Memphis in May recommendations
I'm a serious bbq fan from New York heading to Memphis in May for my bachelor party with some friends, and was hoping that some others with experience of the event can offer recommendations.
We're going down Thursday night and will be there through Sunday. While the festival sounds great do we need to also rent a car to get out of downtown and explore some of the other local bbq joints? If so what are the not to be missed places?
We'll probably also be looking for a more typical restaurant for a "night out" dinner on Saturday night. What restaurants are offering some of the better upscale cuisine in the city these days, but still appropriate for a bachelor party?
And if there is any other "don't miss" chowhound destinations please share.
My picks for best BBQ:
BBQ Shop on Madison in Midtown-exceptional service and bbq, can't go wrong
Interstate BBQ on South 3rd Street-I love the ribs
Three Little Pigs on Quince-not always mentioned in BBQ posts, but I'm really partial to it, excellent BBQ.
I would avoid Corky's at all costs. I don't care for their BBQ. While many don't count the Rendezvous as some of Memphis' best BBQ, the atmosphere is so much fun. It's still great BBQ and perfect for a bachelor party.
My recommendation for a more upscale place that's still suitable for a bachelor party would be The Majestic Grille. It's right on South Main in the middle of Downtown. The food is superb, and based on the people I know that frequent that place, a slightly rowdy crowd will be no problem. Itta Bena on the 3rd floor of BB King's is also an option. It's both a bar and restaurant but with a really cool atmosphere and upscale food.
I'd also recommend hitting Gus's Fried Chicken on Front Street and Earnestine and Hazel's at G.E. Patterson and South Main. E&H's Soul Burger is great plus it's just one of those can't miss places in Memphis.
Memphis is definitely a car city but if you are staying downtown, there are tons of places to try! The world famous Rendezvous is downtown with awesome ribs (dry only) but there are tons of little restaurants as well. The other BBQ places are a car drive away. For the festival itself, you will need to get tickets unless you just want to stop by. Memphis in May has an official website so follow their guide and you'll be alright. Downtown will definitely have tons of action going on that weekend. If you need a rundown of the different specials/bars to hit, try Paul Ryburn's blog, http://www.paulryburn.com/blog/ for tips on where to eat (upper right corner) downtown. If you'd like to try one of the rising culinary stars in Memphis, try Kelly English's place, Restaurant Iris. He just won a best new chef award from Food and Wine Mag. If you are looking to get out of downtown, hit the Cooper-Young neighborhood. It has tons of funky restaurants (look at Do Sushi and Tsunami for sure) and has some good bars within walking distance (for bachelor partying!). I'm not sure what the crowd will be like that weekend but tons of locals will avoid downtown so it would be a great alternative. Within a 5 minute drive is Boscos which is a good local microbrew place with good food too. Good luck with your plan!
Memphis in May is a lot of fun. As far as the festival itself goes, there is certainly a lot to see and take in, but I think your enjoyment will be much, much greater if you know a team that is participating and can hang out with them on Thursday or Friday night. That is where the real partylike atmosphere happens. Or if you're a judge. That would be pretty awesome, too.
In my opinion, you definitely need a car if you want to really take in the best of Memphis' barbecue joints. And there are a lot of great joints to take in.
Here are links to a three-part series we did on our blog running down some of the best in the Memphis area: