Omnivore - Road Trip: Seeking Soul in Memphis

A visit to Memphis, filled with soul

Earnestine & Hazel's


Memphis is a monotonous six hour drive from Atlanta, but it's easy to rationalize those lost hours once you sit down for some of the best BBQ in the country. Whatever you think of when you hear the word "soul" - Memphis has it. Is it the music? The muddy Mississippi? The accumulated smoke of so much barbecued pork? The religious fervor of a gospel service? Or is it just the people who call this hot, humid city home? I think it's all of the above, and it's apparent in the restaurant scene that Memphis excels in soul. And I don't mean just "soul food," though there are a number of places that can scratch that itch. I mean the kind of soul that only arises out of years of toil, the kind of soul that shows itself in gritty old dining rooms and facades that make you question whether a place may be detrimental to your personal safety or your general well-being. If you fear chipped lead paint or a few decades worth of built-up grime, Memphis may not be the place for you. But if you feel that a sense of place can enhance your sense of taste, you'll feel right at home in Memphis. Even the city's most touristy restaurant, the Rendezvous, exudes soul - from the back alley entrance, to the walls literally coated in decades of smoke, to the staff, many of whom have been serving happy customers down in that basement of a restaurant for decades.

More By This Writer


Monday February 19, 2018 04:59 pm EST
Gloriously anachronistic and free from all frills, Mt. Paran Country Store makes Buckhead work | more...


Wednesday January 3, 2018 06:00 pm EST
It's the Korean take-out shop you never knew you needed | more...


Thursday November 30, 2017 01:54 am EST
Eduardo Porto Carreiro. It's a damn good name for a sommelier, isn't it? Exotic, complex with a touch of mystery? The man himself, like his actual title he was just promoted to beverage director for all Ford Fry Restaurants is more down to earth. After establishing a notable wine career in Los Angeles and New York, Porto Carreiro moved to Atlanta in March, along with his "very pregnant wife"... | more...


Friday November 17, 2017 06:49 pm EST
Our family Thanksgiving meal was fabulous, but it wasn't the turkey or the cranberries or the dressing that really distinguished it from other meals it was the gravy. Gravy is the glue (forgive the unappetizing term) that brings the Thanksgiving meal together. It bridges the turkey to the dressing to the cranberries to the rolls. It magically works with just about everything. I could (almost)... | more...


Monday November 13, 2017 06:31 pm EST
If there were an award for smiling-est bartender in town, Tiffanie Barriere, a.k.a the Drinking Coach, would surely be a finalist. Barriere may be best known for her long stint seven and a half years running the award-winning drinks program at One Flew South, the restaurant/bar that literally set the bar for airport awesomeness. But to Atlanta's tight-knit bartender community, Barriere is like... | more...
Search for more by Brad Kaplan