More from Memphis: Civil Rights, Mississippi River Views, and the Home of the Blues

Yesterday I shared some pictures from our visit to Graceland, and today I want to talk about the rest of our time in Memphis. As I mentioned before, my family flew to Memphis for my cousin’s wedding, but we were also able to work in a good deal of exploring while there. I had visited Memphis once before – around 1992-ish – but since I was so young on that trip, I didn’t really have much of an opinion on the city. Overall, I found the downtown area to be pretty nice, and certainly worthy of a weekend trip. The only thing I didn’t really like? The heat, which continually reminded me why I live in the North.

After visiting Graceland, we headed downtown for the rehearsal dinner, held at Central BBQ. While the barbeque was quite tasty, I sadly did not get any pictures of it – nor did I get a photograph of the barbeque nacho buffet, a phenomenon previously unknown to me but pretty brilliant when you think about it. I did, however, get a picture of the strawberry groom’s cake which legitimately might have been the most delicious piece of cake I have ever eaten.

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The next morning, we started our day right with the breakfast of champions – Waffle House. I’ve never been to a Waffle House before, but my pecan and chocolate chip waffle was quite tasty.

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As our waffle comas set in, we drove back to downtown Memphis, where we visited the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum is located at the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, and you can walk on the balcony where it happened, which is a chilling and powerful experience. The museum also has excellent, detailed exhibits on assassination itself (from how it was planned to the investigations that followed) and on the history of civil rights in the US generally and Memphis specifically.

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After finishing up at the museum, we decided to drive along the river for a while – and by “the river,” I mean the Mississippi River, for those folks who are as geographically challenged as I apparently am (I had no idea Memphis was right on the Mississippi, a fact my family never tired of mocking me for). We also drove over the river into exciting…Arkansas! Actually, we turned around at the first possible exit. Sorry, Arkansas.

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From there, we drove to Beale Street, which is known as “The Home of the Blues.” The street today is filled with restaurants, bars, neon signs, and…tourists. We ended up just walking up and down the street, taking in the atmosphere and the street performers, before deciding to head elsewhere for lunch.

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The place we headed was the Happy Mexican, a restaurant a few blocks from Beale Street. While their chips and salsa and margaritas were average, my shrimp tacos were excellent. I order shrimp or fish tacos with an alarming frequency, so it’s a big deal for me to declare that these were some of the best – or perhaps the best – that I’ve ever eaten.

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We returned to our hotel and got all spiffed up for the main event – my cousin’s wedding, which was held downtown at Vance Park. The park is on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi, so needless to say, it was a very lovely spot for a wedding:

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While lovely, it was also quite hot, with the late afternoon sun beating down on us. I think we’re disguising it pretty well, but my sister and I were melting.

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I was happy to note that the wedding’s colors were gold and blue (and the wedding took place on the day we beat Notre Dame, so it was clearly a solid choice).

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And I was also happy to be reunited with my cousins:

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The next day, we only had time to grab brunch before heading to the airport. We brunched at Owen Brennan’s, which featured an amazing buffet. I’m not generally a fan of buffets, as the food tends to be low quality and you still end up overeating regardless. But, Owen Brennan’s was different – I thought the food was quite good. My family raved about the bread pudding, which I thought was fine, but for my money, the winner was the eclair. It was decadent and oh-so-tasty.

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And on that delicious note, we left Memphis. You treated us quite well, Memphis, and I would be happy to return someday.

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