By Davis Coen
Among some things that set Moe’s Famous BBQ in Oxford (located a few blocks off the Square) apart from a typical food franchise, is that each Moe’s can improvise the menu and get creative, and nothing is actually set in stone. This allows menus from location to location to vary, and for their full cast of generations-tried and true Southern food fare to be in constant rotation and renewal.
Besides the Southern staples, like fall-off-the bone ribs, smoked chicken and turkey, fried catfish, smoked chicken wings, toasted bun sandwiches, plus over 60 side dishes served throughout the year, what makes Moe’s in Oxford unique from other locations (now spanning over a dozen states) is their delicious pulled-pork Red Neck Nachos. These include tortilla chips that are made in-house.
According to Moe’s owner John Allgood, an Ole Miss graduate who began in the food industry as an undergrad working at the McAlister’s Deli that was on University Avenue – followed by Old Venice Pizza Company on the Square for over a decade – there are other locations that use the kettle potato chip as a vehicle for the pulled pork and toppings, but he believes Oxford’s the only one that uses house tortilla chips.
“It’s just a good barbecue nacho,” said Allgood.
As far as the myriad of side accompaniment options Moe’s has in its arsenal, Allgood jokingly said that watermelon is liable to get bumped up at some point leading into summer, and that he’s been keeping his eye out for good opportunities to purchase quantities of the luscious vine fruit.
He also expects that the tomato cucumber salad will be among the sides available in coming months, and their standout squash casserole, when it’s back in season.
Allgood’s start with Moe’s happened in a sort of buddy-storybook fashion, when a friend called and told him he thought they should open a location in town, in the same manner you might dream of opening a business as a kid. “I thought it was a great idea, so I got on board with that,” he said, “and here we are, almost six years later.”
Their catering packages are also a big part of the Moe’s operation, and they pride themselves on striving diligently to become an economical, yet friendly catering company “that serves up the tasty Southern BBQ experience,” they advertise.
The package offers pulled pork with the choice of two sides, served with buns or grilled cornbread, BBQ sauce, pickles, plates, and provides plastic ware, napkins and serving utensils if needed for an event. Sides include baked beans, slaw, potato salad, mac and cheese and banana pudding.
Another aspect of Moe’s in Oxford which sets it apart from other locations, is the Penny Bar, directly downstairs, known as ‘one of the most laid-back bars on the Square,’ and which has hosted some of the best live music in town over the past five years. The low ceiling/concrete floor atmosphere paired with its iconic long bartop, with every centimeter of its surface enshrouded in countless pennies, makes a terrific backdrop for live local and regional music.
Although Moe’s was one of the busier restaurants in town for curbside service through the past couple of years, Allgood is pleased to have watched things gradually improve. “I’m glad we survived Covid. Oxford was kind to us. We got a lot of takeout,” he said. “And the catering has picked up a bit.”
And of course, with regard to the bloodstream of the City, he said: “It’s nice having fans come into town for the sporting events, we’ve missed that.”