Beyond BBQ – Midtown Memphis

Upon my last visit to Memphis I stayed a bit closer to mid town. This opened me up to many more dining out possibilities. I spent two nights exploring this area a bit.

The first night I settled on eating at Chiwawa upon recommendation of a friend. Chiwawa specializes in American and Mexican street food.

The evening was nice so I settled on a table on the outdoor patio.

I decided to start with a local beer.

They had a 3 taco special that night. I settled on the delicious taco del sol, flavorful carne asada, and the not so exciting aftershroom delight. The shroom taco could have used something more…not sure what.

A couple of nights later I decided to head back down to another part of midtown.  On the way I came across this used records store. It caught my eye because it shares a name with one of my favorite terrible movies (and also mentioned in a great Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem).

I found parking spot in the Cooper-Young neighborhood and walked around.
The first thing that greeted me was this cool decor of an overpass.

This area has nice bike lanes and racks.

On the way to dinner I passed by the interesting House of Mews. The House of Mews is a sanctuary that houses cats until they can find a permanent home. There are mucho kitties in this place.

Upon recommendation from a friend I decided to eat dinner at Sweet Grass. Sweet Grass is a southern bistro with a farm to table flare. There were many local ingredients on the menu. Next door is their sister restaurant called Next Door that provides a more casual dining experience. I chose to eat at the more formal restaurant.

I was dining alone and given a table in the front of the restaurant looking outside to the street. I thought that was nice of them to give me something to look at while dining.
The restaurant itself is tastefully decorated with nice wooden tables.
Starting off they brought some warm corn bread and butter. I am not normally a cornbread fan but this cornbread was amazing. It was soft and flavorful and heaven with the butter. I couldn’t stop eating it (It made me too full to try a dessert later).

I started off by ordering their special drink Green Fork ($1 of each goes to charity). It was good but not my cup of tea. I am not a huge midori fan. 

For the main dish I settled on the medium plate chuck roast over the mushroom barley risotto. The meat easily fell apart and was full of great flavor. I really like what the risotto added to the dish. There was just the right amount of savory gravy.

As a side dish I was intrigued by the butternut squash goat cheese flan. It arrived on its own plate with a look of a lumpy yellowish flan. It was a good choice, The flavors were amazing.

I wish I would have saved room for a dessert but I was full. I walked around the area a bit more after dinner and noticed many more places to dine and drink at. If I end up in Memphis again I will definitely return.

Beyond BBQ – East Memphis

During my last work trip to Memphis I stayed a little closer to the center of town but still on the east side of the city. I had plenty of time to explore this area of town.
During my daily drive to work I got to see these life size horse statues. At the time I was in Memphis there was a scavenger hunt team building going on where I needed a picture of myself with a life size statue. These horses fit the description nicely.

I also needed a picture with a city limit sign. Luckily there was one very close to my hotel.

One night I was looking for a place to eat in walking distance to my hotel. A friend suggested I try Pyros Fire Fresh Pizza. They make to order personal size pizzas. I ordered the pesto pizza. It was quite satisfying.

Walking back to the hotel I came across a weinermobile!!!

Another night I tried a local brew at a nearby restaurant that was having a crawfish boil. Too bad I was already full or I would have taken part in the festivities. The beer was a nice scotch ale.

And finally I decided to try the restaurant in the hotel. Frank Grisanti’s  had a fine dining feel to it. I dined in the courtyard of the hotel. The pasta was very filling. I tried to save my leftovers in the refrigerator in the room but unfortunately the fridge was broken and the food had to be thrown away the next day. Oh well, I wanted to try another restaurant anyway.

Beyond BBQ – Graceland in Memphis

Upon my last trip to Memphis I finally had time to see the awesomeness of Graceland.

I didn’t know much about the house before this visit except that it is kitschy and on most must see lists of the south. I arrived to find that you wait for a van to take you to the house upon a scheduled time. That day they were about an hour behind schedule. I had a plane to catch and started to get very nervous about time.

The van drops you off in groups in front of the house. You have an audio tour to follow at your leisure.

It is hard to really get a look at things at first with the crowd. It is best to hang back and wait for the crowd to move on a bit.
We started the tour in the living room. I love the peacock stained glass but the white couches and carpet have to go. Can you say wine stain?

Here is his picture in case you weren’t sure whose house you were in.

Staircase up to the private rooms which are off limits to non-royalty like us.

Purple-y spare bedroom

Dinning room

Now this is when the fun begins, kick ass carpet….

And carpet into the kitchen.

And more fun when we get to the jungle room (Note the green carpet; It carries on to the ceiling).

Then we go downstairs to the TV room where I guess you are supposed to watch TV. You have a creepy drugged out monkey looking at you.

And the last room in the basement is the pool room. This is where things go psychedelic. I really like the wall curtains.

After the house tour you move on to the back buildings that hold studio offices, stables, and his personal racquetball court (which is now an Elvis shrine).

Memorabilia museum

His gold records….it goes on and on


At the racquetball building

Suits from the last part of his career.


Yeah, here is another wall of these.

I like some of the wall writing at the estate entrance.

After the tour I went back across the street. I still had time to tour his car museum and airplanes (yes two of them).

Barbie jeep

The bigger plane

 And then the little plane.

I was hesitant to visit but I am glad I did. It is a time capsule of a big part of pop culture that shouldn’t be missed!

Beyond BBQ – Downtown Memphis Day 2

During my last visit to Memphis area I finally got to explore more of downtown Memphis. I wanted to visit the Civil Rights Museum however the day I chose to come I missed the opening hours. It is supposed to be a fabulous museum and I am sorry I missed it (I will have to catch it again on another trip). Fortunately there are some things to see outside the museum that I was able to catch for free.
The museum is located at the site of the Lorraine Motel – the hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was shot on April 4, 1968.

Informative podiums line the sidewalk in front of the hotel and tell the history that led up to the day and after the day.

The impact of racism and this time is still felt today evidenced in this table set outside the exhibit.

This powerful message given right before his death lines one of the museum entrances.

After the visit to the King site, I decided to take a walk down Main Street. I took note of all the nice brick buildings and street cars that are in use today.

This old building is ready to be demolished. It made me sad because I think it has a lot of character and would have been good to keep around.

Almost at the famous Beale Street I came across the Orpheum Theater. Many notable acts perform there. I found out that I was going to miss out on Morrissey who was to perform there later in the month.

Turning the corner and walking a couple blocks takes you to the famous Beale Street that houses many blues joints. I stopped in to BB Kings for a bit to catch a couple songs of a live band.

Walking further down the street you can catch live musicians.

And interesting architecture….

After the music I wanted to stop for a brew. I walked a couple blocks over to the Flying Saucer to taste a local beer. Flying Saucer is a chain that has food and a great selection of foreign and craft beer. I would say I wish we had one of these in Orlando but Orlando has a pretty great selection already. It is nice to know I can find a place to try new things when I am traveling though.

After my brew I took a walk further down the Main Street where there are tons of restaurants to dine at.

It was getting late so I decided to take the streetcar down to where I had parked near the Lorraine Hotel. For $1 it was a cheap and convenient ride.

I almost can’t wait for my next trip to Memphis to explore more of what the city has to offer.

Beyond BBQ – Downtown Memphis Day 1

The corporate headquarters for my corporation is located outside of Memphis. I have visited there a time or two. During my last few visits I never ventured out of the suburbs. During my recent trip I had the majority of my evenings free so I was able to explore more of Memphis. I feel lucky that I got to visit during the month of May. I belive that is the time of the year when Memphis is at its best. The weather is awesome and there is so much to do (if you get past the allergens).
I came in a day early for my trip so I could take part in the Beale Street Music Festival.

I started my downtown experience by dining at the famous Arcade Restaurant. History states that it was a favorite dining spot for Elvis Presley when he was alive. I took reviewers advice and ordered the sweet potato pancakes. While it was true that they were good I think I would have enjoyed them more if they were whole grain. I have taken a liking to whole grain pancakes so white flour pancakes taste too much like dessert for breakfast to me now.

I easily found downtown parking for $10 a day and walked down to the festival gate near Beale Street. I visited on a Sunday about an hour after the gates opened. There were no lines to get in but it was hot.

Photo credit: Taken from beale street music festival facebook page.

I decided to start at the Blues Tent close to the entrance to enjoy the shade for a while. The first act of the day was Dr. Herman Green. Herman is a spectacular saxophone player who still plays great at the age of 83. He has played with many notable blues legends but typically will do a set with the jam band FreeWorld at these festivals. Unfortunately they scheduled Herman Green and FreeWorld to perform at the same time this year. After enjoying Dr. Green for about 20 minutes, I wandered over to another tent to see the end of the set of FreeWorld.
FreeWorld is a fun jam band with a loyal following. They did some covers but even their originals were easily recognizable by the audience. I joined the energy at that stage and finished the set with them.
After they were finished I walked over to the stage where the Dandy Warhols were going to perform and caught the last few minutes of the energetic Latin band Los Rabanes. I can’t believe I have never heard of this ska-rock band. They had me dancing over to their stage with their version of “Electric Avenue”. They performed a few more covers and original songs with intense energy that made you feel foolish if you were in the crowd standing around. They were truly a fun band to watch.
While waiting for the next act I found a beer tent that had beers close to craft-beer like (since the event was sponsored by Bud). I picked up a Goose Island Urban Wheat Ale (Goose Island sits on the fence of big beer and craft beer anymore) and headed back to the stage to get a good spot for the Dandy Warhols. This was my first time seeing them live but I have enjoyed some of their tunes for a few years now. I was excited to hear their higher energy tunes when they were played; sadly the crowd was not. I suppose many in the crowd have never heard of them. The Dandy Warhol’s played a great set but it would have been just a bit better with a more excited crowd.
After Dandy Warhols I walked back over to the stage where Leftover Salmon was playing to catch their act. Leftover Salmon is a Colorado based jam-band that I have caught before at New Orleans Jazz Fest and other music festivals. They are fun to watch but I was getting hot standing around in the sun so I decided to leave the festival for the day. I took a re-entry ticket thinking maybe I would just hang out in a cool restaurant for a while and come back; but I was tired and I had to work the next day.

A couple of days later I headed back downtown to try to catch what I missed the first day.
However that evening I wanted to try to get dinner closer to my hotel. I stopped at the Hog & Hominy and enjoyed one of their delicious cocktails and pizzas.

I ordered the Bebop and Rocksteady – the pizza with sopressata and clams. I was curious because I have never tried clams on a pizza before. The whole flavor of the pizza was delicious, especially the sopressata, but the clams were chewier than I like.
After I finished my dinner it was off to bed early to make sure I got a good night’s sleep before work the next  morning.