Tax Day deals at Bluefin and; 25 cent soft drinks for students at Central BBQ

Lots of Tax Day deals happening today. Bluefin has announced that they will have happy hour pricing all day today for Tax Day. That means $1 off all domestic beers, 2-for-1 hot sake, and 20% off cold sake.

The iPhone app is free today for Tax Day. Normally it costs 99 cents. The app’s StormView Radar is great to have when you’re out and menacing weather approaches.

This isn’t a Tax Day deal, but Central BBQ has 25 cent soft drinks for students every day. All you have to do is show your ID.

Slow news day, so that’s all I’ve got. I’ll hit Pint Nite at the Saucer about 5:45 this evening, then head over to the Silly Goose at 8:30 to play poker. It’s free to play, so come on out. Have absolutely no idea how to play proper poker? Come on and play anyway, you’ll fit right in at the Goose’s Monday poker night!

Sun update: Facebook/festivals, Legendary Burger @ Hard Rock Cafe (plus a Tax Day special), Japanese art on sale, lunchroom pizza for suburbanites, and more

So, yesterday was the Overton Square crawfish festival. I didn’t go, although it looked like a lot of fun from the photos I saw on Facebook and Instagram. As I went through my normal Saturday routine Downtown, I thought to myself, Hmmm, I didn’t go to Cooper-Young Fest last year either. In past years I would have thought it unthinkable to miss either festival. Why don’t I care about outdoor spring and fall festivals as much as I used to?

And then the answer came to me.


You see, in the past festivals were a big deal to me because a large number of people attended. I’d see people I only got to see once or twice a year, and reconnect and catch up with that is going on in their lives. Those kinds of moments were the things I looked forward to the most, even more than the food, the drink, the live music.

But now I don’t need to reconnect with those people. I’m friends with them on Facebook. Not only do I keep aware of the big events happening in their lives, but what they had for breakfast as well. I can post to their timeline anytime I want, and they can post to mine. They can invite me to events, and I can invite them to events. As a result, I really don’t feel the need to go to festivals like I used to.

Anyone else experienced this? Is Facebook a festival-killer?

So anyway, I went through my usual Downtown routine yesterday, starting at Panda’s bar at Bardog, and then Christina’s bar at the Saucer. (On the way to the Saucer I stole the Foursquare mayorship of Scratchy’s Alley.) After a couple of Saucer beers I decided it was time to think about food. I remembered a tip I received last month that I had yet to follow up on: Someone told me that Hard Rock Cafe had an excellent burger. I decided to check it out.

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As I’ve written in the past, Hard Rock’s kitchen makes everything from scratch, rather than relying on pre-prepared Sysco foods. So, it’s probably fairer to compare their food to a mom-and-pop place than other chain restaurants. I got the Legendary Burger, a burger with the traditional trimmings weighing in at a whopping 10 ounces. As you can see, rather than sliced onions they topped it with a fried onion ring, which I thought was a nice touch. I ordered it medium and slathered on mayonnaise and mustard (but not ketchup – not a fan of ketchup as a condiment) before digging in.

The verdict? Well, I don’t give star ratings or try to declare one burger as the “best” – that’s Seth’s thing, and besides, this is a Downtown blog, not a food blog. However, as a Downtown blogger, I can comfortably say this: There are certain go-to spots I have where I know I will get a really good burger: Kooky Canuck, Dyer’s, Huey’s, the Majestic Grille. After eating most of the Legendary Burger (I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the entire 10 ounces done), I deem it worthy of a spot on this list. The cheddar, bacon, and onion ring all contributed to a thoroughly enjoyable taste.

The real standout of my Saturday afternoon lunch, however, was the fries. As I munched on them I thought, “now, these definitely came from a scratch kitchen.” I have a list of my favorite fries Downtown too, including the Brass Door’s chips and the Majestic’s parmesan fries. The Hard Rock’s fries are right up there with them.

I also found that I rather enjoyed the fact that I was seated with mostly tourists, and got to be the local giving advice to those around me. “What time should we get to the arena for the Grizzlies game? Are there any movie theaters Downtown? Which is the best club to go to tonight? etc.” When I hung out at the Tap Room as my main bar, I talked to tourists all the time. Now my three main bars are the Saucer, Goose, and Bear, which are mostly locals. I need to hit Beale a little more often.

Service was excellent and efficient. To be fair, I should mention that Hard Rock’s management is well aware that I write this blog. However, the other guests at the bar seemed to receive the same excellent service I did, so I don’t think they pulled anyone aside and said “take extra good care of him.”

If you want to try a Legendary Burger, tomorrow would be a good day. Say “Tax Day Special” to your server tomorrow and get the burger for only $10.40. They have other burgers besides the classic, including a chipotle/guacamole burger, a hickory bacon BBQ burger, and a Buffalo/blue cheese burger. They have a veggie burger for non-carnivores, and if you’re not that hungry they have a smaller 6 ounce burger too.

Moving on to other news: The Belz Museum is taking 25% off all of its Japanese merchandise this month. Inventory includes geisha dolls, sake sets, Japanese table tiles, Zen gardens, and the Asian Dreamland CD. Good opportunity to gift-shop for friends and family who love the Land of the Rising Sun. The Belz Museum is in Pembroke Square, with an entrance between the Center for Southern Folklore and the Blind Bear on the Main Street Mall.

One of the endearing features of Max’s Sports Bar is that they serve old-school square lunchroom pizza, like you had in the school cafeteria when you were 10. However, if you’re a North Mississippi suburbanite and don’t get north of State Line Road much, there’s good news for you: Now you can get lunchroom pizza too. Boiling Point has started carrying it on their late-night menu.

So, I finally did my taxes this morning. I don’t know why I put them off every year. TurboTax had everything done in 25 minutes and I got a federal refund. The only irritating thing is that I owe money to the state of Mississippi where I work – not much, just $22. But I have to go to the trouble of printing out a payment voucher, writing a check, and sticking it in the mail, because Mississippi is too backward to allow people to debit their bank accounts. And of course my printer at home isn’t working.

Plans for today: My friend Moody is having a birthday brunch at Bardog today at noon. Bardog opens at 11 though, and I’m a big fan of showing up early, especially when there’s PBR. This afternoon I’ll hit the usual spots then play poker at the Blind Bear at 6:30.

Sat update: Downtown Alive!, Orpheum young professionals’ group, “only in Memphis” story, bluffing at poker, Will Barton doing well, Colorado Springs threatened

Downtown Alive!, the weekly lunchtime entertainment series, starts next week in Court Square. This series is put on by the Downtown Memphis Commission and all events are free to the public. Events run from 11:45 AM to 1 PM except as noted. Here’s the lineup for the coming week:

Monday, April 15: Grizzlies pep rally
Tuesday: April 16: Handmade notebook workshop
Wednesday, April 17: The Misty Rae Band
Thursday, April 18: Alex de Ponte and Jeremy Stanfill, food truck rodeo (regular time); Zumba (5 PM)
Friday, April 19: The Metal Museum

The Orpheum is starting a young professionals’ group. If you’re new to Memphis (or even if not) and you enjoy the theatre, this is a good way to connect with like-minded individuals. I was in a similar group about seven years ago. Although that group focused on the arts in general rather than one specific venue, I met a lot of very cool people through it. The launch party is Tuesday, April 23 in the Pat Halloran Broadway Club, and is free for members and non-members. More details here.

Only in Memphis: Two men, a father and son, drove through Jack Pirtle’s for some chicken. When they got home, they discovered they didn’t get all the chicken they had ordered. They drove back, asked for the remaining chicken, and demanded that in addition they receive some extra chicken for the trouble of having to drive back. They emphasized their point by pointing an AK-47 at the cashier. Read the story here.

For my poker-playing friends: How to bluff like a poker champ, a Men’s Health article with tips from poker pro Annie Duke and former FBI agent Joe Navarro. If you’re a fan of poker or body language, Joe is a great follow on Twitter at @navarrotells.

Nice to see former Memphis Tiger Will Barton in the starting lineup for the Portland Trail Blazers last night. Portland lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder 106-90, but Barton scored 18 points in 38 minutes on the court. If you look at his minutes for this season, you’ll notice an upward trend in recent games. Looks like the Portland coaching staff has figured out how to harness Will’s considerable talent. Nice to see a former Tiger make it in the big time.

According to North Korea, Colorado Springs is toast when the DPRK launches its massive attack on the imperialist pigs of the United States. Only thing is, North Korea doesn’t seem to have any idea within 1000 miles where Colorado Springs is located. Hey Kim Jong-un, on the off-chance you read this blog, here’s a T-shirt you should buy: If You’re Crazy and You Know it, Shake Your Meds

Plans for today: I need to do my taxes, but “tomorrow” sounds like an excellent day for that. Most of my friends are out of town on a canoe trip, so I’m pretty much on my own. Probably I start at Panda’s bar at Bardog at 11, then stop and see Christina at the Saucer, and contemplate whether I feel like cabbing it out to Overton Square for their crawfish festival this afternoon. The “big daddy” of Memphis crawfish festivals, City Auto’s Rajun Cajun Fest on the river, is a week from tomorrow, so I don’t feel like I’ll be totally missing out if I skip today’s.

Time to hit Publish and do laundry and boring stuff for a couple of hours. Back tomorrow with another post, probably.

Fri update: 96x, Bardog run on Twitter, Stockholm pics and Sweden-themed fundraiser, couple of pieces of bad news, and more

Alternative rock radio station 96x makes its return to the Memphis airwaves. The Memphis Flyer has details here.

If you like to run in the Breakaway Bardog 5K to raise money for St. Jude, you can now follow the race on Twitter at @BreakawayBardog to keep up on news on the race. Race date is Sunday, August 18, followed by Bardog’s 5th birthday party.

The BBC recently asked residents of Stockholm, Sweden what they loved about their city. They responded in pictures. I figured this is worth a post since Sweden is Memphis in May’s honored country, and BBQ Fest teams might be able to get some ideas for booth design.

The Church of the River will have “Sweet on Sweden,” a fundraiser beginning at 5:30 tonight featuring food and drink from Sweden. There will also be an auction. Tickets are $20-25.

Bad news for Downtown: Raymond James laid off 160 people, 18 of them from the Memphis location. Now that RJ has acquired Morgan Keegan, they are consolidating operations.

More bad news for Downtown: A dispute over parking in the spaces on Court between Front and Riverside led to a pistol-whipping. Before people start going, “see, this proves Downtown is unsafe,” note that the assailant was apparently visiting from Georgia.

Andrew Yurkow plays the Flying Saucer for Acoustic Friday tonight. Start time is 9 PM. In other Saucer news, my friend Chad hit a milestone last night. He went to the UFO computer and was notified that he’d finished 200 different beers. It printed out a ticket redeemable for a free plate party, with $100 tab, compliments of the Saucer.

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That’s it for now. Will be out tonight about 5:45. I’ve been invited to dinner at Hooters followed by pool at the Absinthe Room. I’m skipping the Hooters portion of the evening though.

Inaugural Peabody Rooftop Party for 2013 moved indoors

Due to the cold and rain, tonight’s Peabody rooftop party, the first in the Thursday spring-summer series, has been moved indoors to the Grand Ballroom in the hotel’s skyway. The 17th Floor and Carly Rae Jepsen (“Call Me Maybe”) will perform. More info about the party:

Menu: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Tomato Basil Soup
Drink Special: Vodka + RedBull, $4
VIP Menu: Fresh Mozzarella Bocconcini and Grape Tomatoes, Iced Jumbo Shrimp, Sliced Roast Pork Tenderloin
VIP Budweiser of Memphis Tasting: Bud Light Lime Straw-Ber-Rita

Check out the hotel’s rooftop party page for admission fees and more details.

Wed update 2: Technology, Aldo’s Pizza Pies, Memphis Beer Week @ Flying Saucer, die die die Windows XP

Technology just amazes me. Tonight I was sitting in Aldo’s Pizza Pies and I pulled up the radar on It was obvious I needed to go home IMMEDIATELY. And I did, violating my religious beliefs about finishing one’s PBR before leaving the bar. As I hustled home, I thought back to the late 1980s when I subscribed to some computer magazine. They had this thing called WeFax that you could program your home computer to receive reports from, if you felt like typing in 500 lines of BASIC code and the fact that the radar was up to 12 hours out of date. Now we just pull that up on our iPhone and it’s within a minute or two of real-time.

It was my first stop in Aldo’s in a while. Nothing against Aldo’s – it’s just hard to be Foursquare “mayor” of three other bars nearby and have time to visit much. But tonight I wanted to get closer to home before the rain, and I remembered James works Wednesdays. I ordered a PBR and a slice of sausage pizza. It was so good that after 3 bites I ordered a second slice. At $3.50 it’s one of the cheaper ways Downtown to re-fuel.

Earlier in the evening I was at the Flying Saucer. They posted their lineup of events for Memphis Beer Week. Keep in mind these are just the Saucer’s events, not the 60+ events in total happening around town. Click the image below for a larger view.

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That “Elite Beer Tasting” with brewers, bloggers, journalists, and publicans VIP tasting on the 26th looks interesting. Hey Saucer, not sure if you’re aware, but your mayor is a blogger. And he likes beer.

In tech news: Windows XP has received its death sentence. This is bad news for my netbook. I can’t see it being worth an upgrade to Windows 7, when the upgrade is practically what I paid for the netbook itself.

Thanks to the rain I get a full 8 hours’ sleep tonight. Time to go enjoy that.

Wed update: Fix the Beer Tax bill passes, free beer on Tax Day at FedExForum, Jerry Lee Lewis’ club, Bass Pro news

Great news for those who appreciate craft beer. The “Fix the Beer Tax” bill has passed the Tennessee House, 87-2. This is a revenue-neutral beer that changes the way breweries in the state are taxed. Passage of this bill means that craft breweries are much more likely to open in Memphis and in Tennessee. Hopefully this is the starting point for a lot more locally-brewed beer. The bill is now on its way to the governor’s desk for a signature.

In other beer news, A.S. Barboro will celebrate Tax Day by giving away limited-edition Memphis Grizzlies 24-ounce cans of Coors Light at the FedExForum at 11 AM Monday, April 15. Show up as early as 10 to get your ID checked and to see Mayor Wharton present the key to the city to Barboro GM Steve Hegdale. 300 cans will be given away, limit 1 per person.

There’s a good Daily News article online with updated information about Jerry Lee Lewis’ Cafe and Honky Tonk, soon to open on Beale Street.

Bass Pro is putting the signage issue on hold for now and proceeding with construction for a fall opening. Due to seismic concerns the entrance will be on the south side of the Pyramid rather than the East facing the Pinch. A trolley stop will be added. More info from WMC-TV5 here.

Slow news day… if more stuff comes in I’ll do a second post after work.

Tue update: 380 Beale, craft beer recommendation, Iron Sheik on Wrestlemania 29, Fat Tire bike giveaway, expensive concert tickets, and very important PBR news

380 Beale, the building that used to house Plush Club and Club Crave, has changed hands.

Remember singer Valerie June who used to perform around Memphis? She recently had a strong performance at the ACM Awards, a duet with Eric Church.

I’ve mentioned before that Cash Saver in Midtown (former Piggly Wiggly location) has great prices on craft beer. Last night a friend of mine recommended the Lazy Dozen, which is the Lazy Magnolia sampler.

Pro wrestling legend The Iron Sheik has posted his comments on WrestleMania. Sheikie Baby thinks the C.M Punk the real and the Fandango the jabroni.

The Flying Saucer is giving away another Fat Tire bike. These cruisers are super nice and I see that they’re selling for $500-800 or sometimes even more on eBay. Drink a Fat Tire to enter. The drawing is April 26 and you need to be present to win.

I heard that Paul McCartney concert tickets at FedExForum will sell for $159-999. OUCH! I’d pay that much to see Lennon. Maybe George too, but they’re both dead. Paul? Can’t see it. Maybe if he promises not to perform anything from Wings.

This isn’t a Downtown item, but I hear Chiwawa in Overton Square has $2 PBR. $2 PBR is always worth a mention, regardless of neighborhood.

Sorry for the brevity, but as I said yesterday, I’m in training and short on time.

Mon update: Paul McCartney, new wine and cupcake bar, Peabody rooftop listings, Ghost River/kegerators, Out of the Bleu Week and more

I’m in training once again this week, all week long, with a very short lunch break. This blog may be more brief than usual for the next 5 days. I’ll do the best I can with the time I have.

Paul McCartney is coming to the FedExForum. It’s part of his “Out There” tour and he’ll be here on Sunday, May 26. Tickets will go on sale this Friday, April 12. More details on Paul McCartney’s site.

A new wine and cupcake bar, The Corked Carrot, will open very soon across the street from Pearl’s Oyster House on South Main. They have a Craigslist ad up here where they are looking to hire some employees – cashier/servers, assistant managers or even a GM. They’re hoping for a soft opening Saturday and then a grand opening once they get their liquor license.

The Peabody has posted listings for each week’s food buffet and VIP Budweiser tastings on its rooftop parties page.

I received a tip this weekend that Ghost River Brewery takes extremely good care of kegerator owners. Check them out if you own one of those devices.

It’s Out of the Bleu Week at Bleu Restaurant.

Condolences to the family of Channel 24 meterologist Mark Walden, who passed away over the weekend.

Time to grab some quick lunch. Will be out after work at the usual places.

Brooklyn Local 1 and 2 @ Flying Saucer

It’s well known that I hang out at the Flying Saucer nearly every day, and my beer of choice there is Dos Equis Lager with a few limes. For a while the managers have been telling me, “When you want something different you should try Brooklyn Brewery’s Local 1 and Local 2 beers. They’re a bit pricey but they’re really good.” This week I was in the mood to experiment.

“Which one should I try?” I asked, and got two different answers. Owen, who is one of the managers and who used to bartend the Cordova Saucer, thought Local 1 was better. Drew Barton, who is bartending part-time at the Saucer while he opens Memphis Made Brewery on South Cooper Street, prefers Local 2. “You don’t drink a lot of dark beers, though, so maybe you’d like 1 better,” he said after thinking for a minute. So I went to the UFO Club computer and printed off a ticket for Local 1.

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I probably can’t do a better job describing it better than the description in the Saucer’s computer, so I just took a photo of my beer ticket for you to read. (If you’re wondering why it says “Paul Ryburn #8,” it’s because I’m working on my 8th plate on the wall.) This beer was delicious and I enjoyed every sip of it. It comes in a large 25 ounce bottle.

Yesterday I decided to try the other one. “I may not like it as much as Local 1, but it still seems to be highly acclaimed by everyone who has tried it,” I reasoned. “And at any rate, I’ll knock out another beer toward my next 200.” I printed out the Local 2 ticket.

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The verdict: Local 2 was every bit as delicious as Local 1! It’s a much different taste, of course, but it tasted nothing like the porters and stouts I usually shy away from at the Saucer. As the ticket says, there are hints of chocolate and dark fruits. A thoroughly enjoyable beer!

If you prefer to try these at home, you’ll have to go to liquor stores to find them: Both are well over the 6.0% threshold that separates beer from liquor by state law. If you drink these while you fly the Saucer, keep in mind that large bottle + high alcohol means that you probably shouldn’t drive home right after drinking one of these.

After having both, I agree with the managers and Drew: When you’re in the mood to step up and try something a little bit nicer than your usual beers, Local 1 and Local 2 are good options.