I moved into the Parkways around 2008 and have not looked back. I can go months without ever seeing Highland. I look at a trip to the Target by the 240 Loop much like I imagine pioneers looked at the Oregon Trail.
With all that being covered on the front end, I was excited to check out Memphis Sports Pub in the Eastgate Shopping Center. I like sports, I like bars, and lately I've been pretty bored with the usual Midtown haunts I frequent. So when it started pouring rain about an hour before I left for Memphis Sports Pub, I figured it was par for the course. After all, I was traveling into foreign territory; we might as well make this adventure a little more dangerous.
From the outside, Memphis Sports Pub doesn't necessarily look strictly like a place for someone who can remember all the stats from the 1996 game in which the Tigers defeated Peyton Manning's Tennessee Volunteers, 21-17. The outer décor of the Sports Pub features a nice patio, complete with umbrellas, and perhaps serves as the non-sports-fan zone during warmer months.
Once inside, the first thing I noticed — other than the Grizzlies and Tigers décor — was the cigarette smoke in the air. My friends and I passed half a dozen or so flat screens on our way to a table near the back of the cozy bar, where we were greeted by a friendly waitress who immediately pointed out that shots of Fireball were $2.
After weighing the pros and cons of Fireball, we quickly ordered a round for the table. More drinks followed, and since not everyone I invited was a beer drinker, we got to see a lot of the drink menu offered at Sports Pub — including craft beers, cocktails, and, um, more Fireball.
Shortly after we had finished the first round, the Memphis Tigers were set to play the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Bearcats haven't had a good football season, and it showed. At some point — probably halftime — Batman was brought out to bring some life back into the Bearcats crowd. Maybe it was the Fireball, but watching Batman attempt —and make — a 35-yard field goal was easily the highlight of my Friday night. Even the Tiger faithful in the bar enjoyed seeing the Dark Knight drill a field goal, and jokes like "he's the kicker Gotham deserves" were audible throughout the bar.
At some point food was ordered — loaded tater tots, a sausage-and-cheese plate, and pizza. All were reasonably priced and served as the perfect Fireball sponge, as I awoke on Saturday morning feeling fine.
While the crowd was sparse for much of the night (apparently a main bartender was having a birthday gathering elsewhere), I got the feeling the Sports Pub is about as "neighborhood" as a bar can get in a shopping center. The atmosphere was great, the booze was cheap, and there were plenty of TVs without the Buffalo Wild Wings vibe. While I might not be east of Highland very often, you can bet I'll be stopping in for a cold one at the Memphis Sports Pub again.