Did you see the Guy Fieri SNL spoof? No? Probably because it never made it to the airwaves. The segment was cut before it aired. However, it’s pretty darn funny and is making the rounds on the internet. If you’ve ever tried to find a good restaurant in Times Square you’ll get a kick out of it.
When we’re on a road trip, one of our Foodie Road Trip Rules is to NEVER eat at chain restaurants. Another one of our self-imposed rules is to try a new Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives location when we’re on the road. When we were in Memphis, we stopped in at Tom’s BBQ. Not only was Tom’s featured on the show, Guy Fieri mentioned their famous rib tips again in his Best Thing I Ever Ate special.
Tom’s is located in an industrial area near the airport and isn’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination. When you pull up, you notice the AC units and steel bars on the windows. Walk past that and the seating looks like your Southern Granny’s front porch (that is, if Granny lived in the ghetto). The staff is welcoming and friendly.
The seasoning blends at Tom’s are complex and unique, leaning heavy on the oregano and cumin. Their seasoning, smoking, and grilling process has been well-honed over thirty years. Tom’s isn’t messing around. We actually liked the ribs better than the rib tips as they were meatier and more tender, but everything was good. The sides were delicious and rried bologna has never tasted so upscale. What really sealed the deal was that the host, Adam, brought us an extra basket goodies to sample. I notice and appreciate that kind of hospitality, and I believe it’s one reason why restaurants like Tom’s BBQ in Memphis gain such a loyal following. It’s worth the detour off the interstate to enjoy some of the best ribs in Memphis.
Tom’s BBQ Memphis
4087 New Getwell Rd
Memphis, TN 38118
Sweetie Pie’s is soul food heaven. Being from the north, I didn’t grow up on sweet potatoes, fried chicken and okra – but this place makes me wish I had. Given both the Guy Fieri Triple-D and Oprah seal of approval, how could it not be good? Plus, with its own show, Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s, (on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network) at the very least the cast of characters would be interesting.
We read on Yelp that the line to eat at Sweetie Pie’s can be up to 90-minutes deep. We re-arranged our schedule to hit the restaurant during off-peak hours to avoid the wait. Arriving at around 2:30 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon seemed to do the trick. The restaurant was full, but there was virtually no line.
Instead of ordering from a menu, guests at Sweetie Pie’s grab a tray and go through a cafeteria-style line. First, you’ll choose your meat and then move along to select sides to go along with it. The cornbread is gratis, and comes with all combo meals. The meat + three sides combo runs around $10-$15, depending on the meat you order. It’s enough food so that nobody leaves hungry, and most will either be stuffed to the gills or have a lot left on their plate.
I tasted my husband’s fried chicken, but my favorite main course was my own braised oxtail. It was flavorful and falling off the bone, with the kind of flavor that reminds you of Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house. Sides don’t play second fiddle at Sweetie Pie’s. My favorite side was the macaroni and cheese. Far from cafeteria-style mac and cheese, Sweetie Pie’s was a rich blend of real cheddar and spices, not processed, bland goop. It reminded me of my own macaroni and cheese (if you’re looking for a copycat Sweetie Pie’s Macaroni and Cheese, try my recipe and let me know what you think). The sweet potatoes were also divine, and sweet enough to be eaten as a dessert.
Staff was friendly and added to the fun, casual atmosphere. I admit I have not seen Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s, so I didn’t recognize anyone – although they were happily taking pictures with guests that did.
Sweetie Pie’s at The Mangrove
St. Louis, MO 63110