my experience with the place and its ribs several months before.

  • "Smoke is our sauce" is the joint's tagline, but I tasted no hickory or pecan and was faced with far too many sauce choices.
  • In my experience, the farther barbecue gets from its original pit, the more it suffers. It's an art, not a franchise.
  • Central BBQ should be eaten in Memphis.

👀 Check it out: As with most things, your mileage and taste buds may vary. Central BBQ is at 417 West MLK Jr. Boulevard in Fayetteville.

  • Open 11am-8:30pm Sunday-Thursday; 11am-9pm Friday-Saturday.
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