Memphis in its entirety cannot be fully grasped in a mere 48 hours, but in that time, you can get a taste that’ll leave you wanting more.
So you’ll start with breakfast at Cafe Eclectic. Cafe Eclectic uses local food from the Memphis Farmers Markets. It’s a very casual, cute, diner-style restaurant that’s perfect for any meal, but especially breakfast. My favorite is getting the veggie scramble and splitting a side of their silver dollar pancakes. A day without breakfast is a terrible mistake; gotta fuel the day, right?
Then on your way downtown, stop at the Peabody to see the adorable ducks strut out of the elevator onto their red carpet as they make their way to the central fountain in the hotel lobby where they spend their days. Make sure to take a good look around the hotel, too. The ducks may be cute and all, but the hotel itself is pure beauty.
Park on Main Street and head to South of Beale to snag lunch. This place puts an extra southern umph in their food with dishes like pimento cheese shrimp and grits, bourbon glazed chicken, sweet potato waffle sliders, and their big and juicy burger of the day. I can’t say I have a favorite here because it’s all so good, but I always get the Brussel sprouts. They’re bourbon bacon glazed, so that’s all I’ll say about that.
Now, in Memphis, you have to know about the music, so you’ll hit up the Stax Museum and then the Blues Hall of Fame where you can be thrown back in time with the blues artists who defined the culture of Memphis.
Walking the other way down Main Street, you’ll hit the trolley line and Majestic Grille to have dinner. This old theater-turned-restaurant will not only supply a good meal but will also entertain you with classic black and white films. My favorite is the cheese ravioli with a little spinach and sun-dried tomatoes all mixed up in a cream sauce. And then you can cheers with dessert shots at the end.
On to Beale Street: you learned about the great blues players who made their music here, now go see it yourself. Filled with the present day version of vice and music, you’ll be sure to have a good time.
Then, nothing completes a night better than cheese fries from Huey’s — seriously, the best drunk food ever.
Start with breakfast at Brother Juniper’s. It’s near the University of Memphis, so it’s a little out of the way of the beaten path, but it’s definitely worth it. Once you have their breakfast, no breakfast you ever have will ever be the same. Seriously — their cheese grits have some special ingredient that makes them irresistible.
“A less more conversation, a little more action, please.” Then the first place to stop is Graceland; very touristy, but very necessary. The King himself may be Memphis’ greatest production.
Memphis’ second greatest production may be their barbecue. So you’ll make a pit stop at Central Barbecue (make sure you go to the Central on Central) and get the barbecue nachos.
After seeing the King’s house, go to Sun Studios to see where he made his magic happen.
Head to the Beauty Shop for a 50’s-themed dinner scene, but this is no soda shoppe. The Beauty Shop is my favorite restaurant in Memphis. The food is exquisite and delightful with creative spins on traditional dinner dishes. My favorite dish for dinner is Zoe’s kale salad with a side of parmesan french fries.
Now, to wrap up your weekend, you will have to go to Gibson’s Donuts. You see, they’re open 24/7, so you can go whenever, but you’ll see the best crowd late at night. Though they don’t always have everything late at night, they usually have an apple fritter, so that’s what you gotta get.
I hope you’re full – y’all come back real soon!
#SpoonTip: Here is the New York Times version of what to eat, what to see, and where to go in Memphis.