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Bar Advice for Memphis and Louisville

Heading out on a road trip with a buddy this weekend and we'll be spending two nights in Memphis and one night in Louisville and I'm hoping some of y'all would be so kind as to steer us in the direction of some decent waterin' holes.

I think we pretty much have all of our meals planned out (although any breakfast recommendations would be helpful), but having been to Memphis only once before and never having been to Louisville, we are hoping to get a pretty good idea of some bars off the beaten path.

Specifically, we are interested in dive bars, hole in the wall, pub-type places.... probably nothing either on Beale Street or 4th Street Live. Nothing hip or trendy or fancy, just somewhere old, grimy, and real, with extra points for cheap pitchers and solid jukeboxes.

I've heard the Highlands in Louisville might have the type of place we're looking for, but I haven't learned of any specific bars there yet. And any help with Memphis will be greatly appreciated as well.

Thanks in advance to all.

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  1. Stay at the Artisan Hotel in midtown Memphis (you can book online for $50), and then just walk around. There are lot's of places for you to enjoy within walking distance- and chances are you will be the only tourist in the place...

    1. Memphis bar suggestions:

      Old Zinnie's
      Wild Bill's
      Ernestine & Hazel's
      Lamplighter
      Buccaneer
      Poplar Lounge
      P&H

      1. The Cove on Broad isn't old, but it has the best mix of dive-bar atmosphere with well-done cocktails drinks. Their food is really good. Pirate decor taken from a Memphis institution--Anderton's Seafood Restaurant after it closed.

        All the places listed below by Michael H are good, with my favorite on that list being the P&H. My only issues with it are the cocktails and beer. They'll have the typical well and calls, but probably won't make a solid Sazerac or Gimlet if that's what you are looking for. Same with beer--typical American beers with larger American quasi-micros like Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada. That goes for the Cove too-not a great beer selection. Stay in Midtown, like Clarkafella said, and you won't have to drive much.

        Breakfast in Memphis--#1 is Bryant's on Summer just west of Graham. If you like more of a selection besides a good country breakfast, Brother Juniper's near Highland in the Uof Memphis area has a large list of omelets. It's tasty, but it doesn't match a country ham and egg biscuit from Bryant's.

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        Bryant's Bar-B-Q & Breakfast
        3965 Summer Ave, Memphis, TN 38122

        The Cove
        2559 Broad Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38112

        Brother Juniper's College Inn
        3519 Walker Ave, Memphis, TN 38111

        1. Sauces has a good bar scene on Main downtown, especially on Redbirds game nights. Excellent mojitos. As a visitor, you really should have at least one drink at the Peabody's lobby bar and see the ducks in the fountain. The Highpoint Pinch can be a fairly rowdy place on the North End of downtown. As for breakfast, the Arcade is a wonderful vintage cafe in the South Main arts district - don't miss it!

          1. In Memphis, you can't go wrong with Earnestine & Hazel's, a former brothel on Main St. Go to the upstairs bar for a relaxing drink in a 50 year time warp and downstairs to dance to a classic jukebox. This is a late night place. They only serve beer, but Mr. Nate upstairs keeps a stash of whiskey if you request it. Wild Bill's on N. Vollintine is the place to go for blues. It's a blues bar frequented by both old black men and young wealthy college students from Rhodes. Everybody there is having a good time. For breakfast, go to Brother Juniper's or the Barksdale. Downtown, go the Arcade.