There is no denying that Memphis has become a food destination. Every day, talented chefs are bringing delicious and creative food to the Bluff City. Local chefs are opening new spots, institutions are getting a makeover, and a few unexpected spots are also elevating the cocktail scene. Since the start of the year, 10 new restaurants and bars have opened, and we’ve got the skinny on them for you. From downtown to out east, here’s a roundup of new Memphis restaurants — and a couple of fabulous watering holes you will want to check out at happy hour!
251 Riverside Dr., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 524-0817
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to sundown
Located on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi River at Beale Street Landing, The Front Porch is the perfect spot to watch a beautiful Memphis sunset. Opened in June by Patrick and Deni Reilly of The Majestic Grille, The Front Porch offers what Patrick describes as “laid-back front-porch fare.” The menu includes tasty sandwiches and salads for lunch or a light supper, as well as shareable appetizers and cocktails, perfect for watching the sun go down with friends. On weekends, they have live music out on the covered patio. “I can’t tell you just how magical it is being down there listening to great Memphis music, sipping a cocktail and watching the river roll by. It is something you can’t get anywhere else,” says Deni.
77 South Front St., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 522-4824
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to midnight; Closed Sunday
Front Street Deli is the oldest new deli in Memphis! Established in 1976, this popular downtown sandwich shop became famous after scenes from The Firm were filmed there in 1993. Re-opened in May by new owners, Front Street Deli has been remodeled and cleaned up from the kitchen to the menu. “All our sandwiches are named after Tom Cruise movies and our salads after his ex-wives,” jokes owner John Hodge. On a recent visit, we thought The Tropic Thunder sandwich rivaled any Italian hoagie we have ever tasted. Loaded with Genoa salami, ham, capicola, provolone and their house-made Italian dressing, this sammie hits the spot!
124 G.E. Patterson Ave., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 591-8000
Hours: Open daily, 11 a.m. until late night
Located in an old bank building on G.E. Patterson in the South Main District, The Vault is a gem of a restaurant and bar serving up elevated American fare with a New Orleans influence. “The menu shows my signature way of cooking. Soulful food that is not expensive,” explains Chef Aaron Winters. The restaurant has a large downstairs dining room and bar — both offering the perfect view of the stage for when live music is on tap. Upstairs is another bar and dining area, plus a lounge with couch seating. And, off the upstairs dining room, there’s a great little patio if you want to dine al fresco on one of Memphis’ pretty summer nights.
1350 Concourse Ave., Ste. 137, Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 203-3838
Hours: Open daily, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Mama Gaia opened in April in the Crosstown Concourse. The first restaurant to open in this renovated landmark, Mama Gaia is a one-of-a-kind dining concept dedicated to making real, organic vegetarian food accessible to everyone. The dishes, which include quinoa bowls, salads, soups, stuffed pitas and more, are handmade to order using all-organic ingredients. Owners Philipp and Cru Von Holtzendorff-Fehling are creating vegetarian fare that is fresh, nutritious and oh-so-delicious. We just love the name and flavors of the Diva Pita — a pita stuffed with antipasti (roasted and thinly sliced veggies like zucchini, eggplant and colorful bell peppers), arugula, mozzarella, Parmesan, pesto and fresh basil.
247 Cooper St., Memphis, TN 38104
Hours: Thursday and Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
If you love ramen, then this is your new place to go for the real deal! What started as a Sunday night pop-up restaurant at The Cove on Broad Street, Lucky Cat is now serving up their creative versions of this signature Japanese dish every Thursday through Sunday at the corner of Cooper and Peabody in Midtown Memphis while they wait for their permanent location in Crosstown Concourse to be ready later this fall. Owners Zach Nicholson and Sarah Pardee offer several ramen bowls, as well as vegetarian and pork buns at this space that used to be the bar of Café 1912.
2158 Central Ave., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 231-5043
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to close; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to close; Closed Monday
Since it opened this past spring, Railgarten has quickly become Midtown’s favorite playground. This eclectic spot — with hammocks, picnics, live music, ping pong, ice cream, al fresco dining, tiki drinks, sand volleyball and a funky diner — is fun for all ages. The name and gritty vibe are an homage to the Lenox railway station that once stood on this spot, and the train tracks that run along the back of the property that are still in use to this day. Don’t overlook the diner in the first building. They serve up elevated diner fare that is just downright tasty. We loved the chicken sandwich, a kale kimchi slaw atop a perfectly crispy chicken thigh. And the BLT, made with pork belly and heirloom tomatoes, was to die for. SB TIP: Save room for a milkshake or scoop from their ice cream shop!
4339 Park Ave., Memphis, TN 38117 • (901) 761-5250
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Monday
Park + Cherry, the café at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, is another popular restaurant under new management. Kristi and Kevin Bush of CFY Catering have taken over the kitchen at this East Memphis museum café. Having catered dozens of successful events at the Dixon, this husband-and-wife team now has a permanent base from which to share their inspired flavors. The perfect lunch spot, their revised menu offers salads, sandwiches, soups, quiches and tasty desserts, as well as coffee drinks and a range of other beverages.
7700 US-64, Oakland, TN 38060 • (901) 235-7300
Hours: Lunch is served Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dinner is served Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch is served Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tucked away in a nondescript strip mall in Oakland, this family-owned restaurant is a hidden gem. Raven & Lily is the creation of Chef Justin Young and his wife, Amy. This talented chef worked for many years under Erling Jensen at both La Tourelle and at Erling Jensen’s before opening his own establishment near their home. “We are a modern Southern eatery,” Justin says when asked about his menu. Justin’s version of shrimp and grits with spiced andouille and onion butter is worth the drive, as is the over-the-top RL Burger topped with fried green tomatoes, caramelized onions, house-cured bacon and a fried egg.
305 South Front St., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 260-1250
Hours: Monday and Wednesday, noon to 4 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Closed Tuesday
A blast from the past has landed in downtown Memphis! Back in the 1880s, Domenico Canale, founder of the D. Canale Company, started the D. Canale line of whiskey and spirits in downtown Memphis. Eventually, prohibition forced him to shut down this line of business. About four years ago, Domenico’s great-great-grandsons, Chris Canale Jr. and Alex Canale, decided to bring his “Old Dominick” line of spirits back to life. While their Tennessee whiskey is currently aging, on the shelves today you can find two types of vodka and their signature Memphis Toddy. Stop by the distillery for a tour and a tasting of their vodkas, Memphis Toddy and un-aged whiskey.
24 Cooper St., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 722-2244
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. until last call
Memphis’ secret bar is no longer a secret! Tucked away upstairs at Bari Ristorante in Overton Square is a 12-seat speakeasy lounge. Dodici, which translates to the number 12 in Italian, is an intimate lounge where bartender — or more appropriately, mixologist — Vincent Hale serves up artisan cocktails that will have you ordering a second.
Now, head out to enjoy some of these new culinary kids on the block!
JANUARY 2017: 10 New Memphis Restaurants You’ll Want to Visit!
By Sally Walker Davies
It’s a new year, and Memphis is keeping up its reputation as a foodie destination, with a delicious smörgåsbord of restaurant openings! There’s a reason we used the term smörgåsbord, too – and not just to be clever. Read on to get the latest scoop on the always expanding, always exciting Memphis dining scene!
148 N. Main St., Collierville, TN 38107 • (901) 610-3094
Hours: Lunch — Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dinner —Wednesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The cavernous space makes for a festive atmosphere at 148 North, which is simply decorated, featuring muted colors and huge windows that bring in plenty of natural light to this former post office and newspaper building just off the town square. Chef Brian Thurmond worked under Kelly English at Restaurant Iris and struck out on his own with English’s blessing, opening the French-meets-comfort food spot in a town that’s in desperate need of more original eateries.
120 Mulberry St., Collierville, TN 38017
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
We’ve been patient and can report that finally, FINALLY, Mac Edwards’ Collierville outpost, Pharm2Fork, is open on the Square. The space once housed Brooks Pharmacy, hence the Pharm. The menu will echo that of his Midtown Memphis restaurant The Farmer, featuring elevated meat-and-three options made with locally sourced ingredients.
272 S. Main St., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 254-8600
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Since we last visited over a glass of wine, the latest eatery by the dynamic duo of Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman opened. Catherine & Mary’s is in the lobby of the historic Chisca building and has quickly become a downtown go-to for fine Italian and its lively bar. Catherine & Mary’s is an homage to their grandmothers, Catherine Chiozza and Mary Spinosa, and focuses on grandmotherly cooking with Tuscan and Sicilian flavors and traditions.
94 S. Front St., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 590-3360
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cafe 7/24 is a family affair, with Goodsons all over the place. Dad Charles, a retired firefighter, is the man with the cooking experience, and the rest of the family, including his children, all have a role in the restaurant. The focus of 7/24 is Southern specialties, and Charles’ catfish and fried chicken plates are too good to be missed.
5101 Sanderlin Center, Memphis, TN 38117 • (901) 425-2378
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Cosmic Coconut has re-imagined itself into City Silo, expanding its offerings to include something for everyone, whether you’re following the Whole30 or eating Paleo. The restaurant’s menu is still under wraps as of this writing, but focuses on clean eating, organic ingredients and using local producers whenever possible. There’s a 10-foot farm table in the renovated space that’s meant to encourage meetings and lingering, or if you’re in a hurry, grab a ready-to-go meal from the cooler.
431 S. Highland St. Memphis, TN 38111 • (901) 249-3533
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The city’s latest steakhouse opened on the Highland Strip to great (and worthy, in our opinion) praise. Char’s traditional steakhouse approach is a little more Southern in spirit, with plenty of shout-outs to traditional Southern cooking peppered throughout the menu, including fried green tomatoes, a selection of Gulf oysters and bread pudding. The bar at Char is a gorgeous and sleek space, with a piano dead-center for festive sing-alongs, while the main dining room is more sparse in its decor. Jacketed waiters are assigned in multiples to each table, so you’ll never wait for a refill on anything.
7900 Ikea Way, Memphis, TN 38016 (888) 888-4532
Restaurant hours: Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
IKEA’s massive bistro seats 250 people and serves up a variety of Swedish and American foods, plus what just might be the best breakfast deal in the city, a $2 brekkie that includes Swedish pancakes, eggs, sausage and potatoes. Score! The cafeteria-style bistro is a marvel of sleek, modern design and is a delicious way to pace yourself during a visit to the home retailer.
1433 Union Ave., Memphis, TN 38117 • (901) 901-454-3926
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, the bar stays open till 3 a.m. on weekends
The new year brought one of the city’s most-anticipated restaurant openings, and not just for the cuisine. Izakaya’s location in the beautifully refurbished Nineteenth Century Club building on Union Avenue was a dream come true for preservationists and foodies alike. With extensive sushi menu, plus exotic specialties including wagyu beef, sea urchin and more, Izakaya brings modern cuisine into a lush setting that is simply unmatched in the region. The lounge is another treat to behold, both for the extensive cocktail list and the lush surroundings.
2285 S. Germantown Road, Germantown, TN 38138 • (901) 754-5555
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 4:45 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4:45 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Southern Social nestles up to the old Southern Railway’s historic depot in Germantown, serving up Southern specialties in the space formerly known as Elfo’s. With offerings that include Southern charcuterie, fried pimento cheese sandwiches, deviled eggs and fried oysters, the menu is decidedly Southern, and the atmosphere is country club-elegant. A fantastic bar area is full of bourbons, whiskeys and fine wines to peruse before or after dinner.
4715 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38117 • (901) 529-7438
Hours: Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The second location of the popular salad and wrap spot is on the south side of Poplar between little Perkins and Colonial, and east Memphians couldn’t be more thrilled that the fresh chopped salads, wraps and friendly employees are now in their neck of the woods.
We can’t wait to see what Tsunami‘s Ben Smith does now that he owns the entire building that’s been home to his fab restaurant for almost two decades. Ben has blogged about his purchase decision, and writes “it is a renewed challenge to myself to dig deeper into my creativity and ride this wave to the next level.”
The first change is extended hours. Tsunami is now open Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. More to come, we are sure!
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