The Husband and I have underestimated the size of this gargantuan country. We initially thought of taking the 4-hour flight to Texas, but we discovered that our check-in luggage would cost an arm and a leg. So we’ve decided to take it to the road instead. And upon learning that our trip would take approximately 12-hours on interstate highways, which can get tiring, we decided to take a nice little stopover in between Georgia and Texas. Might as well enjoy a modest tourist stop, right?
Studying the unfamiliar map of the United States, we had a couple of options to take. If we go down southwest, we could pass through Alabama and Mississippi, then spend the night in New Orleans, Louisiana. Or if we go northwest, we could pass through the same states and then spend the night in Nashville, Tennessee. Or instead of Nashville, Memphis was another strong option. Three great music cities: New Orleans – the hub of blues, Nashville – the hub of country music (And home of one of our favorite TV shows, Nashville!), or Memphis – the home of rock and soul; but we could only choose one.
And Memphis was a great choice! The people are friendly, the music is great and so is the food! Here’s what you must eat when you visit Memphis…
Have your Vitamin G (Grease) at Dyer’s Burgers
The afternoon sun was shining its brightest and was competing against the flashing neon signs of the historical Beale Street. Though the neon bling of the music bars and cafes did not completely derail us (apart from the occasional touristy snaps of our cameras) from the grumblings of our hungry tummies, which were dead set on getting a bite from the famous 100-year old burger joint.
Dyer’s Burgers, open since 1912, is located almost at the end of Beale Street. A bit of patience and walking are required for hungry souls. As with touristy Beale Street, one should expect a crowd at Dyer’s. The service can be veeeerrrrryyyy slooooooow. But one shouldn’t mind when you’re on a holiday right? An exception is when one is truly dying with hunger and that we weren’t just yet.
I took a peep over the kitchen counter to see how these burgers were made. Red balls of beef lined up like a squadron over the marble countertop. The lone cook grabbed a beef ball, smashed it flat, scraped it off with a burger flipper, dunked it into the pan of century-old grease, which is filtered everyday since the day Dyer’s opened, for a few minutes and then finally places the browned, grease soggy beef disc on a bun. He repeats the process until your burger is complete. We ordered one “Triple Triple”, which is a triple patty-triple cheese sandwich, to share. So press repeat button three times.
“Have you had your vitamin G today?” is silk screened on all the wait staff’s t-shirts. Boy, oh boy. We most certainly did have our vitamin G that day.
Dyer’s on Beale Street
205 Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103
Have Southern style chicken at Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
Since The Husband and I just shared a Dyer’s “Triple Triple” and their famous rootbeer float, the stroll around Beale Street, Main Street and the rest of downtown Memphis got our appetites working again. When in downtown Memphis, you must walk, even if it pours down hard…which we did. The Husband grumbled and cursed as we soldiered on foot towards Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken through the wind and rain.
Our trusty phone based GPS was on its last breath’s. We were lost, hungry and almost as angry as the swelling mighty Mississippi river. Well, at least The Husband was. Then after a block’s worth of battling against the gusts of wind with our umbrellas, there it was: the best fried chicken I’ve had in America (so far).
Gus’s restaurant was straightforward and simple: a couple of tables, metal and vinyl chairs, black & white checkered tablecloths, framed feature articles and Memphis icons’ paraphernalia – Memphis Grizzlies, Elvis Presley, Beale Street, just like their amazing fried chicken. Our 4-piece platter was served fresh and hot, so hot that you’d have to wait a few minutes to get to pick it up with your fingers. There wasn’t any unnecessary breading on the chicken’s skin, crispy and non-greasy. It was incredibly juicy, that even the usually dry chicken breast was just dripping as I tore off a piece of white flesh. The secret seasoning: lip-smacking saltiness with a spicy kick just penetrated every inch of skin, meat and bone. No need for any additional gravy or sauce!
It was just so good that all The Husband’s walking-in-the-rain rage just melted away with an additional order of two extra chicken thighs.
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
310 South Front Street Memphis, TN 38103
Have a black coffee paired with a Gibson’s doughnut
I was in America and how could I not have coffee and doughnuts? And maybe it was fate that we were led, or rather we led ourselves, to a Memphis doughnut institution: Gibson’s.
The smell and warmth of sugar icing, yeast, flour and black coffee took me back to my childhood. How come doughnut shops don’t smell like this anymore? This was the place that you’d want to stay and linger for coffee, doughnuts and great conversation with family and friends.
I ordered half a dozen doughnuts with their bestsellers: maple bacon, New Orleans style, maple glazed and red velvet, and a cup of black coffee. The doughnuts were served with a warm smile and sugary words of genuine attentiveness, much valued by first time visitors like myself.
The Husband didn’t care much for doughnuts, so I had license to hoard them for myself. My favorite was not the more obvious choice for bacon loving me. The New Orleans style doughnut trumped the Maple Bacon one. This ultra-moist, dense, well held together and cake doughnut had just the right amount of sweetness, a pleasant surprise for an American doughnut. I devoured all two New Orleans doughnuts and am craving for more. Anybody care to send some over to Texas?
760 Mt. Moriah Road Memphis, TN 38117
Delirious about delicious,
P.S. We send our gracious thanks to Rodeway Inn, which was our reasonably affordable refuge for the night. Should you, fellow budget travelers, be passing through Memphis, Rodeway Inn is a decent place: clean spacious rooms and safe free parking, to spend the night. But if you have the budget, why not stay at The Peabody, Downtown Memphis?