Number 29: 18-Hour Brisket From Memphis Minnie's

Iann Ivy
Memphis Minnie's brisket, in sandwich form.
When your plate of 18-hour smoked brisket slides over the glass shelves at Memphis Minnie's, your stomach might balk a bit. This is an intimidating spread of food. In one corner: a bright-yellow cornbread muffin and two ramekins of vinegary slaw, smoky beans, or whatever else you might have chosen. In the other: a daunting pile of spice-crusted ovals of Memphis Minnie's signature 18-hour smoked brisket.
Thumbnail image for SFoodie_50_2012_logo.jpg
SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition

Though the claims of 18 hours of slow-smoked goodness seem impressive (and they are), brisket, the superficial and deep pectorals of the cow, are well-used muscles. Without lengthy cooking, the cut has a tendency to stay tough and stringy. Memphis Minnie's avoids even the suggestion of dry meat, by smoking it on-site over white oak. What emerges is a flat boulder of blackened meat, perfectly encrusted with a secret mix of dry ingredients and lightly charred meat. Once thinly sliced, the reward for this lengthy cooking period emerges. The meat itself is tender enough to be torn apart by the desperate fingers of a starved barbecue lover. 

Bob Kantor, the Brooklyn-born cook who started Memphis Minnie's, uses no mop sauces when preparing his barbecue, sticking to the philosophy that the taste of well-cooked meat is grand enough. That secret-ingredient black crust that rims each piece lends a tiny hint of salt, pepper, and even chili powder. When dredged through the restaurant's Beelzebub sauce (though it isn't as hot as the restaurant claims), each bite becomes a tender bit of meaty fire.

Memphis Minnie's: 576 Haight (at Steiner), 864-7675.

Other favorites in this series:
30: Custard buns from City View
31: Mission Chinese Food's kung pao pastrami
32: Panisse frites from Frances
33: Izakaya Yuzuki's chawanmushi
34: Fatted Calf's chorizo
35: Silvanas from House of Silvanas
36: Linden Street Brewery's black lager
37: Aged oolongs from Red Blossom Tea Company
38: Broken Record's crawfish grits
39: Cebiche mixto from La Mar 
40: Nutella-hazelnut hand pie from Black Jet Baking Co.
41: Fifth Floor's burger
42: Perbacco's agnolotti dal plin
43: Iced coffee from Sightglass
44: Cypress Grove's Purple Haze Chevre
45: Lechon from Tastebuds Cuisine
46: Duck with beets from AQ
47: Tai nigiri at ICHI Sushi
48: Fish with explosive chiles from Spices! 
49: Baker & Banker Bakery's blueberry cream cheese muffin
50: Kufta tajine from Cafe Zitouna

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

Location Info

Memphis Minnie's BBQ Joint

576 Haight, San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
Sort: Newest | Oldest

Memphis Minnie's is an insult to BBQ, and their brisket has never been spectacular or smokey.  Last time I dined there, I returned my food after tasting it and immediately forced myself to vomit in the nearest bathroom.  


Memphis Minnie's brisket is extraordinarily hit-and-miss.  You'll sometimes get the dish this article describes (though the Beelzebub sauce is a bad idea, just flavor-wise).  And you'll sometimes get shoe leather.  The brisket is *by far* the best thing at Memphis Minnie's -- DO NOT EAT THE FRIED PIES -- but on a bad day, nothing on the menu is worth eating.

Now Trending

From the Vault


©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.