Memphis Blues BBQ House
430 Robson St
Hours: 11am to 10pm
Phone: (604) 682-6220
Multiple Locations in Lower Mainland
One criticism people raised down south (from the States) around Louisana often make when they see an establishment that’s not from the region and based out of another country is if the food is authentic, or are they trying to go for a schtick to get folks not from the region in?
Memphis Blues BBQ faces that challenge. Can they convince a West Coast boy like me or cajole friends of mine, who are from the South (but moved here for a cooler climate or other reasons), that they truly did bring the tastes of the region up to the Pacific Northwest so they can be reminded of home? I know two: one born in Texas (she now lives up island) and a Facebook buddy who was from there. I discovered this place while in Vancouver for a concert and did not want to wander far from my hotel to sate certain cravings. I love ‘gator, crawfish and gumbo. This diner has one out of the three. Maybe on another visit, I can try Le Crocodile, a really expensive upscale place to make comparisons between budget and trendy. I’m okay with this franchise operation. I went to their lunch stop on Robson.
For quick bites, I do recommend the catfish! This Po’ Boy is worth its weight in gold. The skin is crispy (it’s battered), the meat is moist and very rarely will I find a sandwich using ripe tomatoes. A lot of sandwiches fall flat when they are not the pick of the season, And the greens I had, I was enjoying every bit. Their sauce defined this meal and I knew I had to come back to try the staple of this British Columbia based operation.
On the second visit with Susan, my best friend from Texas, she says the cornbread is just like how Ma made ’em. I enjoyed having the baked beans as a dip with my fries, and the rub over the meat defined the beef ribs I had. The cooking process made the taste and going through the meat uneven.
A well-smoked dish should have the meat fall off the bones just like that. There were a few where I struggled and I was hungry enough to have gone for a full rack.
Sadly, I found the ‘gulf shrimp’ nothing special. Appearance wise, they are indistinguishable from others from other regions. The last time I had anything big was with a Mexican place in Seattle. Now they were very defining and I was savouring the spicy dish like a rattlesnake looking at how to strike its prey.
Will I be back? If I’m staying nearby for another concert, definitely! Maybe noon is not the best time to get the select slabs of meat. Though I wonder where each restaurant’s smoker is? In downtown Vancouver, it’s tough to stand out. If there were more scents from a brick oven smoker and its scent was wafting outside to draw me in, I’d be here in a heartbeat. The Pig on the Street Food Truck (sadly now closed) succeeds in where Memphis Blues fails. Maybe that’s what I have to do on my next visit to Vancouver. Instead of hitting establishments, I chase down the cart type operations.
When considering the eclectic music mix this place had playing, my guts are saying I’m right. Since when is Prince’s music considered classic blues? If they want to have that right feel going, the right selection needs to be offered. They got the look down, but I guess for ‘authentic,’ I will have to go into the heart of the bayou for that down-home experience. While my friend approves of some things (she too had the ribs), it was those nuances that bugged me.
3½ Blokes out of 5