South Main Meets the Wild West at Double J
Attention, meat eaters: the Double J has brought barbecue to the south end of downtown. Owners Jeff Stamm and John Harris have turned the old Beignet Cafe in the South Main Arts District into a Western smokehouse with Memphis-style barbecue.
Even though the Double J is a smokehouse, when I walked in for dinner I was surprised at how smoky the air inside was. I'm not talking about bad, cigarette smoky – I'm talking about good, carnivorous meat smoky.
The straightforward menu sticks to the basics: ribs, steaks, burgers, catfish and barbecue. The sides are mostly standard bar fare – fried pickles, fries, potato skins and sausage and cheese are all on the menu.
Since the owners are serious about their barbecue, I ordered the pork sandwich with fries. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the thing was massive.
I wound up skipping the bun and attacking with my fork. There wasn't much sauce on the sandwich, but it didn't need it. The meat was tender and had plenty of flavor on its own. If you're used to Memphis' brown sugary sweet sauces, you may not be as into the Double J's vinegar-based sauce. Give it a try, though – after the first few bites, I was way into its tangy bite.
(Note to slaw fans – you can order a side of slaw with your sandwich, but it doesn't automatically come with it.)
I also tried a few bites of my date's half rack of dry rub ribs. I stole a few bites after watching him try to remove the meat from the bone with a knife and fork (what can I say – he's not from here). The meat was just as tender as the pulled pork, and the dry rub seasoning formed a sort of crust. When I go back, I'll probably get the ribs.
The Western theme isn't just on the menu – the Double J crew has carried it throughout the two-story space. There iron bars and wagon wheels on the walls, a wooden stage (in the middle of the room), exposed brick and the bartender was wearing a plaid snap-front shirt. The staff was incredibly friendly and my server, Mary Katherine, was excellent.
While Double J is a full-service restaurant, they've got a large bar area at the front of the space. There are plenty of TVs if you want to watch the game, and on the weekends, they plan to have live music. If you're going with your family, I would recommend going during the day or early in the evening before the downtown bar crowd takes over.