Each May we strive to bring the world to Memphis to experience one of the largest festivals in North America. We have something for everyone - from lectures and exhibits, to movie screenings and our core events. Attendees come from all 50 states and several foreign countries during the month of May to our city, one that's rich in history and experience.
We hope you love your time in Memphis this May. If you need some help with what to do, where to eat and what to visit in between our events, scroll through some of the local hotspots and take advantage of all that Memphis has to offer!
Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous
"Not since Adam has a rib been this famous" – Charlie Vergos (owner)
In a town with over 100 barbecue shacks, you can expect Memphians to be bbq snobs. But when you ask locals where to go for great ribs, you can expect to hear, "Rendezvous." The Rendezvous has been serving up its unique style of barbecue since 1948 when the owner discovered a coal chute in the basement of his restaurant and decided to put his grilling skills to work. The rest is history.
Rendezvous is famous for its dry rub seasoning which makes them unique amongst other restaurants who serve ribs mopped with barbecue sauce. The atmosphere also makes it stand out from the crowd. Their history is plastered on the walls and the red and white checkered table cloths invite you in. The wait staff is also part of the package deal. These guys are staples having served diners for generations. It is located in Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous Alley located across the street from the Peabody Hotel Memphis. Just follow the sweet smoky smell to this barbecue anchor in downtown Memphis.
In addition to their variety of barbecued bites – ribs, pork shoulder, beef brisket, lamb, chicken and shrimp – try their tasty appetizer plate of smoked sausage and cheese all seasoned with the famous Rendezvous spice mixture. They have awesome barbecue nachos (pork or chicken) that are piled high with smoked meat, cheese and spices. Top it off with a pitcher of cold brew and you're in hog heaven.
Can't make it downtown? They ship: www.hogsfly.com.
There are donuts and then there's Gibson's Donuts. These light and fluffy pillows of fried dough goodness are exceptionally tasty. They have cake and yeast donuts a plenty plus fritters, donut holes, cinnamon rolls, and éclairs. Among the local's favorites are red velvet cake, blueberry, New Orleans buttermilk donut and, of course, glazed donuts.
The old-school neon sign never shuts down as Gibson's is open 24 hours a day. So, if you need a late-night sugar fix or want to grab your laptop and get some work done, you know where to go. This is a very popular place, so if the line (sometimes out the door) makes you want to keep driving – don't. The lines move quickly and the slight wait is definitely worth it.
Central BBQ is often voted #1 barbecue in Memphis. This Midtown restaurant offers not only a full range of barbecue options (pulled pork, brisket, ribs), but also large, meaty wings, smoked sausage and their famous barbecue nachos. The homemade potato chips make an excellent accompaniment to any entree. Most sandwiches come in large and small sizes and are served with coleslaw by default.
For "Blues, Brews and Burgers," Huey's is a great option. This Downtown Memphis mainstay is often voted as having the best burger in the city. Some of the most popular options are the Senior Huey, the Madison Avenue and the Bluez 57. But, if burgers are not your thing, check out the veggie burger, mahi mahi plate or the Thai chicken salad.
Huey's offers reasonably priced pub grub with generous portions. This local favorite also boasts a great beer selection, full bar and live music on the weekends.
Kooky Canuck offers great food in a very relaxed atmosphere. Its comfortable lodge setting comes complete with hunting trophies and a floor-to-ceiling fireplace. All the food is made fresh and comes with a bit of a twist. Try their BBQ egg rolls, fried (yes, fried) Ham & Cheese sandwich, Asian egg roll salad or the deep-fried Cornish hen. They also have great prime rib, catfish, and tasty soups and salads.
Take the Kookamonga challenge! The burger is 4 pounds of meat, two pounds of hamburger bun and a half pound of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and cheese – a total of seven and a half pounds of goodness. If you can eat the burgers (fries are optional) in under an hour, you get the burger for free plus a spot in the Hall of Fame.
The portions are satisfying and so are the prices. Make sure to save room for dessert. They serve hot cookies cooked in skillets and top it off with ice cream. The kids will love the S’mores that you make at your table. And if you have a group of people, share the Avalanche which is 18 scoops of ice cream with all the toppings.
Kooky Canuck stays open late is just a few blocks away from FedExForum, Beale Street and AutoZone Park making it a great place to meet friends before or after events. They have a great juke box and a full bar.
Hard Rock Cafe
Located in the historic Lansky Bros. building (the clothier to Elvis Presley), Hard Rock serves up classic all-American chow from burgers to brownies, 5,000 sq. ft. of rock 'n' roll memorabilia, retail shop and an awesome view of Beale Street. Hear great live music on one stage from two levels of dining or either of the bars. Valet parking available. Bring a group and save. Semi-private event space for up to 200 people makes Hard Rock perfect for your corporate or private events.
- Beale Street Music Festival
- World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest
- Great American River Run
- Celebrate Shelby
- International Salute To Ghana
- Fine Arts Submission
- Student Exchange Program
- For Educators