One Cool Crossroads

You’ve done Beale Street, you’ve done Graceland—you’ve done Memphis, right? Nope.
Valerie Fraser Luesse

If you’ve skipped Midtown’s Cooper Young District, where South Cooper Street crosses Young Avenue, you’ve missed a whole different side of the city. Thousands turn out for the annual Cooper Young Festival in September. It’s great fun, but if you’d rather skip the crowds, go now.

“Look good, eat good.” That’s the motto of The Beauty Shop (966 South Cooper), which is surprisingly unkitschy. Yes, you can eat your dinner in a dryer chair, but you’ll feel surprisingly chic doing so. Their strawberry cake is the reason to go. It’s huge. It’s fabulous.

The House of Mews (933 South Cooper) is an incredible nonprofit cat sanctuary and adoption agency. Kitties get to roam and play in the store, snuggle on comfy chairs, and―if they feel like it―visit with customers. Founder Elain Harvey and her group don’t believe in euthanizing healthy animals, so once a homeless cat lands here, it has a caring home till it’s adopted.

Just a block or so from the heart of Cooper Young, Toad Hall Antiques (2129 Central Avenue) is definitely worth a stop. Also, pop into Flashback (2304 Central) for great vintage shopping and Central BBQ (2249 Central) for some of the best macaroni and cheese and ribs you’ve ever tasted.

Burke’s Book Store (936 South Cooper) is one of those great independent dealers that’s sort of a cross between a well-worn library and your grandmother’s attic. You never know what you’ll find.

 

A Few Neighborhood Picks
• Toad Hall Antiques: www.toadhallmemphis.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
• Flashback the Vintage Department Store: www.flashbackmemphis.com. Hours: 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday.
• Central BBQ: (901) 272-9377. Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
• Young Avenue Deli: www.youngavenuedeli.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-3 a.m. (food until 2 a.m.) Monday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-3 a.m. Sunday (food until 2 a.m.).
• Casablanca Café: www.casablancamemphis.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
• Java Cabana Cooper Young’s Coffee House: www.javacabana.com. Hours: 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sunday.
• The Beauty Shop: (901) 272-7111. Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Open for brunch on Sunday.
• Café Ole: www.cafeolememphis.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
• Sweet the exquisite desserterie: www.sweetdesserterie.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
• Burke’s Book Store: www.burkesbooks.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.-8 a.m. Thursday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday.
• The House of Mews: www.houseofmews.com. Hours: 4-8 p.m. Tuesday and Friday, 1-5 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, noon-4 p.m. Saturday.
• Tsunami: www.tsunamimemphis.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5:30-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
• Soul Fish Café: (901) 725-0722. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday.

"One Cool Crossroads" is from the May 2008 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.