In our previous blog, we kicked off our Elvis series with a trip to the iconic Graceland. Certainly, this mansion should be top of the list to visit for any fan of Elvis, but Memphis has so much more for fans to see and experience. Indeed, you don’t even need to be an Elvis aficionado to enjoy yourself.
During our research into Elvis related attractions, we realised that food played an important part in the life of the King. His appetite in later life may have been legendary, but it seems to me that throughout his life he liked nothing better than having good, wholesome meals, in down to earth local restaurants with his friends.
So in our Memphis itinerary we included meals at two restaurants that had strong connections with Elvis – indeed, we were to have meals ‘fit for a King’!
First up was a late lunch at Coletta’s Restaurant. This Italian eatery first opened its doors in 1923 and judging by the food, it is easy to see why it has remained open for so long and has become the oldest restaurant in Memphis. We sat in the backroom of the restaurant, right next to the table that Elvis himself would sit at. Obviously this photo opportunity could not be missed!
According to local legend, Elvis’ favourite meal at Coletta’s was their barbecue pizza, even though it was said that he wasn’t actually fond of barbecue itself! There was only one thing to do, and that was to order the pizza. What was presented to me was an impressive 12” pizza stacked thick with BBQ pork and mozzarella. The pizza was so stacked that you couldn’t begin to lift up a slice before it collapsed. A knife and fork were the order of the day.
In the man versus food competition that I had embarked on, I lost horribly, getting through perhaps only two thirds of the pizza before having to concede defeat. Thankfully Coletta’s boxed up the remainder for me to have later.
The next morning, we had an early date at the Arcade Restaurant. We booked 3 months ahead, as we wanted to occupy the Elvis booth, which can be found at the back of the restaurant and was his regular spot. We were unsure what his favourite breakfast was, but, according to their menu, their specialty were the classic southern breakfast treat of sweet potato pancakes, so this was the order of the day for us.
We found the Arcade to be busy, friendly and a retro classic. It is said to be the oldest café in Memphis, having been opened by Spero Zepatos in 1919, and is still family owned today. Interestingly, the Arcade has been featured in a number of Hollywood films – including Mystery Train, Great Balls of Fire, The Client, The Firm and Walk the Line. I couldn’t say that I recognised it from the films, but it certainly has a great atmosphere and look and well worth going to just for the food.
Join us next time when we visit two of the studios where Elvis recorded his music.
Until then, happy reading and safe travels.