OK, this last week has been very hectic, chaotic, painful and just downright busy. After I got back from our trip I had surgery and since then have been trying to figure out how to navigate my life and depending heavily on my wife and son. That is not something I am used to doing so it requires an effort from me. I think I am getting a work routine down here so I finally have a few minutes to just give you my impression of Memphis.
Now our area of exploration was fairly limited. When we got there we used AirBnB and got an apartment that was perhaps 6 or 7 blocks away from Beale Street. That is the street where all the blues bars and stuff is located. My first impression of the city around our apartment was that it seemed almost abandoned. Every other building was empty and the sidewalks were falling apart. I literally had to watch where we walked, on the blocks near the apartment for fear of twisting my ankle or breaking my foot even more. They were bad. The buildings looks awesome, lots of character to them and not just bland rectangles. It was a shame that many of them were partially or completely empty. It did appear that there was a campaign of sorts to ‘revitalize’ that part of the city and there was construction going on in many places, so perhaps it cold be on an upswing.
Our first test of Memphis BBQ came at the infamous Rendezvous. We have heard nothing but rave reviews for this place so we were eager to try them first. We got into town a little behind schedule Thursday night since one of our friend’s plane was late arriving to Chicago, but they were still open, so off we went. I believe we were all unimpressed. Perhaps it was because it was already 8:30 on a week night, but they were open until 10. Whatever the reason, our ribs were just dry. I know Memphis is dry rub, not sauce, but dry rub shouldn’t mean dry meat. There was some goodness within that dry crust, which led us all to conclude that maybe at a busier time they would be better. Service was good, the meat and cheese tray appetizer was great and beer plentiful. We even saw one of the Baldwin brothers there carrying out several boxes of food, so I guess it couldn’t be all THAT bad.
Next day we explored the city a bit more and headed down to Beale Street. The street is closed off like downtown Las Vegas, but it is only for 2 blocks. One of the blocks was loaded with bars open all day long, the other side has a few closed locations and many that were only open later in the day. We had some wings and catfish bites at a local bar, drank in several establishments then explored more. Here the sidewalks were top notch. Guess they don’t need drunks tripping and hurting themselves. Dinner brought us to a dive-looking place called Blues City Cafe. Now these ribs were top notch. From there we enjoyed several bands and many beers throughout the night. One of the several places we stopped at was a Coyote Ugly location they had there. NOT worth the visit. I get it that the schtick is the ‘show’ but they just NEVER stopped hawking. STFU for 10 minutes and let people enjoy their beer or check out the staff and patrons. Oh, and maybe get bartenders that live up to the expectations. I am not trying to be cruel. I am not exactly an example of physical fitness, but a few of these ladies need to hit the gym or something.
Saturday morning we had breakfast at a local restaurant before heading to Nashville. Apparently there was a Cottonginners Conference in town and the place was packed. 40 minutes later we get a table and another 20 we saw a waitress. She talked so soft we had to guess what she was saying. We ordered our food and another 45 minutes later we got some tasty fuel to get us on our way. Less than 5 minutes after we finished we were out of the city and headed to stop number 2 on our trip.
All in all, I would recommend Memphis for a trip. beer and food were affordable, people were friendly and the music plentiful and good. Next time we will make room for a trip to Graceland. We were just trying to pack as much BBQ in the 2 days as we could so we stayed local. next stop: Nashville!