How to Visit an Iconic Restaurant Without Looking Like an Ass

Going to Rendezvous or another food icon? Do your damn homework, Newb. -
Going to Rendezvous or another food icon? Do your damn homework, Newb.

We don't stay holed up in the ivory tower of Gut Check International Headquarters all the time. No way! Sometimes we've got to get away. Hit the road. Eat in another city.

Going to Memphis? Then you must have dry-rubbed ribs at the Rendezvous, the 63-year-old barbecuing Promised Land that's still operated from a basement in a smelly alley in downtown Memphis. It's a place that's been immortalized in song, on film and more food-award lists than a food writer can wrap her head around.

The restaurant has catered on Air Force One, Air Force Two and provided the chow for President Clinton's first inauguration. Local resident/soul god Al Green drops by on a regular basis for lunch.

Elvis' autopsy revealed fourteen stripped-clean Rendezvous pork ribs lodged in his colon.

(Not really.)

Everyone knows this place. Here. Tyler Florence has gotten all sweaty about them on Food Network:

So how can anyone walk into a place so well-known and revered and be completely clueless?

Exception: Poor souls who have never been exposed to barbecue are exempt from this etiquette lesson. They've had a hard life and deserve patience and compassion.

No exception will be made for people who bellow the following at their server:

  • "What's pork shoulder? It's pulled pork? What's that? Like, a pork chop?"
  • "Is that brisket pork or beef?"
  • "Make sure you put the sauce on the side. What's a dry rub?"

Dear Customer: Read your fucking AAA book. Stop yelling your idiotic questions at Stinson. He's worked at Rendezvous since 1989 and has waited tables for more than 50 years. He deserves better than being barked at by someone who showed up because it's the place to be, but didn't bother to find out why. We know you didn't just happen by the place and wander in. Unless you spend a lot of time hanging out in smelly back alleys, because really, that's where Rendezvous is located. You have to walk by safe places T.G.I. Friday's and Denny's (the source of the alley's odor problem) to find Rendezvous.

There are plenty of resources that will explain basic food types. Use them.

Sure, it's perfectly fine to ask questions about the menu items. But sometimes, especially when a place has been doing one thing really well since the days when your grandpa cruised for loose women in his Rocket 88, quit being so neurotic. Trust that what you're going to get will be worth the suspense. Sometimes, it's best to sit back and revel in the unknown. Be pleasantly surprised by what's on your plate.

And for God's sake, give Stinson a break. He's here to bring you your ribs, not educate your lazy ass.

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