Memphis BBQ, Ducks and St. Jude
Then I'm walking in Memphis
Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel
As I was spending time in Memphis recently, I don’t know why, but this song kept running through my head. In all honesty, before I looked it up, I didn’t know it said Beale. I really wasn’t sure what that last word was. Was it pier, beer, or wheel? I just usually got quiet and slurred that part. Honestly, though, this trip was much bigger than sightseeing or eating food. Food was consumed on this trip though.
The reason for heading down to Memphis was to attend the Volunteer Leadership Conference for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I serve as a committee member on the board locally, when I’m not eating or taking pictures of food. What an inspiring and rewarding trip. If you haven’t ever been down there and seen what they are doing on the ground level for kids and families, you need to go. You will leave full of hope, love, and joy.
I had visited Memphis once before and did the typical tourist things. BBQ food tour, the Orpheum, Elvis statue, and Graceland, Beale Street, etc. Although the Bass Pro Shop in the Pyramid will be on my next trip. That thing looks so cool.
The historic Peabody Hotel was the destination for the weekend. With the mention of that hotel, one thing comes to mind. . . .ducks. You have see the duck march for yourself. Plus it’s a free thing to do and couldn’t be held in a more impressive location. As someone who’s seen both the march in and the march out, trust me, do the march in.
Full of history, this hotel welcomes you like you’ve been there before, in another time and in another life. It transports you back in time to the Roaring 20’s. Don’t let it fool you though, they do know how to pamper and please their guests in the 21st century with the Feathers Spa and Chez Philippe.
If they had a mantle, you’d see award after award, but at the end of the day, it’s your individual experience that you rant or rave about and not some writer or company. They don’t rest on their laurels here. All the staff seemed to go above and beyond.
The only issue that I had during my stay occurred during dinner the first night. It was supposed to be a multi-course meal, but somehow our table did not get our gnocchi with mushroom fondue and fontina cheese. A salad and dessert were waiting at the table. Then the filet came out cold and not very appetizing. The waitress asked if I’d like some coffee with my dessert. I said, “that would be great, after the rest of the meal that I didn’t get.” Trust me, I understand that serving 700+ people in a giant ballroom isn’t an easy task, but seriously…. I didn’t get my gnocchi.
The Peabody Hotel is ideally located smack dab in the middle of downtown Memphis. It makes for a fantastic central location to get to many fun, historically and wacky things that you want to see and experience. One of those being Beale Street. For the sake of staying focused and somewhat on task, I skipped it this time around, but you better believe I’m making up for it next time.
Instead, a group of us walked across the street to Automatic Slims. They have a great neon display on the ceiling that makes for a great photo backdrop. Also, they put little ducks in their martinis. It was a good thing the staff was great company because the crowd was a little light that night. If you visit, go ask for Curtis and see how he’s doing. FYI - He got ran over by a car on a scooter. Two doors down from there, you can test your restaurant Olympic skills and shoot a toothpick into the ceiling at Huey’s. Trust me, go!
One smell kept wafting, and enticing me all weekend like a bad friend. Memphis BBQ! With the close of the conference right around lunchtime, there was only one thing left and it was calling my name. The one and only Charles Vergos' Rendezvous. Literally steps away from the hotel and next to a fantastic mural. Rendezvous is a mecca for anyone that loves BBQ. Gotta love this 70-year-old dry rub tradition. Not only is the food mouthwatering, but it came out very contrarian to the smoked style, very fast. Damn that BBQ is good.
Birthplace of Rock and Roll. Home of the Blues. Buff City. Memphis is unapologetic and always willing to show you a good time. So close and so much fun. Go back and visit Memphis for the first time again.