Whether through music or food, Memphis has its own way of doing things. Take Memphis barbecue which differs from Kansas City or Carolina versions. Memphis-style is a dry rub made from spices like paprika, cumin, garlic and pepper. It’s delicious as ribs, pulled pork or atop nachos covered with cheese and jalapeno. Memphis-style barbecue is served across the country but is best enjoyed in the home of the blues where it was created.
The restaurant Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous is definitely off the beaten path, but worth the hunt for classic Memphis-style barbecue. The front door is accessed from an alley with the restaurant in the building’s basement; following your nose is probably the best way to discover it. Although the restaurant opened in 1948, it was several years before their now-popular dry ribs and brisket became part of the menu.
For a little different flavor, try The Bar-B-Q Shop. Ribs are served wet or dry and their pulled pork is regularly touted as the best in town. Enjoy it on a sandwich or over nachos. Spaghetti or beans doused in their popular sauce are unique side order options.
The Blues City Café on Beale Street is the ideal Memphis combination of both barbecue and blues. Nightly live music pairs perfectly with a dinner of smokey ribs or fried catfish. Add a cup of seafood gumbo and hush puppies to round out the meal.
After dinner, walk along this historic section of Beale Street and stop at multiple venues to hear live music. Notes of blues, jazz, soul and rock and roll harmonize beautifully along the four-block stretch. Musicians have been gathering in the area for more than 100 years. Today about two dozen clubs and restaurants along this section of Beale Street give both popular artists and rising stars an opportunity to perform.
Where to stay
The most well-known hotel in Memphis – and possibly the entire south – is the Peabody. The hotel’s most famous residents are its ducks who live in a swanky rooftop “palace” and spend their days splashing in the lobby fountain. Seeing them march to and from the elevator daily requires staking a prime spot early. The lobby is usually packed with visitors and hotel guests during that short time. The hotel’s rooftop has amazing views of the Mississippi River each weekend from April through August.
The Comfort Inn Memphis Downtown is a short walk to the Mud Island River Park. The hotel is clean and comfortable with some rooms overlooking the Mississippi River. It has easy access to the Memphis Trolly for a ride along the river and a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum. For a more boutique experience, try the Hotel Napoleon. It’s a blend of an historic exterior with modern amenities inside. The downtown Memphis location is near the Peabody and a short walk to Beale Street