What do you do when you find yourself with six hours to spend in Memphis? The first thing is to get yourself to Graceland the home of Elvis Presley. It will not win any awards from Architectural Digest but it is definitely something to see and has a lot of character. The house and property are across Elvis Presley Boulevard from the sprawling complex that houses gift shops, restaurants, RV Park & campground, Heartbreak Hotel, and chapel for weddings.
After taking the obligatory picture with a cheesy background places sell you, we board the bus to drive across the street (they won’t let you walk to the house, need to be on the bus to enter the property) we began a self-guided tour. The living and dining rooms are pretty tame in decoration. It is when you get to the kitchen, back of the house and basement the fun begins.
Short on time and feeling we were satisfied with our tour and Elvis related history/information we decided to skip the Lisa Marie Airplane Tour.
Next stop was a trip to downtown Memphis to check out Beale Street and also the ducks I kept hearing about. Dating back to 1869 The Peabody Hotel is a Memphis institution and the place to hold event. In addition, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. What about the ducks? The Peabody Ducks have been entertaining guests since 1940. According to the Peabody Hotel website:
In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to help with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day and taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. Mr. Pembroke became the Peabody Duckmaster, serving in that capacity for 50 years until his retirement in 1991. The original ducks have long since gone, but after nearly 80 years, the marble fountain in the hotel lobby is still graced with ducks. The Peabody ducks march at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.
We caught the 5pm show just in time to see the trainer instruct the ducks to circle the fountain, then stop and march out one by one in to the elevator to be taken to the roof for the night. It was strange to see ducks that are trained but also one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. If you are ever in Memphis I recommend you stop over to the Peabody and catch the show.
We took a stroll downtown to check out Beale Street (seems we were too early for a Friday, not many people about yet) and the river. Unfortunately there wasn’t time to stick around to hang out, next time.
After Elvis Memphis is know for its barbeque. Depending on where you are in the South will determine the style and taste of the BBQ you will be getting.
Memphis barbecue is best known for tomato- and vinegar-based sauces. In some Memphis establishments and in Kentucky, meat is rubbed with dry seasoning (dry rubs) and smoked over hickory wood without sauce; the finished barbecue is then served with barbecue sauce on the side.
It was a hard choice with so many options in Memphis but we ended up at Bar-B-Q Shop in Midtown. I was not disappointed.
The decor was simple with nice touches of mosaic tile floors and church pews for seating. The wait staff was friendly and prompt even with the steady stream of families filling up both rooms of the restaurant.
We started with a dish I have never had, Bar-B-A Bologna and Cheese Plate and it was well, intense. I liked it but this should be something you split with 5 people or order if you are used to eating a lot of meat during the course of your meal.
I’m particular about barbeque sauce and the Dancing Pigs Bar-B-Que Sauce and Dry Seasoning will go down as one of my favorites. The meat alone was good enough to stand on its own but I managed to use half a bottle of the sauce. It’s safe to say I would eat it plain. Is that bad?
For the main course, Bar-B-Q Pork Half & Half Plate served with served with Bar-B-Q spaghetti, slaw, and Texas Toast. The pork was amazing and the spaghetti surprisingly good. I didn’t have room to eat the slaw and toast but what I tasted I liked. You can easily get about 3 meals out of this one serving.
We couldn’t decide whether to get wet or dry ribs so we went with both. It would be Sophie’s Choice to pick which I liked better, good thing I don’t have to make that choice. Great flavor and meat falling off the bone like it should.
Checking BBQ Fix off the list we headed back to the hotel happy with the 6 hours we had to spend in Memphis. Next stop, Nashville!