In the land of the Delta Blues during the flood
May 9, 2011 6:24 PM   Subscribe

Wednesday night and Thursday morning free in Memphis. Difficulty: Flooding.

I am heading to Memphis for a business trip, and will be on my own on Wednesday night and (probably) Thursday morning. (Flight leaves late Thursday afternoon.) Client is out in the 'burbs and far from the river. I will have a rental car.

I have previous threads on Memphis bookmarked (including this recent one, but I am wondering how the rising river level affects that advice.

I am very interested in barbecue, and Rendezvous was recommended to me by a RL friend. It looks like The Commissary in Germantown is actually close to where I am staying, so that is my backup.

Wednesday night, I would love to be able to get a feel for the city and 'burbs (such as it is) and am very flexible. Live jazz or blues would be nice, but I'm not sure how the flooding affects things. (Reports suggest not at all but I'd still like specific suggestions...)

Assuming other business obligations don't intrude, I'm planning on trying to see the Civil Rights museum on Thursday morning. Is it reasonable to plan on trying to get through that museum in a short morning, or would I be rushed. I then need a lunch option before heading out to the airport.

The previous threads were very helpful, but I'm hoping I can get some even more snowflakey guidance about the immediate next few days. I am, of course, keeping close track of local news and the Commercial Appeal.

Thanks, Hive Mind!
posted by QuantumMeruit to Travel & Transportation around Memphis, TN (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Alright. First things first. Rendezvous is downtown, which is flooded to all hell which isn't shutting down any businesses but is a huge PITA and the reason for $20 parking. Also, Rendezvous was on the decline *well before* any TV appearances. Suffice to say, anyone who is bragging about that place is doing it based on reputation alone. That being said, Germantown Commissary is *really* good, and since it burnt down in the not too distant past, it probably has great facilities now. (Though, I admit not to going out to Germantown much anymore. My ladyfriend does business with the owner) I would recommend it over Rendezvous any day of the week in terms of general BBQ. Central BBQ is also good and, as suggested in another thread, Cozy Corner is nice.

Good news for going downtown (or bad news, depending) is that the Grizz are playing wednesday in game 5 of the playoffs, but it's in OKC. Expect that to be the focus of attention in any bar-type places you end up going to. I can recommend some of these individually. If you're looking for anything interesting musically, you're probably going to have to come into the city proper. The Memphis Flyer is the local Alt-Weekly and will cover basically everything that's going on around town.

Civil Rights Museum is a fantastic site, and I recommend it heartily. I doubt you would fully take in the scope of the place in a short morning, but it's still worth going to. The Memphis Zoo is in midtown and pretty much the best in the nation. (PANDAS! Bring it, other zoos.) I mean, if you don't like seeing polar bears in tropical climates, maybe not the best decision. The Pink Palace is pretty awesome, too, as far as little natural history museums go. All three are worthwhile, and both the Zoo and Pink Palace are in East Memphis and far away from any disruption or rubber necking.

Feel free to MeMail me, I'll have a pretty easy day at work tomorrow.
posted by absalom at 6:56 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was downtown just this weekend and we had no problems getting around. Riverside is closed, but you can take union ave. into the city with no issues.

Call me a philistine, but i still love rendezvous ribs.
posted by Mimzy at 7:19 PM on May 9, 2011

Best answer: According to the national news, we are all moving around via boat, but that's just not true. We went downtown Sunday to check out the river and had no problems. My husband is a blues musician (really!) and happens to be playing on Beale Street Wednesday night at Alfred's from 7 to 11. Catch the drummer in between sets, mention Metafilter, and he'll probably buy you a beer. Especially since recent experience has turned the green from a weird thing I do into a great resource for whatever we need to know and we're really into paying it forward. Parking downtown can be expensive, but not always. Peabody Place's garage would be a good place to stash your car, and hubby says it's only $5. The Bar-B-Q Shop is one of the best barbeque places in town, and is just a few blocks from my house and just a few blocks from the zoo if that floats your boat. But I agree with Mimzy, I like the Rendezvous, too. If you want company for lunch, memail me and I'll meet ya. Hell, I'll drive you around if you want. If it was me, I would go to the Commissary or Rendezvous and Beale Street on Wednesday night, then back to the Civil Rights Museum downtown Thursday morning, and lunch at Soul Fish Cafe on Cooper before heading back to the airport. Soul Fish has two locations, one in Germantown and the one on Cooper, so you could swap out Wednesday dinner and Thursday lunch between barbeque and soul food.

It will be HOT this week in Memphis, record high temps of around 90 for the next three days, seriously, so dress for the weather when you're not working.
posted by raisingsand at 7:44 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Seconding the Bar-B-Q Shop here -- Rendezvous is overrated for reasons already given in this thread. And the zoo is indeed amazing, though the Civil Rights Museum might be better for time.

Enjoy your visit! Memphis is one of those places where you can strike up a conversation with anyone and they won't think you're weird. I miss living there.
posted by Toothless Willy at 9:44 PM on May 9, 2011

Sorry that this is last minute (just saw the question!), but how about a free walking tour of downtown tonight (Wednesday night)? Check out the details in this blog post (third bullet). Looks like it starts at 6 pm, in front of the Autozone building downtown (right near my office!) If you're interested, here is a map showing you where the Autozone building is. That would be a GREAT way to learn about the city.

I second everything that was said about Rendezvous; skip it unless you want to wait in line for two hours. My advice is always Central BBQ, but that's in the midtown area. You could swing by there on your way from downtown to your hotel in the burbs!

As far as the flooding, just avoid Riverside Drive. Everything else is fine.
posted by elisebeth at 1:59 PM on May 11, 2011

Response by poster: Hey, guys. Y'all rock.

I wound up gong to the Germantown Commissary on Tuesday night, and I've got to say that's possibly the best bar-b-q I've ever had. It rivals the best I've had in Austin and elsewhere in the country. (The sides were amazing, too.)

I wound up having dinner with the guys I was meeting (heh, across the street from the Commissary), and despite my best intentions to see raisingsand's husband, I wound up collapsing in my hotel room on Wednesday night.

The Civil Rights Museum was a good trip. Certainly a powerful narrative in that location but I thought the buildup to Dr. King's death was covered better than the aftermath and results.

I wound up doing Central BBQ for lunch. Good stuff, not as good as the Commissary (IMHO).

Thanks so much for the recommendations, it certainly wouldn't have been as awesome without your advice.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 10:18 AM on May 13, 2011

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