Whoever said you can’t find great barbecue in a restaurant that’s not condemned should pay a visit to Memphis-bred Red, Hot and Blue at Walnut Hill and Central Expressway. Combining the friendliness of a home-owned restaurant with the tidy organization of a chain, Red, Hot and Blue specializes in barbecue pork (east of the Mississippi, pork dominates barbecue, not beef).
But there’s more to the menu than barbecue pork. For an appetizer, try the smoked chicken nachos ($5.95), a healthy serving of cheese and meat loaded on delicious, soft flour chips, as opposed to the typical corn chips. The effect is outstanding.
While the onion loaf and Memphis drummies are satisfactory appetizers, they were a little on the greasy side for my taste. I’d have to say the nachos are your best bet.
The main courses are where the fun sets in. For the novice, nothing beats your first “pulled pork” – the house specialty. It’s a shoulder cut of pork, slow smoked and roasted, then gently pulled off the bone. Even if you don’t like pork, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The pulled chicken and pork have an uncommon juiciness and smoky flavor, and the brisket measures up almost as well.
All the meats are available as a sandwich or a platter.
The typical sandwich, which is served with a side of coleslaw and potato salad, is priced from $4.50-$5.25. The truly hungry can “jumbo-size” a sandwich for an additional 75 cents. The platters are even larger servings of meat with coleslaw and beans. Platter prices start at $7.
Ribs are, of course, the priciest item. Two people can share a large order for $16.95. An interesting dish is the Memphis-style dry ribs: a cut of pork ribs covered with fresh cayenne, paprika, garlic and other dry spices, offering a real change of pace from “wet” ribs. You can order a half-and-half combo of wet and dry ribs, and compare the two yourself.
The perfect coleslaw/potato salad combo is something of the holy grail of barbecue joints. Red, Hot and Blue’s potato salad was tasty, but the coleslaw was standard fare. The barbecue beans are hands-down the best of the side items, topped with shredded pork and diced banana peppers.
Red, Hot and Blue’s desserts are supplied by caterer Bob Camp, and the peanut-butter silk pie ($2.95) shouldn’t be missed.
This Dallas location is the first Red, Hot and Blue west of the Mississippi. The restaurant was started in Washington, D.C., by a group of homesick Tennessians hungry for good barbecue. They bought the recipes of the best joints in Memphis and used them to open a chain of restaurants along the East Coast. Due to agreements made with the original recipe owners, no Red, Hot and Blue restaurant is allowed in Memphis.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, until 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. A kid’s menu is available, and specials vary from time to time.