An Insiders's Guide to the Memphis Bar Scene
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Get in touch with your inner child with Chiwawa’s menu of hot dogs and tacos. But don’t worry — the kid staples are gussied up with adult ingredients, such as homestyle slaw, chipotle ketchup, and salsa roja. Order an “adult snow cone” spiked with tequila and flavored with margarita mix to wash it all down. 2059 Madison Ave. (207-1456).
Dubbed “the college bar you never graduate from,” Newby’s caters to both students from the nearby University of Memphis and post-grad patrons who come to Newby’s for the diverse line-up of live music, pool tables, and inventive cocktails. 539 S. Highland. 452-8408.
For years, the Pump has garnered the award for Best Gay Bar in the Memphis Flyer reader’s poll. And while on the inside, it looks like your typical gay bar, the outside is home to a giant treehouse built into the patio. Climb up at your own risk. You never know who you might find K-I-S-S-I-N-G. 1382 Poplar. 272-7600.
Craft wine and small plates — that’s the premise for this South Main Arts District craft wine bar. Some of the wine is served on tap, a new idea for Memphis, and wine flights are available for sampling. Menu items, such as cheese or sausage plates, are meant for sharing. Try the Winemaker’s Bread (house-made fougasse stuffed with seasonal ingredients and drizzled with wine). 314 S. Main. 401-0043.
Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar
The restaurant’s signature wine flights are organized by wine varietal and region, giving patrons a chance to sample a wide range. Flight also offers a sizable list of wines by the bottle. The list is heavy on California wines, but there are a number of Italian, Australian, and a few French wines as well. 39 S. Main. 521-8005.
Le Chardonnay Wine Bar & Bistro
Located in the newly revived Overton Square, Le Chardonnay offers a variety of wines by the glass or bottle. Sip a glass in the dim dining room, and order a signature wood-fired pizza to share with a date. 2094 Madison. 725-1375.
Affectionately dubbed The Buc, this tiny pirate-themed dive bar has the look and feel of being inside the belly of a rustic-but-beloved old boat. Several nights each week, fledgling punk bands or well-known local legends perform to packed crowds. The beer is cheap, and when there’s a cover charge to see a band, it’s typically $5 or less. 1368 Monroe. 278-0909.
Yet another pirate-themed bar, the Cove is decorated in nautical artifacts rescued from Anderton’s East before it was demolished in 2006. The Cove specializes in gourmet cocktails (try the Vampire, a Bloody Maria made with tequila, tomato juice, red chili, and balsamic vinegar), but it also offers a wide range of craft brews and wines. 2559 Broad. 730-0719.
Hog & Hominy’s Holding Pen
Most dive bars are actual holes-in-the-wall and have earned their prized dive bar status through years of wear and tear. But East Memphis Italian/Southern restaurant Hog & Hominy created a brand-new dive bar. They only serve cheap beers (PBR, Miller High Life, and Coors) and brown liquors — the drinks of choice of hipsters everywhere — and offer a handful of trendy menu items, like boiled peanuts and Frito pie. 707 W. Brookhaven Circle. 207-7396.
Authenticity oozes from the walls at this tried-and-true Midtown dive. Sure, it stereotypically serves PBR, but the Lamplighter’s been doing that long before it was cool. The jukebox offers a range of classics (think Frank Sinatra), and the décor isn’t too far off from your grandma’s living room. 1702 Madison. 726-1101.
The P&H stands for “poor and hungry,” but you won’t be either after leaving this dive. The ice-cold pitchers are cheap, and you can find a solid meal for less than $10 (cheeseburgers, patty melts, fried pickles). Stop by on a weekend night for occasional live music or karaoke. 1532 Madison. 726-0906.
Boscos creates hand-crafted beers, which pair wonderfully with the wood-fired pizzas (the crust is also made with Boscos beer). Some brews change each season, but a few standards are offered year-round — the light Famous Flaming Stone, the nutty Midtown Brown, and the stout Isle of Skye Scottish Ale. 2120 Madison. 432-2222.
With two locations, downtown and in Cordova, the Flying Saucer has beer nerds covered across the city. Offering more than 200 beers on tap and a UFO Club for those who want to sample every flavor, there’s no better place to go when you’re looking for hard-to-find, new, or rare craft and import brews. 130 Peabody Place. 523-7468; 1400 N. Germantown Pkwy. 755-5530.
Young Avenue Deli
Often touted for having the best French fries in town, the Deli also offers a wide range of craft brews on tap or in bottles. Wednesday night is pint night, and a DJ spins reggae tunes. The Deli also features occasional live shows if you’d rather sip your beer to the sounds of a rock band. 2119 Young. 278-0034.
Specializing in global street food and well-executed cocktails, Bar DKDC offers a trip around the world without ever leaving your barstool. The small plate menu changes every five weeks, so you never know what country’s food you’ll be sampling. 964 S. Cooper. 272-0830.
Bayou Bar & Grill
A taste of New Orleans in the heart of Memphis. Mardi Gras beads are draped over every surface and hang from the ceiling, and the Bayou offers several varieties of Abita on tap and in bottles. Don’t be afraid to sample the alligator chili. 2094 Madison. 278-8626.
Guinness flows like wine at this lively Irish pub in the Cooper-Young District. Soccer games are broadcast on game days, and the full menu of Irish delicacies isn’t to be missed. Try the shepherd’s pie or the corned-beef sliders. 903 S. Cooper. 274-5151.
This Irish pub at the edge of Overton Square offers a respite from the sometimes-overcrowded bars in the heart of that burgeoning entertainment district. Though the Dublin House is often packed on weekends, there’s typically always a table or two free. Order a pint of Harp’s on draft and some fish-and-chips and relax in good company. 2012 Madison. 278-0048.
Molly’s La Casita
Nothing beats an ice-cold, tangy margarita on the rocks on a hot summer day, and Molly’s has you covered. This beloved Midtown institution has been serving up some of the best margaritas in town for years. But beware — it’s hard to drink just one. Order some famous bacon-wrapped shrimp to keep your blood-alcohol level in check. 2006 Madison. 726-1873.