Friday, June 29, 2012

Road Trip Day 1: Memphis, TN

Well, we made it to Memphis! Driving through Illinois is the worst, no matter which direction you go. I know some will argue that southern Illinois is pretty, and maybe I would agree with the last 30 miles or so, but the first 300 suck! At any rate, we made it through the maze of construction, moving smoothly into Missouri. We contemplated the idea of stopping in Sikeston at Lambert's for some "throwed rolls", but decided that we would rather save our appetite for some Memphis BBQ! We were only in Missouri for about 80 miles before sliding into Arkansas, the "Natural State". The weather was good...we were hitting the 100 degree mark, just like our families and friends back in the Chi, so this was a good day to be in an air conditioned car and heading somewhere fun!

We checked into our hotel, which is near Graceland. I would not say this is the best part of town, but since we are trying to keep a budget on this road trip, we cut corners where we could...staying at hotels a little farther from the good stuff, which means that they are cheaper. A modest Motel 6 is not horrible. It's clean...

After taking a few minutes to refresh from the car ride, Jen and I headed downtown towards the Beale Street area. We picked a restaurant called Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous, which has award-winning ribs, local "Ghost River" beer, and a unique location, down a back alley off of Second Street. The food was great! I had a ribs and chicken combo, Jen had a ribs and shoulder combo..both came with slaw and beans. It was awesome. There were two types of sauce, a regular and a spicy. The spicy was by far my favorite, but the dry rub and both sauces made this some BBQ to remember. It was a huge place, even as you enter, you can go up or down. (Go down!) There is a large bar area with tables and then there is the main dining area where you can watch the people work. The food comes hot and fast, so be prepared to eat! We licked the rib bones dry, enjoyed the Ghost River Golden Ale, and left nothing for anyone else to try.

Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous BBQ
When talking to people later in the evening, Charlie Vergos' has become more of a "cool" tourist spot than a great place for BBQ. I'm sure there is a little bit of that all over town, but the food was good, the service was great, and the location was definitely unique. I'd send someone here to check it out.

BBQ Ribs & Chopped Chicken Platter
From the restaurant, we headed to Beale Street to walk off our dinner that was taking over our ability to function (we were SO full!), and of course, have a few drinks. We walked up and down looking for someplace that had live music, which isn't hard to find in Memphis, but we wanted something good...and a place that maybe had people in it?! (It was slow, being a Thursday night...) So we started in a Blues Joint where they served "big ass beers". There was a live blues band, but we were the only people inside. Oh well...we listened and enjoyed our drinks, and happened to make a new friend from New York. He had actually just been at Rendezvous' as well and had some interesting stories to tell! It was fun because we got a lot of great information, more for Jen at this point, on where to go and what to do when in New York. He was friendly, but after his big ass beer, he had to drive up to Nashville for work. That sucks for him!

Beale Street
Jen and I continued our trek down to B.B. Kings, where there was more live music and there were many ladies from the Miss Plus America contest. Interesting...Miss Illinois was standing in front of us for a while, waiting for a table and we wanted to give her props and say hello (support our home state), but we never really had a good chance to not look like idiots in the process, so we just sat at the bar and talked about it for 15 minutes or so. We had another beer, retrieved our souvenir glasses and then headed out the door. B.B. Kings is a cool place, but very popular. You have to get there early to get a spot and the food is a bit pricey compared to other local places with solid menu choices.

Jen ordering drinks at a walk-up bar
From there we headed out to buy a drink on the street. We walked up to the Beale Street Tap Room, which had a great selection of draft beers, bought our beer in the window, and then ran inside to get out of the heat! Once again, live music, which was great...but creepy people at the bar. We enjoyed our drinks, but let the coin decide our next move. On the flip of heads, we headed to the Absinthe Room, which was probably the mistake of the night. Neither of us needed absinthe, but it was fun. We met a guy from Germany, had some great conversation, and then had to make an excuse to ditch him, as he wanted to join us at the next bar...probably wouldn't have turned out good. We wanted to go, but didn't need a chaperone. So we bid adieu and headed around the corner to the Flying Saucer. With over 50 beers on tap, we were in heaven. We also had some giant soft pretzels, YUM! It was a great setting, a fun place to hang out and a place that we wish we had more stamina to enjoy at that point. Regardless, we headed back to the car after one beer and came back to the hotel.

All in all, great start to the road trip and a fun visit to Memphis. For having a long day in the car, and a short time to explore, we did it up!

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