It Crawled from the South Part I: Memphis
I was expecting a bag of peanuts, or worse yet, these nasty packets of soy stick mix that we kept getting served while traveling around Asia last summer, but Continental surprised me with a decent (read: edible) in-flight snack. Still, the tiny turkey sandwich (one slice of meat on a dinner roll) and bag of Fritos didn't do much to stave off our hunger. Soon after Hot Tub Eric picked Dan and me up at the Memphis airport, we found ourselves at Payne's Bar-B-Q. Payne's is no-frills with a large dining area and a little window where you place your order. I loved the smell of Payne's. You just can not get that in New York. HTE and DMR went with sandwiches - chopped hots all around. Having never been to Payne's, I should have followed the lead of the local, but I went with a rib plate with smoky beans and chartreuse cole slaw. I thought the ribs were good; Eric, never having strayed from a chopped hot tried some of my ribs and thought they were alright but nothing out of this world. They were tangy and spicy with a touch of sweet and the two sides were great. We almost pulled the trigger on a fried fruit pie and in retrospect I'm trying to figure out why we didn't.
I still had plane brains so no photos. I wish I had gotten a picture of the menu on the wall which offered "more" for $.25.
Photo of Payne's exterior by a Tripadvisor member from Atlanta, GA
Eric and Amie (Hot Tub's better half) had secured Miss Ebony for baby-sitting duties that evening, so for dinner we hit the Lamplighter to get some burgers and beers before heading off to the drive-in theater, something I'd never done before! The Lamplighter is the perfect local - cheap beer, good eats, good jukebox and a good bartender. If you've seen the video for Cat Power's "Lived in Bars," well, it was filmed in this tiny place. Miss Shirley is the bartender and also the cook. Her burgers are fantastic. Apparently Shirley hand shapes all the patties herself and griddles them up in a cast iron skillet. Whatever method she uses, it's a simple burger perfectly executed, one that evokes a feeling of home. Eric, Amie and I ordered cheeseburgers with everything, hold the onions. An order with everything includes ketchup, mayo, pickles, lettuce, tomato in addition to the onion. Raw onions often give me headaches which is a reason I opted out of those. Dan went with a patty melt - his first ever! So many firsts! We also got two orders of fries for the table. Shirley's fries are dynamite - hand cut so you get a pile of mismatched skin-on potato sticks crisped to golden perfection. Pitchers of PBR are served with frosted mugs. I don't really need to say more.
Photo of Shirley and her burger from The Memphis Flyer.
As for the movie, we saw the latest Die Hard and it was pretty awful. Car neighbors with bad drive-in etiquette (pulling up to a group of folks sitting outside their cars and smoking them out with exhaust fumes cause you've just got to blast the a/c during the entire movie on a night where it wasn't even that hot or humid, forgetting to shut the trunk of your minivan so that it blocks the view of the movie watchers behind you), didn't help much. Amie and I did check out the snack bar, which was a mix of 1970s college cafeteria meets the Jetsons.