Memphis Minnie’s: Reviews

Memphis Minnie’s Barbeque Joint and Smokehouse: Reviews| restaurant info | recipe | view Check, Please! photo gallery (flickr.com) |

Watch episode online (and on video iPod):
Stream episode (requires RealPlayer: windows | mac)
Download episode (requires iTunes or QuickTime)
Subscribe to Video Podcast

Memphis MinniesMemphis MinniesMemphis Minnies
Minnie’s Taster: Pork Ribs, Smoked Brisket, and Smoked Chicken; BBQ-Seasoned Fries with Three Types of BBQ Sauce: Texas Red, North Carolina Vinegar, and South Carolina Mustard; Scratch Pecan Pie


KevinName: Kevin
Occupation: Scientist
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Memphis Minnie’s Barbeque Joint and Smokehouse
Reviewed Memphis Minnie’s Barbeque Joint and Smokehouse: Thursday, July 13, 2006

This was my fifth visit to Memphis Minnie’s, and as usual, I was as happy as could be. This is my comfort food in San Francisco, and by far the best BBQ I have had in the Bay Area. My companions and I started with the BBQ-seasoned, hand-cut fries; get the “small,” which can feed a small army. We did not so much eat these as an appetizer, but along with our dinners instead. My companions and I got all four main meat dishes, and the unanimous favorite was the brisket. Smoked on-site for eighteen hours, the beef develops a perfect crust, yet maintains a surprising tenderness given this tough cut of meat. The flavoring is perfect, and the smoke from the white oak is subtle but flavorful. The Memphis sweet pork was a close second. The sweetness is surprising, and no one could identify its origin, save for a long, sweet brine. The meat is cooked to perfection and is fork-tender. The ribs received a mixed bag of comments; some were used to sauce-covered ribs, or even ribs cooked with sauce on them.

As with all of Memphis Minnie’s meats, they do not get cooked with sauce; instead three varieties of sauces are on the table to use at one’s own discretion. This is my favorite aspect of the BBQ joint; no masking poorly smoked meat with sickly sweet sauces. As for the sauces, the Texas Red has a wonderful hint of cinnamon-clove, and is not overly sweet. Reserve these for the ribs, if you must. The South Carolina mustard sauce is savory and spicy, and went very well with the sweet pork. The North Carolina vinegar sauce is unique to those of us not familiar with that part of the country; although not my favorite, it is not overly acidic or pungent, and has a good deal of flavor. We thought this was perfect for the fries.

We chose four of the sides that are always done not as an afterthought but are given the same attention as the meats. The macaroni and cheese was declared “the best ever” by two authorities at the table; my favorite side is the crisp and vinegary slaw. No mayo here. The pit-smoked beans are done just right, while the potlikker greens have hints of mustard and vinegar that stand up to the BBQ. All meals come with a homemade organic cornbread muffin that was used by all to “mop-up” the bottom of the plates. Finally, we split two desserts. The fried peach pie is a version of a turnover. Fried to order, it is then dusted with powdered sugar — all “loved it.” The three of us who are pecan pie fans relished Memphis Minnie’s version, served with homemade whipped cream. It was not too sweet, and had hints of spice with a flaky crust.

I highly recommend this authentic BBQ joint for those seeking some cozy comfort food: go hungry, leave the meat to the smokers, and save the sauces for the fries.


Mary JoanName: Mary Joan
Occupation: Consultant – Architectural Engineering
Location: Oakland
Favorite Restaurant: Ovation at the Opera
Reviewed Memphis Minnie’s Barbeque Joint and Smokehouse: Sunday, July 16, 2006

We had the Southern Star Sandwich, which was half Texas brisket and half Memphis sweet pork and Minnie’s Taster (any three meats and choice of two sides).

The three meat choices were brisket, pork shoulder, and beef rib.
The brisket was fall-apart tender with a wonderfully redolent smoky aroma, so did the shredded pork shoulder. The beef ribs proved to be dry and lacked the zesty taste of the brisket and pork.

Along with the meats, three BBQ sauces are served: Texas Red, North Carolina Vinegar, and South Carolina Mustard. There is a fourth called Beelzebub’s Breath (hot), which I refrained from indulging in. All the sauces were hearty and, from what I hear, a staple of the region they hail from. I found the spice rub, with which the meats are flavored (and, in the case of the brisket, barbequed for eighteen hours) really tasty, and moist, and just a touch of the sauce was desired. I preferred to taste the flavor of the meat, rather than it being drowned in sauce.

The sides were perfection. There was delicious, tangy, fresh, fresh, fresh coleslaw and a hearty macaroni and cheese that was baked and nothing like our childhood pasta. My friend said the test of a true barbeque place is the potato salad, and this one surpassed our taste expectations; not overrun with creamy dressing. There was also yummy, solid cornbread.

For dessert, my companion ordered Scratch Pecan Pie and he said it was the best pecan pie he had ever had in his life — no small compliment, since part of his family has lived in the Ole South. We also had the Fried Peach Pie, which we ordered because of the novelty of the name. It was bubblin’ hot and lush and peculiar looking.

The walls were plastered with “Que” posters from all over the South, the music was jumpin’ southern country, and the place had dinette, homey, comfort about it. The place has self-serve, energetic, and informative counter service. The place was small and pleasingly packed with the splendid diversity that so represents the Haight. Parking was really no problem. The portions were sizable and required a doggie bag, because I couldn’t bear to leave it.

If we were in the neighborhood, we would most definitely return. Our visit was summed up by a placard on the wall: “Barbeque is like sex, the worst I ever had was good!”


BrianName: Brian
Occupation: Cab Driver / Actor
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Café Gratitude
Reviewed Memphis Minnie’s Barbeque Joint and Smokehouse: Thursday, July 6, 2006

We got in to the rhythm and heard some blues at Memphis Minnie’s BBQ Joint in Lower Haight in San Francisco, but what we felt were fireworks. As I waited for my friend Howard outside — reading the glorious reviews and hearing James Brown blaring out of the speakers in the restaurant — I came near to dancing in the street, but hey, it’s Lower Haight. Probably no one would pay me any mind. You walk in and you’re immediately taken into the scene. Garnishing the walls are various posters depicting the South and Texas, as well as photos of some of the great Rhythm and Blues musicians of our time. Various accolades that the restaurant received over the years also adorn the walls, they are well-deserved, mind you.

Is it apparent where I’m going with this…? Okay, well…work with me. So let me just say it: the food at Memphis Minnie’s is simply flat-out fantastic! We had what is called the Minnie’s Taster, which is your own selection of three meats and two sides. The brisket, pulled pork, and chicken is what we went for — all smoked of course. We also ordered the Fried Catfish Platter. Our sides were cornbread, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and their coleslaw. All our meats were succulent and all had that wonderful smoky flavor, while being distinctive from each other. The catfish was fried in a batter, but not consumed with oil, which can be the case with battered fried fish at times. This was the real deal, and with all due respect to my Eastern European Jewish roots, this is really the way brisket should be done. Smoked, yet juicy with a somewhat spiced and slightly burnt crust. Oh, so good!

All the sides were delightful as well. The collard greens and the slaw had an unexpectedly sweet taste I liked. The macaroni and cheese was unusual in the sense that I found out they add cornbread to it, giving it a new twist. The corn muffins had a bit of a grainy feeling to them in the sense that you could taste the cornmeal they were prepared with. I like a different version with softer texture, but they were still good. Desserts were the Fried Peach Pie and Banana Puddin’, as it’s called. The peach pie comes as two little empanadas with an oh-so-sweet filling. This Banana Puddin’ should be given to all leaders of the world — maybe then we’d get somewhere. Just so creamy, with chunks of banana without being overbearing.

Memphis Minnie’s also has a fantastic selection of premium sakes, which is a great complement to the food. Who knew? The service is very simple: walk up to the register, look up and the menu’s all there, order, they call your name and you go pick it up. The staff was also very accommodating with all my questions and knew their food. Bob Kantor, a graduate of our own culinary academy who really did research before taking on this venture, is the man behind it all. Hats off to you, Bob for bringing authentic barbeque with all the fixin’s to San Francisco. It’s always amazing what a real chef with a bit of talent in their back pocket can do.

No tags for this post.
  • Lucy M. and Dave M.

    THIS PLACE ROCKS! The slow-smoked meats exploded with flavor. We both ordered Pit-Smoked Plates which come with 2 sides and 1 corn muffin. Our Plates consisted of beef brisket, smoked pork shoulder, cajun sausage, and pork ribs, with sides of greens, macaroni & cheese, yams, and beans. For dessert, we had Fried Peach Pie and a Chocolate Chip Cookie. With iced “Sweet Tea” to quench our thirst.
    Sipping this delicious tea gave us something to do instead of just salivating at the table like starved animals. It is the perfect drink if you are not having their various sakes.

    When the food came, we attacked it like wild cavemen. To us, the beef brisket and the smoked pork tied for 1st place, but the ribs are right up there, too. This place uses absolutely no gas or electricity, all meats are slow-cooked by oak wood fire and the flavors, textures, and tenderness prove this method works best and is worth the effort.

    After gorging down half of his food, Mr. D said “I think my body is going into shock!”
    No kidding; the food here is so sublime it can make you feel giddy. Try it, you’ll see. This is no ordinary barbeque joint, the food here has some special twists. The greens have a tangy vinegar jolt that sets this dish apart from the usual versions we’ve had elsewhere, making it our favorite side dish. Minnie’s macaroni and cheese topped with crispy brown bread crumbs provides the right homemade comfort. Sweet potatoes here are served diced with just enough spicy sweetness to enhance rather than overpower. The smoked beans are firm, with a silky cream texture and rich flavor that would also be great in a burrito. All desserts are made from scratch, including one unusual treat we just loved. This was the “Fried Peach Pie,” a pair of peach empanada-like turnovers, served warm with a lovely dusting of powdered sugar, and much lighter than its name. The warm Chocolate Chip Cookie tastes like it just came out of Grandma’s oven. The Banana Pudding, Sweet Potato Pie, and Pecan Pie fill the Southern bill quite nicely.

    Doggie Bags are available, but we found no real use for them. After eating himself into a shock, Mr. D asked for a take-out menu and, before leaving, ordered a Southern Star Sandwich (beef brisket and smoked pork) with a side of greens, for his Monday lunch, and a plate of Smoked Pork with greens and beans and corn muffins for us to share with our friend Skippy on Wednesday, along with a Sweet Potato and a Pecan Pie in case we got hungry later that night. See what I mean? The Food is so good, you can really get high.
    Memphis Minnie’s BBQ Joint, a Great Place Where the Food Gets You Drunk!

  • Kevin H

    I went to this restaurant after looking at the good review here. But I will not ever go back to this restaurant again. Not because of the food was bad or the people there are terrible. But because this scary scene stock in my mind and probably will never be able to erase it.

    This is what happened…

    After we finished our food, and just sitting there chatting, one of my female friend came back from the restroom, just as my girlfriend got up to let her get back to her chair, she froze there on the spot, both my girlfriend and I were wondering what the heck was wrong with her, then she screamed and yelled “RAT”. At first I didn’t get it, then I realized that she saw a rat somewhere, so I got up and walk around the table and saw this big rat nesting on her jacket on the chair. People sitting in the next table were looking us all weird like we were crazy. I was kinda disgusted especially after we all just finished eating not too long ago. I muster up my guts to pick up her jacket and shook off the rat. It caused a big commotion because the rat is now on the floor and ran across the restaurant. Everyone there got a pretty good scare. So because of what happened, I am not and will not go back to this place again. Sorry. If anyone still do decide to go there, just be aware of the rat, it might just show up again.

  • Suzanne Williams

    In a word, AWFUL!!

    Extremely tough, smokeless, fatty pork ribs which, like everything else on the plate, tasted like it was soaked in honey mustard salad dressing. The grimy Haight Street neighborhood didn’t help either.

    I will never go back to Memphis Minnie’s, or recommend it to anyone.

  • jonathan Holt

    This is probably my favorite Restraunt in the city every time i feel homesick for Fort Worth I jump on the 71 on market and head for the brisket My standard order is a small fry and a half pound of the brisket I am not a big fan of the vinegar coleslaw but the beans are good and the cornbread muffins are great. (ask for some honey butter)

  • Miss Kae

    I will put it simply, Memphis Minni’s is fine food, but terrible southern BBQ. As per usual of second rate BBQ in the city, none of the meat is basted or mopped while cooking. The BBQ sauces are cold. The corn bread is dry and bland.
    Minni’s is fine if you are just wanting to fill your gullet with meat, but if your are longing for taste of the south and real BBQ, you will leave frustrated and sad and feeling sorry for those who believe this is the best BBQ gets.