Holy Cow! 20

Bikes, Beer and BBQ at Mac’s Speed Shop

In the Carolinas, we like to shrug things off with a smile. We’ll laugh at familial tales and greet diminutives with a grin, but there’s one thing we take very, very seriously: barbecue.

Which is why when five guys got together and proposed opening a barbecue restaurant in 2005—somewhere they would feel just as comfortable bringing their children as their choppers—it wasn’t just some lackadaisical idea born of one too many beers, it was serious business. 12 years and seven locations later, and that idea is arguably still serving up the best barbecue this side of the Mississippi (and given how they tend to do things on that other side, you could say it’s the best barbecue in the nation).

“We all ride motorcycles, and we were all looking for a place that we could go that had really good food and cold beer, and really nothing like that existed in town,” says co-partner David Jewell. And so Mac’s Speed Shop was born, offering beer, bikes and bbq in equal measure.

Jewell evokes anecdotal visions of elderly couples in Sunday best sharing a table with outlaws, blue collars and white collars and no collars faded into one multifaceted whole, united by good food and a love for it.

With over 28 awards and accolades in local, regional, national and global competitions, including Memphis in May Barbecue Cooking and Barbecue Sauce nods, this isn’t just good food—it’s great. At the helm of the smokers and stainless steel tools that make it for eight years has been Executive Chef Kevin Kuruc.

“Our complexity is in our simplicity,” notes Kuruc. You won’t find a rotating selection of artisanal seasonal goods on the menu, but honestly, you wouldn’t want to. The menus have stayed much the same since the first Mac’s opened and the awards have rolled in, in large part thanks to their consistency.

Not to say it’s ever boring. Kuruc and his team take a hard look at the menu twice annually, holding onto favorites and tweaking things like their salads and specials to appeal to customers of all types—even vegetarians. “We’re always going to be a barbecue restaurant, but we want to appeal to everyone,” he says, noting the various adaptations of their veggie burgers as crowd pleasers.

It’s not just the menu that’s never boring, it’s the atmosphere, too. Each location offers 50 to 60 taps with regional and national craft beers, plus 400 additional brews in bottles. At Mac’s there’s live music, bike nights, fundraising rides and, quite simply, a good time, always.

But, of course, it’s still serious stuff when it comes to the ‘cue. Chef Kuruc walks us through his recipe for brisket—named the best in the nation by Rick Browne, host of PBS’ Barbecue America—and ooey-gooey mac’n’cheese perfect for your own night of barbecue and beer (best enjoyed under the stars).