Thursday, June 17, 2010

all the marvelous survivors

Memphis, Tennessee
Beal Street, A. Schwab, the Arcade, and to top it all off, Tops Barbecue

Sorry to back track a bit but there were so many things in Memphis that we never managed to write about, so let me take you back a week or so in our trip. The old city center of Memphis has managed, hook or by crook, to save some of its venerable old buildings even if it’s just the original brick fronts supported by girders angled up from the sidewalk.
Several of the businesses along Beal Street, the original live music center of Memphis, occupy these old brick fronts even if many of the upstairs windows open on a view of the sky. Surrounded by the music, A. Schwab, still has its doors open after more than one hundred years and offers a wild mix of new kitsch and lots of old department store stock.
From Elvis’ TCB lightning bolt logo patches to random vintage button cards, from local handmade soap to the last of the cotton slips from 1960, A. Schwab has it all.
On the mezzanine, A. Schwab adds to the charm with a Beal Street Museum collection of old bottles, ancient vending machines, lost yearbooks, and rusted toys.

Away from Beal Street but still in the old center we sampled the fare at the Arcade Restaurant.

The old city center has seen its share of troubles but the Arcade, the oldest continuously open restaurant in Memphis, has survived with its neon sign and classic diner design. mrs. a-go-go tried the sweet potato pancakes, extra tasty with lightly crisped edges and fluffy center, I had the “Memphis” roasted peppers, turkey, and cheese on a crispy roll; a crispy succulent delight. Later that day it was time for some Memphis barbecue at Tops, Sarah’s favorite sandwich chain.
While the fare at the Arcade was creative twists on classic diner plates, Tops is all about making fast food sandwiches with some local pizazz. My quick and sloppy shredded pork barbecue sandwich hit the spot like no tired old cheeseburger ever could.

Oh, and one last thing, we delighted in our visit to the Rock & Soul Museum too.
Best part... the tour is guided by a little electronic device with headphones. These guided tour things have become common at lots of museums but at the Rock and Soul Museum the potential of the little keypad was really fulfilled. Most of the galleries of the museum contained a menu of rare or unusual music tracks pertaining to that room’s display. The visitor is invited to punch the number corresponding to these songs at any time. These music tracks were the highlight of the tour, it was a real treat to hear these songs in the context of the displays.

In our short visit the city by the big river surprised me with its many facets and I know there is so much more that we missed. I hope we'll have a chance to come back someday to see, hear, and taste all of what's on the plate in Memphis.


  1. I hope you come back too! there is plenty more to do.

  2. Definitely placing Memphis on my must visit list. Be safe.



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