Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 5: Nashville to Memphis

Leaving Nashville we were satisfied with our time spent in the country music capital of the world, but done with Tennessee, we were not. The Volvo sped west to Memphis on music highway and we were anxious for what was in store.
First stop, Graceland, home of Elvis. Again it was a heavy, oppressive heat that flirted with a three digit numeral. I was looking forward to seeing this famous place, but I was not looking forward to wading through the maze of souvenoir shops, snack bars, lines, and tour groups. Thirty minutes later I was sweaty, standing in line, someone was trying to take my picture and force me to buy it. It was a battlefield out there. We considered turning back, but we persevered. When we finally allowed to enter through the doors of the Graceland Mansion, all was forgotten. The house was incredible. Elvis bought the place when he was 22 years old, and the rooms looked like they were decorated by a wild and creative young rock and roll bachelor, there was a room with lightening bolts on the walls and a jungle room with an indoor waterfall. The house was well-preserved and the audio tour was engaging. We left happily chattering about Elvis and thrilled that we decided to stick it out.

Our next stop was food. We had been given a recommendation to go to Rendezvous for barbecue in downtown Memphis so we took off to find the spot. When we arrived in a back alley we saw a perfect looking spot. It was in a tucked away place, looked like a gem of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. The only problem was that it was gated over; "closed on Sundays." We sat down in the alley, defeated. We were too hungry to give up so easily, with the help of smartphones and a friendly jogger we found our way to Beale Street and the Blues City Cafe. This turned out to be the spot. Joey and I are both into blindly ordering the specialties of any given restaurant, so "World Famous Tamales" and "Best Ribs in Memphis" it was. We inquired to our waiter how much food we should order, he must have been confused because we were given enough food to feed a large family. Ribs, tamales, chili, toast, fries, coleslaw, and beans were placed down on our table. I didn't even know where to begin. The ribs were delicious and had a nice crusty exterior that I enjoyed. The tamales were nothing like their Mexican cousins wrapped in corn husks, these were wrapped in wax paper and filled with spicy beef, peppers, and other barbecue flavors.
 We took our time, enjoying people watching and watching the moving parts of the restaurant come together. There was a giant oven where the body part equivalent of ten pigs was smoking, and three men who put plates together in some kind of ordered chaos. Somehow after our meal of almost entirely meat products, we were able to think about dessert. The waiter recommended the apple dumpling and two minutes later a small iron skillet arrive with apples, buttery crust, bubbling caramel, and vanilla ice cream melting over it all. There is no explanation necessary, that dish tasted as good as it sounds.
Beale Street during the day
Beale Street at night
Later that night, after we had a good long post-bbq siesta, we ventured out into the wild streets of Memphis in search of bars and live music. We headed back towards Beale Street, although when we arrived the scene was completely different than the one we had left four hours ago.  The street was blocked off and people roamed around, drinks in hand. A large plaza showcased a stage with a blues band and female singer whose voice reverberated for blocks. Outdoor drink stands offered everything from beers to four foot plastic cups filled with a rainbow of colored beverages. Street preformers did backflips down the block and groups of partiers danced in formation on the sidewalk to the prompts of a DJ. We stopped into several bars, following the sound of blues guitar and saxophone. We landed at a kareoke bar serving only a variety of alcoholic slurpees. We ordered one to share called the "attitude adjustment" and watched crooners perform slow jams on stage.
We started to feel the affects of the drink stands so we strolled through the warm streets and back to the hotel. 


  1. Wow this is what Nashville like. I have 3 friends who live there and I had no idea how it's like as I've lived only in California... And yes, the ribs are amazing!

  2. Holy cow that food joint sounds awesome. Although, those ribs are a scary portion size! I'm sure I'd have found the room though. Thanks for sharing and for swinging by Deep Dish :)

  3. ah! love the alcoholic slurpees. what a concept.