Southern Comfort

I'm driving a friend out to Austin in about a week, and we'll be making stops in Memphis, Oxford, and New Orleans. If anyone has eating, drinking, or cultural recommendations for any of these four places, I would be much obliged. Right now I only really know of Faulkner's house and a pretentious place to eat breakfast.

On an unrelated note, I'm reading Under the Glacier by Halldor Laxness. I want to like it because I like what it's trying to do but I don't much like it. The dialogue, in its defense, is pretty funny. Has anyone read Laxness? Am I losing something from the Icelandic?


T-bone said...

You must visit Graceland. My life has never been the same since.

cek said...

When you roll into Austin (or the morning after you roll into Austin) go to the Magnolia Cafe for some tasty breakfast. Also in Austin, I'm not sure if it's the right time of year for it, but you can go down to this bridge in the middle of town and watch about a zillion bats fly out from under it at twilight. Ask anyone there; they'll be able to give you more details. There's even a bat hotline you can call to find out the exact time each night that they alight. Alternatively, you could go see the Real World Austin house, which is of course what I would do.

SER said...

Austin has so many good restaurants that you might as well start with coffee at Jo's on South Congress at 7am and eat your way through a post-dinner/post-drinking greasy meal at Magnolia at 3am. In between, you might consider hitting Guero's, Curra's, The Shady Grove, and some Mexican (vs. Tex-Mex) place that starts with a P (sorry). Also, Mars Cafe is good if you want to go a bit upscale. For bars, try the one at the Hotel San Jose, DeVille, and the Continental Club for starters. Derrcules will have plenty more recommendations.

Check out Barton Springs - a natural swimming hole that's convenient to Austin proper. I went on the tour of the State Capitol building in 7th grade, but I don't remember much except that it's made from pink granite (or is it pink limestone)?

Jane said...

I'm right there with T-bone: Graceland is well worth a visit. Also in Memphis, a crazy cool store on Beale Street called (I think) Schacht's, which has all kinds of quirky discount stuff, including the biggest overalls you've ever seen in your life.

New Orleans is just damned fun no matter where you go, but I'm sure PJKM has some good specific suggestions.

PJKM said...

We often stop in Oxford to eat lunch at Ajax on the square and look around Square Books.

How long will you be in New Orleans? There's so much to do (and to eat).

I liked the Laxness, by the way.

brooke said...

oo, memphis! i know it well (and love it lots). for eats, you can't beat the bbq, though minor battles have erupted over which place is best. for cool, classic atmosphere and pretty good bbq, go to charlie vergos' rendezvous downtown. for ain't-much-to-look-at atmosphere and awesome bbq, go to neely's (on jefferson, i believe). or do both! breakfast at the blue plate (on poplar) is super, huey's is good for lunch (there's one downtown and in midtown), and pie in the sky (in the cooper-young district) has great pizza. my favorite dive bar in the world, The P&H (Poor & Hungry) is in midtown...though i've totally blanked on what street it's on. sun studios is super-cool for music geekiness. and i've never seen those overalls, but i agree with roper about schacht's.

Pete said...

Gus's Fried Chicken, in Mason, TN. It's about thirty miles outside Memphis. I don't even really like fried chicken; I was skeptical, but it was so good it made my brain tickle. I bought a t-shirt that i was reluctant to wash for awhile because it smelled like tasty-ass fried chicken. (After a while, it stsrted smelling like something else, so I washed it.)

There are no vegetarians in Mason.

I also recall liking The Cozy Corner BBQ in Memphis. They specialized in ribs and cornish game hens. You really have to get both.

Also in Memphis here's a great record store in midtown. I can't remember what it's called but I saw Jeffrey Evans play guitar in the parking lot. Shangri-la, maybe? Brooke? Anyone?

There's a cool ass cemetery too. I can't remember what it is called.

In Oxford, you've got to go to Rowan Oak. Somewhere in the English Dept. of UW-Madison, there should still be a picture of me grabbing my crotch in front of the historical marker. I'd like to start a tradition of doing this, so please do it.

In Austin, there is a crazy ass Philosopher-king type who complains of ulcers and cosmic uncertainty. Sometimes he gets stuck on the concept of nostalgia, but if you give him a nudge, he'll move on from it. You'll know him by his curly blond hair and amish chinstrap. They call him Derrcules.

kclou said...

This is fantastic. I'll be in Memphis one night, Oxford one day, New Orleans two nights (one full day), and Austin two nights (one full day). There is so much BBQ and creepiness in my future.

brooke said...

pete: yes, shangri-la! that's an excellent record store. there's one on cooper that's awesome, too, but the name escapes me.

and...lord, it pains me to share this, as i too have eaten the tasty-ass fried chicken...but gus's in mason burned down. that's the bad news. the good news: there's now a gus's in memphis proper. word on the street is that the owners "accidentally" set the mason location ablaze so that they could collect the insurance money and relocate to memphis. intrigue + fried chicken! what could be better?

Vampiro said...

For a little culture in Austin, I'd recommend you check out the Harry Ransom Center. They have an amazing literary archive that includes a Guttenberg Bible on permanent display. They rotate displays, but it's usually some pretty cool stuff. If you want to be deceptive, you can pretend that you are researching something and examine real ancient manuscripts, Faulkner's handwritten mss for Light in August, or any other number of sacred (for us) relics). I think the food and booze has been pretty well covered, but I'll think on it more.

El Gordo de Amore said...

And for entertainment -- The Crazy Lady -- It's a stripbar pretty much under I-35. Last time I was there, they had live blues band "dancing" music. I felt like I was in a Robert Rodriguez movie.

And if you go, look for Natasha -- I really think she liked me -- not just my ATM card, the real, inner butterfly that is El Gordo.

And, if you're curious about what fake boobs feel like, he's your chance.

kclou said...

I'm a little surprised that we made ten posts before a stripbar was mentioned.

PJKM said...

In New Orleans:

Breakfast at Croissant D'Or or Cafe du Monde (in the Quarter); or Camellia Grill, Slim Goodies or Bluebird (all Uptown - the latter's our favorite).

Lunch at Liuzza's at the Track (Midcity); Alpine (the Quarter); Domilise's or Dunbars (both Uptown - park as close as possible to Dunbars if you value personal safety).

Dinner - there's a million places to recommend depending on budget and whether you want to drive.

Patry Francis said...

You can't go to New Orleans without having dinner at Jacqu'imo's. It's outside the quarter, but cheap, and the real thing. After dinner go next door to The Maple Leaf for some great music.