The restaurants in Memphis are smoking. You can?t visit without tucking in to barbecue -- which has been elevated to an art form -- but the slow-smoked tastes of the River City extend way beyond heaped plates of pulled pork. Beyond the hickory, oak, and charcoal flavors of the world?s pork barbecue capital, quirky restaurants, soul food dens, and classic French bistros turn out a slew of thrilling creations.
Pigs and Fixin?s
Lurking down an unsavory-looking alley, the world-famous Rendezvous (52 S. Second St; 901-523-2746; $4-18) serves charcoal ribs worth traveling specifically to Memphis for. Slathered with sweet house sauce, a full rack o? ribs with barbecue beans and corn bread will be the highlight of your visit. It?s not far from Lonely Street, but the tables are crammed at Graceland?s friendly neighborhood barbecue joint, Marlowe?s (4381 Elvis Presley Boulevard; 901-332-4159; $7-20). Saunter past a bright piggy-pink converted caravan trailer with a snout and curly tail, a treasure trove of barbecue trophies, and a 2D cardboard Elvis for a pork-laden menu that offers every barbecue sauce-saturated specialty you?d expect in this town, as well as an enthusiastic drink list that stars Blue Hawaiians, Blue Suede Shoes, and Burning Loves.
The elegant Chez Phillipe (Peabody Hotel, 149 Union Ave, 901-529-4188; $20-30) sits in the lobby of the even more grandiose Peabody Hotel, one of the grand dames of the South. Classic French fare with Asian accents adorns the menu of Memphis? most upscale dining destination. The hungry hordes who file into Automatic Slim?s Tonga Club (83 S. Second St., 901-525-7948; $15-28), just round the corner from the Peabody, tuck into towering, tasty onion fritter centerpieces as they wait for appetizers, such as Slim?s coyote chips (potato chips with horseradish dip), and entrees from mouthwatering Gulf shrimp jambalaya to Jamaican jerk chicken.
To quench your thirst after tucking into all these Southern delights, head to straight-friendly dance bar, Crossroads (1278 Jefferson Ave, 901-272-8801), predominantly gay tapas lounge Dish (948 S Cooper St, 901-276-0002), or mostly straight martini den Melange (948 South Cooper St, 901-276-0002) in the chic, gay-popular Cooper-Young area of Midtown, and sample even more of the distinctive flavors this tasty town has to offer.
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