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Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous Charcoal Ribs: Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous Charcoal Ribs
You have to appreciate a restaurant that labels a dish in its menu the "Main Thing"! It really does take a lot of guesswork out of ordering. With that, my friend TK and I both ask the whistling waiter at Charlie Vergo's Rendezvous for a full-order of pork ribs each and a pitcher of Ghost Rider beer to share. The waiter bursts into song as he walks away. We've gotten here early so the restaurant really isn't too busy at the moment. The pitcher arrives within a minute and the ribs before we've even finished a half-glass of the suds each. I ask TK to take a short video clip of me with the chow, but he's already well into the food and has to pause to wipe sauce from his hands.
I confess--I've never been a huge fan of BBQ ribs and never really understood what all the fuss was about. ...That is until now. These are absolutely amazing! Indeed, one of the best things I've ever eaten in my entire life. I had been slightly doubtful of the sauce style they use here, called "dry rub", because I expected the meat to taste just that--dry. No way--these are moist, succulent, and bursting with flavour. "Dry rub" just means that the flavour is applied as a seasoning over ribs basted with vinegar. In squeeze-bottles on the table are two types of extra "wet" sauces that patrons can apply if they want--a mild and a hot BBQ. Although the ribs don't need anything extra at all, I opt to try the hot. It's exquisite and beads of sweat slowly form at the back of my neck. It's impossible to properly describe the flavour of Rendezvous BBQ--not sugary honey-sweet as most ribs are, but tangy, spicy, and slightly sour.
In the 1940s, Charlie Vergos, a Greek immigrant, opened this restaurant in the basement as a sandwich joint. He used a coal chute to smoke chicken and ham meats. One day he received a case of pork ribs and decided to season them with some similarity to his homeland's recipes--with garlic, salt, pepper, and adding chili powder and paprika to the mix. A Memphis institution was born. The ribs quickly grew in popularity to outsell the sandwiches and his 70-seat reastaurant grew to today's 700. Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous ribs are now the most famous ribs in Memphis. Some people would say they're overrated or it's all hype, but I would call those folks absolutely crazy and I'd never invite them to dinner at my place 'cause they'd probably spit out what I cook.
Baked beans and mustard coleslaw are served as sidedishes in small cups. It would be nice to have a little more of those too, but the ribs, the service, the atmosphere all make up for it. Face it, nobody's really here for coleslaw! I use the soft Wonderbread buns to sop up absolutely every drop of seasoning and sauce, licking my fingers all the while. I look at TK flabbergasted. All I can say is, "Wow! ...Just wow!"
Rendezvous: Don't waste your time or money
I am usually a very easy to please person, so it takes a lot to make me say "Do Not Go There!" But I can say that about Rendezvous. We went to this place because it was supposed to have the best BBQ in Memphis. Here is what we found:
1. everything was extremely overpriced
2. service was horrible, our waiter kept avoiding us, then took 10 min to bring us our drinks, then left our meal sitting on a table by the wall and a bus boy delivered it later, never checked on us, only came back to bring the check and never returned.
3. ribs were tough and dry, not good at all and hard to eat
4. side dishes were served in tiny plastic cups that were meant to hold sauce. They were the size of the palm of my hand! On top of that, they gave you baby-sized plastic cocktail spoons to make it feel like you were eating more. I could have swallowed the entire side dish in one gulp.
5. parking cost $10 due to a baseball game
In short, this was a complete waste of money and a disappointing experience. I saw some other posters who said the same thing about this place, but didn't want to believe it. I wish I had. If you want excellent BBQ go to Jim Neely's Interstate BBQ, it was cheap and fantastic!
Favorite Dish: I honestly didn't think anything tasted very good. The cole slaw was very strong, tasted weird and unpleasant. The baked beans were ok, but I only got two bites of them in that little cup!
Rendezvous: The Best Dry Rub Ribs
Just a half-block down an alley from the Peabody hotel, Charlie Vergo's Rendevous is well-known among a large selection of Memphis BBQ eateries. Rendevous certainly has been around long enough (over 50 years) and many of its waitstaff have worked there for many years. Rendevous specializes in a dry BBQ which consists of meat that has a special seasoning applied to the outside which is then slow cooked to mouth watering perfection.
If you'd rather have your BBQ with sauce, you can order your ribs wet (i.e., cooked with a sauce). Rendevous also has its own sauce that you can add at the table. But I recommend at least trying the dry rub BBQ without sauce before dousing it. You may find that you like it better. I certainly did. It's a taste and type of BBQ that I had never before experienced so flavorful was the rub. And the meat easily came away from the bone as tender as it was. I had the full slab of dry ribs. Great taste/flavor and not greasy. Rita had the wet ribs which were also very good but I liked the uniqueness (for me anyway) of the dry.
Good and friendly staff and a fun atmosphere. The could use some bolstering of their on tap beer choices however.
Favorite Dish: Dry rub pork ribs
Rendezvous: Gotta have the dry ribs!
This is such a Memphis tradition for me. This s one of the "dry rib" places. SOrt of hard to find, but worth it. No frills, but outstanding ribs. Gotta just get a pitcher or two of beer, cheese platter and rack of ribs. Fall off of the bone tender and outstanding!!!
Not to miss
Favorite Dish: Ribs and beer!!!
Rendezvous: An anachronism, and all hype
I must say that this place is a 'legend in it's OWN mind', or for people that don't know any better. Some of the reviews here are 2 years old or date back to almost 2003. The BBQ is dry and reminds you of eating something akin to sawdust. The ribs taste like they have been sitting under a friggen heatlamp for days. The service is loust and indifferent. Many of the servers act as though they are doing you a favour. This place may have been something special in the 1970s, but it's truly lousy. There are better BBQ places. The servers act like they are in some kind of oppressive, southern timewrap. It needs to fade away with 'Ole Man River'.
Favorite Dish: Nothing is good...maybe the beer on second thought
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The Rendezvous: Dry rub at its best!
A boisterous hangout! Rendezvous is a cozy cellar that draws all to take a part of their offerings of chicken, rib, and all things barbeque. Collectibles and Memphis what-nots adorn the walls. And the ceiling. And hang all over each other every which way covering everything. The whole place is an amazing eclectic explosion of historical fun.
Favorite Dish: Not since Adam have ribs been so famous! (Sign at The Rendezvous) Don't forget to start with the cheese plate!
Rendezvous: Fabulous, for an alley!
We knew about this place before we came. On our run Friday morning, we peered down downtown alleys in search of this restaurant. Waiting for our car at the BW to go to Graceland, we smelled something fabulous as the door opened. We had found it, RIGHT next to our hotel! We went pretty early, around 5:30. No wait. This place is efficient! Our waiter was right there to take our order, and had a pitcher of Michelob (only thing they have on tap...but it flowed nice and smooth) ready within a few moments. The barbecue was excellent, and the people were friendly. The waiter gave us suggestions on where to go next, and even took a picture with us before we headed out. By 6:30 when we left, the waiting room was packed!
Favorite Dish: We were all too wimpy to order ribs...had barbecue sandwiches, chicken, pork, and beef, instead. They were all excellent. They have two kinds of BBQ sauce out on the tables...one is sweet, and the other is pretty spicy! I tried both, but the sweet sauce suited my mood a little better. All in all, a great meal!
Charles Vergos' Rendezvous: The Best Barbeque
This is the real thing. Established in 1948, the Rendezvous is known for the best ribs in Memphis. It is located in a huge, old basement in an alley downtown, the kind of place that you would never know was there unless you knew already, or unless someone pointed it out. We were there on a Friday night and the place was packed to the rafters. Saturdays are even worse, so go as early as you can. By the time we left a crowd of hungry people were sitting on the ground in the alley waiting to get in. I sympathized with them. The smell of the hickory smoke out there is enough to drive someone crazy!
Favorite Dish: The ribs are the best, better than any I've ever had in my life, but just about anything would taste good covered in their barbecue sauce. Bottles of the sauce are left out on the tables for you to add as much as you want, or even drink if you like. They have two varieties, mild and spicy. Both are amazing, but the spicy is really something special. Everything you order comes with coleslaw, which is also great. I could have eaten a bowl of it by itself.
Know what you want to order when the waiter comes. They don't like to have to come back and if you make them they will wait on everyone else first and make YOU wait fot them. Whatever you order, get a pitcher of beer to go with it. It's the best accompaniment to BBQ. Everything they have is available for mail order on their website. Closed Sundays.
- Food and Dining
The Charles Vergos Rendezvous: Try the "dry-rub" BBQ
Located close to the Peabody Hotel (of the marching ducks fame) in downtown Memphis, this places offers excellent food at good prices. The rendezvous' pork ribs are legendary, as are the wisecracking waiters and the vintage Memphis decor.
Favorite Dish: again, it's the ribs, but also chicken, beef, shrimp and the fixin's.
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Rendevouz shouldnt be missed,...
Rendevouz shouldnt be missed, it's become a bit touristy, and a bit over rated but the ribs are very good, and the atmosphere is great. It's a Memphis Landmark. For even better Barbeque without the tourist trade, try the Barbeque Shop. It's a hole in the wall on Madison Avenue a few miles away in Midtown. Folksy atmosphere, friendly help and awesome Barbeque platters. I'm a local, and this is my favorite place to go for Barbeque.
The best barbeque in the world...
The best barbeque in the world can be found at Rendezvous, just a block or so from the Peabody Hotel. We're talking top-notch dry-seasoned smoked-for-days baby-back ribs. Absolutely the best. Bar none.
The place is always packed, the decor is groovy old-school junk, and the folks are friendly. It's like heaven on a rib.
Favorite Dish: Get the dry ribs. This is the authentic version, y'all. If you must, add some barbeque sauce on your own, but you won't need it. It's SOOOOOOOOOOO good.
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