Memphis: Like No Place Else

You can't leave Memphis without visiting—or sampling—these unique attractions.
By: Alyson McNutt English
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Passion about pulled pork BBQ. 
There are so many great places to feast on pulled pork plates in Memphis, you can’t just limit yourself to one shop. Corky’s Bar-B-Q (5259 Poplar Ave, 901-685-9744) may be a regional chain now, but it started on Poplar in East Memphis, and it’s made a national name for itself. Be brave and try your slaw piled high atop your pulled pork sandwich -- you’ll be glad you did.

But while Corky’s has many devotees, people are just as passionate about Central BBQ (2249 Central Ave., 901-272-9377), in Midtown. While Central is relatively new on the Memphis pork pit scene (it’s only been around since 2002), it has quickly built up a following thanks to its incredible slow-smoked ribs and pulled pork, as well as the famous peanut butter pie it offers for dessert.

And don’t forget the Neely’s, who may be nationwide names now thanks to their new Food Network show, but have been a legendary Memphis food family for years. Jim Neely’s Interstate Barbecue (2265 South 3rd St, 901-775-2304) may not be in the hippest neighborhood or the hottest street in town, but it’s famous for the ribs that slide off the bone and stellar pecan pie, all at a price you won’t believe.

Memphis-Style Dry Ribs 
Pulled pork sandwiches dripping with a sweet-spicy sauce may be what most people think of when they envision barbecue, but at Charles Vergo’s Rendevous (52 South 2nd St., 901-523-2746) in downtown Memphis, you get an entirely different experience. Charles Vergo started the now-famous restaurant in the basement of his diner after discovering a coal chute that gave him a chance to show of his grill skills. Millions of Memphians and tourists are glad for the discovery. Vergo’s Rendevous perfected the Memphis-style dry rub for ribs. And it’s perfection is no secret. Rendevous was Elvis’ favorite bite, and everyone from Bill Clinton to the Rolling Stones have agreed, stopping in for some of Vergo’s famous ribs. And if you get a taste for the perfect pork but can’t stop in, Vergo has a solution: he ships his ribs overnight anywhere in the U.S. via Memphis-based FedEx. (Bill Clinton’s White House is rumored to have made frequent use of the Rendevous express!)

The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel 
In April 1968, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Memphis to support black sanitation workers, who were protesting unequal treatment and pay. He delivered his “I've Been to the Moutaintop” speech and then retired for the evening to the Lorraine Motel, where he often stayed while in Memphis. He was shot while standing on the second-floor balcony by escaped convict James Earl Ray. Now the Lorraine serves as The National Civil Rights Museum (450 Mulberry St., 901-521-9699) with permanent exhibits devoted to the history of the struggle for equal rights and temporary exhibits chronicling different figures and movements in civil rights history.

From the outside, Graceland (3764 Elvis Presley Blvd. 901-332-3322) looks like nothing more than a stately Georgian-style home in south Memphis. But Elvis’ home is a mecca for fans and tourists who come from around the world to pay homage to The King. Take a walk through the mansion and check out famous attractions like the shag-carpet laden Jungle Room or the then state-of-the-art multiple television setup the King enjoyed while relaxing at his home. You can also tour his jets, the Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II, before checking out the expansive grounds and Elvis’ final resting place.

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