First Look: Memphis BBQ Co., Dunwoody

The newest Memphis BBQ Co. location from Mississippi Delta pitmaster and winner of several World BBQ championships, Melissa Cookston, recently landed on Ashford Dunwoody Road in Dunwoody. Cookston’s two previous locations are in Horn Lake, Mississippi, and Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The look: Situated in a freestanding brick building near Perimeter Village Shopping Center that was once home to Firkin and Gryphon, the front entrance is flanked by a pair of covered patios. Inside, a hefty rectangular bar is surrounded by HDTVs and sections of booths and tables that recall big box spots like Lone Star Steaks — but with pig paraphernalia rather than cow accouterments.

The scene: On a recent Sunday evening, families and small groups were scattered around the dining room and patios, while a lone man and a couple occupied opposite sides of the bar. Chipper servers kept orders running at a brisk pace, while a band of greeters welcomed new customers.

The food: As a barbecue champ, Cookston touts meats “cooked fresh every day” and sides “made from scratch.” Surprisingly, perhaps, the menu is sizable, with steaks, seafood, burgers and even a couple of pasta variations offered. Of course, barbecue sandwiches, plates and platters, with Cookston’s signature pecan wood-smoked baby back ribs (served dry or wet), are the main attraction. On the Pitmasters Sampler ($23.99) you get a half slab of ribs, plus a choice of two other meats, including brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, a quarter white or dark chicken, or sausage, and two sides. The ketchup-based barbecue sauce comes in original or spicy. Starters include cheese fritters ($7.99) and smoked wings ($8.99).

The drinks: Though the restaurant has been open three weeks, there’s no liquor license yet. However, under the styrofoam cups covering the draft handles, there’s evidence that beer will be flowing from New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, Sweetwater and Terrapin.

The extras: You can order take-out meats by the pound or slab ($10.99-$22.99) and sides by pint, quart, half pan or full pan ($6-$75), as well as sauce, tea, lemonade and party packs.

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