As if Memphians needed to be told their city smokes the most succulent barbecue in the nation, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Memphis top among the seven best barbecue cities in America.
The magazine's travel website, which launched in 2010, analyzes thousands of user reviews and online sources to assemble its rankings.
"We are the barbecue capital of the world, and that's been undisputed for quite some time," said Diane Hampton, executive vice president of the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.
Among the Bluff City's roughly 80 establishments serving the finest swine, the report specifically gave a nod to Corky's and Central BBQ for their fall-off-the-bone rib meat; A&R Bar-B-Que for its great sides; Cozy Corner for its Cornish hens and The Pig on Beale for just being on Beale Street.
Proof of the city's smoking power can be seen in Memphis' presence on the Food Network and its annual barbecue contest, Hampton said.
"We see folks coming from all over the world to try the world's best barbecue. Last year, even in spite of historic floods, there was great attendance," she said.
Cities lagging behind Memphis as top barbecue destinations were Lockhart, Texas; Kansas City, Mo; Lexington, N.C.; Austin, Texas; Nashville and St. Louis.
Barry Pelts, co-owner of Corky's, is particularly proud his ribs got a mention. "Basically, 90 percent of what (barbecue restaurants) do in Memphis is two items: ribs and pork shoulder," he said.
U.S. News scoured travel blogs and dining reviews from sites like TripAdvisor to create the ranking, said lead travel editor Miriam Weiner. "We started with cities known for their barbecue," she said.
Weiner said she does not know how much weight travelers give such rankings, but added, "People travel for a lot of reasons and more often than not, they take food into consideration."
-- Lindsay Melvin: 529-2445