Where's Your Poison?
Where to go when you're in the mood for, well, almost anything.
It's Saturday night. You're itching to wear that hot new mini-dress that barely covers all the junk in your trunk. You call a friend.
"The night is young, and we're not getting any younger. Let's go out," you whine before she even has a chance to utter, "Hello."
"Um, okay. I was kind of watching Grey's Anatomy reruns, but I guess I can get dressed," says your submissive friend. "Where do you want to go?" That's when the conversation takes a turn for the worst. The two of you spend the next ten minutes playing the "I don't know. What do you want to do?" routine.
That's where we come in. Thanks to our handy guide, Saturday night (or Monday night or any night) just got a little easier. We've visited the city's hottest bars and clubs (tiring research, believe us) to determine the right watering hole for any mood (note: you can thank us by buying us a drink).
If you're in the mood to ...
Shake Your Moneymaker
Alfred's — A great place to end a vociferous night of blues-ing and booze-ing on Beale. After about 10 p.m., the live music stops and a DJ takes the reins, playing all the Top 40 booty-shaking hits you hate to love. That's when the dance floor fills up. Before you know it, you'll be dirty dancing with some dude you've never met.
197 Beale, 525-3711.
Senses — One minute, you feel like dancing. The next minute, you feel like sitting. At Senses, there's plenty of room for both. This super-swank club offers a massive dance floor with music by the city's hottest DJs. When your feet can no longer hold you, retire to the chilled-out Martini Room or sip a cocktail in the uber-hip Orange Room. And be sure to catch some fresh air on the Patio Lounge.
2866 Poplar, 454-4081.
To Hang with the Guys
Coyote Ugly Saloon — Your girlfriend would kill you if she found out you'd spent a night at a strip joint. So you'll settle for something a little safer. At Coyote Ugly, the girls have all the moves, but the clothes stay on . . . just like in the movie. Call up all the dudes and head to Beale for a night of rowdy drinkin' and carousin'. You won't even have to hide your receipts in the morning.
326 Beale, 888-UGLY.
Dan McGuinness — Let's face it. The Irish are pretty manly. They give their food names like "bangers and mash." They drink dark, stout beers. They even call soccer "football." So it follows that men should hang out at a place like Dan McGuinness, where the Guinness can be purchased by the pitcher or used to make gravy in their popular Beef N Guinness entrée.
4698 Spottswood (761-3711); 150 Peabody Place, Suite 115 (527-8500).
To Get Out with the Girls
Beauty Shop — Your man's out of town or maybe you just don't have one. Whatever. You don't really need an excuse to plan a girl's day out. But make your hair appointment elsewhere, because the Beauty Shop serves up fab food and fruity cocktails rather than weaves and perms. Be sure to try the retro-inspired Southern Caramel Cake.
966 S. Cooper, 272-7111.
To Watch the Game
Brookhaven Pub & Grill — East Memphians come together at the Brookhaven Pub on game day. That's probably because the popular nightspot boasts big-screen plasma TVs, numerous beers on tap, and occasional live music. Hey, you can't get all that at home. If contact sports aren't your thing, pop in on Tuesday night for a different kind of game — team trivia.
695 West Brookhaven Circle, 680-8118.
Gill's Bar & Grill — This University of Memphis-area bar is perfect for the laidback sports fan. There's nothing fancy about it — just a chilled-out place to kick back, order a frosty beer, and catch all the action on TV. With one of the most liberal happy hours in town, you may even save a buck. Plus, the kitchen's open late when those midnight beer munchies strike.
551 S. Highland, 458-2787.
To Tap Your Toes
B.B. King's Blues Club — The Blues Boy only plays at this Beale Street bar a couple times a year, but the music doesn't stop when he's not around. B.B. King's offers live blues and rock from regulars like Larry Springfield and Preston Shannon almost every night of the week. Sit on the second floor for an excellent view of the stage and dance floor, and be sure to try their popular cocktails with blues names like Jelly Roll and The Lucille (named for B.B.'s guitar).
143 Beale, 524-5464.
Café Soul — You needn't fight the crowds on Beale to hear live jazz in Memphis. Café Soul offers a rotating menu of local and national acts in the quieter South Main Historic Arts District. Ideal after a night of perusing the art galleries on the popular monthly trolley tour.
492 S. Main, 859-0557.
King's Palace Café — King's Palace offers live toe-tapping, finger-snapping jazz on weeknights inside the restaurant. On the spacious patio, blues bands fill Beale with the sound that made it famous. Be sure to supplement your alcohol intake with Cajun-inspired menu items, like spicy Voodoo Taters and Gator Chips (fried Louisiana Alligator).
162 Beale, 521-1851.
Rum Boogie Café — This downtown institution wins the award for "Most Authentic Beale Street Bar." With nightly performances by loyal house band James Govan and the Boogie Blues Band (they've been playing there for 13 years!), down-home country cookin' (try the Southern-style plate lunches), and plenty of music memorabilia (over 200 autographed guitars), it truly captures the Memphis spirit.
182 Beale, 528-0150.
Embrace Your Inner Hipster
The Buccaneer — This tiny Midtown dive packs in the hipster set like a Poison reunion show packs in women named Tammy. The Bucc (as it's affectionately called by regulars) hosts live indie bands most nights, and the nautical-themed décor will inspire your inner pirate.
1368 Monroe, 278-0909.
Dish — Who knew Busch beer could ever be considered cool? The former brew of NASCAR dads is now in the hands of chic twenty-somethings on the patio at this trendy Cooper-Young tapas lounge. That's probably because they sell it for $1 a pop on White Trash Wednesdays. But regardless of when you stop in, you'll be sure to find Midtown's pretty people lounging on beds (yes, you can drink in bed) and pillow seats at this hotspot.
948 S. Cooper, 272-0830.
Murphy's — Call it the Cheers for Midtown scenesters. Murphy's is the kind of place where everybody knows your name — well, so long as you're a regular. Catch a local rock band there on the weekend or hang out on the intimate patio with friends until 3 a.m. Get the party started with a Green Goblin (gin, melon liquor, sweet and sour mix, and 7-Up) in a shot glass or as a cocktail.
1589 Madison, 726-4193.
Young Avenue Deli — The Deli used to be the place to go to hear underground local indie rock, and while they still have occasional shows, the schedule has toned down a bit. Now, it serves as a laidback bar with plenty of pool tables, tons of seating, and the best beer selection in Midtown. Expect to find musicians and their friends chilling here any night of the week, munching on the bar's incredible fries and downing icy Newcastles.
2119 Young, 278-0034.
To Network Over Drinks
The Grove Grill — East Memphis' Grove Grill is the sort of place you go to rub elbows with the city's movers and shakers. And since its large bar offers plenty of elbow room, well, there's plenty of space for rubbin'. Take the office to the Grill's Laurelwood Shopping Center location after work for perfectly mixed happy hour martinis.
4550 Poplar, 818-9951.
Quetzal — This Edge District coffee bar is famous for its fresh-roasted, fair trade java, but don't let the cocktail menu go unnoticed. The delightful Sangria Margarita, made with homemade sweet sangria, is a work of art served in a large salt-rimmed fishbowl glass. The downtown location makes Quetzal ideal for meetings (there's even a special conference room in the back), and since it's an Internet café, your business partner doesn't even need to be present.
668 Union, 521-8388.
To Bring Mom
Comedy, TN — Being a mom is a full-time job, but these days, most moms have other full-time jobs. Needless to say, she could use a laugh break. Take her to Comedy, TN, the only official comedy club in town, for weekend standup comedy shows by both local and national touring acts. Don't forget to order her a bowl of Louisiana red beans and rice from Creole Café, the club's in-house Cajun restaurant.
6102 Macon Rd., 384-4222.
The Inn at Hunt Phelan — Dress in your Sunday best and take mom out for a fancy four-star dinner in one of the city's oldest, antebellum mansions. Known for their fine wine selection and Chef Stephen Hassinger's authentic Creole-style cuisine, it's a perfectly refined way to entertain mother. Try the Pineau des Charentes liqueur mixed with ginger ale for starters and end the meal with Café Orleans (praline coffee and Irish Cream liqueur).
533 Beale St., 525-8225.
Wet Willie's — Let's face it. Moms love a tasty frozen cocktail. Be it a strawberry daiquiri or a tropical piña colada, there's something about flavored ice that loosens up even the tightest teetotaler mama. However, this Beale Street bar does feature one virgin drink, the Weak Willie, for moms who'd rather not let themselves go.
209 Beale St., 578-5650.
To Pretend You're on Vacation
Bahama Breeze — Can't afford that trip to the Bahamas this year? Don't fret. The next best thing is located on Germantown Parkway. Diners relax on the spacious patio at Bahama Breeze, sipping tropical drinks like the Bahamarita. And most nights, a Caribbean singer is on hand to serenade the crowd with Jimmy Buffet covers. The only thing missing is the ocean (and maybe some palm trees).
2830 N. Germantown Pkwy., 385-8744.
Celtic Crossing — You can't kiss the Blarney Stone, and you may not spot a leprechaun, but this Cooper-Young pub offers plenty in the way of Irish drinks and eats. The Guinness flows freely on tap, so drink up. And try the Shepherd's Pie for a taste of authentic fare. For a real treat, say hello to owner Jo Delahunty. Her Irish lilt will whisk you away to the Green Isle.
903 S. Cooper, 274-5151.
Pat O'Brien's — Based on the original New Orleans bar, Pat O's offers a chance to experience the Big Easy in the Bluff City. Employees greet guests with beads (and you don't even have to lift your shirt). Dueling pianos fill the air in the open brick patio, and patrons sip fruity, iced Hurricanes, the bar's unfortunately-named-but-still-tasty cocktail.
310 Beale St., 529-0900.
To Show Off the City
Center for Southern Folklore — When Yankee friends come calling, they want to experience the South in all its glory — blues, cornbread, folk art, the works. Your Northern buddies can get it all in one dose at the Center for Southern Folklore. The center features live music by real Delta blues musicians, the best hot water cornbread west of the Mississippi, and plenty of colorful folk paintings by regional artists.
119 S. Main, 525-3655.
EP Delta Kitchen — Where Elvis fans get all shook (and stirred) up. This new Beale Street restaurant and bar, housed in the old Elvis Presley's Memphis building, features a libations menu so tasty, it may just send you into rehab. Try the Peanut Butter and Banana cocktail (Godiva meets 99 Bananas liqueur), the Hurricane Elvis (the New Orleans classic with a Memphis twist), or the Memphis BBQ Bloody Mary ('nuff said).
126 Beale St., 527-1444.
Silky O'Sullivans — Every city has its characters — we've got Silky and his pet goats. On a good night, the jolly, ole Irishman who runs O'Sullivans on Beale can be seen schmoozing with patrons inside the dimly lit bar. But if he's nowhere to be found, your guests will be equally delighted by the beer-guzzling goats living on the patio (R.I.P Maynard). Order a one-gallon diver and pass the straws around.
183 Beale St., 522-9596.
Wild Bill's — The closest thing to a real juke joint, this Midtown club keeps the blues alive. Impress your friends with cold beer, hot wings, and authentic boogie blues performed by the Memphis Soul Survivors. But remind pals to wear their dancing shoes because no one escapes the dance floor at this watering hole.
1580 Vollintine, 726-5473.
To Chill With Friends
Belmont Grill — With dim lighting and a smoky bar atmosphere, this tiny East Memphis burger joint offers a simple escape from the hectic workweek. Hungry late? No problem. At Belmont, they're serving up ribs, sandwiches, and greasy onion rings well past midnight.
4970 Poplar, 767-0305; 9102 Poplar Pike, 624-6001.
Bluefin — The large mod sofas are perfect for crowding in all your buds at this hip, downtown sushi bar, and the cobalt blue lighting means relaxation is in order. Start with a round of Ginger Sake-tinis (cold sake meets Yazi Ginger Vodka) and a Spicy Tuna Pizza to share with friends. Then, retreat to the poolroom to finish out the evening.
135 S. Main, 528-1010.
Do — Meet up with friends for family-style dining at Cooper-Young's answer to a sushi craving. Long tables mean plenty of room for the whole party, or for a smaller crowd, catch a cool breeze on the modest patio. In true Midtown style, Do serves Pabst Blue Ribbon alongside the fine sakes.
964 S. Cooper, 272-0830.
Zinnie's Old Place — Nothing fancy, just good, cheap beer. At OZ, as it's dubbed by the regulars, friends gather for one of the happiest happy hours in Midtown. It's the best place to go when you're looking for a place to chat without screaming over some band you've never heard of.
1688 Madison, 726-5004.
To Feel Young Again
Flying Fish — Kids just can't resist pushing buttons. That's why those darned singing Billy Bass plaques were such a horrible idea. Fortunately, this new downtown fish joint started its own Billy Bass adoption program, in which they take the annoying toys off people's hands for use as décor in the store. Don't worry — they take the batteries out, so unleash your inner child and push, push away. Thirsty? You can even order wine like you're a novice, whether you are or not (choose between "good stuff" and "better stuff").
105 S. Second, 522-8228.
Jillian's — Imagine your favorite teenage mall hangout, but with beer. Jillian's features an entire room of classic and modern arcade games, a glow-in-the-dark bowling area, and plenty of large TVs for catching the game. You can still impress the ladies with your high video game score, but if that doesn't work, now you have the option of buying them a drink.
150 Peabody Place, 543-8800.
To Practice for American Idol
Jordan's Karaoke Café — Tone deaf? No problem. Performers at Jordan's run the gamut from Melinda-Doolittle-amazing to Sanjaya-just-plain-awful. But it's okay because the crowd's usually about half-drunk, so no one's really listening that closely. Muster your courage, pick your favorite song, and grab the mic. Simon's not watching.
5806 Stage Rd., 379-1311.
Willie Moffatt's — Karaoke nights at this Bartlett bar also happen to be all-you-can-eat shrimp nights (Wednesdays and Fridays), so don't get too close to your duet partner. No one likes fish breath. On second thought, perhaps you should perform your number before pigging out.
1616 Sycamore View, 386-2710.
Yosemite Sam's — Midtown crooners gather at this Overton Square karaoke haunt to sing their little hearts out every weekend. Somehow, the list of singers moves pretty quickly, so stage hogs will have plenty of opportunities in the spotlight. Nervous newbies can find comfort in cheap pitchers before hitting the stage.
2126 Madison Ave., 726-6138.
To Go Back in Time
Full Moon Club — Remember in high school when you read Nietzsche, dyed your hair jet black, and burned every colored shirt you owned? If that sounds familiar, dig out those black parachute pants and squeeze into some combat boots. The Full Moon Club keeps goth alive every Wednesday night with the Memphis Industrial Gothic Project. DJs Plastic Citizen and Faust play a mix of classics (like My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult) and new material (like Voltaire).
1718 Madison, 274-7101.
Hard Rock Café — Flashback to 1968 at Beale Street's Hard Rock Café where you can see the costumes Ike and Tina Turner wore when the doomed duo played Club Paradise. Or the guitar Elvis played in the famed comeback special. Go way, way back to Buddy Holly's junior high days as you gaze at eyeglasses the singer sported in his youth. There's plenty here to conjure up the old days of rock-and-roll. Browse while you slurp down a Long Island Iced Tea.
315 Beale St., 529-0007.
To Fill Your Plate
Big Foot Lodge — Sometimes beer just isn't enough to curb your cravings. It's those times when a gigantic burger and a massive order of fries from Big Foot Lodge will do the trick. If you're really hungry (and we do mean starving), challenge yourself to the four-pound Sasquatch burger. Devour it in one hour and the $20 meal is free. But if you choose to wash it down with a 34-ounce Big Foot Beer, prepare to spend the evening hugging porcelain.
97 S. Second St., 578-9800.
Blues City Café — This Beale Street institution is known not for its drinks, but its award-winning barbecue ribs, Southern fried catfish, and homemade hot tamales. The best place for noshing before an evening of living it up downtown.
138 Beale St., 526-3637.
Huey's — Hands down, the best burgers in town — probably the world. Order the classic burger for a traditional taste or go South of the border with the Senor Huey (served with jalapeños). They even have delicious veggie burgers for the carnivorously challenged. Use your drink straw to blow a toothpick into the ceiling, and bring a Sharpie (graffiti is encouraged).
1771 N. Germantown Pkwy., 754-3885; 1927 Madison, 726-4372; 77 S. Second St., 527-2700; 2130 West Poplar, 854-4455; 4872 Poplar, 682-7729; 7825 Winchester, 624-8911; 7090 Malco Blvd., Southaven, 662-349-7097.
Molly's La Casita — Sure, the margaritas at Molly's are to die for (just the right mixture of sweetness and tang), but the menu here is not to be passed up. Besides, margaritas have a way of stimulating the appetite. Try the vegetable enchiladas for a healthy way to balance your alcohol intake, or descend into artery-clogging heaven with the Full Monty (bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp and hot wings).
2006 Madison, 726-1873.
R.P. Tracks — Beer munchies got you down? Head to R.P. Tracks for a heaping helping of barbecue tofu nachos (crispy seasoned tortilla chips topped generously with tangy tofu, black beans, cheese, lettuce, guacamole, and sour cream). When you hear a train on the nearby tracks, run to the bar for discounts on shooters. Hey, you gotta have something to wash that food down.
3547 Walker, 327-1471.
Soul Fish — 'Cue may rule in this town, but Southern-fried catfish takes second prize. Get your fill of the crispy, greasy treat at this new Cooper-Young diner. Co-owned by Young Avenue Deli's Tiger Bryant, this restaurant came out of the womb with street cred. Expect delicious food at a decent price.
862 S. Cooper, 725-0722
To Practice Your Best Shot
Fox & Hound — Not a fan of dirty, smoky pool halls? This upscale billiards bar caters to the preppie crowd rather than leather-sporting biker daddies. But please, despite the name, leave the chaps at home.
847 Exocet, 624-9060; 5101 Sanderlin, 763-2013; 6565 Town Center, Southaven, 662-536-2200.
Newby's — It's a college bar, but you'll often find more 30-somethings than fresh-faced freshman lingering at the bar. Perhaps that's how it got its motto — "the college bar you never graduate from." Pass the time as you down Rock Stars (Newby's version of the energy drink cocktail) in the pool room. They say the Red Bull improves your shot.
539 S. Highland, 452-8408.
R.P. Billard's/The Vault — Formerly the Highland Cue, this bar features full-sized tables for serious pool sharks. And fans of the old Cue will be delighted to see the place all cleaned up with better lighting, new bathrooms, and an improved bar. Head next door to the adjoining Vault bar when you need a break from the action.
525 S. Highland, 452-6203.
To Take a Date
Blue Fish — Seafood and fine wine make for a romantic evening at Cooper-Young's Blue Fish. This trendy restaurant and oyster bar serves the fresh catch a variety of ways (fried, grilled, Caribbean-style, you name it) in an atmosphere that's hip, yet refined (a lá the neon palm tree). Start the meal with a glass of organic Lolonis Ladybug, a line of wines featuring grapes grown using ladybugs to fight pests.
2149 Young, 725-0230.
Le Chardonnay — Study up on wines before you take your date to Le Chardonnay. The dimly lit, bistro-style restaurant boasts an impressive wine collection and tasty wood-fired pizzas to boot.
2105 Overton Square Lane, 725-1375.
LoLo's Table — If you've been with your sweetie awhile, head to Lolo's where dress is casual, but the food is top-notch. Averaging $12 an entrée, the French, Tuscan, and Mediterranean cuisine won't hurt the wallet. That means more money for sampling the restaurant's large selection of boutique wines from France, Italy, Spain, and South Africa.
128 Monroe, 522-9449.
To Cure a Hangover
Bayou Bar & Grill — This year, our readers voted the Bayou's Bloody Mary the best in town in the annual restaurant guide. And it's no wonder. This spicy number will soothe your aching head faster than any aspirin (move over BC Powder). We don't know what they put in it, but we're pretty sure it's a magic potion of some sort. See for yourself next Sunday morning (or tonight or hey, what's stopping you from going right now?).
2105 Overton Square, 278-8626.
Blue Monkey — So you spent all your money at the bar Saturday night. How will you deal with the hangover Sunday morning? Lucky for you, the Blue Monkey serves extra-peppery Bloody Marys and refreshing Mimosas on the cheap every Sabbath. Think $2.50 and $2, respectively. Thank God (seriously, it's a Sunday).
2012 Madison, 272-2583.
T.J. Mulligan's — Offering up Bloody Mary's Irish-style, Mulligan's version is so scrumptious, it'll probably give you a brand new hangover. The tomato-y cocktail is served with a spiced rim, a pickle, and a side of beer.
8071 Trinity, 756-4480; 362 N. Main, 523-1453; 6635 Quince, 753-8056; 2821 N. Houston-Levee Rd., 377-9997.
To Be a Beer Snob
Boscos Squared — If you snub your nose at domestics, then Boscos is the place for you. Here, cask-conditioned microbrews are served up daily, and each afternoon one lucky customer gets the honor of tapping the cask. They even use the tasty brew to season crust for their mouth-watering wood-fired pizzas.
2120 Madison, 432-2222.
Flying Saucer — With over 200 beers on tap, dank beer lovers are in heaven at the Flying Saucer. Choose from pale ales and wheat beers to lagers and porters. Down enough to join the UFO Club and get your name emblazoned on one of the bar's famous saucers. For a special treat, try the Chocolate Truffle (Young's Double Chocolate Stout mixed with Lindeman's Framboise raspberry beer).
130 Peabody Place, 523-8536; 1400 N. Germantown Pkwy., 755-5530.
To Rock Out
Hi-Tone — In the city that bred rock-and- roll, the modern Memphis music scene is ripe with indie, alt-country, garage, and punk bands. At some time or another, they'll all play the Hi-Tone. National rock bands stop through at this hip, Midtown club as well. With a show nearly every night of the week, the Hi-Tone is the place to go for live music.
1913 Poplar, 278-8663.
New Daisy — You won't catch Ruby Wilson singing the blues here, and you'll never catch B.B. King tearing up his guitar on this stage. But you will find plenty of rock. The Daisy is the only Beale Street club catering specifically to rock fans. The theatre even hosts an occasional all-ages show so youngsters can explore the legendary Beale Street, too.
330 Beale St., 525-8981.
Stage Stop — What we learned from the 1980s: Tight jeans make big bottoms look bigger. A boxer can go from puny to bad-ass through the length of one song in a movie. And heavily-sprayed teased hair helps dudes evoke their inner rock gods. Fortunately, the Aquanet gods live on at the Stage Stop, where 1980s-style hair bands perform regularly.
2951 Cela, 382-1576.
To Catch a Summer Breeze
Café Ole — Boasting the best patio in Midtown, Café Ole is the ultimate spot for sipping icy margaritas on a laidback summer afternoon. The frozen cocktails come extra-large, so one should be plenty to keep you occupied as you watch Midtown hipsters stroll down Young Avenue. On Monday nights (when the weather is bearable, that is), live bands play on the outdoor stage.
2127 Young, 274-5104.
Neil's — They claim the biggest deck in town, and honestly, we can think of none bigger. Sitting at Neil's, at the corner of Madison and McLean, patrons can peek into passing cars while they're stuck at the light. But if this game bores you, head inside for live music, plenty of pool tables, and TVs tuned into the game.
1835 Madison, 278-6345.
To Sip a Martini
Automatic Slim's Tonga Club — Whoever decided to toss fruit slices into alcohol was genius, pure genius. Sip down a martini at Automatic Slim's, only to find a soaked surprise waiting for you at the bottom. If the liquor didn't do it for you, the fruit will help your buzz along. While you're sipping, check out the Cuban-and Jamaica-inspired menu.
83 S. Second, 525-7948.
Majestic Grille — Looking for a little herbal refreshment (not that kind; we're talking legal here)? Majestic's Lavender Cucumber Martini will soothe your tired soul. Just make sure you've got a pillow nearby. Or for an invigorating twist, try the Strawberry Basil Martini. Unsure about herbs in your vodka? The Espresso Martini (Kahlua, vanilla vodka, and espresso) will energize sans the jitters.
145 S. Main, 522-8555.
Side Street Grill — Martinis are the menu at Side Street, where bartenders prepare the standard cocktail in endless ways. Order the Cooterlini for a spicy twist on the classic dirty version (it's prepared with Absolut Peppar). Or give in to your sweet tooth with the Wedding Cake Martini (vanilla vodka mixed with cranberry and pineapple juice). Note: The jumbo-sized martini is the best value for your hard-earned buck and one should be enough.
35 S. Florence, 274-8955.
Swig — This downtown lounge offers nearly 40 variations on the classic martini, plenty of comfy seating, and mod décor. It's fancy enough to entertain clients, but casual enough to spend an evening on the patio with friends. Our favorite drink, the Almond Joy (rum, amaretto, and white crème de cacao), curbs candy bar cravings while providing a healthy buzz.
100 Peabody Place, 522-8515.
To Spend a No-Frills Evening
Alex's Tavern — Who needs a live band when you've got the best damn jukebox in the city? This Midtown neighborhood bar boasts a jukebox with a huge selection of old-school soul and R&B, with some new stuff mixed in for good measure. It's actually two boxes hooked together, and each one alternates one song after the other. This clever system prevents jukebox hogs from playing an entire album in one setting.
1445 Jackson, 278-9086.
Earnestine & Hazel's — This brothel-turned-downtown-dive is the place to go on trolley tour night for cheap beer and greasy soul burgers. Take your brew upstairs and chill in one of the former brothel rooms as you watch South Main passers-by on the street below. Or if the jukebox is beckoning, grab a partner on the makeshift dance floor.
84 G.E. Patterson, 523-9754.
Lamplighter — Welcome to Miss Shirley's house, where the Pabst is served ice-cold and the burgers taste just like the ones grandma used to make. This hole-in-the-wall dive is a favorite of artists and musicians thanks to its homely ambiance (think handwoven placemats and vintage ash trays), its lone pool table, and plenty of oldies on the jukebox.
1702 Madison, 726-1101.
P&H Café — Legend has it that artistic inspiration comes over pitchers of iced cold beer at this Madison Avenue dive bar. Hey, it worked for filmmaker Craig Brewer, who penned the script for his first film The Poor & Hungry (hence the name) inside these hallowed walls. When your inner muse is nowhere to be found, try looking for her at the P&H first. Hell, she probably has a beer and burger waiting for you.
1532 Madison, 726-0906.
Poplar Lounge — Their motto ("where the stars hang out") may disappoint. It's doubtful you'll spot a celeb at this dive, but you may catch a knee-slapping honky-tonk show and spot a couple of Rhodes students. Not quite Britney Spears or Lindsey Lohan, but those newly rehabbed starlets don't belong in bars these days anyway.
2586 Poplar, 324-1233.