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Done the research- how does this sound--Memphis in August

Have been trying to do my research for a 3 night 2 day stay in mid-August==19th-22, so after Elvis Week. It is mainly a bbq trip though I'd like to add some soul type food because 3 days of straight bbq will be tough. We did a similar trip to Kansas City about 2 years ago. We will be staying downtown and will have a car. Thoughts please!

Breakfasts: Barkdales, Bryants and Brother Junipers

Lunches and Dinners: Gus' or Uncle Lous. I dont do spicy so I'm thinking Uncle Lous?
Flying Fish or Soul Fish. Was leaning towards Soul Fish but now am thinking Flying has a more extensive menu. Better food?
BBQ: in no order cant decide between Paynes, BBQ Shop, Central, Rendezvous, Cozy Corner. Husband likes fall off the bone, I like something with a bit of chew. Not interested in bbq spaghetti. Rendezvous seems to get some more mixed reviews than the others.

If we do something nicer sounds like Restaurant Iris is the one. We live near Chicago so nice but 'normal' not a necessity.

We will be doing Graceland probably half a day, city tour, river boat tour (?), maybe the Gibson factory tour, walking Beale street or trolley, the Rock and Soul Museum. Belz Museum I'd like but probably not. Thoughts on stuff to do and locations close to our main focus (eating) appreciated!

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  1. You do know that Memphis in August is unbearably hot?
    Especially in the city.
    If you have an interest in history and/or nature, a drive up to Reelfoot Lake in the NW corner of Tennessee isn't that far (in an AIR-conditioned car) and there are some good hole in the wall restaurants up that way.

    1 Reply
    1. re: shallots

      Yeah I figure it will be. We drop our kid off at college in Champaign/Urbana, Il that day and plan to keep driving south. Its a third of the way from Chicago, so thats how it timed for that weekend...

    2. Gus' is really not spicy at all, IMO. I ate there before someone told me that it was supposed to be "spicy" and I was surprised to hear it. But then again I am used to Prince's here in Nashville. The fried chicken at Gus' is delicious, by the way.

      My personal opinion (and I have been there 10+ times) is that Rendezvous is a unique and fun experience, a Memphis tradition, and a fun night out, but the food is inconsistent at best. If it's your first time in Memphis, I would recommend that you do go there, but use it as a jumping off point, because there is much better barbecue to be had in Memphis.

      5 Replies
      1. re: jamiecarroll

        I guess thats a good idea= try Rendezvous first, then go from there --- BBQ Shop, Paynes, Cozy Corner, Central...what do you think of Flying Fish v Soul Fish and the 3 breakfast choices??? thanks

        -----
        Soul Fish Cafe
        862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

        Cozy Corner Restaurant
        745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

        The Flying Fish
        105 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103

        1. re: aviva5675

          I have not been to either of the fish places.

          Have been to Brother Juniper's and it is great.

          Let us know how the trip goes!

          1. re: jamiecarroll

            Ribs is a part but bbq in general is the thing, so the places that do the best pulled pork sandwich, Id try the baloney sandwich, etc. So suggestions about which one to do really for ribs, which is the best pulled pork etc would be great too...

            Starting to be worried about Gus--I think Ill try Uncle Lous instead. Supposed to be almost as good but not as spicy. Does that sound right??

          2. re: aviva5675

            I like Soul Fish better between the two, but maybe that's because I work downtown so I eat at Flying Fish more often and thus it feels a little bit like a rut. If you're staying downtown, it would certainly be easier. In addition to great fried catfish, Soul Fish has really good southern-style side dishes. The sides at Flying Fish are more generic. I think the batter is crispier and tastier at Soul Fish.

            Of the 3 breakfast places you mention, I like Bryant's the best. Frankly, I can't imagine eating breakfast at these 3 places before going on bbq/catfish/fried chicken lunches and dinners for 3 days - I think I'd want to start the day with something simple and light.

            -----
            Soul Fish Cafe
            862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

            The Flying Fish
            105 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103

            1. re: aviva5675

              Soul Fish is a great place with a delicious menu. Not to be missed. Flying Fish is a location of a small chain of the same drab restaurants, owned by the same company as Flying Saucer. They do faux-local well. But I fear you'll be disappointed, as I have the four times I been there.

              -----
              Soul Fish Cafe
              862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

              The Flying Fish
              105 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103

          3. Looks like you've done your homework. A couple of comments:

            1) You seem to be aiming for ribs as the barbecue mainstay. I'm not a big fan of the ribs at Payne's but I think they're sandwich is the best in town. I get the hot barbecue sauce which is not really spicy and seems to use more black pepper than true peppers. I think it works better with the mustard based cole slaw they serve on their sandwiches. Cozy Corner and Central are my two favorite rib places.

            2) My preference is for Flying Fish though both are good. My view may be skewed since Soul Fish just opened up a location near me and eating there is pretty simple.

            3) I think Gus' downtown is a bit spicy. (The Collierville location is less spicy and a little salty for me.) I like my chicken that way but not everyone. I was downtown a couple of weeks ago and we ordered Gus' and several in the party commented on the spiciness.

            4) Restaurant Iris is very good - upscale Southern cuisine. Another really good restaurant in the same general area of town is Tsunami.

            -----
            Soul Fish Cafe
            862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

            Restaurant Iris
            2146 Monroe Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

            Cozy Corner Restaurant
            745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

            The Flying Fish
            105 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103

            1. You've definitley done your homework. I'll add these comments/suggestions.

              1. I agree that the sandwich at Payne's sandwich is GREAT, but their ribs are not my favorite.
              2. You may want to consider the Stax Museum.
              3. This is the cover story from last week's Memphis Flyer regarding BBQ. You may find it helpful... http://www.memphisflyer.com/memphis/t...

              1 Reply
              1. I love the loaded cheese grits at Br. Junipers (not a native southerner so this is the only way I'll eat them) and Bryant's is great - I constantly over order and go into a biscuit coma! I haven't made it to Barksdale's yet.
                If the weather is decent the patio at Central BBQ can't be beat - it just adds to the experience however, if it is hot, you'd catch me indoors at BBQ Shop or Cozy Corner.

                If you wind up going near the National Civil Rights Museum (within a 5 minute drive of downtown) there are a variety of good places on South Main. From a gastropub to cheesecake and beignets, there's a little of everything.

                The river boat tour is interesting, I've done it once but isn't a must do. My family always enjoys the Stax museum - its a hidden treasure but not downtown. You should see the Peabody ducks walk - I think they do it around 5-6. If you want to spend some time down by the river -there's a good public park (Tom Lee Park) that has a good sidewalk system and will help you walk your culinary adventures away. If you do go down to the park besides looking at the river, you get a good look at the mansions that line the river bluff.
                Have a great trip!

                -----
                Central BBQ
                2249 Central Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

                Cozy Corner Restaurant
                745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

                Barksdale Restaurant
                237 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104