Modern-day Memphis stakes its identity on two things: musical history and BBQ pork. It delivers marvelously on both. The slick downtown area bustles with pilgrims who come to worship at the altars of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf and Isaac Hayes, to name just a few. While they’re here, they can’t help but stray from kosher living and indulge their inner love of slow-cooked swine. Some make a circuit, taste-testing dry versus wet, rib versus pulled.
Between sated bellies and musical dreams realized, it’s easy to forget that Memphis is also a sprawling, struggling American city. Wander outside of the center and the rough and tumble reality of trying to make a living in the Mid-South becomes apparent. Radically different neighborhoods interlock: refurbished mansions sit near tumbledown shotgun shacks, college campuses lie in the middle of odd warehouse districts. So whether you are here to tour Elvis’ mint caddie collection or ferret out the liveliest dive bar, embrace Memphis with all of its glitz and grit.