Owners Sunny and Hamida Mandani opened City Market downtown on Main Street in 2010, expanding to a second location in Cooper-Young in 2015. I don’t know if they are planning to make City Market an empire, but I think they should, because every neighborhood should have a spot like this. You can stop in to grab some grocery staples without circling a giant parking lot or fighting the crowds. It’s an easy stop for milk, yogurt, produce basics, snacks or cereal — or an emergency Sriracha run. There’s a selection of locally made goods, like Ugly Mug coffee, Nicki’s Hot Chips and honey, plus prepared foods ready to go, like guacamole and salsa from Las Delicias, and even Pancho’s cheese dip, which I would classify as a staple.
Beyond the quick hit for pantry staples, City Market is also a great place to grab a sandwich, salad or juice. I particularly like City Market’s version of the Monte Cristo, which features salami, ham and cheese on grilled toast sprinkled with powdered sugar. It’s a deliciously hearty and satisfying sandwich and the salami adds an interesting touch.
For something less meat-centric, I recommend the Trolley Special. Rosemary potato bread is stuffed with slivered sun-dried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes, basil leaves and melty mozzarella and pressed panini-style. Sandwiches are served with a handful of chips and a crisp pickle. The salads are beautifully fresh and creative, and I have a friend who cannot quit raving about the house citrus vinaigrette. The Asian salad is loaded with chicken, cabbage, rice noodles, citrus segments and a spicy peanut dressing. The Green Goat is a classic spinach salad tossed with goat cheese, red onions, cranberries, walnuts, apples and balsamic vinaigrette (though said friend says try it with the citrus dressing).
City Market is a quick and easy place to meet a friend or to grab a to-go lunch or dinner. On my last visit to the Cooper-Young location, I sat quietly with a sandwich for a midday break, then knocked a few things off my to-do list, picking up some spinach, an apple, an onion and goat cheese to make a salad for dinner. Two meals done in one stop. And yes, I’ll own up, I also grabbed a creamy, sweet lemon bar for dessert, which made for a deliciously indulgent treat.
While perusing the sandwich and salad menu, don’t overlook the curry bowl, a house specialty, which provides an interesting contrast. The chicken tikka bowl is a bed of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers nesting well-spiced chicken tikka with a nice drizzle of yogurt dressing. There are spicy beef rogan josht and shrimp versions as well, and you can order the bowl or a wrap — or a naan sandwich.
City Market also offers breakfast, which on weekdays includes freshly cooked, filled biscuits and wraps. On the weekends, a brunch menu includes pancakes, waffles and omelets. I sometimes stop at the Main Street locale on my way home from the downtown farmers market on Saturday mornings, when I need to grab a lemon or some milk or other staple to go with my fresh market haul. I can never resist a chicken biscuit, so I usually pick one up to go. The juice and smoothie menu (available all day) is packed with fresh options from the Immunity Boost, loaded with pineapple, orange, apple, lemon, cilantro and kale to the carrot, tomato, kale and onion Veggie Monster. The Indian-style mango lassi, a blend of mango and yogurt, is refreshing as a smoothie, particularly as an accompaniment to a curry bowl or wrap.
I’m lucky to live close to a City Market, and every time I stop in for essential groceries and a good lunch or take-away, I run into someone I know. A neighborhood market like this is a boon for everyone.
City Market locations:
Downtown: 66 S. Main St., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 729-6152
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Cooper-Young: 836 S. Cooper St., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 552-4890
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.