There are a lot of bold claims being made at the Green Beetle. A placard outside boasts that the bar has been “healing broken hearts since 1939″. Inside, a sign says “Have a beer here, your grandfather did.”
I don’t know how accurate the first sign is, but if your grandparents hung out downtown, there’s a good chance that they drank at the Green Beetle.
It was open in 1939, and it stayed open when downtown was super sketchy (it may have contributed a little of that sketchiness). There used to be a window between the Beetle and the adjoining liquor store for easy purchasing. And, in a bizarre contractual twist, the building is one of the only ones in Memphis that has to retain the same name even if it’s sold.
The South Main St. bar re-opened this week after a long hiatus. If you’re worried that the downtime means tons of changes, don’t. All of the changes that have been made seem to be for the good. When I was there Tuesday night, the barn-like space was clean, Mongo for Mayor signs hung proudly on the walls, the beer case was stocked with dozens of imports and domestics and the air conditioner was going strong.
The menu isn’t huge, but it’s packed with food that goes well with drinking. I wanted to try the mac’n'cheese, but by the time I got there, they were all out. The manager was very nice about it, telling me that they make all of their food fresh and that since it’s opening week, they were still figuring out how much to make.
Instead, I tried a few bites of my drinking buddy’s massive sausage and pepper po-boy and potato salad. The po-boy tastes great, but its size makes it a three-napkin sandwich. The potato salad was some of the best I’ve had in town – the huge chunks of potatoes in seasoned mayo were way better than I expected.
At the moment, the Green Beetle is open daily for lunch and dinner, with plans to (eventually) stay open until 3 a.m., even on weeknights. They’ve got a small kids’ menu, but if you’re going to take your little ones, plan to go early before the drinking crowd shows up.
The Green Beetle
325 S. Main St.
Memphis, TN 38103