If you are visiting Memphis there are three foods you have to try: burgers, ribs, and catfish. Just make me one promise–don’t even think about counting calories. Memphis cuisine ain’t health food.
Memphis Cuisine and Where to Eat It:
Burgers at Dyer’s Burgers:
Dyer’s was opened in 1912 by Elmer “Doc” Dyer. He developed a secret cooking process that legend says is in the cooking grease. This grease, strained daily, continues to produce the juicy burgers. Dyer’s Burgers, situated on Beale Street, is a tradition now over a century old.
So get a single, single w/cheese, double, double-double, triple, or triple-triple. And don’t forget to try the hand-cut fries, chili-cheese hand-cut fries, onion rings, or famous homemade chili on the side.
Burgers at Earnestine and Hazel’s Soul Burger:
“The building that would become Earnestine and Hazel’s started out as a pharmacy in the late ‘30s. Abe later went on to make the famous Coppertone suntan lotion and, overwhelmed with his mounting financial success, gave the building to two hair stylists that were using his hair straightening product upstairs – Earnestine and Hazel.”
“The two sisters turned the building into a cafe. Meanwhile Earnestine’s husband, a street promoter named Sunbeam, opened a nearby music joint called Club Paradise, which hosted legends like B.B. King, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Motown, Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, Sam Cook, Chuck Berry, and Jackie Wilson. Throughout the next 20 years, these musicians walked from Club Paradise to Earnestine and Hazel’s each night so they could get food, tell stories, and find action from women upstairs. The good times rolled until the ‘70s, when Club Paradise got boarded up with the rest of downtown Memphis.”
It reopened a a bar in the 90’s and is home to the world famous Soul Burger. So come on in and enjoy a burger, beer, and blues.
Ribs at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous:
“Not since Adam has a rib been this famous” – Charlie Vergos (owner)
In a town of over a hundred bbq shacks and hundreds of bbq snobs this is one of the places the locals go. The Rendezvous has been serving up its unique style of barbecue since 1948 when the owner discovered a coal chute in the basement of his restaurant and decided to put his grilling skills to work. Rendezvous is famous for their dry rubs, don’t expect ’em to come drowning in sauce.
Oh–and don’t forget to try the macaroni and cheese sandwich.
Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que:
Interstate Bar-B-Que was founded in 1978 by Jim Neely in a rundown grocery store in South Memphis. Neely learned how to slow cook ribs in a pit and created a secret sauce based on various local family recipes. Interstate has risen to prominence as one of the premier barbecue joints in the city, and has been featured nationally on The Food Network and The Travel Channel. Interstate has been voted the #2 barbecue restaurant in America by People Magazine.
Be adventurous–enjoy a bbq salad, or bbq nachos, or even bbq spaghetti!
Catfish at Catfish Cabin:
The Catfish Cabin started in Alabama. “For many years Charles Ezell and his wife Mary provided lodging for hunters and fisherman along the Tombogbee River. In Addition to the lodging, everyone enjoyed the original recipes for catfish, hushpuppies, slaw and a host of other southern delights. The demand for these delicacies grew to the extent that Charlez Ezell started a restaurant serving his mother’s original recipes. That humble beginning on the Tombigbee in Alabama led to a string of restaurants in many states by the name of Catfish Cabin.”
“Catfish Cabin of the current Airways location in Memphis was opened in 1971. It quickly became a Memphis destination restaurant for quality seafood. Catfish Cabin specializes in catfish, hushpuppies, and made from scratch slaw. The hushpuppies are still made from Mary Ezell’s original recipe.”