Anime Blues 2017–Tips for “Going Native”

Welcome, all, again.  As I’ve mentioned previously, Memphis will host its homegrown anime con, Anime Blues, downtown at the Cook Convention Center over the weekend of 07-09 July.  2017 is the con’s 7th year, and it has grown quite substantially.  For detailed information and for pre-registration, which remains open through 12 June online, please visit the official site at:  Pre-registration is also available in person (cash only) at Animax in the Cloverleaf Shopping Center at 5144 Old Summer Road, Memphis.  [And a huge Thank you! to the folks at Animax, who were instrumental in founding Anime Blues and continue to organize/manage it.]  Tickets can also still be purchased through Eventbrite:

The bridge’s first off-ramp leads straight to the convention center.

Interested, but not sure about navigating Memphis traffic?  The Cook Convention Center is incredibly easy to find: it’s at the foot of the I-40 bridge into Memphis from Arkansas.  Otherwise, just find Poplar Avenue (it bisects the entire city on an east/west route) and follow it west until it ends at Front Street.  The convention center will be on your right.  (If you have to swim back, you drove too far!)  Parking is available on-site or at the Mud Island parking garage, just south (left) on Front Street from where Poplar ends.  (Other parking is available, but those are the two locations which I usually use.)  And, please, don’t leave anything of value where it’s visible in the car.  No security is perfect, and nothing can ruin an out-of-town excursion like having your car broken-into.

Now, then, looking for food?  Well, I certainly don’t recommend the catered stuff on-site!  Last year, I was supposed to be covering the con as press for 91.8 the Fan (, an online site devoted to Asian music, anime, etc.  Instead, I ate one of the catered pizzas and missed the rest of the con due to food poisoning.  Now, I’m not saying that the pizza caused my food poisoning–but it was the first (and became the only) meal I had that day.  [You’ve been warned.]  So, hungry but don’t want to lose your parking space?  You have several choices within easy walking distance: Subway and KFC, just a few blocks east; Ferrarro’s (pizza), Westy’s (Southern), and Alcenia’s (soul food, serving breakfast and lunch), a few blocks north; and eighty3 (Southern) and Agave Maria (Mexican) just to the south.  As always, more is available if you look.  If you do trek off-site in search of food, try to travel in groups.  Personally, I’d also recommend toning down or covering up the cosplay.  It is an unfortunate truth of Memphis’ urban geography that the convention center is only two short blocks away from the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center, a monstrous brown building that houses both the county jail and its criminal courts.  In other words, exercise simple situational awareness.  Move in groups and take care of each other while outside, particularly when on foot.

Interior of Shang Hai restaurant

Hungry and don’t care about your parking spot?  OK, I’ll keep things simple, using Poplar for reference.  Go straight east on Poplar until it intersects Manassas, and try YUM’S (on the right).  They’re a great Chinese/American fast food joint!  As a regular customer, I recommend the whole (fried) wings or the steamed shrimp.  And they’ve got the best egg foo young gravy in town!  (Meaning they also have the best egg foo young.)  Not your thing?  Follow Manassas south from Poplar (right turn) until you hit Madison Avenue (and yet another Subway location), turn right, and look for Trolley Stop Market on your right just past the fenced-in parking lot.  Farm-fresh ingredients give their food rich flavor and real panache.  Or go another block south on Manassas, turn right onto Union Avenue, and at the first light you’ll find the legendary Sun Studio on your right.  They offer tours and sell memorabilia, but they also serve one of the best milkshakes in Memphis!  Still not you?  Then ignore Manassas completely and keep east on Poplar, cross the overpass, and look left when you reach Cleveland Street at the bottom of the hill–you’ll see Jack Pirtle’s Chicken in the Kroger parking lot.  But I’m not sending you for chicken–try their burger!  Then try their chili/cheese dog.  Then cry for all the years you’ve gone without.  Want traditional Asian, instead?  Just a couple of hundred feet further down Poplar, also on your left, is Shang Hai.  They serve traditional Vietnamese, Chinese, and Thai food.  In fact, for an exquisite light treat, try their garlic shrimp.  (I’ve been in Memphis 20 years now.  This was one of the first restaurants I visited and remains one of my favorites, still run by the same family.)  For more familiar fare, there’s a Burger King on the left on Poplar just before you hit Cleveland, and a McDonald’s directly across Poplar from Shang Hai.  And know that Shang Hai, Subway, Trolley Street Market, and YUM’S all offer vegetarian/vegan-friendly menu choices.

Now, this last one is special–it’s my bar, Murphy’s (21 or older, folks!).  Go east on Poplar until you reach Avalon, turn right on Avalon and proceed to the first light, which will be Madison Avenue.  You’ll be looking straight across the road at Murphy’s (conveniently on your right).  Best bar food in Memphis!  Pizza, wings, and a burger so good that cows compete to be in it!  Just behave while you’re there.  Again, this is where I go to drink and unwind–act stupid here, and I just might be the grouchy local who coldcocks you.  So play nice, OK?

A cute (and modestly attired) Ladybug cosplayer at Anime Blues 2016

And there are my hints and advice for attending Anime Blues.  To review: pre-register; arrive early for more parking choices; hide your stuff (or take it with you); eat anything other than what’s catered; travel outside in groups; play nice and have fun!  That said, I hope to see you at the con!






Author: David

Southern gentleman of Irish heritage. Family man--proud husband, father, and grandfather. Wiccan with a dose of residual Catholicism. Background in food service, military (US Navy), and law enforcement.

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