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Memphis Dinner


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I will have a group of friends in Memphis TN for one night in August. We are a supper club and are visiting Graceland, et. al., and for our "official" supper club dinner I need to choose a restaurant. We will be 10 people, and I am hoping for a suggestion about the perfect place. We want either somewhere that embodies the city (maybe a BBQ place?) or else something fabulous. Doesn't matter if it's fancy or a hole, so long as the food is great and we will remember it as the quintessential Memphis experience. So for one single best dinner in Memphis, where should I take my friends?

Thanks in advance for the suggestions!

-drew

www.drewvogel.com

"Now I'll tell you what, there's never been a baby born, at least never one come into the Firehouse, who won't stop fussing if you stick a cherry in its face." -- Jack McDavid, Jack's Firehouse restaurant

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for bbq, Blues City Cafe. I really disliked Rendezvous. After doing a little research, it looks like Rendezvous can be really hit or miss. We had a party of 12, and 11 out of the 12 ordered ribs. I don't think anyone fell out of their seat yelling "omg these are the best ribs ever." I don't know what it was, but they were off that night. It certainly cannot be due to the size of the party we had, as they must be accustomed to large parties. Blues City, OTOH, was excellent. The ribs fell off the bone and the gumbo was't bad either.

If y'all decide to go out and party on Beale Street, don't forget to stop by Dyer's Burgers (reviews at Roadfood and Holly Eats). Deliciously greasy and a perfect way to finish off the night after drinking your weight in Hurricanes at Pat O'brien's or Diver's at Silky O'Sullivans.

Enjoy.

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Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous

By Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)

Whenever I go to Memphis I have a little ritual. I check into the Peabody Hotel, then duck down a dumpster-filled back alley, and rush to Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous. This rambling basement barbecue joint is almost as hard to locate as it is idiosyncratic in its schedule (it’s closed Sunday and Monday, and the restaurant serves lunch only two days a week). But it should certainly be on the National Registry of Historic Places, for the Rendezvous is the birthplace of the Memphis dry rub.

and coming from Raichlen, the King of Barbecuing, I think he must know whereof he speaks! :wink:

or, maybe not, depending upon what carpetbagger,esq. just mentioned ... :hmmm:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous
By Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)

Whenever I go to Memphis I have a little ritual. I check into the Peabody Hotel, then duck down a dumpster-filled back alley, and rush to Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous. This rambling basement barbecue joint is almost as hard to locate as it is idiosyncratic in its schedule (it’s closed Sunday and Monday, and the restaurant serves lunch only two days a week). But it should certainly be on the National Registry of Historic Places, for the Rendezvous is the birthplace of the Memphis dry rub.

and coming from Raichlen, the King of Barbecuing, I think he must know whereof he speaks! :wink:

or, maybe not, depending upon what carpetbagger,esq. just mentioned ... :hmmm:

I am going to be in Memphis this weekend specifically for a food event. Rendevous will not be on my list of must visits (in fact, I don't have a list this trip as all of the food for the Viking Range Corp/Culinary Institute of America tour of the Delta is pretty much being custom cooked for the participants-which won't suck, trust me on that one). The food just doesn't do it for me, ever, and that is that. I know people love it, but the ribs are usually very dry and just not so swell.

On the other hand, as you are visiting the hallowed grounds where the King once walked, played, and ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches (no wonder he needed debilitating narcotics) you could drive down the road towards the river and eat at Interstate Barbeque. In my mind this place is, hands down, the best meat in Memphis. The sauce is tasty and I just generally like the place. Give it a try. Really.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous
By Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)

Whenever I go to Memphis I have a little ritual. I check into the Peabody Hotel, then duck down a dumpster-filled back alley, and rush to Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous. This rambling basement barbecue joint is almost as hard to locate as it is idiosyncratic in its schedule (it’s closed Sunday and Monday, and the restaurant serves lunch only two days a week). But it should certainly be on the National Registry of Historic Places, for the Rendezvous is the birthplace of the Memphis dry rub.

and coming from Raichlen, the King of Barbecuing, I think he must know whereof he speaks! :wink:

or, maybe not, depending upon what carpetbagger,esq. just mentioned ... :hmmm:

Well, everyone has their own opinion. I disagree with Holly about the Loveless Cafe...such is life. But I think that the clip you posted speaks volumes about Rendezvous. It IS a landmark when it comes to bbq in Memphis. People go for the experience and to say they've been there. No trip to Memphis would be complete without going there and the Peabody, right? I kind of see it like the Black Dog up in yankeeland. Is it the best dining option? no. but it still packs people in for a variety of reasons.

My feelings about Rendezvous are not due to any wet/dry bias when it comes to ribs. I and others at my table thought that the ribs were a little dry. Perhaps on the night they go, they'll get a better rack.

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rendevous is NOT where you want to go. i was born in memphis and have gone to this place several times over the past 20yrs. i only go now when buddies from out of town come to tennessee and go on and on about going there. one common thing that is always overlooked in reference to this place is that they DO NOT barbecue anything! they DO NOT barbecue the ribs, they are grilled. so when you go there expecting super tender, moist ribs and you end up pulling molars out of your jaw it does cause some confusion becuase of what your expectations were. the rub has good taste, other items on the menu are o.k. but nothing knocks you down. go to cozy corner....off the charts!!! also go to "fino's on the hill".....family from the italian section of st. louis. silky's definetly! memphis has lost some real gems over the past 5-10yrs. its too bad.

Newgene Ledbetter would rather climb a tree to tell you a lie than stand on the ground and tell you the truth!

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I appreciate everyone's replies... Are there other places we should know about?

-drew

www.drewvogel.com

"Now I'll tell you what, there's never been a baby born, at least never one come into the Firehouse, who won't stop fussing if you stick a cherry in its face." -- Jack McDavid, Jack's Firehouse restaurant

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Wally Joe's Germantown

Fine white table cloth restaurant but not exactly in Memphis

Ronnie Grisanti & Son's on Poplar

The son Judd Grisanti took over several years ago and his food is fabulous

Chez Phillipe at the Peabody Hotel

Not sure about this one since Jose is no longer there but Phillipe has an exquisite reputation.

John Malik

Chef/Owner

33 Liberty Restaurant

Greenville, SC

www.33liberty.com

Customer at the carving station: "Pardon me but is that roast beef rare?"

Apprentice Cook Malik: "No sir! There's plenty more in the kitchen!"

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  • 4 months later...

I was pleased with both Stella's and McEwen's on Monroe during a visit last weekend. Rendevous was uninspiring and Corky's not much better...was not satisfied with Memphis style ribs on this trip...now the Blues music that was something else...

Expat Russ

Three Passions:

Food

Travel<=click to go to my travel website...

BBQ and BQ<=click to go to my blog about trying to balance great food and qualifying for the Boston Marathon

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I can vouch for the fact that the Rendezvous does not meet my idea of great BBQ. When I lived in Memphis in the late '78-82 we found a little hole in the wall called Lambs Eat Shop. BBQ pork shoulder cooked by Mr. Lamb and these 2 very old ladies that would slice it up. I remember one of the ladies falling asleep while she was slicing and then would perk up and continue. The pork was wonderful and that was a little slice of Memphis itself.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My best gal pal and I are tripping to Graceland for my 50th birthday November 2-5 (it's actually two weeks before my real birthday, but I figure I'll need that much time to ease the pain of turning 50). This dining advice has been great. Can't afford Peabody rates, but we are staying near there and will have a car. Any party/bar/music advice, also any places to eat (other than the interesting place Brooks mentioned) near Elvis' pad? Don't-miss spots? PM me if you prefer.

Thanks!

Debbie

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The BBQ Shop on madison in Midtown is the BEST BBQ in town, without all of the hype. The other places are tourists traps. If Aubergine is still operating, its one of the best modern French restaurants in the country no one has heard of.(I was the Sous there many years ago, the chef is a tragic genius). There is a great Viet place in the med. area between midtown and Downtown(next to a artificial limb factory, for atmosphere).

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"Can't afford Peabody rates, but we are staying near there and will have a car. Any party/bar/music advice, also any places to eat (other than the interesting place Brooks mentioned) near Elvis' pad? Don't-miss spots? PM me if you prefer."

silky o'sullivan's and pat o'brien's are two bars that are fun places. at the former, they have goats living out on the deck, the latter is a chain, but the dueling pianos can be fun (and there's not much to dislike about an ice cold hurricane).

a&r bar-b-que is near graceland. known for their bbq spaghetti.

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