Bumped. GO BRUINS. - BN Eds.
Greetings, Bruins. I moved to Memphis about 3 years ago and I can confidently say that I feel like I know this city pretty well by now. Let me just say one thing outright: this is probably one of the most misunderstood and underrated cities in America, IMO. I've lived just about everywhere in this great country, so I feel like I know the difference :) This city is awesome...great music, incredible food, interesting culture, and decent weather (nothing is like SoCal, though!). But above all it's lots of fun, super cheap, and very safe, especially if you're visiting and you know where to go.
The city of Memphis has invested a lot of money to make sure of that. If you are planning to make the trip out here, hopefully the information below will help you enjoy the experience more. Most of these spots are very close to the FedEx Forum, as I assume most folks will not be venturing out much further away from downtown. You are welcome to send me a direct message or leave a comment if you have questions or would like to meet up.
There are plenty of options, obviously, but here are some more popular and convenient choices if you're going to watch games at the Forum:
* The Peabody: Memphis flagship...if you don't mind paying the price, you can't do better as far as location and history/culture.
* The Westin (Downtown): this is where visiting NBA players of the Grizzlies' opponents stay - directly across from the Forum. Tough to beat.
* The Hampton Inn (Downtown): affordable, and right on Beale Street...it might be noisy, though.
* Hilton Memphis: a short trolley ride or pleasant stroll away from the action.
* BBQ: Central BBQ, Corky's, Tops, Cozy Corner (I would avoid this place at night, but their BBQ Cornish game hens are legendary), and Memphis BBQ Co. (Horn Lake, MS - 15 min drive). Don't bother with Rendezvous - it's an "institution," but they have lost their way. Memphis is all about dry rub, but most spots will do wet ribs, too.
* Other Food: Gus's Fried Chicken (YES - incredible), Alcenia's, Majestic Grille, Rizzo's Diner, Double J's Smokehouse, Blue Plate Diner or Brother Juniper's (for breakfast/brunch), Itta Bena
* Gastropubs/Dives/Burgers: Local, SOB, Bardog (get the sliders), Green Beetle, Blind Bear (on Main St., but easy to miss), Earnestine and Hazel's (old brothel, apparently haunted - the soul burger is their only menu item), Huey's, Dyer's, Blue Monkey
* Beers: Flying Saucer, Kooky Canuck, Tap Room, TJ Mulligan's, Brass Door
* Fancy/Snooty: Silly Goose, Corner Bar, Flight, McEwen's, Bluefin
* Clubs/Lounges: Raiford's Disco, Mollie Fontaine's - not my bag, but some people like it
* Anywhere on Beale Street is fun for street bars/entertainment, and live music is everywhere, albeit "touristy." Some people have compared Beale to a junior version of Bourbon Street, if that gives you a better idea of the atmosphere. Keep in mind that you can drink outside on Beale Street, but no where else downtown...there are cops and cameras everywhere to ensure safety. Most places on Beale will have a small cover on the weekend, but they will give you a pass during the week, depending on the weather.
Specifically, Alfred's has a cool rooftop patio, Silky O'Sullivan's (try The Diver) is fun, and there is a pool hall called Absinthe Room above a bar that I can't recall, which is pretty cool/divey. Bleu is supposedly pretty solid, but it looks too hip for my taste.
The Downtown area isn't all that big, so getting from one place to the next is as easy as walking. However, if you decide to venture outside of Downtown, I recommend hopping on the trolley. It can take you from Main Street, to South Main, to Beale, and all the way to Midtown via Madison Avenue if you like. It's $1/ride...can't beat that. Also, there are plenty of horse-drawn "Cinderella-like" carriages, which is fun for the family or as a novelty experience.
If you need a cab for whatever reason, you can usually hail one around the top of Beale Street.
* Havana Mix Cigar Emporium
* Tamp and Tap - also good sandwiches and local beer
* Stax Museum (American Soul Music)
* Mud Island River Park and Museum - take the tram and check out their 1.5 mile long replica of the lower part of the Mississippi and more.
* Memphis Zoo - not quite as cool as the San Diego Zoo, but it's worth a visit if you're with family.
* National Civil Rights Museum (The Lorraine Motel, where MLK was assassinated)
* The Pyramid - nothing to see inside here as it is under construction, but it's cool to drive by. Second largest pyramid next to The Luxor, I believe.
Two final notes: try Ghost River, Wiseacre, High Cotton, and Yazoo beers...all Tennessee brews. And watch "The Firm" before you get out here - almost the entire movie was filmed in the area and features many landmarks you might end up seeing. Enjoy the trip!