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Long week-end in Memphis - 7 women

We are having a girls' week-end in Memphis next week, and trying to nail down where we want to go for meals.
From what has been said, we have decided on Gus' Fried Chicken one night. I don't expect great ambiance, but will it be good for dinner?
Neely's will be one of our BBQ spots, as some of the women watch them on TV. For a second BBQ, we were trying to decide between Corky's, which no one has really mentioned here, or Central BBQ, which some think is the best, others not so much.
We are also looking for 1 nicer dinner. We had read something about Restaurant Iris in Food & Wine, but were wondering if there was anyplace else. Their on-line menu is very heavily laden with tarragon, not one of my favorites. I thought that was odd having it in 3 or 4 dishes on a limited menu.
Maybe I should tell you something about us, 5 are from the NYC area, 1 from CA and 1 from Atlanta. I will admit that I have had some great meals around the country, but being from NY, we have a very high bar.

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Central BBQ
2249 Central Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

Restaurant Iris
2146 Monroe Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

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  1. I think you'll have a good time at Gus's - the fried chicken is great, they have a good jukebox, the beer is cold.

    Neely's would not be my first recommendation - sort of like a NYer might not automatically point someone to one of Bobby Flay's restaurants just because of his tv shows. I think it used to be better than it is now and has gone downhill a lot over the past several years. That said, I understand if people like the show and want to go there to check it out. I would not recommend Corky's - particularly if you are also doing Neely's. I just think they're both sort of pedestrian. Central is probably a good, fun choice. They have a great patio if the weather is still nice and the ribs are some of my favorite. If you're really on a hunt for great bbq my favorites are Payne's, Cozy Corner, and Morris Grocery (way out east), but none of them have much ambiance either.

    Restaurant Iris is probably my favorite nice restaurant in the city. They change the menu up pretty regularly - I wouldn't worry too much about the tarragon thing. If the thought of it bothers you too much, you might also consider Felicia Suzanne's for a nice dinner downtown.

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    Restaurant Iris
    2146 Monroe Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

    Cozy Corner Restaurant
    745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

    Felicia Suzanne's Restaurant
    80 Monroe Ave Ste L1, Memphis, TN 38103

    1. My wife and I are from the Detroit area and just returned from our first visit to Memphis. We had an excellent lunch at the BBQ Shop on Madison. It's small so be sure to get the address; park in back. I would advise anyone who hasn't been to Memphis before to research your location well before you get there. We booked a motel on the south side (Mill Branch), got there kinda' late and there was absolutely nowhere to eat that we could see and really didn't care to go cruzin' around after dark. Our motel clerk understood my apprehension and offered to call Marlow's. They sent a pink caddy limo to pick us up and bring us back. It was fun, safe and the BBQ was really pretty good. The catfish was excellent. Just an option.
      You'll have fun; try to visit the Peabody.
      Bob

      1. Robin.........what part of Memphis will you be staying. The Peabody and Beale Street is downtown near the river. There are a lot of great restaurants there. If you want to visit this area you should stay there at The Peabody or one of the hotels close by. I don't recommend driving from downtown out E Memphis at night if you don't have to. The BBQ joints are scattered. When I find out where you are staying I could make better recommendations. Restaurant Iris is very nice. It's only open for dinner. Felicia Suzanne's is fine dining for dinner only and located downtown. Flight is another great restaurant downtown. Gus' is downtown also. The Rendezvous is across the street from The Peabody. Their ribs are dry but everything is fun. It's a legend in the city. Don't go to Corky's or Neely's. There are too many better choices. McEwen's is another nice fine dining place open for lunch and dinner. If you stay at The Peabody you can walk to these restaurants with the exception of Iris. Let me know where you are staying.

        Restaurant Iris @ 2146 Monroe Ave., Memphis, TN 901 - 590 - 2828.
        http://www.restaurantiris.com/
        Felicia Suzanne's @ 80 Monroe Ave., Memphis, TN 901 - 523 - 0877.
        http://www.feliciasuzanne.com/
        Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar @ 39 South Main St., Memphis, TN 901 - 521 - 8005.
        http://www.flightmemphis.com/
        Gus' World Famous Fried Chicken @ 310 South Front St., Memphis, TN 901 - 527 - 4877.
        Charlie Vergo's Rendezvous @ 52 S. Second St., Memphis, TN. 901 - 523 - 2746.
        http://www.hogsfly.com/
        McEwen's on Monroe @ 122 Monroe Ave., Memphis, TN 901 - 527 - 7085. http://www.mcewensonmonroe.com/

        10 Replies
        1. re: Littleman

          We are staying at the Westin on Beale St., although technically it's not on Beale. They had a great special, pay for the 1st night, and then the other nights are your birth year. Seeing as we are mostly born in the 50's, it was a pretty good deal. I know the Peabody has a lot of history, and will definitely go to see the ducks, however some of the reviews on Trip Advisor were not great.
          Thanks for all the input, I appreciate it.

          1. re: robinsilver

            Go to Gus' for lunch. Go to Felica Suzanne's, Flight or McEwen's for dinner. Go to Rendezvous for lunch or dinner. You can walk to all. Take cab to Central if you don't go to Rendezvous.

            Gus' World Famous Fried Chicken @ 310 South Front St., Memphis, TN 901 - 527 - 4877.
            Felicia Suzanne's @ 80 Monroe Ave., Memphis, TN 901 - 523 - 0877.
            http://www.feliciasuzanne.com/
            Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar @ 39 South Main St., Memphis, TN 901 - 521 - 8005.
            http://www.flightmemphis.com/
            McEwen's on Monroe @ 122 Monroe Ave., Memphis, TN 901 - 527 - 7085. http://www.mcewensonmonroe.com/
            Charlie Vergo's Rendezvous @ 52 S. Second St., Memphis, TN. 901 - 523 - 2746.
            http://www.hogsfly.com/
            BBQ Shop @ 1782 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN. 901 - 272 - 1277.
            http://www.dancingpigs.com/

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            Felicia Suzanne's Restaurant
            80 Monroe Ave Ste L1, Memphis, TN 38103

            1. re: Littleman

              Not sure we are up to Fried Chicken for lunch over dinner. I love fried chicken myself and rarely eat it. Is there a reason why you wouldn't suggest it for dinner?

              1. re: robinsilver

                I think Littleman's point is that Gus' is very good, but there are better dinner destinations. I have never eaten dinner there, though if I'm downtown and it's lunchtime, I'm eating at Gus'.

                If you and your friends want to escape downtown one evening, the Cooper/Young entertainment district is very Memphis and has several good resaurants, including The Beauty Shop (set in an actual old-fashioned beauty shop - very fun if for just a drink) and Sweet Grass, which is a hot new spot. Your cabbie will know where to take you.

                I echo those steering you away from Neely's and Corky's. Central or the BBQ Shop are much better options.

                One last thing, if you have time and the weather is good, the Memphis Zoo was recently voted the No. 1 zoo for visitors in the US. It is truly outstanding and a great way to spend a few hours with friends.

                1. re: robinsilver

                  I thought the group of ladies from NYC would enjoy the ambiance and atmosphere at Felicia Suzanne's, McEwen's or Flight for dinner over a fried chicken joint. Don't get me wrong I grew up and spent a lot of time dining in places like Gus' but IMO you all would enjoy having dinner in an environment you are used to and FC and BBQ in the area would be best for lunch. If you want to dine at Gus' at night that's your choice. I just like casual meals for lunch and fine dining for dinner.

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                  Felicia Suzanne's Restaurant
                  80 Monroe Ave Ste L1, Memphis, TN 38103

                  1. re: Littleman

                    Another lunch suggestion that rarely gets mentioned on here is the Arcade. It is just south of downtown and has really good plate lunches. And the ambiance is pretty cool too!

                    1. re: Littleman

                      Thanks for the suggestion, but I think we are fine with staying with only 1 fine dining night. We are not the fancy, Housewives of wherever type, so we are very happy going casual most nights.
                      By the way, Bulldog, I had a cousin coming in from Winnipeg, and in looking for a restaurant near her hotel, I decided on Bobby Flay's Bar Americain. There were 11 or 12 of us all together. The food was very good, not great, but the service was absolutely phenomenal. The timing was perfect, all food came out at a good pace, water glasses were filled, they were right there without hovering.
                      As far as one of my favorites in NYC, although I don't know if he has anything to do with it any more, is Gordon Ramsay's at the London.

                      1. re: robinsilver

                        Another midtown restaurant I like is Tsunami. It's small. Ben Smith is very creative.

                        About BBQ - Some of the best places in Memphis are in rougher areas and are not open late. To me Payne's has the best sandwich in Memphis. Mrs. Payne is usually at the Lamar location. Cozy Corner is in the downtown area. It's known for its ribs and barbecue cornish hen.

                        Corky's is well known. I tend to like their sides better than their barbecue. The nearest one is on the other side of Memphis on poplar. Another touristy place nearby is the Rendevous. It's off an alley across from the Peabody. Not my favorite meal and more atmosphere in my opinion. The Barbecue Shop and Central are both good with a personal preference for the latter.

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                        Cozy Corner Restaurant
                        745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

                    2. re: robinsilver

                      If you had time you would enjoy Gus' where it all started about 40 miles NE of Memphis in Mason, TN.

                       
                      1. re: Littleman

                        We just returned from Memphis, and had a great time. Thank you all for the recommendations, and maybe we should have listened a little better, however must really thank you for Gus'. It was a great dinner, perfect for our first night there. We stayed at the Westin Beale Street, which actually is not on Beale, but across from the Fedex Forum. It was a great location, spacious rooms and baths, very comfortable, great for us. Gus's was a close enough walk that 7 of us at night were fine to do it.
                        On the first morning there, we went for breakast at Cockadoo's, which was great. Of course we had to try their peanut butter and banana sandwiched between french toast. Everyone has to try it at least once. Their biscuits are also great.
                        For BBQ, we ended up going to Corky's. Very pedestrian really. We had cars and drove, so the fact that it was out on Poplar didn't matter. We were told that either location of Neely's was not a place we wanted to go to, so we stuck with the Corky's idea. Had a surprisingly good pulled pork sandwich on Beale St., no place special, just where we wandered in, but at least it had some kick to it, not like Corky's. Another breakfast spot we tried and really enjoyed was The Arcade. Had great sweet potato pancakes there. And, it was a short walk from there to the Civil Rights Museum, which I highly recommend for anyone going to Memphis. Of course Graceland even for non-Elvis fans is great.
                        Our one special dinner was at Restaurant Iris. Their appetizers were the highlight, although everyone enjoyed their meal. I had the corn pancakes with crab, a braised short rib with polenta for a main, and bread pudding, which was a stand-out dessert. Very enjoyable. Thanks to all for your help in planning the food portion of the trip.

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                        Restaurant Iris
                        2146 Monroe Ave, Memphis, TN 38104