The True Memphis A-List 

You can be a local celebrity, the face on the TV news, a fashion maven, or a Memphis millionaire. But to get on the true Memphis A-list, you've got to start with the letter "A." Here are 10 people, places, and things that make the grade.

1. Affordable Housing -- There's no question that the cost of living in Memphis is low. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, Memphis is 11 percent below the cost-of-living national average, primarily because housing prices here are 25 percent lower than the national average.

2. Arcade Restaurant -- Not only does this throwback to the city's past have yummy down-home-style food, retro ambience, and great prices, it's a Hollywood hotspot. Every major movie filmed here in the past few years has used the Arcade Restaurant on South Main as a location. The diner has been around since 1919, and it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

3. A C Wharton -- From his dapper suits to his ability to get the county back on track financially, A C Wharton seems to have it all together, unlike another mayor we could name. One of Wharton's best accomplishments, the Smart Growth Initiative, encourages the county to grow in ways that protect the environment while reinvesting in urban areas.

4. AutoZone -- FedEx gets more attention, but AutoZone is another Fortune 500 corporation with a home here in the Bluff City. Over the years, the company has provided Memphis with jobs, arts support, and an impressive minor-league baseball park.

5. Arts Community -- The local arts community has really come together, especially in the South Main district, which has changed from a neglected neighborhood to an ultra-hip gallery row. The makeover is still happening, with a tremendous residential boom taking place just south of the AmTrak station.

6. Architecture -- Memphis is home to a number of architectural wonders, such as the imposing Tennessee Brewery downtown and the state-of-the-art Clark Opera Memphis Center in Germantown. And Archimania's doing some interesting work downtown, including the "Phil Woodward House" across the street from the Flyer offices, which features a skewed roof and a giant wall of glass overlooking the river.

7. Alex's Tavern -- This friendly neighborhood bar has been around since 1953, and it claims to be the oldest pub in town. Known for its hangover-killing burgers and Cheers-like ambience, Alex's is a Memphis institution.

8. Ardent Recording Studios -- Sure, Memphis is the birthplace of rock-and-roll, but if it weren't for some local recording studios, local music might have passed away when Elvis died. One of the local studio mainstays, Ardent, has produced albums for artists such as Big Star, Bob Dylan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and ZZ Top, to name a few.

9. A. Schwab -- Another blast from the past, A. Schwab general store on Beale Street is probably the most unusual store in the city. Since 1876, Schwab's has peddled an eclectic mix of voodoo candles, herbs, salad dressings, clothing, toys, and discount novelty items.

10. Audubon Park -- Where else can you see members of the Society for Creative Anachronism sword-fighting in Renaissance costumes, pagans celebrating the full moon, and families picnicking -- all in the same place?

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