This is exactly the type of place that you want to go to right after setting foot into Tennessee. Photos of Bill Clinton, among other possibly famous people line the wall. I was greeted with a warm “Y’all” which would be the first of many greetings in barbeque joints. My friends and I were seated in a cozy booth beneath a painting of Tina Turner. I ordered sweet tea after my curiosity was peaked from watching too many episodes of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. After what I presumed to be a heart murmur or the first signs of Diabetes I decided that sweet tea was not for me.
Order: The ribs, pulled pork, and save room for one or two super buttery bread rolls.
This is a great stop for a quick lunch. There are fish all over the walls, and framed photos of local fishermen. I hope you like fried food because they fry everything, including pies.
Order: Catfish Poor Boy, fried oysters, and hushpuppies. If you try the fried pie let me know.
If your eager to leave the downtown area and explore a new neighborhood or if you feel like you might die from eating fried pickles and are in need of something more organic, eat at the Elegant Farmer. A farm to table restaurant located near the University of Memphis. The owner Mac Edwards, made the experience unforgettable. A chatty guy, originally from Oakland filled with sage advice like “if you feel comfortable in the parking lot then they don’t have good barbeque”.
Order: The open-faced ham and pear sandwich, it was to die for.
Mac Edwards suggested having dinner at his friend’s restaurant Rizzo’s. It is located downtown on a great street filled with galleries and boutiques. There are two dinning rooms that are separated by an alley. The owner is also the chef who you can watch cook your meal.
Order: Anything, but if for some reason you ate dinner else where come here for the dessert. I had the bread pudding served with warm blueberries drenched in warm caramel and bourbon.
This was another recommendation from Mac Edwards. Central has two locations, I ate at the one downtown located near the Civil Rights Museum. This restaurant is huge, you order at a window and get a number. Luckily I made it before a massive line formed.
Order: They are famous for their ribs, which I did not get the chance to taste. I had the pulled pork salad with their homemade barbeque sauce, which was pretty awesome.
This restaurant reminded me a lot of restaurants in New York City that were opened by Southern transplants. It was filled with a younger hip crowd, white subway tiles, and different colored tolix chairs. . I sat at a community table under vintage Christmas lights on the patio that is referred to as the Holding Pen.
Order: All the menu items are small-shared plates minus the pizza. I ordered the beets, which were phenomenal, split the gumbo, and the Vito pizza.
If you really feel like being adventurous for something sweet make the trek out to Jerry’s Sno Cones. The car ride feels longer because you have no idea where you’re going and Siri will take you through a residential neighborhood and then you’ll really think that this place doesn’t exist until you turn a corner and see a massive line of people in front of a 1950’s looking bright pink hamburger stand.
Order: The sno cone supreme, it comes with ice cream!
THINGS TO DO
This is a great place to visit if you’re a music nerd. I loved every second of it. I had a wonderful tour guide who told great stories about the musicians who came through. The highlight of the tour was getting to see the actual studio that Johnny Cash and Elvis recorded their first records in.
I felt like I was at Disneyland, there was so much to see and so many gift shops!
Yes, there are lots of places to see blues musicians on Beale St, but if you want to see a bigger band I recommend going to Minglewod hall. I had the pleasure of seeing Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, and absolutely fell in love with her opener Valerie June. The sound at the venue was really good. Try local Memphis Ghost River Beer on tap.
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