Memphis

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For other places with the same name, see Memphis (disambiguation).

Memphis is the largest city in the state of Tennessee. The state rests in the southeastern portion of the United States. Memphis, with a population totaling more than 670,000, is also the county seat for Shelby County. The city's claims to fame include Graceland, the mansion Elvis Presley lived in during his later years. Perhaps more importantly, Memphis is considered by many to be the home of blues music.

Understand[edit]

Although downtown Memphis has experienced quite a rebirth and renewal in the last few years, the center of the city is older; it is full of new development, teeming with change and coming into its own. In the past few years, the city has emerged to boast one of the largest downtown populations among US cities. Citizens once again have a vested interest in making downtown a safe, exciting place to visit and relax in after decades of abandonment.

A word of caution: Memphis is extremely hot in the summertime, and the humidity can make you feel even hotter! Those who have trouble tolerating high heat and humidity may wish to avoid visiting in July and August.

Get in[edit]

Overview map of Memphis

Memphis is on the southwestern corner of Tennessee, with the Mississippi River and the state of Arkansas bordering it to the west and the state of Mississippi to the south.

By plane[edit]

Memphis International Airport (IATA: MEM), [1]. With the call sign of KMEM, Memphis is the primary FedEx distribution center, and, with the world's busiest cargo airport, the sky is always full of planes making your eBay purchase a glorious reality. Delta Air Lines, the world's largest airline, maintains a hub at the airport, providing regional service and a few international flights. If you are flying non-stop to Memphis, chances are it will be on Delta; which controls nearly 90% of all the passenger flights. A few other airlines do squeeze passengers into town:

  • AirTran Airways, [2] Atlanta, Orlando.
  • American Airlines, [3] Chicago O'Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami, St. Louis.
  • United Airlines, [4] Chicago O'Hare, Cleveland, Denver, Houston George Bush Intercontinental, Newark.
  • US Airways, [5] Charlotte, Phoenix.

There are also a few non-scheduled passenger services that provide transportation to vacation destinations on a sporadic basis:

  • Archers Direct Holidays, [6].

By car[edit]

  • Interstate 40 is a good route into town but doesn't go through Memphis; to get to the other side of 40 you take the north loop which is I-40, or the south loop, which is known as I-240 and is Memphis' beltway.
  • I-55 will take you right into town; just take the Riverside Drive exit from either direction to be at Beale Street in a minute.
  • Highway 72 Comes from Alabama, through Mississippi, and ends in Memphis.
  • Parking - Except for downtown, parking is usually free. If you're downtown, try the "Parking Can Be Fun" garage on Union Avenue. It's cheap, absolutely bizarre, and right where you want to be. Expect to hunt for cheaper parking if there's an event going on at the FedEx Forum, Beale Street or AutoZone Park. Parking vendors also appear to charge higher prices during these peak times.

By train[edit]

Blues in neon on Beale Street
  • Amtrak, [7]. Service available from trains running along the Mississippi River, as well as connections through major hubs. Great for a jaunt up to Chicago for world-class shopping or down to New Orleans for world-class drinking.

By bus[edit]

  • Greyhound, 3033 Airways Blvd, +1 901 395-8761.
  • Megabus. Low-cost carrier offers service to Memphis from Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, Birmingham, Knoxville, Nashville, Little Rock, Dallas, Oxford, Jackson, and New Orleans. Fares start at $1 each way when reserved well in advance. Buses stop on the south side of the MATA North End Terminal building, near the northeast corner of North Main Street and North Parkway; the terminal itself is accessible from North 2nd Street or Auction Avenue.

Get around[edit]

Skyline of Memphis as seen from the Hernando de Soto Bridge
  • Driving - Travel by car is really the only way to get around Memphis if you want to do anything other than see Downtown.
  • Public Transit - Bus service provided by the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA)[8] is available across the city. Some routes are very poorly served in the evenings. At nights and weekends some buses take a different route than during the day which can be a trap for visitors.
    • A trolley operates downtown and into Midtown, mostly for the benefit of tourists.
  • The Bettie Bus - Airport Shuttle and local tours. [9]

Memphis is laid out in a more or less east/west fashion. Roads primarily go east/west and north/south. The expressway cuts directly through the city.

Downtown is on the west; it sits atop the bluffs, overlooking the mighty Mississippi River. (It is referred to as Downtown, not as West Memphis, which is a town just across the river in Arkansas.) Moving east you'll come to Midtown, a charming part of the city thought by some as the best part of Memphis. Beyond that, you will find East Memphis, and then the suburbs of Germantown, Collierville, Cordova, and Bartlett. The area between downtown and Midtown, referred to by locals as "Crosstown," is coming to life slowly but surely. There is a movement to turn it into an artist community. Members of this movement call the area "the Edge". However, most of the "art district" is on South Main.

See[edit]

Downtown[edit]

  • Downtown Memphis. Buy a ticket and take the trolley to get a good overview of the area.
  •    Beale Street. "Home of the Blues". Dozens of bars and clubs, most of them featuring live music. At night the street is closed to vehicles and you can drink on the street; some bars have "drinks to go" windows where you can get a 32-ounce cup of beer for $5 and go bar-hopping. Many bars have no cover charge. Peabody Place is largely a wasteland, as nearly all the stores inside have closed.
  • Mississippi River. River tours available most days through a variety of providers. Tom Lee Park is a nice place to view the river.
  •    National Civil Rights Museum450 Mulberry St. M-Sat 9AM-5PM, Sun 1PM-5PM (closes an hour later Jun-Aug). Built out of the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was fatally shot in 1968. Near the Amtrak station. $12 for adults; free for Tennessee residents Mondays after 3pm.
  •    Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art119 South Main St. Located downstairs from the Center for Southern Folklore, this wonderful museum holds a collection of over 900 Asian and Judaic artifacts. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $4 for students. Admission is free for children 12 and under.
  •    Ornamental Metal Museum374 Metal Museum Drive. Tues-Sat 10AM-5PM, Sun 12PM-5PM. Displays art jewelry, architectural pieces and sculpture. The grounds are full of permanent installations, and the Museum boasts one of the best views overlooking the Mississippi River. They also have a working smithy. Adult admission $5.
  •    Fire Museum of Memphis118 Adams Ave. M-Sat 9AM-5PM. An interactive museum designed to teach children and adults about fire safety. Also features a realistic room to show how much damage a dropped lit cigarette can do. Adult $6.
  •    Mud Island River Park125 North Front St. Apr 14 – May 26 10AM-5PM, May 27 – Sep 4 10AM-6PM, Sept 5 – Oct 31 10AM-5PM. The park is accessible by monorail, made famous by a chase scene in the movie "The Firm". The park contains a museum of the Mississippi River and a scale model of the river. Visitors are welcome to remove their shoes and wade through the replica mighty Mississippi. The "Gulf of Mexico" is a large pool in which visitors may rent paddle boats. At the tip of the park is an excellent vantage point of the city and the river. The northern end of the island is occupied by HarborTown, a model community. Entry to the park is free. Adult $8 (Mississippi River Museum, Roundtrip Monorail Ride, Guided River Walk Tour).
  •    Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum191 Beale St (corner of Third St; on the plaza of FedExForum). Daily 10AM-7PM (last admission 6:15PM). A short video is shown at frequent intervals and then you are given a headset so that you can listen to commentary and numerous songs as you walk through the exhibits. Sponsored by the Smithsonian. Adult $10. The museum used to be housed in the Gibson guitar factory across the street, which puts visitors right on the factory floor. Famous musicians periodically visit to pick up custom guitars or to play a set at the Gibson Lounge, in the west end of the building.
  •    The Arcade Restaurant540 South Main Street. The oldest restaurant in Memphis, this is one of the most Memphis- cultured places in town. Speros Zepatos founded the diner in 1919 after immigrating from Cephalonia, Greece. Situated at the corner of South Main Street and G.E. Patterson, the restaurant serves tasty food in the heart of downtown.

The Edge[edit]

A wreathe marking the spot where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, Lorraine Motel, National Civil Rights Museum
  •    Sun Studio. Numerous blues, rock 'n' roll, and rockabilly recordings were made here, including Elvis's and Johnny Cash's first recordings. Tours are available, usually given by wallet-chained and mutton-chopped local musicians. Tour tickets are $10.00 and can be purchased at the cafe and gift shop inside the front door of the studio. Free parking is available in the back of the building.
  • Sleeping Cat Studio, 341 1/2 Monroe.

Midtown[edit]

  • Memphis Zoo. Pandas and other animals galore - consistently ranked as one of the top zoos in the country. Lots to do for children and adults. Seasonal events include numerous educational events, Zoo Lights in wintertime for all ages, annual Zoo Brews beer-tasting from around the world and Thursdays Unplugged at the Lodge, drinks and music in the Yellowstone-inspired Teton Trek Lodge for adults.
  •    The Pink Palace Museum. Built as a private residence by Clarence Saunders, the man who introduced Piggly Wiggly, the world's first self-service grocery store, the Pink Palace Mansion was later taken by the tax man and subsequently turned into a museum. (Saunders never actually lived in the house.) It is a very eclectic place, with everything from shrunken heads to animatronic dinosaurs with a life size copy of the first Piggly Wiggly in between. Also has an IMAX theater and a planetarium. Well worth a visit.
  • Overton Park. Encompasses the Memphis Zoo, Memphis College of Art (MCA), the Brooks Art Museum, the Overton Park Golf Course, and the largest stand of old growth forest in a US city.
  • Cooper-Young. This neighborhood of restored homes is centered around the intersection of Cooper Street and Young Avenue, known by some as "the intersection of Memphis." This intersection has several cool bars and restaurants, as well as numerous shops. Be sure to come for the free annual Cooper-Young festival in September. Also, just north of the Cooper-Young intersection is Black Lodge Video. This rental store, located in a house, has almost every video imaginable. Be sure to look for the "This is s••t--the worst we could find" section.
  • Overton Square. Overton Square has undergone many changes over the years but is still the hottest place in midtown Memphis for locals and tourists who are looking for somewhere to eat, shop, or be entertained.

East Memphis[edit]

  • Lichterman Nature Center. Part of the Pink Palace family of museums, its 65-acres of lakes, meadows, and forests feature lush gardens with native wildflowers and trees and provide a home to a wide variety of plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.
  • Memphis Botanic Garden, [10] with over 96 acres of natural woodlands and cultivated gardens, is also home to the seasonal outdoor concert series 'Live at the Garden' and the renowned Japanese Garden of Tranquility. New to MBG is 'My Big Backyard", a 2.5 acre children's garden with a larger-than-life birdhouse, a tunneling adventure, a teaching pond, "leaping lawn", "critter creek", and many other spaces that cater to children of all ages. [11]
  • Shelby Farms Park. One of the United States largest urban parks, Shelby Farms is over five times the size of New York's Central Park. Visitors enjoy walking, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, sailing, canoeing, paddle-boating, disc-golf, and bird-watching. In Fall 2010 Shelby Farms opened its new Woodland Discovery Playground which includes a large treehouse, sand area, climbing nets and activities for children of all ages. The park is also home to a herd of American Bison.

Around Town[edit]

Elvis' final resting place at Graceland. His middle name was usually spelled with just one "A", but legally had two
  •    Graceland. Home of Elvis Presley, "The King of Rock and Roll". It's no surprise that this is the number one tourist attraction in Memphis. Think "tacky tourist" trap but don't miss it--you might be pleasantly surprised. Although it is not advisable to venture in the suburbs surrounding the site, there is lots and lots of Elvis stuff to see here - the house itself (note that the upper floor, with Elvis' bedroom and Lisa Marie's nursery, is not open to the public), customized private airplanes, an automobile collection, gold records, costumes, and more. Take note of Elvis Week ("Death Week" to the locals) in early August, culminating in the candlelight vigil on the anniversary of Elvis' death. It is a big deal, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective. Check out the bizarre felt-pen scribblings on the fence, some hip-ironic, some of the psycho-lunatic-fan sort. If you happen to be in Memphis during Birth or Death Week - January and August, respectively - sit downtown for a few hours just to watch the Elvis fans. Not just on Halloween, but at any time of year, dress up like the King (or like Priscilla if you're a girl) and you'll instantly be a star in your own right!
  •    Stax Museum of American Soul Music926 E. McLemore Ave. Mar-Oct M-Sat 9am-4pm Sun 1pm-4pm, Nov-Feb M-Sat 10am-4pm. The promotional material says "no backpacks" but this is not so. In any case, they can keep your backpack at the front desk, as with cameras which are not allowed. Adult admission $10.

Do[edit]

  • Walk to the river and touch the Mississippi's water with your fingers.
  • Ride a trolley around the downtown area. Loads of fun, these are a great way to go places downtown, but in midtown and further you might want to rent a car. There are busses for you penny pinchers, though.
  • Check out some live music on Beale Street
  • The Memphis Redbirds baseball team that plays at AutoZone Park, located in the middle of downtown. They are the Triple-A affiliates of the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • FedExForum. FedExForum is the largest public building construction project in Memphis history. Managed and operated by the Memphis Grizzlies, the facility is home to both the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA and the University of Memphis Tigers men's basketball team. FedExForum is located at 191 Beale Street and Third Street.
  • Memphis Grizzlies. Professional basketball team.
  • Memphis Tigers. Teams representing the University of Memphis, which participate in NCAA competition as members of Conference USA. The most visible Tigers team by far is the men's basketball team, regularly a conference contender and occasionally a national contender as well. As noted above, the men's basketball team plays at FedExForum (though not the women's team, which plays on campus). The football team also plays off campus at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on the Mid-South Fairgrounds.
  • Mississippi Riverkings. Minor league hockey team near Memphis
  • Take a carriage ride around downtown and see Beale Street, Court Square, Confederate Park, the Mississippi River, Hernando DeSoto bridge, several movie locations on Front Street, the original and the current Peabody Hotel, all while learning about the great city of Memphis
  • Fourth of July Fireworks, Tom Lee Park, Mississippi River: These fireworks have improved immensely since two fireworks shows merged into one at the river in 2007. There is also food, music, and other entertainment.
  • Memphis In May International Festival. Month-long festival featuring:
    • Beale Street Music Festival - a showcase of over 40 national, regional, and local artists on multiple stages for three days, occurring the first weekend in May.
    • World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest - hundreds of teams compete for over $100,000 in prizes and ultimate bragging rights, and visitors can taste the country's best barbecue.
    • Sunset Symphony, a day of entertainment on the banks of the Mississippi River with local musicians, an air show with vintage and concept aircraft, and as the sun is setting, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra performs. After dark, as the symphony begins their last set, the sky fills with fireworks, thus marking the close of Memphis in May.
  •    Ghost River Brewing827 S. Main Street +1 901-278-0087. Check out this great beer producer. You can tour the facility for free on any Saturday, but you must make reservations. Tours start at 1pm.

Buy[edit]

  • Memphis Backbeat Mojo TourPicks up at Elvis Presley Plaza on Beale, toll-free: +1-800-979-3370. You can see most of Memphis' historic musical attractions on this fun, funky, educational bus tour. It's the only tour in town to put Memphis' musical heritage in the hands of real musicians, who will combine story, comedy, and live music in a one-of-a-kind show on wheels. Audience participation is encouraged with drums and other percussion pieces provided on the restored 1959 transit bus. Tour is 90 minutes., but if time allows, go for the extended 2.5 hour version. Well worth the time and money. Tours sell out, so reserve online in advance. $25.

Downtown[edit]

Protester statue at the National Civil Rights Museum
  • A. Schwab, Beale Street. Dry goods store whose motto is "If we don't have it, you don't need it." It's the place for souvenirs. It's been there forever, and is a breath of fresh air from the bulk of the establishments on Beale St, with live blues of its own during the day. Most family friendly store on Beale.

Midtown[edit]

  • Midtown Artist Market. A local artists' cooperative. Has been named Best of Memphis by readers of the Memphis Flyer at one time or another. -- Retail location is closed but the website and organization is still active.
  • Wizard's A fine gift shop with "smoking supplies" (wink-wink, nudge-nudge).
  • Midtown Books. An excellent selection of used books. Has been named Best of Memphis by readers of the Memphis Flyer at one time or another. -- Has moved downtown in the basement of Memphis Tobacco Bowl near the corner of Madison and Third Street. Has an excellent coffee shop as well as the selection at the Tobacco Bowl. Now known as Downtown Books.
  • Overton Square. A small shopping/entertainment district on Madison Avenue, near Cooper.
  •    Burke's Books936 S. Cooper St. Memphis, TN 38104, HOURS OF OPERATION:Monday - Thursday 10AM to 6PM, Friday & Saturday 10AM to 8PM, Sunday 12:00 to 5PM One of the oldest independent book stores in the country, Burke's has been selling new, used and rare books since 1875. A popular stop along book signing tours for authors ranging from John Grisham to Archie Manning and Anne Rice, Burke's has also been visited by celebrities such as Benecio Del Toro, Michael Jackson, Gene Hackman, REM and Matt Dillon, to name a few.

Out East[edit]

  • Collierville Town Center - Catch Poplar Ave. east to the town of Collierville and browse the interesting shops on the square. Very pretty in the holiday season. Small and quaint, this square boasts a setting and some shops that aren't found elsewhere in Memphis. A steam engine and a few private railcars are open to the public.

Graceland[edit]

Of all the places in the world one can buy Elvis souvenirs, none is better than Graceland.

Eat[edit]

Memphis is one of the cheapest places in the USA to live, and that includes going out to eat. Memphis is famous for two things: music and food. The local BBQ is well-known, and you can sample it "wet" (with spicy, tangy sauce) or "dry" (rubbed with spices before cooking). Other options abound across the city, from Southern home cooking to international fare. You won't go wrong with famous names, but the adventurous will find real treasures in modest hole-in-the-wall joints that make up for their shabby appearance with fabulous flavor.

Downtown[edit]

Beef ribs at Interstate BBQ
  •    Earnestine and Hazel's531 S. Main St +1 901 523-9754. Memphis, TN 38103.Open Hours: Mo to Th from 5pm to 2am, Fr to Sa from 5pm to 3:00am, Su from 7pm to 02:00 AM. Eclectic, unique atmosphere, a staff that defines cool and of course the Soul Burger. Visitors can request a special ghost tour upstairs of the one-time brothel and then enjoy the best burger in Memphis. With a jukebox loaded with classic hits and a staff full of colorful stories of its history, even Cameron Crowe couldn't resist including Earnestine and Hazel's in his film "Elizabethtown".
  • Little Tea Shop, Open for lunch Monday – Friday, 11am – 2pm, 69 Monroe Ave. +1 901 525-6000. Memphis' oldest eatery (1918). Boasts "Healthy Home Cooking." Family-owned; fast, friendly service. Traditional Southern "meat & three" with daily specials. Don't miss dessert! (Featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.)
  • Pearl's Oyster House, 299 S. Main (522-9070), 11AM Monday through Saturday. Closed Sundays. Excellent New Orleans/Florida Panhandle-influenced seafood. Variety of oyster styles, po' boys, gumbo, shrimp, crawfish, grouper, and fried pickles. Two bars and a patio out back. Atmosphere is casual. On the trolley line.
  • Automatic Slims, Adjacent to the Peabody Hotel on 2nd Street. Kind of trendy, but nice wait staff and good food. Expect $25-$35/person.
  • Blues City Cafe, Beale and 2nd Street. Good ribs. The garlic pan-seared shrimp is tasty, as well. Prices from $6-$18. Jean Paul's Last Call is a small bar attached to Blues City. It attracts server staff crowd after-hours.
  • Flying Saucer, One 2nd Street. 90 beers on tap and ~120 in the bottle. Best beer selection in town. Serves typical bar food which is decent quality despite the Flying Saucer being a small chain.
  • Texas De Brazil, adjacent to the Peabody Hotel. Everything you expect in a Brazilian steakhouse. Expect $40-$50 per person for supper, but it's worth it. Lunch is the most economical time. Dressy attire--a dress shirt and slacks for men at the least--is strongly recommended.
  •    The Rendezvous. A Memphis legend. Excels at Memphis-style BBQ in a no-frills environment where some of the crusty wait staff have logged more than 30 years. Go early--this in-the-basement establishment has quite a following and a long wait is expected nearly every night. Dry-rub ribs are the trademark, but also give the sausage plate and BBQ nachos a try. Pricey given the decor (and the fact that you're eating BBQ). Expect $15-$20 per person.
  • The Arcade Classic old diner. Traditional diner food with the addition of pizza and hummus sandwiches. It's across the street from the train station at 540 South Main Street. Featured in several movies, including Jim Jarmusch's "Mystery Train".
  • Bluff City Coffee, In South Main's Art District. Try their signature cup "The Real Cappuccino".
  • Harry's Detour, 106 G.E. Patterson. Lunch Tu-Sa 11:30am-2pm, Dinner W-Sa 5:30pm-10pm. An eclectic menu of delicious main courses, soups, salads and desserts served in an intimate setting. Private room and patio.
  • Westy's Bar/grill that occupies the site of the old North End restaurant. The North End was destroyed by arson in 1998, and Westy's took its place. Known for fried pickles, tamales, a wide selection of wild rice dishes and a popular fudge pie. Expect $7-$12 pp, open late.
  • Gus' World Famous Fried Chicken. No restaurant guide to downtown would be complete without mentioning Gus', and the food is excellent. 40-ounce beers, Newport Menthols, and fried chicken. Enough said.
  • Dyer's, This retro diner is on Beale Street almost directly North of the FedEx Forum and next to Alfred's. It's got great burgers at a reasonable price. The only catch is that they are deep fried. It's definitely worth trying. Another recommendation is their chili cheese fries.
  • Huey's. Blues, Brews & Burgers since 1970. Casual tavern with a custom of blowing toothpicks into the ceiling through straws. Burgers any way you can imagine earns it a perennial "best burger" win in local reader polls. Several locations, including 77 S. 2nd. Come on Sundays for jazz afternoons and blues evenings.
  •    Bardog Tavern73 Monroe Avenue. At Great bar scene with awesome food that is a cut above your average bar grub. It's also a bit cheaper than the touristy places, as you can eat here for under $10 easily.

Midtown[edit]

An empty Beale Street after the bars have closed
  • Young Ave. Deli Good place for bar food and/or rock shows. Try the fried dill pickles and of course the sweet potato fries. Located in the Cooper-Young district of Midtown. One of the biggest beer selections in town.
  • Pho Saigon Super yummy Vietnamese soup less than $10 for a bowl as big as your head.
  • Molly's La Casita Very good Mexican food priced around $10 per entree, with the best margaritas as voted by Memphis residents.
  • Pho Hoa Binh, Madison Avenue - Hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese. $5-$10. Great tofu and wheat gluten dishes, so don't miss it if you're vegetarian.
  • Saigon Le, Cleveland Avenue - Another awesome Vietnamese restaurant. $5-$10.
  • Indochina, Cleveland Avenue - Another excellent Vietnamese restaurant. Famous for their homemade egg rolls. $5-$10.
  • Brother Junipers, U of M area - Open for breakfast and lunch. Great omelettes. Free-Trade Coffee. Strange hours. $5-$10. Associated with the Juniper Bakery, all proceeds going to drug rehab.
  • Bosco's, Overton Square The only locally brewed beer in Memphis (also a national award winner). Great pizza, entrees, etc. Excellent jazz brunch on Sundays. $10-$20.
  • Huey's A Memphis landmark, the original Huey's offers one of the best burgers in town. $6-12.
  • Dino's, On Mclean near North Parkway intersection - Serves reliable versions of basic "American-style Italian food", being open for breakfast, lunch (offering sandwiches and plate lunches) and dinner six days a week. $6-20.
  • Corky's - One of the most well known barbecue places in Memphis. 3 or 4 locations within the city; $6-$20 per person. You can purchase their barbeque sauce too and have ribs shipped.
  • The BBQ Shop - Another of the best barbecue places in Memphis. One location on Madison Ave. Popular barbecue with good service. A sandwich with two sides will run you about $7.
  • Hi-Tone - Famous Midtown music venue now with full kitchen for dinner. Great selection of "drunk" foods: barbecue chicken pizza, burgers, hot wings. But they also serve pasta, vegetable plates and offer vegetarian options. $5-$20.
  • Bayou Bar and Grill, Great Cajun food at moderate prices located near Studio on the Square. Tuesday is $3 pint night. The Gumbo and spicy chicken sandwich is great.
  •    Central BBQ2249 Central Ave +1 901 272-9377. or 4375 Summer Ave. +1 901 767-4672 This is yet another great BBQ place. There are two locations, but the original on Central Ave. is said to be the best by locals. BBQ nachos and ribs are must-haves.
  •    Jack Magoo's Sports Bar2583 Broad Avenue +1 901 746-9612. Located in the historic Broad Avenue Arts District, Jack Magoo's has a full menu and TV's galore to watch the game. 21 and up. Check the website for live music schedule.

East Memphis[edit]

Evolution on display at the Pink Palace Museum
  •    Folk's Folly551 South Mendenhall Rd. Consistently voted “Best Steak,” by readers of all four major Memphis publications, Folk’s Folly pairs fine dining with a cozy, comfortable atmosphere. This Memphis landmark embodies an unwavering commitment to quality by offering corn-fed prime steaks, and fresh seafood. All menu items are prepared in our scratch kitchen. $100+
  • Belmont Grill, at Poplar and Mendenhall - Hole-in-the-wall bar and restaurant that serves great food. Try the shish kebobs. $10-$20.
  • Germantown Commissary, On Germantown Road between Poplar and Poplar Pike (technically in Germantown) - Some of the best ribs Memphis has to offer. $10-$20.
  • The Half Shell. Good seafood is hard to come by in Memphis, but Half Shell scores. Extensive menu, with a cajun tilt to most dishes. Fresh gulf oysters, King Crab, Champagne brunch on the weekends, and menu "front page" items that change frequently. The kitchen is open until 2AM (1AM on Sunday). Locations at Mendenhall/Poplar and Winchester/Centennial (near Southwind). There is also an abbreviated menu available at the Rhythms Cafe & Bar in Concourse B, near Gate 35 at the Memphis International Airport. Half Shell is also known for its live music on the weekends and its lively late-night bar crowd. Entrees $9 and up.
  • Buckley's--For the best steak in all of Memphis, you must head to Buckley's on Poplar. Wonderful food, exceptionally friendly staff, and affordable prices!
  •    Juicy Jim's546 S. Highland St +1 38111 901-458-4448. Memphis,Tn This is a great sandwich place near the University of Memphis on Highland Ave. The food is a bit expensive with sandwiches being about $8-$12, but the quality is great and it is well worth it. The best sandwich shop in Memphis and has great pizza too. The shop will be moving across the street to the pizzeria in about 3 months.
  •    Edo4792 Summer Ave +1 901 767-7096. Great Japanese home style cooking. This is about as close to real Japanese food as you can get without being in Japan. Expect to pay about 9 or 10 dollars for a very tasty meal. They also have reasonably priced Japanese beers.
  • Muddy's Bake Shop. Delightful neighborhood bakery with delicious baked goods--don't miss the cupcakes, with names as creative as the cupcakes are delicious--and wonderful, welcoming staff. Light lunch served as well, menu changes weekly. Voted best birthday cake in memphis by Nickelodeon Parents Connect. Lunch Items $6 and under. Cupcakes $1.50.
  •    Sekisui. 50 Humphreys Center. Best Japanese food in Memphis. Although there are many locations around Memphis, the Humphreys location is the original and still the best. If you're lucky, your waitress will be Japanese, and the head sushi chef is Japanese. Jimmy Ishii, the owner, is also Japanese.

Elsewhere[edit]

  • Jerry's Sno Cones, at the corner of Wells Station and Reed Ave, Jerry's has some of the best Sno Cones you'll find anywhere, with a huge selection of flavors. They also have a hot food menu featuring Burgers, and fried bologna sandwiches. You can get a full meal sandwich, fries, drink, and dessert all for under $10., [12]
  • Ellen's Soul Food and Bar-B-Q, 601 S. Parkway E. - Expect to hear the menu when you arrive to get down at this old-school soul food dream, though a hand-written paper copy is also available. Fried everything is their specialty, including okra, cornbread, chicken, and catfish that's worth a trip to Memphis by itself. The service is so good that the management will set you straight if you try to eat neck bones with a knife and fork. Entrees $7-9, including two side orders.
  • Coletta's. 1063 S. Parkway E. One of the oldest restaurants in Memphis, with excellent American-Italian food. Don't miss the barbecue spaghetti or pizza.
  •    Jim Neely's Interstate Barbecue2265 S. Third Street. No ambiance to speak of, but the barbecue is outstanding even by Memphis's high standards. The Interstate Barbecue in the B terminal of the Memphis airport is just as good. There's always a line, but it's worth it. There will be another plane later.
  •    Tycoon3309 Kirby Parkway +1 901 362-8788. This is a great Asian restaurant that specializes in noodles. They offer a variety of Asian cuisine ranging from China to Vietnam to Malaysia. Prices average at about 7-8 dollars.
  • Eat Well2965 N Germantown Rd +1 901 388-8178. Called a "modern Japanese buffet," this place has a healthy variety of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese food, perhaps with an emphasis on Japanese. Lunch buffet is $12 with sushi, dinner buffet has sashimi and is $20. They also have great Japanese-style pan-friend gyoza. It's a great and refreshing buffet, and much of the clientele is Asian (Japanese, Chinese, and Korean) at any given time.
  •    Mi Pueblo3750 Hacks Cross Road +1 901 751-8896. This is a great Mexican buffet with a nice selection of Mexican food. Clientele is mostly Mexican (so you know it's good), and prices are reasonable ($7 - $15)

Pizza[edit]

The Stax Museum of American Soul Music
  • Exline's - A Memphis chain serving up some big ol' round pizzas cut into square pieces. The toppings are huge (as in large bits). The cheese on the cheese fries is nacho and it comes from a can; super fantastic. ~$10.
  •    Camy's. Want to just hang out in your hotel? Call Camy's for the best pizza delivery in town.
  • Pie In The Sky, tasty pizza joint formerly located at Cooper & Young, and now revived at Lou's Pizza Pie, LLC at 2158 Young Avenue. Lou is Back!!
  • Memphis Pizza Cafe, Overton Square, also on Park Av., and a couple in the 'burbs - Tasty Pizza (BBQ chicken is good). Cold beer. All you really need. $10-$15.
  • Garibaldi's, U of M area (back behind the YMCA). Great 70's atmosphere, great 70's style pizza. $5-$10.
  • Fox Ridge Pizza, 2 locations: Fox Meadows & Cordova, round pizza, square cut, unique sauce and cheese. Also excellent hamburgers. $10-$20
  • Mellow Mushroom Brilliant! Finally a real pizza place in Memphis (Germantown). This place also has and extensive craft brew beer menu. $10-30
  • Juicy Jim's Pizzeria551 S. Highland Street +1 901 435-6243. Hours: 3pm - 3am. Owned and run by Juicy Jim and located across the street from the old sandwich shop of the same name. This place has great pizza and subs at reasonable prices. Expect to spend about $10 - 20 for a nice sized pie with a couple toppings. The sandwiches are equally great and inexpensive considering the quality and size. Also has very reasonable beer prices: around $3 for a pint.

Variations of Quick[edit]

Memphis has a tradition of hiding its best food at the back of convenience stores. For instance:

  • Kwik Check, Madison Ave. near Overton Square. Best deli sandwiches in Memphis. Try the "Cheesy Muff" (vegetarian muffeletta) or "My Bleeding Heart" (spicy spicy hummus pita). $5-10.
  • Kwik Shop, Central Ave. and East Parkway - Big huge burgers. Super nice steak fries. Gyros are excellent. They have veggie burgers just as big as the meat ones, but they only have one grill. $4-$6.

Listen[edit]

Soul, R&B, and rock 'n' roll have deep roots in Memphis, and destinations abound for good music today.

  • Beale Street in downtown Memphis makes sense as a first destination. A dozen clubs pipe their music onto the street, and each night a single wristband buys entrance to them all.
  • Hi-Tone Cafe, [13]. Featured musical acts could be anybody, from reggae to country-western acts--all of them party bands, to be sure. Make sure you show up ready to move a little, drink a little and even eat little. This club is closing at the end of February 2013, so catch it while you still can.
  • Wild Bill's Lounge, 1580 Vollintine Ave. It sits unassumingly in a strip mall three miles northeast of Beale Street, where, as if out of an old movie, the boisterous Memphis Soul Survivors, led by the boisterous Miss Nicki, play to a boisterous crowd. Night hours on F-Su. As they pay the $10 cover, patrons are greeted at the door by Wild Bill himself.
  • Minglewood Hall, [14] 1555 Madison Ave. Memphis' newest music venue, located in Midtown at the former location of Strings 'n' Things.

Drink[edit]

Beale Street coming to life at dusk
  • Wine is sold in dedicated, licensed liquor stores in Memphis. Most grocery stores may have an "independent" liquor store conveniently next to the grocery store. Apparently this regulation discourages alcohol use by forcing you to walk a few extra feet to buy your booze. High-alcohol-content beers are sold in liquor stores. Traditional brands such as Budweiser are sold in grocery and conveniennce stores only. Liquor stores are open from ~8am usually 10am-11pm, M-Sa. (Beer can be sold before noon on Su in restaurants.)
  • Buster's Wine on Highland at Poplar, near the University of Memphis. This is where most of the locals go for wine. Also has a good selection of harder liquor and high-test beer. This place is very popular and always packed on the weekends, but has a fantastic, efficient staff that get you in and out quickly. Open every hour it's legal: 8am to 11pm, Monday through Saturday.
  • Joe's Liquor Speaking of booze, if you need packaged goods and you're in midtown, head to Joe's (Poplar and Belvedere) as much to see Sputnik (the vintage, spinning, twisting neon star) as for the beverages. Go at dusk for maximum effect.
  • Great Wine And Spirits is out east. Probably has one of more extensive wine stocks in Memphis liquor stores.
  • Bosco's, Overton Square. Brew pub and food. Featured on many "Best Of" lists.
  • Newby's, Highland Street (called the Highland Strip, near The University of Memphis). "Playboy" magazine rated Newby's the "Best place to party like a Rock Star!"
  • "The High Point", Madison Avenue. Swing dancing, the best live bands and any libation you crave.
  • Bluff City Coffee, 505 S. Main. The latest addition to the Art District of Downtown Memphis. Specializing in Italian style espresso based coffee. The coffee shop features comfort and conference style seating for meetings, free wireless internet, and print/copy/scan/fax capabilities to keep you productive throughout your day. Make sure to bring your laptop and stay a while. This coffee shop also feature a collection of Don Newman's vintage black and white photographs from the 30's, 40's, and 50's.
  • The Buccaneer, Midtown. This bar converted from a house has music of all types every night, with a counterculture twist. A penchant for chaos and tolerance to listen to an hour of feedback while the band fights is a plus. Ramones t-shirt optional.
  •    OtherlandsCooper st. at Cowden. A social hub for Memphis' art and music community. Espresso by day and beers at night when the coffee shop hosts intimate folk/rock shows.
  • Blues Night Club1405 Airways Blvd (Midtown),  +1 901 327-7947. So the area's rough enough to scare away most anyone not from the neighborhood, but the vibe is good inside, with DJs spinning blues and R&B, accompanied by a full dance floor, every F-Sa in the evening.
  • RP Tracks This is a nice and moderately priced bar/restaurant near the University of Memphis on Walker Ave. It's a good place to start the evening on the Highland strip. They have many types of beer at reasonable prices (about 7 bucks for a pitcher) and have some veggie-friendly selections on their menu.
  • The Oasis Lounge663 S. Highland Ave +1 901-405-3011. A great place to come relax and have a cup of coffee and enjoy a nice hookah. This is a private club due to the smoking factor so be prepared to pay a $6 membership fee and to be carded (this is an 18 and up establishment). It's got a very nice, laid back atmosphere and also has free Wi-Fi. Located on South Highland next to McDonald's. This is a coffee shop, and there is no alcohol on premises. A DJ plays there on Saturday nights.
  • Mollie Fontaine Lounge. Victorian mansion-turned-lounge featuring potent drinks and an innovative, varied menu in a chic atmosphere. Explore all the rooms, each unique in theme and decor, full bars upstairs and downstairs, and a piano bar with amazing jazz singer weekend nights. Make sure not to miss the mac 'n' cheese, chocolate brioche sandwiches for dessert and the delightful mojitos. 679 Adams Avenue, p901.524.1886. Wednesday- Saturday 5pm 'til the spirits go to sleep.

Sleep[edit]

There is limited choice but the city offers some affordable and decent lodging.

Budget[edit]

  • Pilgrim House Hostel1000 South Cooper St +1 901 273-8341. Dorm beds at $20 per night. Private rooms are $35 per night for one person or $60 per night for two and $85 for three. There is also a retreat center in the same building for groups of 10 or more. Retreat center bunk rooms are $10 per bed. This is arguably one of the most peaceful, quiet hostels in the country, but is still friendly. The computers are insanely slow. An unusual cost-saving/community-building policy saves you $10 on your stay if you pitch in with one chore per night—things like taking out the recycling, or sanitizing doorknobs. Lest the church affiliation worry you, note that the UCC is actually one of the most active churches in the nation in support of gay rights.

Mid-range[edit]

The famous Peabody Hotel ducks enjoying their afternoon dip
  •    Clarion Hotel6101 Shelby Oaks Drive +1 901 388-7050fax: +1 901 386-1882. Offers guests free Wi-Fi and a fitness center.
  •    Hampton Inn, Beale Street175 Peabody Place +1 901 260-4000fax: +1 901 260-4012. This is right on Beale Street--as opposed to the Holiday Inn and the Peabody, both of which are a few blocks away. The room prices are average, but beware: it is noisy. If you want to party then this is the place, but for a quieter getaway, stay a few blocks away.
  •    Doubletree Downtown Memphis185 Union Ave +1 901 528-1800. Located only a few blocks within walking distance from exciting Beale Street; a relaxing accommodation in a convenient location.
  •    Red Roof Inn +1 901 526-1050. Offers good, clean and affordable mid-range lodging,42 S.Camilla St, Memphis, TN 38104, (the hotel is in Midtown and close to Interstate 240).
  • Gen X Inn1177 Madison Ave. +1 901 692-9136. Downtown near Memphis Medical Center, Union Avenue attractions, and 10 miles from the airport.
  •    Wingate Inn Memphis2270 N Germantown Parkway +1 901 386-1110.

Splurge[edit]

  •    Peabody Hotel149 Union Avenue (downtown near Beale Street). Don't miss the ducks in the lobby fountain and their daily procession (11am and 5pm); you don't have to stay to see them. Luxury extras, sheets and service in a historically and architecturally significant hotel.
  •    River Inn of Harbor Town, toll-free: +1-877-222-1531. Overlooks the Mississippi River, offering luxury in a delightful boutique hotel atmosphere. Located at 50 Harbor Town Square. Experience warm hospitality and unmatched service.
  • The Madison Hotel79 Madison Ave. Located downtown near the river, is a modern boutique hotel with a clean lines, contemporary vibe and stylish luxury. The Madison Hotel was awarded Number One Small Luxury Four Diamond Hotel in Memphis. Make sure not to miss Grill 83--located at street level--with its excellent seafood, steaks, and martini lounge, and the sweeping rooftop garden with breathtaking views of downtown and the Mississippi River. p 901.333.1200 - f 901.333.1299

Not categorized by price[edit]

  •    Holiday Inn3700 Central Avenue +1 901 678-8200. Not flashy, but gets the job done. Holiday Inn was founded in Memphis in 1952.

Connect[edit]

Newspapers[edit]

  • The Commercial Appeal, [15]. A daily newspaper.
  • Memphis Flyer, [16]. An alternative newspaper; free.

Stay safe[edit]

Safety in downtown Memphis has greatly improved in the last few years. Throughout the day, especially at night, there is usually a large police presence downtown, especially in the area around Beale Street. Use common sense when traveling in Memphis, just as you would anywhere else. Leave no valuables in plain sight in your car, and be mindful of where you are, especially at night. It is also wise to stay away from areas in North and South Memphis, as these areas have very high rates of crime.

Stay healthy[edit]

Memphis has some of the best hospitals in the region. Methodist, Baptist, and Saint Francis are the main hospitals in the city. The Regional Medical Center at Memphis (The Med), a city owned hospital, has one of the best trauma and burn centers in the Mid-South. There are many clinics in the area as well, many of which are operated by the hospital systems. Some of the hospitals in the city, though, can have long lines in emergency rooms. If you are not seriously injured, it would be best to go to one of the minor medical clinics or to drive to one of the hospitals in the suburbs of Memphis such as Methodist Germantown, Baptist East, or Saint Francis Bartlett. The Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital is world-renowned for its treatment of children's cancers.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Memphis
END  NW I-22.svg SE  Olive Branch (Via US 78.svg) → Birmingham
Little RockWest Memphis  W I-40.svg E  BartlettNashville
St. LouisWest Memphis  N I-55.svg S  SouthavenJackson
Cape GirardeauWest Memphis  N US 61.svg S  TunicaClarksdale
Searcy/Little Rock/Pine BluffWest Memphis  W US 64.svgnoframenoframe E  BartlettChattanooga/Nashville/Clarksville
END  W US 72.svg E  → Germantown → Corinth


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