One night in Memphis is not enough. Not even close. But if it’s all you’ve got, you can still have a great time in this vibrant, culture-filled city. We first passed through Memphis on a road trip from DC to Oklahoma City in 2017. We walked down Beale Street, peeped in on the ducks at the Peabody Hotel, and had a delicious lunch. But then it was back to the road. So on our latest road trip (from OKC to Nashville), we were happy to spend the night in Memphis for a slightly closer look at the Home of the Blues.
Walking in Memphis
We stayed at the Hotel Indigo in downtown Memphis, a stylish stay with easy access to Beale Street. After checking in a little before sunset, we went walking in Memphis. It’s kind of mandatory, no? There was street art everywhere, making for a colorful and enjoyable walk.
It’s next to impossible to get a real sense of a place in less than 24 hours, but there’s something about Memphis that I find captivating. There is a grit and determination that reminds me of Oklahoma City. Several people I spoke to in the short time we were there spoke with fierce pride about their city. The feeling is contagious. Within an hour of walking around, I was determined to plan a lengthier visit to Memphis next year.
Dinner at Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar
During our walk, we’d noticed Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar and its lively dog-friendly patio. This turned out to be an excellent spot for a laid-back dinner in Memphis.
Of course, we started with wine flights. They have several flights to choose from, most at pretty reasonable price points. Especially for the quality of the wine.
The flight theme doesn’t stop there. Almost everything at Flight comes in threes. While this is a little gimmicky, it’s a super fun concept for those of us who have a hard time deciding what to order. To start, we shared the salad flight.
You can order the salads individually, but we decided to go all in on the flight theme. Besides, three is always better than one!
For the main course, you have a plethora of options. You order a pre-set flight centering on a particular cuisine, such as fish or steak. Each dish is available in the pre-set flight, or in a small or entree-sized portion, and you’re encouraged to mix and match. After much deliberation, we went with a customized flight of three items: seared halibut with shrimp risotto, elk tenderloin with truffle mac and cheese and shrimp and grits.
The salads were pretty good, but we were blown away by the cookery on all three of our main dishes. The halibut was cooked perfectly and was buttery and indulgent in all the best ways. The elk was tender, the temperature was exactly right and the truffle white cheddar mac and cheese was addicting as heck. The shrimp and grits were what classic Southern food is all about.
It was also a pretty perfect amount of food, and a great way to taste a bunch of things on a diverse menu without overpaying. I definitely recommend checking Flight out on your next trip to Memphis!
After dinner, we walked around a bit more. We thought about getting a drink on Beale Street, but after a long day of driving the crowds were a little much to handle. Next time though, we’re going to paint the town red!
Lunch at South of Beale
We had a comfy night’s sleep at Hotel Indigo and got up early the next morning to hit the hotel’s gym before checking out to find coffee and food. We needed another dog-friendly patio, so we turned to nearby South of Beale for lunch.
Pro tip: If you’re ever in Memphis, get yourself to South of Beale and order the General Tso’s cauliflower. Thank me later. It is so wonderfully crunchy, spicy and not too heavy. We also enjoyed a peach and feta salad on the side.
Caffeine Fix at Java Cabana Coffeehouse
Properly fueled, we set out for the trendy Cooper Young neighborhood to do a little more exploring. We’d actually hoped to stay in this area, but there aren’t really any hotels and most of the short term rentals were either booked or required a longer stay. Again, next time…
For my OKC readers, Cooper Young reminded me of a cross between the Plaza District and the Paseo District. There are dozens of cute restaurants, shops and bars, but there’s still enough residential charm that you don’t feel like you’re in a commercialized area.
A caffeine craving kicked in as soon as we spotted Java Cabana Coffeehouse, one of Memphis’s oldest coffee shops.
When I don’t have a lot of time to spend in a city, I find that a visit to a locally-beloved coffee shop provides a glimpse of what real life in that place is like.
This is definitely the spot I’d go for my coffee if I lived in Memphis. The baristas seemed to know most of the customers’ names. There were several creatives working energetically at laptops and over notebooks at tables topped with chess boards. The local bulletin board was overflowing with fun events and ways to get involved in the community. And, most importantly, the coffee was good.
Cheers and Beers at Made in Memphis
Post-coffee, we realized it was about to rain, so our plans of walking around turned into a visit to a nearby brewery. Another way to quickly get to know a city is through its local booze. We always try to check out a brewery or winery in a new place, and Memphis Made is a great one.
Breweries are also notoriously dog-friendly, and Memphis Made is no exception. Our dog enjoyed being lavished with affection while we enjoyed sipping a few brews.
And with that, our short trip had to come to an end. See you soon, Memphis!
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