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MEMPHIS - It's better as a tourist...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Yes, you read that right. I never thought I'd say it, but visiting Memphis as a tourist is actually incredibly fun - more so than I thought possible after having lived in Midtown. Now, with that said, I will still tell you that if I was to move back to Memphis tomorrow, I would still move to Midtown and spend most of my time there. However, being able to spend the weekend as a visitor was incredibly refreshing. In this post, we'll talk about some of the best restaurants, bars and shopping you can find.

For the sake of full disclosure, during my time in Memphis, I had some of the most gracious, fun-loving hosts anyone could ask for. From the warm welcoming hugs to the Elvis chocolate left beside the bed, the entire experience made for an amazing weekend.

In the past few years, there has been a plethora of construction in every part of the Memphis area, especially in the Madison area of Midtown. An entire strip of new restaurants, bars and shops was constructed, and let me just tell you, that area alone is worth spending an entire day in. We found ourselves listening to live music over dinner at Lafayette's Music Room on Madison. This gem may very well be one of my most favorite places I've ever experienced. From the amazing music to the eclectic ambiance, it moves quickly to the top of my list. Between friends, we shared the Sweet Corn Jalapeno Hushpuppies, Pimento Cheese Fritters, Griddle Burger Sliders, Wood Fired Pepperoni Pizza and Midtown Mac-N-Cheese. (Yes, we like to eat. No judging.) Folks, if you ever find yourself ANYWHERE near this area, stop in. I'd go as far as to say that you could book an entire weekend in Memphis specifically with the intention of visiting Lafayette's. This may have been my first time, but I can guarantee it will not be my last.

As I was "easing in" to being a visitor, we spent the rest of the evening hopping from place to place, some new, some old favorites. We spent time playing pool at Young Avenue Deli, where the company is good and the beer is cheap. We hopped over to Cafe Ole for some of the best margaritas you can find, not to mention the queso dip - amazing! We ended the night at a newer spot to Midtown that has brought a crazy, fun atmosphere to the community. Railgarten is somewhat of an outdoor playground for adults (and children) that is made of and surrounded by shipping containers. Outside, you'll find a giant screen showing music videos and old movies, a giant tire swing, volleyball court, ping pong tables, hammock swings and so much more. Imagine being on a giant playground, as an adult, with a drink in your hand. The whole experience is incredibly surreal. On a side note, I will mention that on Friday and Saturday nights, the crowd level is HIGH and filled with what must be college students. If you are looking for a more mature crowd, you'll definitely want to save this venture for a week night. However, it is definitely worth experiencing at least once.

After such an amazing night, it was hard to think that the next day could compare. Luckily, I was wrong. We started the day with a long brunch at The Bayou Bar and Grill. The best thing about brunch at the Bayou is a little delicacy they call the Macmosa. It is their twist on the standard mimosa that comes in a large (and I mean large) glass with a shot added in. They are delicious, but be careful, they'll sneak up and bite you when you least expect it.

After leaving brunch, we spent the day acting like tourists. We walked the streets, window shopped, people-watched and relaxed. Heading back downtown, we found ourselves at Loflin Yard, which is surprisingly similar to the concept of Railgarten. It has an outdoor version of beer pong, ping pong, music stage, fire pits, etc. Although I didn't think it was possible to eat another thing, while drinking great local beer from Ghost River, we sampled the Street Corn and Chili Garlic Wings. All I can say is WOW. What a great atmosphere complimented by phenomenal food and beers. I could've spent all day relaxing under the misters and soaking up the ambiance.

For dinner, we sampled a local tourist favorite - Blues City Cafe on the corner of Beale Street. This Memphis staple has the feel of an old diner and offers great tasting items such as BBQ Pork Fries, Seafood Augratin (my personal favorite), Soul Stew, Tamales and BBQ Ribs that everyone raves about. In my opinion, it is definitely one of the best places to grab some true Memphis Soul Food. After leaving with full bellies, we thought it only fitting to stop by Silky O'Sullivan's to share a world famous Diver and hear some great tunes from the Dueling Pianos. We ended the night with a quick trip to one of Beale Street's hidden gems - The Absinthe Room. This small spot is located right above King's Palace and offers and intimate setting with a jukebox, pool tables and great drinks. If you like more of a dive bar, this is your spot on Beale.

All in all, seeing Memphis through a visitor's eyes was an incredible experience. I can't wait to head back and see more. As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave us a comment below with your favorite places, questions, etc.!

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