Pastrami nachos @ Belle Tavern + Wednesday news


Yesterday evening I stopped by Belle Tavern for a snack. They had nachos for $12. You could get them topped with Tavern chili, brown sugar beef brisket, or pastrami. “Which one should I get?” I asked Q.

“The brown sugar brisket,” she replied.

But for some reason I just wasn’t feeling brown sugar on nachos. “Other two,” I said to Q.

“Pastrami,” she advised, and that was my order.

A big plate of nachos came out about 10 minutes later. At first I wasn’t sure it was pastrami. I always thought of pastrami as a thinly-sliced deli meat (and therefore was wondering how that was going to work on nachos) rather than the bite-sized hunks shown here. Q assured me it was pastrami, and sure enough, it was. I liked it. Something different than the traditional ground beef or chicken nachos (or, given that it’s Memphis, BBQ nachos) that you see many other places. Variety! The nachos are $12 and are big enough to share or to take leftovers home for a second snack later.

On to the news… Art 101.3 will happen at The 101, 101 S. Main, tomorrow, Thursday, December 1 from 6 to 8 PM. Works of abstract artists Chuck Johnson and Tom Murray will be on display. Live music, wine, hors d’oeuvres.

High Cotton is having a board game night Tuesday, December 13 in the taproom 5 to 8 PM. It’s an opportunity to de-stress from the holidays. If you bring your own board game, you get a discount pint. Hey, I did a little Amazon surfing and discovered there’s now a Trolls version of Operation! Maybe I will bring that! Don’tcha just love those crazy trolls?

Trolley Stop Market will have a pizza party with Santa and Mrs. Claus Saturday from 5-8 PM. Bring your camera for pictures! Live music, kids’ crafts, pizza specials, and vendors.

Also Saturday, there will be an Urban Art Gallery at the Exchange Building at Second and Madison at 6 PM. Art gallery by Johnny Meant and local photographers, music by Ryan Haskett, open bar (!!!!!), and rooftop access.

Want to learn more about career opportunities and concepts? Love basketball? You need a ticket to the new Memphis Grizzlies Keynote Speaker Series. Ticket package includes entry to an Afternoon Keynote, a Grizzlies game ticket, and a Spalding notebook. Tickets range from $79 to $109.

A car ran off Danny Thomas and slammed into the Pentecostal Temple Church of God yesterday morning. It hit a gas line and caught on fire. The driver died from his injuries and damage to the church was estimated at $107,000 as the fire burned the fellowship hall.

That’s it for now, off to work. I will be late getting out because I am going to do the car shopping I didn’t get done yesterday.

Tue update #2

If you plan on driving a car anywhere Downtown Saturday, particularly in the morning, allow extra, extra time. The St. Jude Marathon kicks off at AutoZone Park Saturday morning at 7 and will draw tens of thousands to the area. Then at 4 in the afternoon, the annual holiday parade takes place on Beale. At 7 in the evening over a thousand Santas will assemble at the Flying Saucer for a toy drive/pub crawl benefiting Porter-Leath. By last year Stumbling Santa had gotten so big that they had to close Peabody Place and put a big tent outside to hold all the participants.

The Brass Door will open at 6:30 Saturday with free coffee and bag pickup for runners.

Bluesman Bobby Rush will perform at the Clayborn Temple Friday, December 9. Tickets are $28.

Paulette’s has released the menu for its December wine dinner Tuesday, December 6. $65 plus tax and gratuity.

The Metal Museum will hold a holiday open house Sunday from 12 to 5. Shop in the Museum Store, take an ornament making class, or keep warm by an outdoor fire put as you enjoy hot cider and holiday treats.


There will be a Downtown safety meeting Thursday night at 6 at the Emerge Memphis building. Neighborhood Watch Coordinator Veronica Garner, RDC President Benny Lendermon and Colonel Gloria Bullock and Major Keith Watson of the MPD North Main Station are on the agenda. These monthly meetings are organized by Debra Streeter, security coordinator for the DMC. They are the public’s chance to learn more about safety programs and meet the officers and officials who implement them.

There will be a Mid-Week Market at 101 S. Main tomorrow, Wednesday, November 30, from 11 AM to 2 PM. Local vendors will include La Belle Bakery, Pink Diva Cupcakery, Eddie Efaw Pottery/Glass, Vicki Babb, So Fresh & So Green, Crybaby Club, Cede Prints, My Heavenly Creations, Replinish Kombucha, and Gardens Oy Vey.

Prayers to all affected by the Gatlinburg fires. The company I work for has a regional bridge tournament there every spring that is much loved and highly anticipated every year. I hope it will not be affected by the fires.

I’ve moved my car shopping back to tomorrow night, because I forgot I told Jeannette I would be at the Blind Bear by 6. They are starting poker early at 6 tonight, with lots of extra chips for those who get there early.

Volunteer Odyssey pop-up parties today

Real short on time so this won’t be a long post, but I want to remind everyone that Volunteer Odyssey is having two pop-up parties at 101 S. Main today. This is a great chance to come out and learn about the ways you can give back to the community.

11 AM-2 PM: Attendees get a token that they can take across the street to Aldo’s Pizza Pies for a free slice of pizza when they buy a slice.

5 PM-8 PM: Wiseacre beer will be served

Outta here for now. I will probably be back at lunchtime with a post. I am car shopping after work this week so I won’t be out at the usual time for a few days.

Mexican dinner @ Cafe Pontotoc + Sunday news

Two years ago, I made a promise to my friend Captain Sparkles. A pilot, he had recently taken a job in Indonesia, and he had brought me a batik shirt from the island country. In return, he asked that I visit Cafe Pontotoc, and if I liked it, to blog about it. “The owners are such nice people,” he told me.

Yesterday it was finally time. Yesterday afternoon I did Tour de South Main, hitting Earnestine & Hazel’s to see what was going on in Clarence’s world, then over to my “home away from home on the south side,” Max’s Sports Bar. On the way back north, I stopped in South of Beale so Kaylea could lay eyes on the man of her dreams for a bit, then continued my walk back to the Downtown core. As I passed Pontotoc, I remembered my unfulfilled promise. “Why not?” I thought. It turned out to be an excellent decision.

They have a tacos & tamales plate, where you can choose tacos (chicken, blackened catfish, steak, blackened shrimp, or vegan) and tamales (traditional chicken or pork delta hot) 3 for $10. I got a chicken tamale, a blackened shrimp taco, and a chicken taco.


After two days of turkey and ham, this was exactly what the doctor ordered. Delicious and just the right amount of spice. They had a large collection of hot sauces to select from, which I used to spice up my rice and beans.

I asked the bartender for a beer recommendation to pair with my meal. She suggested a couple of options, and I decided on the Wiseacre Ananda IPA. “This would be really good with something cinnamon,” I told her. “I could buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch and have the Ananda with it for breakfast. It would go well with pumpkin pie too.”

After dinner I walked north to the Blind Bear, where I watched the Tennessee-Vanderbilt game with bartender Mac. “Did you ever watch Gomer Pyle USMC growing up?” I asked Mac. He said yes. “Don’t you think Butch Jones looks like the offspring of Sergeant Carter and a special needs child?” Mac went through a range of emotions last night, from laughter at my witty observation to utter dejection as his team lost to Vanderbilt.

If you’re a fan of Pancho’s cheese sauce, visit The Dirty Crow Inn on Crump this week. They have a special that is a chicken Philly with Pancho’s cheese sauce on top.

From The Onion: Vacationing Man Excited to Try Fast Food Franchise Not Found in Hometown. YES. I remember visiting Austin in 2000, and although it is one of the most vibrant cultural blends in the US, I could not wait to go to Quizno’s, which Memphis did not yet have. I tried the turkey bacon guacamole sandwich, in case you were wondering. I bet there are a lot of people who plan West Coast trips with In & Out Burger being the main reason for their travel.

If you live in Albany, Oregon, you can do yoga with goats. If someone could pass this message on to the people who run Downtown Yoga, I’d appreciate it: Normally your studio is not something that would be on my radar. However, if you offer a “yoga with sheep” class, I am SO THERE. I will sign up for a monthly plan with you!



Tin Roof is doing an Ugly Sweater Ball on Beale Tuesday, December 13. They will have a build your own sweater booth, whatever that means, and there will be live band karaoke and holiday-themed drink specials.

United Against Violence 901 will hold an interfaith prayer vigil tonight at Clayborn Temple at 6 PM. There will be a discussion about the recent outbreaks of violence.

Breeze Cayole and New Orleans play Downtown Huey’s tonight at 8:30.

I am issuing a HIDE YOUR FOOD WARNING through midnight tonight. The Nuh-Uh Girl is in town for the holiday and has announced that she will be out for Sunday Fun Day today. If you eat in public Downtown today, don’t be surprised if a girl shows up at your table and says “can I have a bite? :-)” then proceeds to devour two-thirds of your food. If you’re tired of turkey, she will gladly take Thanksgiving leftovers off your hands.

Time for my weekly Sunday school lesson with B-RAD at the Blind Bear. Today’s lesson is about customers who get a couple of mimosas in them and start to feel emboldened and get mouthy. Brad used to have a regular like that, but I ran her off last year and she hasn’t been back since. The Blind Bear should give me a “Director of Quality Control” title. Pay me a dollar a year like the country is going to do with President Cheeto. That would allow me to use my employment to get industry discount on drinks at the other bars.

Time to go embrace the last day of avoiding adulthood for a while! Come join me at D-RANKS with B-RAD!


Tiger Nachos @ Max’s Sports Bar, a visit to the Ghost River taproom, and Saturday news

What a fun-filled day yesterday! Before I get to the recap, however, let me start off with a piece of news. I don’t know if any of my readers are dog owners who travel frequently, but if they are, a new doggie daycare has opened Downtown. It’s near Downtown Elementary and has 12,000 square feet of space for your pups to play. Click the image below to see details in a larger size.


I led off the day at Bardog, where they did something that I thought was really smart. People who don’t do Thanksgiving at home miss out on one of the best parts of the holiday – leftovers the next day.


Bardog had a leftovers plate for lunch – turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings. It was a popular menu item. With a Friendsgiving dinner that evening at 7, I knew it was too much for me to eat though. I’d spoil my appetite if I tackled that plate.

I didn’t try it, but Bardog has a New Belgium Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale that sounds like it would be mighty good.

Next stop was Max’s Sports Bar to watch the Memphis-Houston game. By then I was starting to get a little hungry, with more than 6 hours to go until dinner. I grabbed a menu. “Not the BBQ nachos,” I thought. “Even a half order is enormous.”


However, I found a new item on the menu: Tiger Nachos for $4.


Simplicity. It’s a bag of nacho cheese Doritos covered with melted pepper jack, baked in Max’s oven. They did it right, too. It’s not just the top chips that are covered in pepper jack. Nearly every chip, all the way to the bottom, had cheese on it. This was the perfect sized snack to get me through the afternoon hours without filling me up.

Can you imagine how Tiger Nachos would sell if it were legal to smoke weed in bars here like it is in Denver?

After the Tigers scored a fine victory, I walked down Main to the Ghost River taproom, where my friends South Side Supper Club were playing.


You know, I’ve heard South Side Supper Club before at Earnestine & Hazel’s, the Farmers Market and other venues, but yesterday was the first time I really listened to them. This is a group with a clarinet, accordion, bass, and banjo, and there’s a certain range of songs you would expect them to stay in. They did play those songs – “This Land is Your Land” for example – but they have an uncanny ability to take songs from other genres and make them their own. I was blown away when they covered “Material Girl” by Madonna. These guys are really, really talented. They play Earnestine & Hazel’s every Thursday at 9 if you want to check them out.

As for the taproom itself, it is gorgeous.


There are 12 taps, so you are bound to find a style of Ghost River beer that you will like. I chose the Grindhouse, a cream ale. There is no shortage of seating inside and out, and whether you are by yourself or with a party of 20 you will find seating that works for you.

I thought there would be maybe 6 or 7 people inside the taproom. As i walked down Main, I soon realized I was wrong! There were parked cars lining Main all the way up to Virginia Avenue to the north. There were maybe 20 people (and the Monkey Train Grazing Co. truck) outside on the patio, and another 75 or so inside. The place wasn’t completely packed, but it was busy, especially as people who had been at the Tigers game arrived. I never thought I’d see the day when so many people would congregate at Main and Crump.


My, how Downtown has grown! “By 2022 I bet the north and south boundaries of Downtown will be Chelsea and McLemore,” I told a friend. That sounds ambitious but remember, as recently as 8 months ago there was just about nothing to do south of G.E. Patterson.

I did have one awkward moment at the taproom. The woman who stood me up on Valentine’s Day 2015 came in. I smiled and waved at her from a distance, letting her know there were no hard feelings and she was welcome to come join my friends and me. She stayed put, though. Back at the long table where our group was sitting, a mutual friend offered a possible explanation. “Paul, it isn’t your fault, but you may be making her self-conscious. Your hair is just so much more fabulous than hers.” Yeah, I kinda can understand that.

By the way, thanks so much to my Squeal Street friends for inviting me to come sit with them. There’s just no telling who would’ve ended up in that empty seat if I hadn’t come over.

About 5 I tabbed out and walked back up to Max’s for a bit, then at 7 I was back in South End for our Friendsgiving dinner.


(Photo stolen from B-RAD’s Facebook timeline)

There was turkey, ham, meatballs, more meat, even more meat, side dishes, beer and Fireball. Of course B-RAD wanted to hear all about my visit to the taproom. Thanks so much to our hosts Staci and Darin, and to everyone who helped organize Friendsgiving.

By the way, I also want to thank my hosts Stevie G and Sarah for inviting me to Thanksgiving dinner at their house on Thursday. The food was delicious and I ate way too much of it. I got to meet Stevie G’s family and talk Tiger football with his dad, a season ticket holder for over 50 years. When I got there, my friend Katie (not Mac) was in the kitchen with Sarah getting things ready. “I smoked a turkey and a pan of mac & cheese.” YASSSSS! Mac & cheese fans who read my blog, don’t be jelly that I got Katie’s smok’d mac & cheese and you didn’t!


This is really cool: With one simple gesture that went unnoticed by most people, Tubby Smith proved he is a player’s coach. With the Tigers way up in the second half vs. McNeese State, there was no need to have the Lawson brothers on the floor. However, Coach Smith looked at the stats and saw that Dedric and K.J. each had 9 rebounds. Smith put each brother back in briefly, letting them earn one more rebound so they could each have a double-double. It’s the little things that earn players’ loyalty. Josh Pastner never would have thought to do that.

Stock & Belle at 387 S. Main is having a holiday vendor market today from 10 to 6. Custom holiday wreaths, artist demos, a holiday card workshop, popcorn samples, El Mero Taco truck 12-4, and a mimosa and bloody Mary bar.

Susan Boles signs her book Death of a Wolfman at South Main Book Juggler tonight from 6 to 9.

Back to my regular rotation of Saturday bars today. Bardog at 11, Blind Bear 1ish, rest of the day to be determined.


Get Kooky 2.0: Kooky Canuck’s new Downtown location opens

Kooky Canuck’s original location at 97 S. Second closed at the end of October, moving next door to 87 S. Second. Yesterday they got the new location open and I stopped by for a look.


The bar area is a big improvement over the old location, with more seating, 70-inch TVs, and no seat has a TV blocked by a post.



12 tap handles await you:


For dinner I ordered Mimi’s Tourtiere, a traditional French Canadian meat pie.


This pie was LOADED with meat in a creamy sauce, with a side of gravy. It was so rich I could not believe it. I only managed to finish half of it, and I was pretty hungry when I got to the restaurant. Great value for $10.99. Two people could probably share this.


Despite being full, I couldn’t resist ordering one of Kooky’s skillet desserts. I chose the peach cobbler.

Here are some more photos of the restaurant.







I like the decor a lot. It pays homage to the old location while at the same time being its own distinct space. Shawn told me that the animal heads that were mounted on the wall at the old Kooky will be back at the new one soon. Understandably, getting the new space open was the priority over hanging them.

I noticed several new things on the menu. The waffle Monte Cristo sounds interesting.

Glad to have Kooky back and I really enjoyed the new space. I plan to eat many more meals there.

Thanksgiving Day update: Bad news for hungry people coming out of Club 152 or Purple Haze late at night

Verizon is streaming the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for free this morning on YouTube, without a cable subscription required. Here’s how to watch.

In the news: Some of you are familiar with the guy who runs a BBQ pit out of the back of his truck and sells food late at night to people coming off Beale Street and out of Purple Haze. Shelby County officials are cracking down on him and others doing what he is doing, selling food illegally. Food vendors without proper permits will be dragged into Environmental Court if they continue to remain out of compliance. Allowing the practice to continue could cause people to get sick, health officials said. I understand where they’re coming from, but I’m a little sad for my friends who have partied late night and have told me those are some damn good smoked sausages and turkey legs.

Going to the Saturday, December 10 Grizzlies game? Here’s info on how to be invited to the Bud Light after-party:

Did you wish you could volunteer to help the homeless at Thanksgiving, but your schedule didn’t permit it? You can volunteer from home making gift bags to help them get through winter.

One more bar opening time for tonight: Local will open at 6. Scroll down to see more opening times in the previous post.

Music Heals, the Daystock Musician Benefit will happen at The Warehouse Saturday from 1 to 8. This is a fundraiser to benefit David Skypeck of FreeWorld, Cecil Yancey in memory of wife Linda Yancey, and the Church Health Center. Over 10 bands and musicians will perform, headlined by Valerie June. $10 at the door, 18 and up event. There will be a cash bar.

The new Kooky Canuck location opened last night and I stopped by. I will get a photo gallery up soon but I have to say it is VERY nice. Great job Shawn and Lana. Love the huge TVs at the bar and around the restaurant.

Heading out to Thanksgiving with friends here in a bit. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wed update #2: Who’s open Thanksgiving night and more news

I’ve been gathering a list of Thanksgiving Day bar opening times Downtown… when you’re full of turkey and ready to get away from the family, there are plenty of places you can go to get a beer or a drink.

  • Bardog opens at 5 PM with $4 Shiner Holiday Cheer and Thanksgiving dinners for sale
  • Flying Saucer opens at 5 PM
  • Max’s Sports Bar opens at 5 PM
  • Rum Boogie opens at 5 PM
  • Blind Bear opens at 6 PM, with poker at 8 and Kaleidoscope at 10
  • Silly Goose opens at 7 PM

If you know of others I missed email and I will add them. Also don’t forget to check I Love Memphis and Choose 901 for their holiday guides.

Geoff Calkins’ The 9:01 daily column is an interesting read today. It talks about plans to redevelop The Pinch, comparing South Main and The Pinch to Downtown Minneapolis and Downtown St. Paul, only a few miles apart.

The Ghost River taproom is having two drawings tonight for Grizz vs. Heat tickets for Friday. The first will happen at 6 PM, and the second at halftime of tonight’s game. Ghost River will have the Grizzlies vs. the Sixers on their three TVs tonight and beer will be pouring from their 12 taps. If you’re going to a Thanksgiving potluck and don’t cook, a growler or two from Ghost River would be a fine thing to bring. A growler is a 64-ounce glass container of craft beer, for those not in the know (I thought everyone knew but I had to explain what one is and why I might bring one to a Friendsgiving event this week).

Speaking of Friday’s Grizzlies game, there will be puppy races at halftime, and you will be able to adopt rescue pups.

Former Tennessee District 9 rep Harold Ford Jr. is being considered for a position in the Trump Cabinet, possibly as Transportation secretary.

Lyfe is Dope has an event at the New Daisy tonight. The production and clothing company presents events and pop-ups around the Mid-South. Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 at the door, and the event is 18 and up.

Memphis supergroup The Pirates reunite at Loflin Yard Saturday night from 10 to 1.

That’s it. Work closes at 3, so I will be out by 4.

Wednesday morning update

The date for the Bubbles Dinner has been set at Rizzo’s by Michael Patrick. It will be Tuesday, December 13 from 6:30 to 9 PM. It is a celebration of all things bubbles. The menu isn’t released yet, but Chef is one of those people I would trust enough to make dinner reservations, menu unseen.

It’s Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and is one of the biggest going-out nights of the year. I know that many of my readers who normally stay home on Wednesdays will be out this evening. What to do? My suggestion is come to the Silly Goose, where talented singer Charvey Mac does his weekly “Cheers with Charvey” gig from 10 PM to 1 AM. Good music and there should be a fun crowd there.

Over at Brass Door, Seamus will be the special guest caller at British Bingo tonight. 7:30.

Diamond Bear Brewing Co. from my hometown of Little Rock will be at Miss Cordelia’s tonight, sampling their beer for Food Truck Wednesday 5 to 8 PM. The Sushi Jimmi and El Mero Taco trucks will be on site as well.

There’s going to be an Important Meeting at the Ghost River taproom, 827 S. Main, Friday from noon to 10:30 PM. The South Side Supper Club will play 2 to 4, a group featuring a clarinet, accordion, bass, and banjo. There will be food trucks there all day, with Monkey Train Grazing Co. there from noon to 4 and El Mero Taco from 5 to 10:30. If you’re stuck with your family all day Friday and need to get away for a beer and some football, tell them you have an “Important Meeting” you have to attend. Or bring them along, either will work.

Out at the Wiseacre taproom, they will have Black Friday karaoke 6 to 10 on the 25th.

If you’re going to the Stumbling Santa pub crawl on Saturday, December 3 to stumble around with hundreds of Santas from one Downtown bar to the next, don’t forget the event is a toy drive for the kids of Porter-Leath. The highest need is for preschoolers (age 3-5) and toddlers (age 1-2). They have a list of toy ideas if you’re not sure what to buy. They are not accepting toy weapons, toys with small parts, or stuffed animals.

Yesterday was the first day of the Work Local program, where the city partners with Hospitality HUB of Memphis to provide homeless men and women the opportunity to earn a day’s wages. Participants clean blight and litter and get a free lunch as part of the deal. Yesterday 10 participants cleaned up 2 miles of road. Want to donate to make sure this program keeps going? You can do so on the Work Local ioby page.

This week is the 50th anniversary of the Beatles recording “Strawberry Fields Forever,.” Rolling Stone has a fascinating article on the evolution of the song from an intimate John Lennon studio demo, to the other Beatles contributing to the layers of the song, to George Martin mixing the final version. A must-read if you are a fan of the band or the song.

Time to go to work. At least I get out early today. I will probably lead off at happy hour at Silly Goose after work. Not sure if I will have time to do a post before I leave for dinner tomorrow, so if I skip a day, Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers.

Tuesday update

Garth Brooks is making a concert stop in Memphis early next year. He and Trisha Yearwood will play FedExForum Tuesday, February 4, 2017. Tickets go on sale December 2.

In other FedExForum news, the Grizzlies will start selling the gift that keeps on Grizzing beginning Friday for its Black Friday sale. These are six-game holiday packs starting at $90, and every pack includes a Grizzmas Ugly Sweater T-shirt and a $10 gift card to Bass Pro at the Pyramid, while supplies last. On Friday only, you get Grizzlies vs. Cavaliers for free with the purchase.

The Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team hosts McNeese State tonight at 7 at FedExForum.

There’s a free comedy show tonight at High Cotton’s taproom. Charlie Vergos returns to the taproom with 30 minutes of new material, where he will be joined by P.J. Bomani, with D.J. Buckley and Aaron Weber from Nashville. Doors at 7, show at 7:30.

Forbes has an interview with Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband, who was the reason Trump won the election. In a secret back office Kushner and his team mined data and micro-targeted messages to reach particular audiences. The article is worth a read from a marketing and social media perspective as much as a political perspective. You’ll learn why Trump was able to pick off states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that everyone assumed were part of Hillary Clinton’s blue wall.

Short post today… there’s never much news the week of Thanksgiving. If I hear of anything additional I will do a second post after work.