Summer’s the perfect time for a weekend road trip, whether to a ballgame, a festival, or a bourbon bar. Here’s where to chow down when you leave town.
(page 5 of 6)
Long before Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller graced the mound at Busch Stadium, die-hard Cardinals fans making the trek to see the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds (memphisredbirds.com) were familiar with what the right-handers could do. After all, seeing the stars of tomorrow is the draw at AutoZone Park—that, and the Rendezvous barbecue nachos (hogsfly.com), lauded by Sports Illustrated. While you’re in town for a weekend game, there’s no shortage of notable eats within walking distance or a short trolley ride. Memphis Magazine food editor and author Pamela Denney shared a few outside the ballpark, both on Beale and beyond.
In a city steeped in history, the Arcade is one of Memphis’ oldest restaurants—and was once a favorite for Elvis. It opened in 1919, with food cooked on potbellied stoves, and survived the decline and rebirth of downtown, its glowing neon and ’20s architecture becoming a fixture. Movies like The Client, Walk the Line, and 21 Grams were filmed here, and national magazines and TV shows have paid tribute to the place. Start the day with sweet-potato pancakes and a cup of joe, and soak in the timeless atmosphere. 540 S. Main, 901-526-5757, arcaderestaurant.com.
Bluff City Coffee: Located in Memphis' South Main historic district, this coffeehouse specializes in espresso, with pastries and sandwiches served alongside. 505 S. Main, 901-405-4399, bluffcitycoffee.com.
True to the name, Kaia Brewer’s sandwich shop is lined with vintage lunch pails; reimagined lunchtime favorites are served on bright-red school lunch trays; and a chalkboard announces the day’s specials. Sandwich names follow suit, too, like the Principal’s Office Link (smoked sausage, fried eggs, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese) and the Class Valedictorian (a turkey burger with Boursin cheese and baby spinach served between two slices of cornbread). And topping it all off is dessert—notably, the strawberry cake and bread pudding—a major step up from the prepackaged snack cakes that Mom used to pack. 288 S. Fourth, 901-526-0820, lunchboxeats.com.
Dyer’s Burgers: With its deep-fried hamburger being named one of Esquire.com's "60 Things Worth Shortening Your Life For," the "world-famous" institution is well worth a stop while you're strolling along Beale Street. 205 Beale, 901-527-3937, dyersonbeale.com.
Bleu Restaurant & Lounge
After you’ve seen the red-carpet treatment for the famed ducks at The Peabody Memphis, stroll to The Westin Memphis Beale Street. Chef Robert Cirillo has transformed the eatery inside into a sleek dining spot serving up internationally influenced American cuisine. In a city known for its beef, seafood is the main attraction here. It appears in many of Bleu’s best dishes, including the seafood pappardelle and the salmon roulade. Sure, the restaurant feels more like Manhattan than Memphis, but you can stroll down Beale Street just the same afterward. 221 S. Third, 901-334-5950, downtownbleu.com.
McEwen’s on Monroe: Located just a block from the Redbirds' stadium, McEwen's serves new American cuisine, including grilled coriander duck breast and sweet potato-crusted catfish. 120 Monroe, 901-527-7085, mcewensmemphis.com.
Food Truck: Central BBQ
You can’t miss the tie-dyed truck at the Memphis Farmers Market on Saturdays—or the barbecue. Central’s brick-and-mortar spots are often named among the city’s top ’cue joints, but you can also order a slab of ribs from the roaming restaurant. Multiple locations, 901-272-9377, cbqmemphis.com.
Drinks: Twilight Sky Terrace
Forgo the overpriced draft beer at the game, and save your money for drinks on the Madison Hotel’s rooftop afterward. You’ll want to change out of your sports gear before heading to the sleek setting to order a handcrafted cocktail (e.g., a Smoke On the Water or Toast to Twilight). But you don’t have to leave the sports scene altogether: You can still catch a game on the 70-inch TV screen, while gazing out across the river. 79 Madison, 901-333-1243, twilightskyterrace.com.
Small-Town Stop: Celebrations Restaurant
Cape Girardeau can claim more than being the hometown of Rush Limbaugh. It’s also where you can dine at James and Pat Allen’s art-filled restaurant, located in a historic house dating back to the 1850s. The menu changes seasonally, and the wine list is a gem—albeit one that should be enjoyed in moderation while on the way to Memphis. 615
Bellevue, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 573-334-8330, celebrationsrestaurant.com.