Best of Memphis: Staff Picks 

A Few of the Flyer Staff's Favorite Things

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Best Place To Buy Beer

Yazoo, Rogue, Blackstone, Lazy Magnolia, Spaten, Oskar Blues, Southern Tier, Brooklyn Brewery, the list goes on. Every brand and style of beer imaginable is sold at Cash Saver Cost Plus Food Outlet on Madison. It even has its own beer manager, Taylor James. James has added so many craft brews to the inventory that he had to take over a refrigerated deli case. James holds beer tastings, which he announces on Twitter (@taylorhjames). And not only does Cash Saver have the best selection of craft brews in Midtown, it also boasts the lowest prices thanks to the storewide policy of offering all products 10 percent below cost. — Bianca Phillips

Best Facelift

Malco's Ridgeway Four has been a fixture of the local cinema-going scene for decades, and it revived more recently as the go-to place for indie films and prestige dramas in the Malco network. I've drooled over the giant mural of Hollywood stars in the lobby for what seems like all my life. But, following extensive renovations, it's safe to say the newest incarnation of the theater is the best. Redubbed Ridgeway Cinema Grill, Malco's HQ location has expanded food and drink selections, but the real story is the new theater seating. I'll kinda miss the sweeping plain of seats, but the new ones make you feel like you're at Captain Kirk's console. Perfect for losing yourself in a movie. — Greg Akers

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Best Place To Make Art (and Friends)

This ain't your grandma's bingo night. At least once a month, Five in One Social Club on Broad hosts a bingo night with MC Jimmy Tightpants featuring gangsta rap, High Cotton brew, and awesome handmade prizes from Five in One's store. If you'd rather get a little more hands-on, the social club offers twice-weekly art and craft classes (like kindergarten for grown-ups!). For $10, you get one-on-one instruction and supplies to create everything from woodcuts to homemade pickles to plaster death masks. Class schedules and social activities are posted at fiveinone.org. — BP

Best Place To People-Watch

The Absinthe Room, above King's Palace, is the best place to get a bird's-eye view of Beale Street's diverse crowds, especially on crowded weekends. Watch the street below as people swarm two guys deep into a chest-touching game of "no, you hit me first" until MPD rushes to squash it and scatter the onlookers; experience the love of a man tugging along his drunken girlfriend who longingly looks at the bar behind her; take part in the joy of a girl being reunited with her shoe that had been tossed two blocks away. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder if you ever looked like that. — Alexandra Pusateri

Best Raw Vegan Food

Although Balewa's Vegan Gourmet closed its doors on North Watkins, another full-service vegan restaurant has opened to fill the void. Two Vegan Sistas on Summer serves a mostly raw, totally vegan menu with cashew-based burgers and mock chicken salad, live pizza made from nuts and veggies, and a mouth-watering selection of raw desserts. The raw Oreos and living Reese's pie are not to be missed. Bonus: Since the desserts are made from fresh fruit and nuts, they're good for you! — BP

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Best Local Band To Call It Quits

Local psychedelic, jam/fusion group Lightajo grew quite a following over the past seven years, playing at venues in and out of town and sharing the stage with nationally acclaimed musicians like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Futureman, and MOFRO. They took their unique blend of reggae, funk, pop, jazz, and metal to local music festivals, playing alongside My Morning Jacket, Ben Harper, and Bassnectar. Lightajo performed their final set of crunchy grooves at Newby's in August. But don't worry. You can find some of the band's former members jamming in the side-project-turned-main-project Zigadoo Moneyclips. Their next show is Saturday, September 28th, at Newby's. Farewell-ajo! You may be gone but will never be forgotten. — Shara Clark

Best Way To Beat Prohibition

Yeah, we know, Prohibition ended 90 years ago. So what? The three veteran bartenders who started downtown's Blind Bear Speakeasy have managed to bring the Roaring '20s back to life. There's a nice period atmosphere and a daily password. The kitchen's open late, the menu's creative and tasty, and if you're feeling a little shaky on Saturday or Sunday, the "Hungry as a Bear Brunch" will set you right. — Bruce VanWyngarden

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Best New Brewery

Wiseacre Brewing Co.'s new digs and taproom on Broad are well worth the trip. Very cool art and décor, not to mention two great beers (so far): Ananda and Tiny Bomb. It may become your new favorite pub, if you're not careful. — BV

Best Place To See Your Friends on Saturday

Fino's From the Hill gets real crowded (in a good way) around lunchtime on Saturday, as locals gather to savor this classic Italian deli's fine sandwiches and maybe pick up some pasta, olive oil, or cheese to take home. If you've lived in Memphis more than six months, you'll probably see somebody you know. — BV

Best Bike Lane

With more than 55 miles of bike lanes in town, it's a little hard to pick just one. But we're partial to North Parkway's east-west lane for a few reasons: 1) Trees!! Aside from a couple of city-block-size stretches, this lane is shaded from one end to the other. 2) Because the city added a parking lane to the right of the bike lane in both directions, there's plenty of buffer space to ride in, so long as cars aren't parked in the way (and they rarely are). 3) It's the only continuous bike lane that stretches all the way from Midtown to downtown. — BP

Best Coffee-Brewing Aesthetic

The slowwwww-drip chemistry tower whereby cold-brewed coffee is made at Tamp & Tap looks either like a drug-making apparatus from Breaking Bad or a Victorian science experiment. What it is, though, is an hours-long process where ice water drips over and journeys through a pack of coffee grounds before traveling down a twisty chute of tubes and into a beaker of brew. Yum. — GA

Best Weekend Brunch

Few things are better after a night on Beale than a fabulously decadent morning meal. (I didn't intend for that to rhyme, but puns cure hangovers, right?) I still dream about Automatic Slim's Crab Cake Benedict, buttermilk biscuits smothered in Parmesan gravy, and Delta grits. And sometimes, I even share. Perfection on a plate (ahem, plates) washed down with a cup of coffee and a mimosa. The only decision you have to make is where to take a nap afterward. — Anna Cox

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