Memphis, Tennessee

A quick, weekend trip back home

View of the Hernando de Soto Bridge over the Mississippi River

My husband, Billy, and I went back to our hometown of Memphis, Tennessee for my birthday weekend about two weeks ago. We moved to Washington, DC in 2017, and while we have fallen in love with East Coast life, it’s nice to go back home once in a while.

It’s fitting that my first blog post is about where I was born and raised. Memphis is a big part of who I am after all, and as a native Memphian, I want to get a few things straight:

  • Memphis has the best barbecue in the country, not up for debate.
  • No, I’m not an Elvis fan, and the annual Elvis Week is hell.
  • The Grizzlies have more heart than any other NBA team.
  • This is an urban city, not a rural Tennessee town.
  • Yes, the 10th largest pyramid in the world is there and it houses a Bass Pro Shop.
  • The doctors here give sinus cocktail shots, which are a blessing for sinusitis sufferers.
  • And as always, 901 > 615.
The Grizzlies home court, the FedEx Forum

The thing about taking a vacation back home is that I’m never in tourist mode. I spent the majority of my time at my parents’ house, eating my dad’s cooking. The stormy weather that weekend didn’t really encourage me to leave the house very much. But I thought that I would share some of my favorite things to do in Memphis when I actually do get out of the house.

Grapefruit Bruleé with turbinado sugar at The Beauty Shop restaurant

Despite the rain, I managed to catch up with some friends at The Beauty Shop, a popular brunch spot in Midtown at Cooper Street and Young Avenue. The chicken and waffles are delicious, the mimosas are refreshing, and the grapefruit bruleé has just enough sweetness.

Other must-eats include —

  • Huey’s, a local burger chain with my favorite, the West Coast Burger
  • Pho Binh, Vietnamese lunch buffet heaven with lemongrass tofu that is to die for
  • Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, the title says it all
  • Casablanca, delicious Moroccan cuisine with shawarma for days
  • Memphis Pizza Cafe, the best barbecue chicken pizza
  • Celtic Crossing, the most amazing corned beef hash brunch dish
  • La Guadalupana, the best tortas around
  • Soul Fish Cafe, serving catfish and hush puppies galore
  • Southern Hands, soul food you can get outside of your family’s kitchen
  • Maciel’s Tortas, tacos on tacos on tacos
  • Las Delicias, for the guacamole and charro bean soup
  • Osaka on Highland, conveyor belt sushi lunch and hibachi that gives life
  • Ono Poke, Hawaiian poke bowls gifted from the gods

And I know what you are thinking. “Liz, what about barbecue?” But that requires an entire article of its own. In the meantime, you can’t go wrong with Central BBQ, but that’s not where the edification of Memphis barbecue knowledge ends by any means.

Chicken tenders, fried okra, macaroni and cheese, and sweet tea at Gus’s Fried Chicken

While we’re on the subject of food, Memphis has some great local breweries. Right up the street from The Beauty Shop is Memphis Made Brewing, Co. Along with delicious beer, they have fun activities like trivia nights and bingo. You can also usually find a food truck outside or grab a pizza from Aldo’s Pizza Pies next door. My favorite beer at Memphis Made is Fireside. It’s an amber ale that is refreshing and good for washing down all of the tasty food.

The I ♡ Memphis mural outside of Memphis Made Brewing, Co.

My favorite beer, however, is at Wiseacre Brewing, Co. It’s called Gotta Get Up to Get Down, and the name is accurate. This beer is a coffee milk stout, and while I’m usually not a fan of dark beers, this one is a winner. Anytime I go to Memphis, I try to bring a six pack of Gotta Get Up back with me.

Me holding a can of Wiseacre Gotta Get Up to Get Down that I brought back from one of my Memphis visits

Outside of food, there are other activities to keep busy. During baseball season, you can catch a game at AutoZone Park downtown and root for our minor league team, the Redbirds. They also have fireworks games throughout the season that are beautiful to watch after the game has ended.

Video game lovers can have a good time at Rec Room, a video game bar with old school arcade games as well as “living rooms” where you can rent sofas, projection screens, and consoles by the hour. They even serve Pancho’s Cheese Dip at the bar, a Memphis commodity.

My silhouette in front of the AutoZone Park baseball diamond after I spent the 2013 season as a RedHot, a Redbirds dance/promo team member

While you are in the Cooper-Young neighborhood scouting out restaurants, take a minute to wander into Burke’s Book Store. It’s a new, used, and rare book shop founded by the Burke family in 1875. The store is set up like a living room with cozy chairs and vibrant shelves of literature that provide hours of reading.

After you are done there, head around the corner to Two Rivers Bookstore, a more eclectic shop that specializes in sci-fi, horror, and fantasy books. The store is woman-owned and in addition to books, you can find vintage clothing, antiques, and artistic items. On one of my visits there, I found an antique picnic basket with my mom’s exact initials on the lid. Every time I go in the store, I find something unique.

My husband, Billy, scanning the bookshelves for another addition to his huge collection

This last trip to Memphis was a short one, but I’m glad that I had time to see friends, family, and some of my favorite places. My only regret is that I only brought one barbecue sandwich for the plane ride. But no worries. I’ll be back in the 901 soon enough!

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