ARLINGTON, Va. -- After several rounds of delays, Memphis Barbeque finally opened earlier this month at 320 S. 23rd St. in Crystal City.
The eatery is owned by displaced Memphian Chris George, a veteran of the D.C.-area dining scene with past stints as general manager at The Occidental on Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C. and Mike's "American" in Springfield.
It's George's first venture of his own, and his father is his sole investor. When he began throwing around ideas for a restaurant, Memphis barbeque was a no-brainer, he said.
"Memphis is essentially known for two things: barbeque and the blues," he said Wednesday night, adding that he decided to open the restaurant because he "thought D.C. could use some good barbecue."
For those who are unfamiliar, Memphis-style barbecue is something of a cross between Kansas and Carolina styles. It's not as vinegary as barbecue in Carolina and it's not as sweet as barbecue in Kansas, but it does retain many characteristics of both. The menu is pork-heavy ("For us here in Memphis, pork is king"), although there are a number of beef, fish and vegetable items on the menu.
George has enlisted the help of pitmaster Redrick Rayborn, whose last gig was manager of Corky's in Memphis, though nearly all of the recipes were developed by George himself. In fact, George has had a hand in pretty much every aspect of the restaurant, from the menu to the walls' bright red paint and the blues-inspired artwork.
Memphis Barbeque isn't the only barbeque outfit to open recently in Virginia: Pork Barrel BBQ opened its doors late last month in Del Ray.
George isn't worried about the competition. Traffic from the area's many hotels and businesses will sustain the restaurant, he said. He also has plans beyond Memphis Barbeque in the future. "Honestly, I've got several concepts developed that I plan to introduce to the area," he revealed. He was tightlipped on the subject, but let slip that they'll range "from casual to very high end." More on that as it develops.
Click through the gallery below for a peek at the restaurant and some menu offerings.