Memphis- Eight days, 32 restaurants, 1 Elvis sighting

Traveling is my favorite activity. I would travel non-stop if someone would pay me for reporting on the world. As I write this, I am jet legged, overstuffed, and exhausted from my trip to Memphis, Tennessee. I am also missing Memphis, as the city crawled into a corner of my heart and I do not think it will ever let go. I was visiting Memphis for a Business Brokers Conference where Gary teaches Business Broker Classes and I explain to men with khaki pants and blue collared shirts the power of public relations. Mostly, I ate my way thru the city.

I also wanted to brag and let you know that Gary was named on of the top 10 Business Brokers in California by the International Business Brokers Association. He was recognized for his creative handling of selling, marketing, and outstanding achievement in business closings.

Memphis is known as the home of the blues and the birthplace of Rock and Roll, but by and large for the amazing food, handed down from generation to generation. They specialize in BBQ ribs, fried chicken, catfish, and soul food. I had it all by visiting over 30 restaurants in 8 days. I didn’t have a bad meal, but I am pretty sure I sprained my stomach (and gained 30 pounds).

I fell in love with this city; the people were warm, inviting, and open. It is a city where you can still hear Elvis’s back up band, BB King and Dr. Feel Good Potts play every night on Beale Street for tips. I had tea and listened to amazing stories with Mr. Lansky who was the official costumer for Elvis from 1960 to his death. I met the reverend Al Green at a soul food restaurant, shared my catfish, and went to his Full Gospel service. I met the Mojo Queen of Beale Street and danced on the bar at Coyote Ugly.

I must state again, this was the best food in the world. I went to all the suggested restaurants and the would ask the wait staff and locals where their favorite food was located, which most claimed to be there Grandmothers kitchen. I had the best fried Catfish at Soul Fish and saw the ducks march through the Peabody Hotel. On every corner, in every bar and restaurant there was an incredible blues band that blew your mind. The icons of rock and the founders of the blues were here. You could just go up to them and they would tell you stories of the birth of rock and roll. I spent the day at Graceland and cried like a baby when I came to the King’s tomb as a 5-year-old girl placed a red rose on his grave.

I wish for y’all to experience this amazing living museum of our past with the Mississippi winding by everyday and the ghost of Elvis hanging in each hotel lobby. The best Chicken in the world was at Gus’s. They only served fried chicken, slaw, beans, and home baked pies. It was so good, we ate there for lunch and then again for dinner. The chicken was coated in a spicy, sweet crust, perfectly flash fried in peanut oil that sealed in the moisture. It was perfection. The BBQ ribs were a toss up from five different joints- all amazing, all different with dry rubbed and wet style. Cozy Corner was my favorite (with the best sweet potato pie); Rendezvous had the best dry rubbed with Interstate, Central BBQ, and Blues City Café all with wet and fabulous ribs that will never be forgotten.

The people were amazing, it was like a small town where by the 3rd day of my visit, everyone knew me by name. We spent every night listening to the best live music whether it was in a Juke Joint or in an alley between restaurants. Gary loved the name of the businesses, he thought they were a hoot.

A quick to do list if you are visiting:

My favorite Restaurant for Chicken was Gus Fried Chicken on Third Street down from Beale. Best soul food is Soul Fish on Cooper in Midtown, their catfish was to die for! Best ribs was either at Rendezvous (in the alley across from the Peabody Hotel) or a Blues City Cafe on Beale Street. For the best Memphis homestyle ribs and sweet potato pie, Cozy Corner on N. Parkway and Manassas was out of this world (it is over by the Pyramid).

Best fancy restaurant was Paulettes on Madison- Amazing Popovers and Cajun/Hungarian influenced food.

Things I would defiantly do:

Graceland- Go early, it is not air-conditioned and it is HOT HOT HOT right now and a million people are visitng. The best thing to do is go thru the tour (you get on a bus and they take you across the street to Graceland) and after the meditation Garden, go thru the house again on your own. I got so much more out of it that way. It is $30 for the house and all the smaller museums, but they have a $60 private tour, that I would do if I went back again. It was much more personal and you got a lot more Elvis insights.

Beale Street- Every night (and during the day) the best bands in the world play here, if not in clubs then in the alleys between them. Best bands were at Rum Boogie Cafe and BB Kings. It is also the best people watching place I have been too in a long time. During the day (2 to 5 PM) at Silky Sullivans the Ms. Zeno, the Mojo queen sings and she is so good and a really good time. Tell her Teri said hi! Tater Reds was my favorite weird store, and A. Schwab was like a living museum, must be seen!

Peabody Hotel- each day they march Ducks through the lobby to a fountain and as hooky as it sounds, it was a hoot. I also went to Lansky’s which is the men’s store in the lobby of the hotel and the owner personally knew Elvis and has great stories to share.

I loved the Rock and Soul Museum, it is right at the end on Beale Street. Most of the guys are stilling playing live on Beale Street.

Best breakfast was a Cupboards on Union and Brother Junipers over by the university.

If you have a rental car, feel free to explore during the day. Memphis has a ring road (240) and no matter you go, you end up on the freeway, so it is impossible to get lost. I spent each day on Beale Street and had no need to go anywhere else.

I loved the riverboat ride (The Memphis Queen) down the Mississippi, but it was HOT. Now I know why southern bells always carry a fan!

Reverend Al Greens Full Gospel church service on Sunday was the highlight of the trip. If you are there on Sunday- try to go. It is past Graceland about 1 mile out in the booneys, but everyone knows it and will give you directions. Services were at 10 am.
If one of you if a treasure hunter, check out the thrift stores. They had things from the Civil war and were selling it for cheap. The people are so nice, I can’t say enough about how nice and helpful they were. Have a great time and let me know how you liked it.