Literary Excerpts

Native Memphian Talks Secret Beaches and Barbecue

by Team Fathom
A young Memphian enjoys the ropes at Shelby Farms. Photo by Allen Gillespie / Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau.

In Travel North America (And Avoid Being a Tourist), the chapter called, "Bright Lights, Big Cities," includes a section all about the cities we love and the people who love them. Native Memphian Rachel Knox, Thriving Arts and Culture Program Officer for the Hyde Foundation, provides grants to nonprofit cultural institutions and leadership organizations in the city, including those innovating in education, livable communities — green spaces, transportation — arts, and culture. Knox says, "There’s a groundswell of new organizations doing incredible work and fun things in the community." She shares the best of her hometown below and in this interview on Fathom.

Best thing about Memphis: The people! Memphians work so hard every day to solve our most pressing issues and inspire change. Over the past few years, there has definitely been a shift with more people working across sectors to create the systems-level change we need to create a thriving city.

Best people-watching: The riverfront parks – from little kids on play equipment to sixty-somethings on roller skates.

Favorite neighborhood: Binghampton, one of Memphis' most diverse neighborhoods. Broad Avenue is home to incredible restaurants, breweries, and spaces with locally made goods.

I don't want tourists to know about: The secret "beach" in Shelby Farms.

Most underrated: Our hip-hop scene. It's varied in sound and subject matter. Some of my favorite alt rappers are Don Lifted and Preuxx.

Most overrated: Graceland. Every city has a landmark the locals are not interested in.

Dream meal: Felicia Suzanne's. Her Sunday sugo (creamy risotto topped with a delicious gravy cooked down with beef and pork) with an old fashioned is by far one of my favorite dishes in the city. A close second would be coffee-rubbed lamb chops at Mahogany Memphis. You can't get a bad meal in Memphis.

Favorite local institution: CLTV The Collective, one of my favorite art galleries, is dedicated to supporting local Black artists.

Best movie based in Memphis: TV show Uncorked did a great job showcasing the city, and I would be a lousy Memphian if I didn't mention Hustle and Flow. But the best movies based on a book set in Memphis would be John Grisham's The Firm. These movies are so different from one another, but there's no one Memphis experience.

In the city escape: Shelby Farms Park or Overton Park.

No trip to Memphis is complete without barbecue. Stop at Payne's on your way out of town. It'll change your life, just like Memphis.

Don't Stop There. Read the Whole Book!

Buy Travel North America (And Avoid Being a Tourist) from your preferred local bookseller or online from Amazon.com or Bookshop.org.

Excerpted with permission from Travel North America: (and Avoid Being a Tourist) by Pavia Rosati and Jeralyn Gerba, published by Hardie Grant Books, June 2021.

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