It's been over 10 years since I first ate at this restaurant. Obviously writing this tip 10 years after my first visit I can't remember exactly what we ordered. On that occasion I was down in Memphis for the very first time. It was in my days as an independent consultant and my first assignment for my new client PepsiAmericas (who I eventually went to work for) was to take a 3 day trip down to Memphis during my 25th wedding anniversary. Fortunately they agreed that I could take my wife down to Memphis on the trip as long as I paid for her expenses. On our actual anniversary we ate at the fancy restaurant at the Peabody Hotel Downtown. One of the other nights we had dinner here. I just remember that we ate outside and both the service and food were very good.
Favorite Dish: Over the course of the next 8 years I've probably made about a half dozen trips to Memphis. On one of those trips I came here again and I remember that evening I had some very good scallops. From what I remember that time there were 3 or 4 very large ones cooked just right.
So it was with great anticipation that I found myself down in Memphis again in 2009. I took a co-worker this time and although the food was still good, it didn't quite live up to the first 2 times there. But 2 out of 3 times we did have a great meal.
From my menu ticket this time this is what we ordered. Lobster Bisque which was very rich and creamy. If you go make sure you get the "little extra". They'll know what you mean. My co-worker had the pork tenderloin and I had the grouper. They were both a little overcooked and on the dryer side. We skipped dessert this evening as we had eaten out the 4 previous nights on the trip and figured we would watch our figures.
This place is popular with the locals as it serves up the mostly deep fried menu so popular in the south. The walls are decorated with early concert posters and news articles related to past great music.
I ordered a pulled pork sandwich, collard greens, and cold slaw. The bread for the sandwich was disappointing hogie style bun that resembled an CO2 inflated Wonderbread hot dog bun. The pulled pork was good though. The collard greens were outstanding. The cold slaw OK. My wife made the mistake of ordering the deep fried catfish and french fried sweet potatoes. These were actually prepared as they should be, but she found the catfish heavy on the black pepper. The price was right and service good. Food can be ordered "to go".
No fewer than three people recommended this restaurant to me during our annual 1-day trek to Memphis - and it lived up to the expectations! A little, funky, "hole-in-the-wall" was just what we were looking for. When you open the door, you can smell the barbeque - the meat, not the sauce. Our waitress was kicks - had a laughing, and brought the food and drinks quickly. Ample portions - I had the chopped pork plate, which came with cole slaw, bbq beans, a deviled egg, and a roll. The meat was juicy and tender, with not a lot of sauce (you can add more from the jars on the table), the sauce was just the way I like it = a little sweet with a little tiny kick of vinegar = and everything else tasted so GOOD! I took some home for lunch the next day. And when I tell you the total bill, after tax but before tip, was $12 - I don't know of a better deal! So
It's about 1:00 AM and some kids in their mid-twenties have just dragged me into a horse-drawn carriage to travel for late-night eats. "Oh, you have to try a 'soul burger'! You have to! It's a Memphis thing--best burger ever!," Andrea repeats as our carriage rolls slowly from Beale Street down South Main. Five minutes later we come to a stop at one of the most decrepit and seedy looking intersections I've ever behold with mine own eyes. "Here we are," she says happily. I look up at the dark, crumbling structure in front of me--a sign hangs precariously from the second floor casting an ominous orange glow across the sidewalk: "Earnestine & Hazel's Sundry Store". "What?! ...In there? You're joking!," I exclaim, "And just what the heck is a 'sundry store' anyway?" My reaction is exactly what this inebriated trio anticipated and they burst into laughter. "Just c'mon!," they say.
Walking inside is a relief; there are people sitting at tables drinking beer, a couple of cooks at the grill, a waitress, and some folks playing pool... Everything's relatively normal and chill. Sure, it's seedy enough, but most bars in my hometown rival this level of derelict and the majority are much worse. I'm comfortable in places like this. Shane leans over the bar and orders three Coors with three soul burgers, paying the woman behind the counter upfront.
"We go upstairs," Andrea tells me. The stairs are crazy, all crooked and broken, we pass a notice painted on a blue fuse-box which reads, "No dope smoken, no cursin, no freeloaden. E.H." Good to know that at least there are rules! The upstairs corridor is pitch darkness with only a bulb in the bathroom to illuminate the way. A thick smell of must pervades the air. There's nobody else here. "This bar used to be a brothel," she explains to me, "Check out how spooky these rooms are--I don't think anything's changed since the 40s." On old pinball machine, jukebox, and table decorate one room. I take a flash photo so I can see what exactly is in there. My digital display shows holes are everywhere in the walls. As a desensitized horror movie fan, even I have to admit that there's something really creepy about this place. "C'mon," Andrea says, "...End of the hall."
At the far end of the corridor on the right is a small room, almost as dark as the rest of the floor, except for a small red lamp and light shining in through the window from the outside "sundry" sign. As my eyes adjust to the darkness I make out a bar, a cash register, a small stereo, and an elderly black gentleman with white hair wearing a vest and straw hat sitting behind the bar on a stool. For a moment I think I'm seeing some sort of ghostly apparition. Andrea says, "This is Nate! Nate, this is Ed from Canada." "Please to meet you," the man says with a smile and a cool gravelly voice echoing a million late-nights spent serving liquor in a smoky Southern juke joint.
I order two Budweisers for Andrea and I and we take a seat at the end of the bar.
A few minutes later, Shane and Andrea's boyfriend, Jay, appear in the doorway with an old guy named "Garrett" in tow. Garrett has a cigarette dangling from his lip and makes Nate-the-bartender look like a strapping lad by comparison. Behind them is the waitress with our soul burgers and it appears as though she's forgotten the Coors we ordered with them.
It doesn't look like a big deal, this burger... Sort of thin and served with a bag of plain potato chips. I'll be able to eat it in about 15 seconds flat. At first bite it doesn't taste like much more than a chewy, budget-diner hamburger. On second bite a miraculous, multicolour flavour surge envelopes my palate--it's sour, peppery, sweet, spicy, rich, warm, slightly salty and comforting. "Wow," I mumble out loud. I can't put my finger on what exactly is in this--there's cheese, caramelized onions, green peppers (I think--it's too dark in here to tell), black pepper, pickles, and... Worcestershire sauce? Maybe Worcestershire? Pickle juice? Yeah, it could be pickle juice. Old Garrett leers at me from the other end of the bar, "Not too bad, huh?" All I can do with a mouthful is nod enthusiastically in response.
As we finish eating, seven more people in the same age range as my young companions come through the door. A few of them are really beautiful girls, dressed up for an evening of dancing. Turns out Nate's little corner of the world--a dark, smoky, second-floor room no bigger than most people's kitchen, in a dilapidated building at the seedy end of downtown, is the hip place to be for the twenty-somethings at 2:00 in the morning after a Saturday night out. The prettiest girl among them smiles for my camera and waits patiently as it tries in vain to locate something to focus on through the darkness.
Sadly, Nate announces last call and the evening too swiftly comes to an end. Our gang reluctantly goes back downstairs and out the front doors into a warm Memphis breeze. I realize that we never did get our Coors beers that Shane paid for, but he's so drunk on alcohol and cloud nine right now he can hardly understand a word I'm saying.
I returned the next morning to take photos of the outside of the building and found out much later that Earnestine & Hazel's cleans its grills with pickle juice. So I was right with one of my initial flavour guesses, but that alone can't account for how scrumptious the soul burger was as a whole. I wish I never had that burger... What am I supposed to do when I get a craving? The South Main of Memphis, Tennessee is a hell of a long way from the wilds of Canada.
Located in the Graceland complex, it's a full-line restaurant. One of three eating places in the complex.
Favorite Dish: Full breakfast, and full range menu. It looked great, but we were headed towards the Airplane display and found the 50's diner (limited menu) and ate there.
It's a bar with an Irish flavor, playing Blues! It's all American. The place has two sides. There is the inside, out of the weather, when it's rainy or cold. (I don't think it gets cold in Memphis. September and the mid- 90's!). The larger half is an outside court, behind a false front, historic facade. It's here that the Irish Diving Goats are located. Yes, real goats, no real diving.
Favorite Dish: We had drinks and listened to the house band. Drinks were $3-$6. They list a full menu of BBQ, oysters and sandwiches.
Don't let the picture of the World Wrestling Entertainment 'guest' on the outside fool you. It's really an English Teashop. Smaller tables, with everything you'd expect for an English Tea. Well, they're only open until 2 p.m. It's a lunch place, not a traditional tea shop kind of time, which would be closer to 5 or 6 p.m.
Favorite Dish: They have a variety of sandwiches. On what appears to be homemade bread. There are a variety of salads and soups. Yes, Egg Salad and tuna salad were available. We had a pleasant quiet lunch and closed the place that afternoon.
Located on 2nd Street, just north and west of the Peabody Hotel. Once you step inside, you know you're not in the south anymore. Wild animal heads adorn one wall and a full bar the other. In between are two rows of tables, just waiting to serve you. The atmosphere is reminiscent of remote Canadian eateries. Even the staff has the warm friendly attitude you find north of the border. Note: we've lived just south of the Canadian Border for 5-years and my family immigrated to the U.S. from Canada. Bias? Don't see how I would be! We had a great time.
Favorite Dish: Top experience is a S'more! If you've never had one, finding it at a restaurant is unbelievable. It's a campfire event, which isn't quite the same, using microwaves, but we didn't. We topped our meal with S'more for six. 1) heat a marshmallow on a stick over an open flame. 2) place a piece of milk chocolate on the marshmallow as 3) you smash it between two graham crackers. Remove the stick and eat. Don't as how they achieved all this at our table, but they did and we all had a great time.
If you're up to the challenge, they have a 6-pound hamburger. The next table ordered one and split it amongst a group of teenagers in for a birthday or some other celebration. If you're willing to eat it by yourself, within 1-hour, it can be free. --Call ahead--
OH MY GOSH. This place makes snowcones that are the envy of the world. Locals love it. You will, too.
Favorite Dish: My favorite snowcone so far is the John Deere snow cone. Make sure you ask for the kind with ice cream on them. They're the best.
The Bar-b-Que Shop came highly recommended by a group of locals we met at the local brewpub, Bosco's. There was much debate about the town's best with this, Central BBQ, and Payne's being tauted highest. We only had about 18 hours and we'd already “wasted” one meal at Corky's BBQ according to our local acquaintances. We had to make some choices. Central BBQ sounded too white bread for us, some called it yuppie Q and Payne's, while sounding like what I was seeking, was not in the best neighborhood for that evening's dinner. So, the Bar-b-Que Shop got the call. It looked like a local's joint from the outside and the interior was in need of some polish and a few 100 watt light bulbs but I figured if the place looks like this and gets such raves, it must be good. The waiter was about as friendly and efficient as you could ask for. At first, his many “yes, sirs,” “you're welcome, sirs,” and “would you like anything else, sirs” seemed a bit contrite and reminiscent of a time before slavery was abolished in the South, but it soon became apparent that he was just THAT good mannered.
Favorite Dish: We had had pulled pork sandwiches for lunch so it was time for ribs. Two very good size plates were delivered promptly with sides of tasty baked beans, homemade coleslaw, and Texas Toast. The ribs were juicy and falling off the bones but keeping form just the same. The sauce known as Dancing Pigs is produced by the restaurant and available extensively in the area and was a great blend of sweet, tangy and damn tasty. The slaw and beans were both equally good and though I thought Texas Toast sounded weird it went with with the ribs and doubled as a napkin in keeping the fingers on your fingers to a minimum! After all the beer we had consumed at the brewpub, we opted for some sweet tea. This is a down south institution and very addictive. It's just home brewed tea, sweetened lightly before chilling but it goes down all too easily. Refills were quick, plentiful and free. The bill including a sizeable tip (hey, the service was excellent) came to $35 so very reasonable for ribs.
Going to brewpubs is one of my favorite things to do. I like to try local beers and no better place to do this than at the source. Bosco's had been on my radar for a few years ever since I learned that they brewed an esoteric beer style called Steinbier and was later cemented when I found out that they also had cask beer, a different one each weekday. The brewpub is a modern affair and a bit more upscale than I normally like but my fears were allayed when we were warmly greeted by locals who were inquisitive without being obtrusive. One was even so kind as to give me the cellar man award which allowed me to not only tap that evening's cask but also entitled me to the first glass poured for free!
Favorite Dish: We did not eat at Bosco's for two reasons. I normally love to eat with my beer tastings, it gives a better impression of the beer and serves to cleanse my palate between styles. But we were in Memphis for less than 24 hours and it being noted as the home to BBQ I couldn't “waste” a meal on brewpub fare, especially when it was a bit pricey. Ironically, the locals we met told us that while the pub did have too food, it was not the place to eat if you were in town for only one night. They were happy to suggest a number of BBQ joints which we put to good use after our beer tastings. First up was their “Famous Flaming Stone” which was based on an old German style called Steinbier. A stone is heated up and placed in the wort (early pre-alcoholic stage of beer) thus bringing it to a boil and imparting a smoky flavor to it. I had one in Bavaria a few years back that was marvelous and reported to be the last of the breed at the time. It has sadly since gone out of production. The Bosco's version was deep golden with thin head and bisquity palate. Hops were at a minimum but managed a fairly dry finish. It was more akin to a German Helles than a Steinbier and lacked an appreciable smoke flavor. The Midtown Brown had a bit more meat to it. Deep amber with a rocky head and malty nose, it had a nutty roasty palate and a dry bitter finish. Ironically, the Isle of Sky Scottish Ale had the smokiest flavor of the beers sampled. The deep amber brew arrived with a huge rocky head and malty nose and finished dry and bitter, unusual for the style. The piece de resistance was the cask offering, a Dry Stout. This dark ruddy brown brew was unfiltered with a thin head. Low in carbonation, which befits a cask ale, that dry roast palate went sweet before finishing a bittersweet and dry. Bosco's conveniently has two sized glasses of 10 ounces ($3.25) and 15 ($4.50) so you can try all the beers on tap without imbibing too much. As the cellar man, I got a nice 10 ounce logo glass filled with the Stout for free.
Dropped by here for a late dinner after a Grizzlies/Celtics game at the FedEx Forum. Located right on Beale Street. The service was really lacking and we had to wait forever for our meal, probably close to an hour. I will give them this: it was great food when we got it.
Favorite Dish: We order the Rusty Rooster, which was chicken and waffles. My husband ate most of the waffles and I ate most of the fried chicken and it was fantastic. Talk about great comfort food.
The Big Foot Lodge is a pretty good restaurant. I had the prime rib dinner and it was very good. They also have appetizers-soups & salads-sandwiches-main course's & dessert's. They have a burger called the (Sasquatch Burger), it's a four pound hamburger. If you can eat it with all of the fixings in 60 minutes it's free, but if you can't it will cost you $21.95.
Favorite Dish: Prime Rib
This place has (shrimp-crab-oysters-catfish & more). They have kid's menu's-fish tacos-burgers & you can get to go orders also. The food is pretty good and you don't have to dress up. That's what i like about Memphis. The fish on top moves back and forth.
Favorite Dish: catfish-shrimp & banana pudding
Great bbq and cheap. The plates are your best deal, especially if you order a sandwich plate. A regular plate comes with meat, bread, and 2 sides. A sandwich plate comes with meat, bread, slaw, and two sides.
Favorite Dish: Pork Sandwich plate