Walking (but mostly eating) in Memphis

I’m still in a bit of a daze after this weekend, so we’re skipping a recipe today. I just can’t think straight enough to get one typed out… a trip recap it is!

This past weekend, I went to Memphis for 2 reasons. One was to visit my little sister and her husband, and the second reason was to take my little sister to her first Avett Brothers concert ever. I knew, going in, that it was going to be an awesome weekend, but I really had no idea just how good it would turn out.

We ended up having pretty incredible weather the entire time, ate ridiculously good food, and got the chance to meet/shake hands/hug/get autographs from my very favorite band ever, and I kind of feel like it really didn’t happen.


First, the food! (Also – I know these pictures aren’t the best, but I kept forgetting my camera, so these are just from my phone).

Tiff and James have been telling me about all these delicious places in Memphis since they moved there, and I couldn’t wait to try them all.

We started with brunch at Brother Juniper’s, where they have a separate coffee counter while you wait for your table, and then Tiff and I headed over to Muddy’s Bake Shop for some sweets to pass the time before the concert Friday night.

Oh, Muddy’s. I will definitely be back because they were out of the caramel cupcake and the grasshopper, but we did buy 3 cupcakes (capote = chocolate cake/vanilla icing, razzle dazzle = chocolate cake, raspberry icing, and a carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese icing) PLUS that honey rosemary cookie you see above. I’m pretty sure the cookie was my favorite. I could have easily eaten a dozen by myself, no problem.

After scoping out the amphitheatre that afternoon, Tiff took me to Central BBQ to get the infamous BBQ Nachos. At Tiff’s suggestion, we got the nachos on their house chips (holy moly, these are good) instead of tortilla chips and they were loaded with pulled pork, topped with BBQ sauce, cheese sauce, shredded cheese, and jalapenos and then topped with more of the bbq seasoning. We were both pretty hungry, but we still couldn’t finish them. A meal for two for less than $10? I didn’t know that could happen.

nachos Friday night was the concert, which, of course, was incredible. Every single Avett show is better than the last, and this was definitely the best so far (until Friday when I see them again!).

But. Before I try to describe concert night, I’ll finish the food.

Saturday, we slept in after our late night at the show. Since we knew we wanted lunch at a normal time, we just had some coffee and fruit to hold us over until we got over to Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana. I’d been hearing about this place as long as I’d been hearing about the bbq nachos, and we love fresh authentic Mexican, so I was looking forward to this lunch.

We chose 3 dishes to share: Tostadas de Tinga de Pollo (spicy chicken tostadas), Pastor de Sinola (al pastor tacos – pork and pineapple), and chicken tamales, plus a fresh limeade, chips and salsa, and a sample of their guacamole. I. am. totally. in love with this place. So much that I would seriously consider moving to Memphis just so I could eat there every week. And, once Nick tried it, I think he would agree. Everything was fresh, they source a lot of their food locally, and it wasn’t greasy at all (like most of the mexican places near us). I want to go back already!

To work off lunch, we walked around the Memphis Zoo for a while and got to see 2 grizzly bears playing in the water and doing somersaults. And then we started our tour of downtown Memphis for dinner. We kind of made up our own restaurant hopping schedule so I could try as many things as I could before heading back home, and it worked out perfectly!

3 places, a few dishes, and none of us ended up completely stuffed and miserable.

We started at Bardog, a fun little tavern (they’re giving away a hearse on Halloween night, if you’re in Memphis) with some drinks and their meatball appetizer. Definitely get the meatballs. I would go back just for those.

Then we headed over to Local Gastropub, which was pretty busy and rowdy, thanks to a Tennessee football game on that night. We each had a Memphis brew from Ghost River and started with the Smoked Crab Deviled Eggs. The crab was blended into the filling and then topped with caviar to give a punch of salt with the rich smokiness of the crab. I don’t think I liked them as much as classic deviled eggs, but it was fun to try them. For the main dish, we had our hearts set on their Wild Board sausage, but they were out so we ended up getting the Local Burger with gouda and added some brown sugar bacon. That might have been one of the best decisions of the weekend. It was definitely in the top 3 of all the burgers I’ve ever had. Juicy, perfectly cooked, melty cheese, sweet and salty bacon…I’m still thinking about it.

And then the finale. Nick and I were watching Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives a week or so ago and they were featuring a restaurant in Memphis called South of Beale (SOB) and I knew we had to go.

1. They serve popcorn at each table (Rachel – I know you would love this place!) and 2. One of the dishes they had on the show was a duck confit fried rice, topped with an egg and the chef’s fresh made all spice.

Our last stop was SOB, and I think it was my favorite. We all split the fried avocado appetizer with olive and feta tapenade and a balsamic cream sauce AND a side of the duck fried rice, which is quite possibly one of the best dishes I’ve ever had. I already have plans to try to recreate it at home. I’ve never used allspice in fried rice, but I will be using from now on. If you’re ever in Memphis, you need to go to all of these places – every single one.

This was probably the best weekend of food I’ve ever had. I mean, I’ve had good meals, but not 2 full days with some of the best food for every single meal. Maybe we really do need to move to Memphis? Plus – bonus – all of the places we went for dinner had exposed brick inside which I LOVE. Great atmospheres, good drinks, fabulous food.

And to top off the weekend of good eating and hanging out with family, this happened. Is this real life?


Nick and I have been listening to The Avett Brothers for years – I literally listen to them at least once a day and have been doing that for years. I love their music, the lyrics, their art, everything. They’re all extremely (and maybe a little unfairly) talented and they put on the most incredible live shows I’ve ever seen. Each time we see them, we decide it was the best show yet…until the next time we see them. And so it goes.

So Friday’s show was, of course, the best so far. Just check out the set list! If you’re a fan, you know how fun this show was:


They did switch out Traveling Song for Head Full of Doubt, but I was SO excited to hear some of their new stuff live AND I finally got to hear Denouncing November Blue and If It’s the Beaches live (sadly, it was without Seth’s funny echoing he did in the Cheerwine video). Plus, they played some old time tunes that were really fun to hear.

And after the show, somehow – through luck, through stealthy moves, simply through the kindness and graciousness of The Avetts and their manager – Tiff and I got to meet and talk to them for a few minutes before they headed off to their next stop. It went by in a blur so fast that I don’t even remember anything I said, but all of them were extremely warm and friendly and funny.

I woke up the morning after thinking it was just a dream, but then I saw the picture again and realized that, yup, it happened. Meeting any famous person is one thing – meeting people that you look up to and admire and respect just leaves you speechless. I’m so, so thankful that we had the chance to chat with them for a minute and get to know the guys a little bit off the stage. And now I’m even more ready to learn how to really play my banjo. I’ve got Amazing Grace down, but that’s about it. If you want to hear that song 10 times in a row or a bunch of random chords, I’ve got you covered.

Oh, and the other burgers that round out my top 3? They’re all from Umami Burger that I just tried last week, too.


Thanks to Tina for this picture. Me, Tina, and her awesome husband split 3 burgers so we could try as many as possible. And I just have one tip: get the truffle burger. You will not be sorry.

Wowza – what a weekend! I still can’t believe all that happened – it’s definitely a weekend I’ll never forget.

What was the best part of your weekend?


  1. So cool! I love their music.

  2. Sounds like the best weekend ever!

  3. My weekend was so boring compared to yours! Sounds like a great time and delicious food.

  4. NO WAY!!! I saw your tweet that you met them but HOW FREAKING COOL!!!!! My friend is obsessed with them and just named her baby Avett. Such a cool experience!

  5. I was in Memphis earlier this year for work and went to South of Beale!! I even came home and recreated the popcorn (http://www.thesweetslife.com/2012/05/spicy-kettle-corn.html). Next time you go you should check out Flight–loved my meal there too!!

  6. What a great trip! I am dying to go to Memphis :)

  7. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I am so happy for you/jealous of you that I can’t stand it! Have that picture framed. What an awesome experience!

  8. You definitely had a wonderful weekend! We’re only 3 hours from Memphis now, and I’ve been wanting to spend a weekend there. Now, when we do, I’ll be referring to your post for places to eat! :)

  9. Whoa whoa whoa, you were in Memphis and I didn’t know about it!?!? You went to a lot of my favorite places. Glad you had a good time!

  10. Oh boy, that sounds like an awesome weekend of food and fun!!!

  11. UMAMI BURGER… still dreaming about the Truffle Burger!!! SO much fun seeing you lady! xoxo :)

  12. Wow Brandi what an amazing weekend you had! I haven’t been to Memphis yet but Scott has (for Memphis in May BBQ event) and he’s eaten at SOB and Central and he enjoyed both those places. I have found out that Central will now ship BBQ right to your door, you know, in case Nick needs some. ;)

  13. what a weekend indeed :) that is awesome, and with so much good food… never knew memphis was such a good foodie destination!

  14. Awesome getaway! I’ve never been to Memphis but now I feel like I wanna do a “taste of Memphis” trip! Anddd I’ve never heard of the Avett Brothers [sheesh, so out of it]!

    • well, NOW you have! :) look them up and tell me if you want suggestions on what songs to start with :)

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  16. Thanks for the popcorn shout-out! Next time, take me with you! :)

  17. Love this! I live in Memphis and muddy’s and deli Mexicana are 2 of my favorite places on earth. That green sauce at deli mex = heaven.

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