What to Eat, See & Do During a Weekend in Memphis | Toro Style
For now, Memphis is a car town, and you’ll need a car to make the most of your trip, though Uber and Lyft and whatnot could certainly do the trick. (If you figure out our public transportation system, let us know! Or take advantage of the BikeShare headed to town in Spring 2018) Regardless, we’ve tried to make it so you aren’t driving in circles to sample some of the best that we have to offer. And if you hit every one of these, come back to the shop for a serious high five.
Sun Studio Tour
This is a must do, even for the tourist attraction averse. The tour is only about half an hour and the tour guides, who are mostly working musicians, are top notch. Get an iconic photo with the mic Elvis used and learn a little about our amazing music history before you dive headfirst into drinking and eating.
$14 per adult
Beer(s) at High Cotton
A quick walk from Sun Studio, High Cotton is one of four local breweries. Get a flight and enjoy a little people watching in what we call The Edge. (If time allows, pop into the Marshall Arts Gallery across the street and take a gander at some local art.)
Tsunami for Dinner
Cooper-Young’s flagship restaurant is known for its amazingly fresh Pacific Rim cuisine. Sit at the bar and enjoy the izakaya (tuna nachos!) and the small plates (they change daily) or reserve a table and enjoy a multicourse meal. (Chef/owner Ben Smith’s signature dish is the sea bass.)
DKDC for Music
DKDC (Don’t Know Don’t Care) can always be counted on for incredible live music nearly seven days a week. Don’t let the cozy interior fool you—they pack them in. Go early for a few drinks and to snag a good spot. Don’t forget to get your picture taken in the vintage photo booth!
Alex’s Tavern if you want more.
You can go to Alex’s anytime, as it never really closes, but if you want a taste of the real scene, head over about 1:00am. You’ll need cash for beer, food, and the killer jukebox. Known for their burgers, the wings are also a solid bet. (Vegetarians are relegated to fries.) Don’t worry if the cops come in, it’s their favorite late night spot too.
Coffee, Pastry & Shopping at City & State (of course)
Start your day here with one of our specialty drinks or featured roasters, a delicious pastry or a slice of pie, and some quality patio time, weather permitting. Once you’re awake, wander over into the store and peruse our curated selection of handmade goods.
Browse the Shops on Broad
Take a stroll and start working up your appetite. There’s plenty more to see along Broad Avenue, but don’t miss our favorites:
T Clifton Art – One of the few art glass galleries in the region, this is a must see. In addition to art glass, there are paintings, gifts and even custom framing. Get some love from Argus, the friendly, in-house Saint Bernard.
Five in One Social Club – Features funky handmade goods with a Memphis flair. If you time it just right you can even take a class, popular offerings include wine bottle glasses, gold leaf taxidermy, and wire trees.
Bikesmith – Features a great selection of every day bikes and gear, but even if you aren’t in the market for a bike, check out the pump track, maybe sip a beer, and get some high fives.
BBQ Decision Time
You know people are going to ask if you tried it, so you have no choice. However, deciding which one to try is a bit of a Sophie’s choice.
Cozy Corner is old school and will give you major street cred. It’s best known for its Cornish hens, so if that sounds like your thing then the decision is clear.
Payne’s is even more of an off the beaten path kind of place that will get you major props from locals. Their claim to fame is bbq bologna and slaw made with mustard instead of mayo. (Yes, you’re going to have to eat slaw on your sammies, that’s how we do it.)
Got a vegetarian in the group? Then go to Central Barbecue and let them love on a portabella sandwich while you stuff your face full of ribs, wings and nachos.
Walk the Harahan Bridge
Locals will call it the Harahan bridge, or the “old bridge,” but the technical name is Big River Crossing and it’s not to be missed. Walk from here to Arkansas and back in about an hour. The view is amazing and you’ll definitely want a selfie with the Memphis skyline.
Civil Rights Museum
Sorry, but you can’t come to Memphis and not visit the Civil Rights Museum. From the beginning of the resistance during slavery, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow, and the seminal events of the late 20th century, see what inspired people around the world to stand up for equality.
$15 per adult
Beer at Wiseacre
Congrats, you’ve earned more beer! Wiseacre is another one of our four local breweries. Tiny Bomb is their award winning pilsner, so definitely give that a try. Lounge on the patio or catch a brewery tour.
We’ve got a couple of James Beard award winning chefs named Andrew Ticker and Michael Hudman. They have four outstanding local restaurants. Lucky for you, three of them are huddled together on Brookhaven Circle. You may want to go online to plan your attack, but we recommend sitting at the bar at Andrew/Michael (the flagship) and starting off with a cocktail and a small pasta. The bartenders are well-versed and can also help you with the decision making.
Across the street at Hog & Hominy, enjoy a wood fired specialty pizza and a piece of pie. Or give a try to the burger, now crowned America's Best by Food & Wine.
Dancing at Mollie Fontaine’s
We know, you’re stuffed. But should you want to hit just one more spot, head back to Victorian Village and maybe shake your thing at Mollie Fontaine’s. The upstairs bar is where most of the wild things happen. Or you can hang downstairs and listen to the piano and sip on a romantic nightcap.
(the earlier the better)
Wake up, it’s time to eat again! If you’re like us, you’re probably worried that you haven’t been to enough places to have eaten all the things. Start early enough and you can have double breakfast at both of our favorite spots, or sleep in a little and just have one breakfast like a boring, er, normal person.
Bryant’s opens at 5am if for some reason you get a really early start, or say, you never went to bed. It’s pretty casual fare. You’ll stand in line then place an order for biscuits and gravy, grits, etc. And it’ll be goooood.
Brother Juniper’s opens at 8am and is probably the most popular spot for breakfast, especially on a Sunday. They’ve dedicated an entire room for just waiting, so even if you don’t see a line outside, there could be a substantial wait. The good news is they’ll serve you coffee while you wait, and once you eat, you’ll be glad you waited. The black bean breakfast burrito is a personal favorite, but anything on the menu with a side of home fries and a biscuit will do you right.
Walk/Bike in Shelby Farms Park
It’s pretty easy to catch the Greenline from both Bryant’s and Brother Juniper’s, so plan to walk or bike into Shelby Farms, if possible. If you wanna go the more low energy route, drive to the main entrance and then take in the sights from the car, or go sit on the expansive patio of the new Welcome Center or the Kitchen Restaurant at Shelby Farms. Or rent a bike once you are there. Paddle boating and horse riding are also options. Check the website.
Even if you aren’t hungry right now, grab a sandwich for the road at the Chinese Sub Shop on Summer. Don’t be swayed by the Chinese food on the menu, and absolutely get it on the sweet bread. And it’s cash only.
At the end of it all, we hope you leave feeling even just a little bit of the love that we have for this city of ours. And, you can always come back if you didn't get to everything.
Also, you never know when we might add to the list. There's no way one weekend could fit in all the things we think are great in this town.