Sat update: Downtown recommendations, Dishcrawl, food drive, South Front train bridge, South Main Design Challenge and more

One of the fun things about living Downtown is giving tourists the locals’ perspective. Last night I was sitting at the bar at the Flying Saucer with my friend Air Traffic Mike. A few seats down, a couple from Chicago was asking the manager-in-training where would be a good place to eat. He told them he liked Double J Smokehouse. “This new guy is going to work out,” I thought. “Too bad they’re transferring him to Cordova when he’s done training, and out there he’ll be recommending Chili’s and Applebee’s.”

Ait Traffic Mike joined the conversation. “While you’re down near Double J, check out Earnestine & Hazel’s too. It’s a dive bar that used to be a pharmacy and then a brothel. They have a good burger, the Soul Burger. But if you want a burger that’s really unique, go to Dyer’s on Beale Street. Get a Double-Double and watch them wipe it through the grease. And if you want another great meal, check out the chicken at Gus’s. If you want to hang out at a place where the locals go, walk a few blocks the other way down Main and turn left on Monroe and look for a sign that says Bardog. Also, there’s another place on Main called the Blind Bear where I just had a great dirty martini with blue cheese-stuffed olives. They have all kinds of hand-crafted drinks. Pauly, jump in here.”

“I don’t need to jump in!” I replied. “You’re telling them pretty much exactly what I would tell them.” The only comment I had was that sometimes people miss the Blind Bear because, in keeping with their speakeasy theme, the sign is not super-huge and super-noticeable.

From what I saw on social media, not many people appeared to be out, so I called it an early night. I realized I have a new definition of “early night.” If I leave the bars in time to stop at City Market and get food to go, it’s an early night. If I stay out past the time City Market closes, it’s a late night. Last night I took home a bowl of their white bean and steak soup, which was delicious.

You know, looking back, it’s hard to believe I spent my first nine of my 11 ½ years Downtown griping that we didn’t have a real grocery store. We are so lucky to have City Market right in the heart of the core now. The only thing it’s missing is a meat section, although that doesn’t bother me since I rarely cook at home. If you shop at City Market but need a place to get fresh meat, go to the Memphis Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Vendors from local farms show up with great cuts of meat to sell. Get there early, though – every chef in town knows about this, and they sell out the meat trucks by mid-morning some weeks.

I found a really good blog post about Wednesday night’s Dishcrawl in the Downtown core. (The organizers called it the “North of Beale crawl,” and I have no problem with that. Just please please please do not call my neighborhood “The NOB,” which is one of the stupidest names ever.) The stops, not revealed to crawlers in advance, were Automatic Slim’s, Aldo’s Pizza Pies, Local, and Tamp & Tap. Keep up with future Memphis Dishcrawls here.

The Downtown Neighborhood Association is conducting a food drive for the Mid-South Food Bank this month. Kids are out of school during July, and for many Memphis-area kids the school breakfast and lunch were the only nutritious meals they could count on. Bring non-perishable goods and help these kids stay healthy. The collection points are Bluf City Coffee, 505 S. Main; The Office at Uptown, 594 N. Second; and Little Cafe Eclectic, 111 Harbor Town Square on Mud Island.

A truck was stuck underneath the bridge on South Front Street, just north of the Blue Monkey, for many hours Wednesday-Thursday disrupting traffic. If you drive a tall truck, Front is not the way to get out of town heading south! Get over on Riverside.

BR:CK, a group of young architects, has won the South Main Design Challenge. They will receive $5000 to transform the Buffalo Mural lot into their vision, which is a short-term neighborhood gathering and performance space as a venue for artists, events and community groups. Their long-term goal for the space is Roam the Market, a year-round store that would serve as an extension of the Memphis Farmers Market.  The long-term concept would also include an art and sculpture garden, patio and deli. Congrats to the BR:CK folks and thanks for making Downtown an even better place to be!

Got another post coming, one more thing that I want to stand on it