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44 14

UP FRONT 10 I N T H E B E G I N N I N G ~ b y a n n a t r a v e r s e f o g l e 12 C I T Y B E A T ~ p h o t o g r a p h b y k a r e n p u l f e r f o c h t 14 P A G E S ~ b y j e s s e d a v i s 16 T I D B I T S ~ b y s a m u e l x . c i c c i 18 C L A S S I C D I N I N G ~ b y m i c h a e l d o n a h u e FEATURES 20 Local Eats: A to Z


An alphabetical celebration of the Memphis dining scene, plus winners of our annual Readers’ Restaurant Poll.




Kitchen Addiction

Inside the lair of The Chubby Vegetarian. ~

by c h r i s m c c oy

36 The Remarkable Life of Beebe Steven Lynk

How a local pioneer challenged Victorian notions and paved her own way in the fields of medicine and education. ~ b y a l e x g r e e n e



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53 Memphis (ISSN 1622-820x) is published monthly for $18 per year by Contemporary Media, Inc., P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101 © 2021. Telephone: 901-521-9000. For subscription info, please call 901-521-9000. Subscription customer service mailing address is Memphis magazine, P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101. All rights reserved. • Periodicals Postage Paid at Memphis, TN. Postmasters: send address changes to Memphis, P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101.



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Like massaging a poem into a demandingly out. (We weren’t alone. Helen Rosner nails specific form, and finding that the sonnet or pandemic kitchen burnout in her essay, “The sestina grants your idea more incisive, loveli- Joylessness of Cooking,” published in The New er expression, cooking in those early days felt Yorker this past November. “I am so bored,” like a discovery of restraint’s benefits: How she writes. “I am so tired. In theory, I love to cook. But I am so, so sick of cooking.”) can I coax maximum flavor out of whatever’s kicking around in the produce bin? How long We finally broke our home-cooking streak will our flour supply hold out? I baked bread with carry-out from Pho Binh. We have some (and wrote about it in this magazine); stir-fry skills, but their lemongrass tofu puts our home attempts to shame. I baked tarts with backyard figs After that, we branched out to and hazelnut crusts; I baked chocolate-chip cookies to other favorite spots, focusmelt our brittle edges. ing on the neighborhood We experimented with restaurants that we most new recipes, rehashed want to support, come what may. Each week old favorites, riffed and now, I write “takeout” improvised and generally created night afon the blackboard for at ter night of meals that least one night’s dinner provided comfort, pleaplan. Something to look sure, and balance. A few forward to. We all need a little somemonths into the pandemic, Fig Tart we started to think it might thing to look forward to, don’t be nice to take a break from the you find? Even in these short, dark days of late winter, the holistove now and then — but on the other hand, we were setting some crazy per- days finished and the soil still cold, there’s sonal records as the days and weeks ticked pleasure to be found in food — not just in by, and we doggedly stayed in the kitchen. the eating, but in the planning, the cooking, In pre-pandemic times, we were the sort the sourcing, and especially in the sharing. of people who visited the grocery store, like, That’s not frivolous; it’s fundamental. a lot. We told ourselves this was because we This food-centric issue includes some took a “European approach” to food shopping. familiar ingredients, and other new tastes. It would also be fair to say that we were dis- You’ll find the results of our annual Readers’ Restaurant Poll. We’re also excited to share organized. Now, we’ve hung a blackboard on our first-ever A-Z selection of quintessentialour kitchen wall, and each week we make a menu, then provision accordingly. Some days ly “Memphis eats.” Further on, it’s nothing to I find freedom in the planning: fewer daily do with food, but you’ll find that our annual CEOs of the Year all have more in common decisions! Other days, I resent the version of this year than any other: Each runs an area myself who stood there on Saturday morning and felt that an elaborate baked pasta could hospital, with all that has entailed over the possibly be the right idea for a weary Thurs- past 11 months. day evening. Our hope in producing this month’s Cooking has yielded opportunities for magazine is that it will inspire you to find improvisation; baking is closer to guided pleasure in food, and especially in local meditation. After 150 consecutive nights food. Whether you’re cooking for a family (mid-March to mid-August) on which my of one or ten, whether there’s money in the budget for carryout or not, feeding yourself husband and I cooked every morsel of food our family consumed — no carry-out, no and your people nourishes more than the delivery, no packaged meals, just all home body. It makes everything just a little bit betcooking, all the time — we were both burned ter. But let’s not call that a silver lining.



et’s not call this a silver lining, but the pandemic has made me a better cook, and I’m not alone. My family, like so many others, started the lockdown experience by stocking up on pantry staples: If everything went to hell, we would be able to subsist for a month or two on grains, frozen vegetables, and beans, dried and canned. Those were raw, scary days, but alongside the stress and strangeness was the small, significant puzzle of working out what we would eat.

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EARNESTINE & HAZEL’S, JULY 2020. Ragged but right: the ethos of Earnestine & Hazel’s, and of the city where it stands. The storied dive bar on South Main — like the city of Memphis — never set out to be “on trend.” Unapologetically authentic is more like it. Around here, peeling paint and grit aren’t problems: they’re hallmarks. It may be ragged, but it’s right. The bar and the city celebrate the humble and the time-tested, like



cold beer and barbecue. Both stay off the beaten path, but those who seek them out find medicine in their magic. And their magic is in the people who fill them. Earnestine & Hazel’s may have a new owner soon. Current bar owners announced in November they were selling the bar and the building for personal reasons. The deadline to submit offers was midJanuary, and the listing price was $975,000. — Toby Sells

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From Wakanda with Love Three Memphis authors make their Marvel mark in the Jesse J. Holland-led Black Panther anthology. BY JESSE DAVIS


’ C h a ll a , king of the fictional Afrofuturist nation of Wakanda, and, as the Black Panther, its superpowered protector, debuted in Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four No. 52 in July 1966. Since then, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s creation has become one of the most famous and influential Black characters, in comics or in any medium. In the pages of Marvel comic books, Black Panther has joined the Avengers and the Illuminati, safely wielded the Infinity Gauntlet (yes, that Infinity Gauntlet), and protected Wakanda from enemies both foreign and domestic. Ostensibly a minor character in his cinematic debut, T’Challa, played with poise by the late Chadwick Boseman, stole the show in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, imbuing his every scene with kingly gravitas. That was before Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther standalone wowed audiences and shattered box office records, making Black Panther a household name. Now the protector of Wakanda is getting his own prose anthology, Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda (Titan Books), due March 3rd. And what’s more, the collection, edited by Memphis-born journalist and historian Jesse J. Holland, will feature a short story by Holland as well as stories by three other Bluff City-based writers. Memphians all, poet/editor/author Sheree Renée Thomas, teacher/author/hip-hop artist Danian Darrell Jerry, and FIYAH publisher and writer/essayist Troy L. Wiggins are all featured in the anthology, alongside big names like Nikki Giovanni, Tananarive Due, and Cadwell Turnbull.



fter the coronavirus pandemic effectively canceled comic book franchise films for all of 2020, moviegoers might not be feeling the symptoms of “superhero fatigue.” That said, for anyone with lingering doubts about the potential intellectual credibility of comic book characters, a conversation with author Troy L. Wiggins is the cure. Publisher of the FIYAH magazine of Black speculative fiction and author of the essay “Let’s Talk About Afrofuturism” for Apex magazine, Wiggins may be the Memphis man best qualified to explore the cultural implications of pop franchises. “My story examines some of the stuff we’ve been dealing with in this country and on this planet for years,” Wiggins explains. “Some of the xenophobic systems that we have in place in the country and some of the racist ideas that people in this country and other countries have about Black people and about Africans. It also looks really specifically at domestic terrorism.” The Memphis-based writer is a veteran of other anthologies, such as the much-laud-

ed Memphis Noir compilation, and every indication is that his take on T’Challa will show Wiggins in the best light, firing on all cylinders and operating in familiar territory. “It’s kind of a noir story. Not on-the-nose noir, but very much inspired by detective fiction,” Wiggins continues. “I like taking something established, like comic books or super heroes, and applying a different lens or a different set of ideas to it. “You have so many opportunities to subvert convention,” Wiggins says, referencing the detective fiction of Walter Mosely as an inspiration. “In the universe that Marvel allowed us to play in, people have advanced technology, people can fly, they can shoot laser beams out of their eyes and throw tanks. It becomes an opportunity for a writer to buck convention and buck expectations for readers.” Wiggins points out that in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, blending of genres — and the subverting of those genres’ baked-in expectations — has become the norm. What happens, for example, when, as in Winter Soldier, you put the incorruptible Captain America in a spy movie, a genre whose hallmark is that even the most upright of protagonists aren’t really “good” guys? “You get to play around with some of the awesome parts of those conventions, but you get to give it that technicolor veneer that superhero comics have. It can be as serious, but not as depressing. The folks who are doing this stuff are wearing tights, not kevlar, you know?” When asked about balancing expectations with ambition, and walking the fine line of social commentary while writing for an established character, Wiggins says his biggest fears are simply slipping up and forgetting comic book continuity. “For me personally, in my growth as a writer, I’ve gone from really wanting people to understand my position, and use that understanding to make that journey through my work, to just wanting to tell ’em a story. If you get it or like it or agree with it, that’s cool. If you don’t like it or don’t get it, that’s cool, too.” But in the universe of speculative fiction, in that technicolor world of pop culture, “there’s a different kind of pressure,” Wiggins says. “I’m sure anybody writing Star Wars books would tell you this, but there’s the pressure of fandom. “Politics can’t be separated from fiction. Sometimes the message can be as banal as making the protagonist a woman or a queer person. You have to deal with those things, but also, these worlds you’re working in come with an established lore, come with an established cannon. As a comic book fan and aficionado and reader, I’m more worried about that.” And Wiggins is a bona fide comic book fan. “I’m a big fan of Christopher Priest’s Black Panther run, the ’98 run. It’s one of the classic Black Panther runs,” Wiggins says. “I actually took a couple years off of reading comics be-

“In the universe that Marvel allowed us to play in, people have advanced technology, people can fly, they can shoot laser beams out of their eyes and throw tanks.” — Troy L. Wiggins



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cause I was trying to be a ‘serious artist.’ And that was dumb. Comics are great.” The avid reader also mentions a genre-spanning selection of graphic fiction, including science-fiction and fantasy comics like The Wicked and the Divine, Saga, and Victor LaValle’s Destroyer. “They tell stories that are not superhero-based at all but are stories about people, magic, and belonging, and that stuff is really important to me.” Beyond Black Panther, Wiggins has had some other recent successes, including a story featured in the Tiny Nightmares anthology. “It’s actually a really Memphis story. These three kids experience a tragedy where one of them dies, and the story picks back up with them again when they’re adults.” Wiggins says that trying to capture the mythology that accompanied the feeling of goofing off down by the riverfront as a child, was important to him. He also wrote an essay about Barret Wallace for Imaginary Papers. “I just wanted to write about Barret. I have a lot of complicated feelings about him, being the first Black Final Fantasy character and appearing the way he did in that first game.” Still, success is an iceberg, with only the recognizable moments open for the public to see, while rejection letters, unfinished manuscripts, and hours upon hours of drafting and editing and rewriting make up the bulk of the berg below the water’s surface — and that’s in a “norma” year. “This year’s been a lot of trying to reset, trying not to get COVID, and working on longer-form stuff,” Wiggins tells me. He says it’s felt strange not to produce as many short stories or essays, but he decided it was best to focus on family, community, and “being a good literary citizen.” Still, being included in a forthcoming Marvel anthology is anything but small potatoes — nor is writing a novel, another task on which Wiggins recently embarked. “The pieces I’ve produced have been a victory,” Wiggins says, and when one of your victories is writing for Marvel, well, it’s okay to make time to enjoy that win. “This is a dream come true for me. I’ve always wanted to work for Marvel. I’ve read Marvel comic books since I was eight years old,” Wiggins says. “I want to go on record thanking Jesse Holland for making this opportunity for a bunch of Black writers to contribute to one of the most impactful Black characters in the history of pop culture.”



was like, ‘This is a dream that I wouldn’t have said aloud.’ I was thrilled. Can this year get any crazier?” says Memphis writer Sheree Renée Thomas, who is having something of a banner year. Her short story collection Nine Bar Blues (Third Man Books) was published in spring of 2020, and she was the first writer to be featured in the then-newly remodeled Pages space in this magazine. Since then, though, Thomas has contributed to the Slay vampire anthology, and she was named the new editor of the long-running Magazine of Fantasy and Science-Fiction. She will also be a special guest and co-host of the 2021 Hugo Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C., with Malka Older. So how did Thomas rack up so much success, seemingly overnight? “It’s a 20-plus year overnight success. I spent years quietly just working, publishing, of course, but not getting huge fanfare beyond the anthologies,” she says. “That’s how it is for everyone, but we focus on the exceptions. “Writing is a long game. You’ve got to be a long distance runner. It’s one thing my mentor [Memphis author] Arthur Flowers has always said,” she continues. “It may be a while before you’re published in something your family recognizes.” But if there’s a list of high-profile recognizable characters, Black Panther is indisputably on it. Though Thomas is a longtime reader of sci-fi and fantasy, she says she’s newer to the world of comics. “I wasn’t able to read comics regularly as a child. [It was], ‘Here’s your library card, go to the library.’” But, the author says, she is a fan of

the character. In fact, she dressed up in the garb of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s elite all-female guard corps, to attend the 2018 screening of Black Panther. Thomas even made it onto some news clips about the night. “They show me in my Wakanda outfit with a huge afro. I was ready for Wakanda,” Thomas says with a laugh. And anyone who’s read her work can attest that Thomas will be right at home in the Afrofuturism of Wakanda. (Thomas’ short story “The Dragon Can’t Dance,” included in Nine Bar Blues, for example, deftly balances technology and tradition, art and appropriation, mythology and music, familiar motifs to any devotee of Black Panther comics.) “When Chadwick Boseman passed, that was a big blow to everyone,” she continues. “I had to take a moment to kind of regroup from that. I think it had an effect on us. We were so hoping that he would be able to enjoy the book. So it put new passion into the writing to honor his amazing performance. He embodied the Black Panther.” Of course, writing for Marvel means digging into decades of history; the character of T’Challa debuted in 1966. “When I was writing my story I had to do a lot of research,” Thomas says. “You’re not using the Marvel Universe; you’re using the cannon. And of course, the new story threads that are being written out by Ta-Nehisi Coates and others.” Coates’ work on Black Panther was mentioned in several of the interviews for this piece, and his run stands as an excellent example of both the blending of seemingly disparate genres and the infusion of social commentary into superhero comic books. Every indication is that the forthcoming prose anthology will continue that trajectory. “For me, this is a dream that I never knew I had. I wasn’t able to purchase comics as a child but was able to sell them to others when I worked at Sandra Burke’s Gallery Three Five O on South Main Street when I was at Rhodes,” Thomas says. “Being a Marvel writer and appearing in a groundbreaking anthology with heroes like Nikki Giovanni and Tananarive Due among so many other great writers is just thrilling. I can’t wait for Memphis and the world to read these stories.”



’ve always been a big Marvel fan,” says Danian Darrell Jerry. “Not just Black Panther, but anything they’ve put out — X-Men, Spider-Man, Avengers, Doctor Strange. So this is a great opportunity for me to get in there and tap into some of the things I imagined as a child. It’s a little surreal, but it’s fun.” Jerry is a native Memphian with deep roots in the city’s creative scenes. He’s a hip-hop artist who works with the Iron Mic Coalition. “I’ve always been interested in reading and books and comics, but I’ve always been interested in the arts in general,” he says. What’s more, Jerry works here to help promote literacy — from childhood on to adulthood. He holds an MFA from the University of Memphis, where he now teaches composition and literature classes as an adjunct English instructor. “This last semester I got a chance to teach Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me in my lit classes,” he says. “[It was great] taking my literature class and adding a BIPOC focus and lens to it, examining hard questions on race relations in class, which was very productive.” As founder of Neighborhood Heroes, a community outreach program, Jerry has used comic books as a tool to foster an appreciation of reading. Now he’s writing some of those same characters. “We use comics and fantasy to promote literacy to kids, teaching kids how to read through comics,” Jerry says. “Last year, we threw an event at Mud Island, and it’s funny because we had ‘Black Panther’ come out and greet the kids and take pictures. We had cosplayers, and they loved it. Last year I was doing that, and this year I got the chance to actually write in the Black Panther book.”  F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 15

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Da Guilty Vegan

Dinner is in session at Memphis’ newest food truck. BY SAMUEL X. CICCI

Jail Bird Chickn Sandwich

Spicy Chili

Breakfast Burrito Bowl



t Da Guilty Vegan, owner Derek Richardson is judge and jury. And the verdict? Delicious on all charges. Richardson’s new venture vegan-izes traditional Southern recipes, providing an alternative to Memphis’ often meat-centric plates. Before planning his food truck, Richardson and his father, Willie, debated the best kind of menu. “I’ve been cooking my whole life, and my father came up with the idea that we should start a food truck,” says Richardson. “At first he wanted to do something like wings, but I said, ‘That’s not going to work.’” Having eaten vegan for the past four years, Richardson wanted to share some of his creations with his hometown. “Born and raised in Memphis,” he says. “Lived my whole life here, went to Central High School, even ran for city council twice. I love it here, and wanted my food truck to be in Memphis.” Along with adding to the local flavor, Richardson is keeping Da

Guilty Vegan a family affair; he and his father will be business partners, each bringing different skills to the truck. “He’s much more business-minded than I am,” laughs Richardson, “so all that will flow through him. He’ll be contacting suppliers, helping put the right people in the right places for the truck. I’ll be handling the menu, and coming up with recipes.”

When the food truck gets rolling, Da Guilty Vegan aims to make that supposed “guilt” a positive part of the dining experience. “Our recipes taste just like the real thing,” explains Richardson. “Someone will be eating our ‘chicken’ sandwich, and might feel guilty that they’re eating chicken. But guess what? They’re not. Everything on our menu is plant-based. “You know, when I think of vegan, sometimes I think of salads, just kind of pure boredom. There’s much more to it than that, and we want to show that through our cooking. Everyone who’s tried our food pre-opening has been impressed with what we’re doing.” But if diners have no interest in feeling “guilty,” there are other options. Richardson has split his menu up into two categories, “innocent” and “guilty.” The in-

nocent half includes lighter fare, like a club salad or buffalo tempeh salad, and several varieties of wraps. But it’s the guilty side where Richardson truly shines, whipping up plant-based alternatives to Southern classics. You’ve got the expected Impossible Burger, while the Jail Bird, a Southern fried crispy chickn sandwich, is set to be the truck’s specialty. Meanwhile, the Memphis BBQ Chickn and Nashville Hot Chickn (with creamy coleslaw ranch dressing and pickles) sandwiches allow for direct comparisons with our rival city’s preferred palate. Be on the lookout for seasonal specialties that mix things up. The Nashville Hot Brat was the first additional item to be added, but Richardson is very excited about his latest creation. “We’re cooking up something that’s very similar to the McRib Sandwich,” he says. “Growing up as a kid, I loved that sandwich, so we came up with a recipe to produce our own take on it.” Expect more comfort food specials in the future, too, like tacos, sloppy joes, or “other little things you might miss after going vegan.” Complementing Richardson’s guilty or innocent approach is Da Guilty Vegan’s clever logo, a take on Lady Justice. This approach sees the blindfold over just one of her eyes, and the scale she holds weighs a salad and a burger. “Our Lady Justice can see whether you’re guilty or innocent,’ says Richardson. “On the balance, we can see the salad weighs more than the burger, because once again, we’re all plantbased. And when people come up to the truck, we’ll ask them, ‘How do you plead?’ And then they can order from our guilty or innocent menu.” Richardson anticipates Da Guilty Vegan will open in late January. Diners should find the truck moving about the Cordova, Collierville, and Germantown areas. Memphians eager for a sneak peek of the food can scan a QR code on the truck’s Facebook and Instagram pages for more information. Social Media: @DaGuiltyVegan



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The Cupboard’s Chicken and Dressing

When Memphians think “comfort food,” quite a few of us gravitate toward The Cupboard’s chicken and dressing. BY MICHAEL DONAHUE


hicken and dressing is our most popular item on the menu,” says Charles Cavallo, who owns the restaurant with his sons, Jeremy and Andrew. They used to serve chicken and dressing only on Sundays and Thursdays. “They were our best days of the week three or four years ago,” he says, “but I started thinking, ‘If this is so popular, we should run this dish every day.’” What makes it so good? “It all starts with the basics,” says Cavallo. “We have some of the finest cornbread in the world. The base for the dressing is the cornbread.”

They also use the stock from the boiled chicken in the dressing as well as the giblet gravy that goes on top of the chicken. The Cupboard began serving chicken and dressing about two years after it opened in 1943, Cavallo says. “I saw some menus from that time. It dates back to that era.” The Cupboard also offers the cornbread dressing as a side item. The chicken and dressing has

some competition for favorite dish, including beef tips and noodles and the grilled or fried catfish, not to mention the vegetable plate. “Side dishes — I would say Italian spinach and our fried green tomatoes — are on the top of the vegetable dishes,” Cavallo says. “Fresh eggplant casserole is a top seller, and corn pudding. We have 20 different vegetables every day on the menu.” And don’t forget the “homegrown Ripley tomatoes” in the summer. Customers know they can enjoy vegetables just about any time they want at The Cupboard: “We do lunch and dinner every day, seven days a week.” Cavallo was in the produce business before he bought the restaurant in 1992. “The Cupboard was one of my first stops every morning.” At the time, the restaurant “was a very small operation,” he says. “Just 40 seats back then at 1495 Union. I noticed their business was always consistent. Other restaurants would have a real good month or slow month.” Cavallo says he really “had no intention” of buying a restaurant, but he thought if he ever did, it would be The Cupboard. “It so happened that dream came true.” The Cupboard is located at 1400 Union Ave.


Chicken and dressing has been an iconic dish on The Cupboard’s menu since the mid-1940s.

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efore you cook a meal, you need to source the best, freshest ingredients. And before you can tell a story, you need an alphabet, and then a lexicon. Any chef or writer would tell you it’s not just about picking favorites: It’s about finding balance in the whole dish, harmony in the completed story. In the pages that follow, we present an alphabet of ingredients, building blocks of Memphis flavor. These are the places that spell out the story of local food: the tables that still echo with childhood memories, the humble joints that can shift your perception of a cuisine with a single plate, the comfort of consistent dishes in tough times. In typical times — whatever those are — we devote a portion of our February dining issue to the top ten new restaurants in town. But no one needs us to point out that these are not typical times. Instead of highlighting the new and novel, we’ve chosen to pay tribute to the time-honored and trustworthy, the places that have sustained us through good, bad, and just plain weird times. These spots are the ones that stick with you; longtime haunts where childhood memories are made; a eureka meal, when one plate changed your whole perception of a certain type of cuisine; or a warm, comforting plate to turn to during tough times. In our “Memphis Eats A – Z” list, the editorial team of Memphis magazine discussed and voted on some of our go-to establishments, with one selection for every letter of the alphabet. Our selections run the gamut from drive-up stands to white-tablecloth affairs. They serve the plates of food that flash involuntarily into our minds when we’re hungry, or nostalgic. Each is worth multiple trips — just like the many others that we weren’t able to include — and more information on these establishments can be found in our City Dining Listings on page 72. If you want a snapshot of what Memphis cooks have to offer, read on for the places near and dear to our hearts. – Anna Traverse Fogle

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Alcenia’s B.J. Chester-Tamayo opened Alcenia’s in 1997, naming it for her mother, a frequent presence in the restaurant until her death a bit over a year ago. Alcenia taught B.J. to cook, and the result is one of the most popular soul food eateries in town, a place that’s normally a riot of color and warmth where customers are met with big hugs. The pandemic ended the hugs, and it only serves takeout now, but it’s still the classic goodness that lures folks plain and fancy. One visitor in 2008 was Guy Fieri, whose Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives TV show was a huge boost to Chester-Tamayo’s down-home reputation. – Jon W. Sparks ALCENIA’S BY MICHAEL DONAHUE

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Beauty Shop Since 2002, the Beauty Shop has been ultra-cool and cosmopolitan. Sculptor Wayne Edge’s astonishing bar and wormwood tables blend wittily with sublime art as well as the hair dryers, relics of the building’s previous life. But it’s the food that brings people back, beguiling concepts created by chef/owner/genius Karen Carrier’s singular approach. She’s a regular practitioner of reinvention and her culinary combinations are easy to swallow — pork chop and grilled peach, for example, or the filet mignon with maple-glazed bacon and frites, or a ribeye souvlaki salad — and you can start it off with grilled Japanese eggplant. Stylin’. – JWS


Erling Jensen




While Dino’s fills the “D” slot in our A-Z list, it really should be in the “F” slot. The F is not for a failing grade, but rather for the family feeling they provide with every meal. Their signature chicken Parmesan and stuffed jumbo shells are carefully made from family recipes that date back decades. On Thursdays, their “All You Can Eat Spaghetti” nights feel more like a family affair than a promotion. The dining room is always filled with college students, couples, or hungry Midtowners looking for a good place to eat. – Matthew J. Harris

( THE RESTAUR ANT ) There are plenty of fine-dining establishments in Memphis, but Erling Jensen sets the standard. You could start with fried buttermilk quail with stone-ground grits, pheasant sausage, and veal jus. And then perhaps the saffron crawfish bisque? For the main course, how about Guadalupe Mountain elk chop, stilton pommes purée, and apple braised red cabbage? Or maybe just the rack of lamb. You get the idea. Add a generous wine list, a recently expanded bar, and nonpareil service, then you have some of the finest dining anywhere. – JWS

Café Eclectic Sometimes, there’s a coffee drink that’s made just for you. In my case, that’s the Cinnful Jim, a cinnamony delight that perks you up with several kicks of espresso. As an undergraduate student at Rhodes College, many a day were spent loitering in the brightly lit Eclectic dining room on McLean, sipping on one of their many signature drinks, enjoying some fresh food, or listening to a student-led jazz music ensemble. The café almost acts like a Midtown hub (but there are other locations, too); if you venture in, you’re sure to meet a colleague, a friendly face, or an old companion from days past. – SXC


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PHOTOS: A: Alcenia’s owner B.J. ChesterTamayo; B: Beauty Shop owner Karen Carrier; C: Café Eclectic Midtown; D: Dino’s Grill; E: Erling Jensen. F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 21

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Global Café


The Four Way Nobody’s a real Memphian if they haven’t eaten at the Four Way. Opened in 1946 as a poolhall grill by Clint Cleaves, the chauffeur to political boss E.H. Crump, it’s one of our city’s oldest restaurants. Year after year, readers vote it the best soul food eatery in town, expanded over the years by the William Bates family, who still run it. A landmark of the Soulsville neighborhood, customers have included Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, and musicians from Stax, just down the street. This is the real thing. Here you’ll find neck bones and yams, pot roast, catfish, all kinds of vegetables, finished off with homemade cobbler. You won’t leave hungry; it’s just not possible. – Michael Finger

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I could wax poetic for days about Crosstown Concourse’s international food hall, which has made a permanent residence in my takeout rotation thanks to its free delivery. Chefs Fayha (Syria), Ibti (Sudan), and Maria (Venezuela) all whip up some of the best recipes they’ve brought from their home countries, while general manager Juan pours some very generous (and I mean generous) colorful cocktails. The social enterprise model instituted by owner Sabine Langer created a space for immigrants and refugees to share a bit of their food and culture with Memphis. It’s always a treat to see what new specials will pop up on Global Café’s menu. – SXC

If you’re looking for Memphis institutions, Huey’s is as sure a bet as any. Ask any Memphian where they go to get burgers, and Huey’s is always going to be in the conversation. The Boggs family’s restaurant has been running strong since 1970 with its “World-Famous Huey Burger,” but there are plenty of options to go round: a Southwestern twist with the Señor Huey, the barbecue-boosted Bluff City Burger, or the 10 percent vegan Beyond Burger. And any burger goes well with a side of Huey’s immensely popular sweet potato fries. – SXC


India Palace The only problem with India Palace is that it will spoil you for all other Indian restaurants. I was lucky to grow up a block and a half from their peach building at Poplar and Evergreen; their cooking has remained comfortingly consistent over the many years. We favor vegetarian specialties like palak paneer (rich spinach with cubed cheese), daal maharni (deeply spiced lentils), chana masala (chickpeas in a tangy tomatoey sludge), and baingan bharta (eggplant cooked down to smoky velvet). Flatbread (I reach for the whole-wheat tandoori roti) for dipping and sopping is not up for debate. My husband and I have ordered from India Palace on some of our best and worst nights: on our wedding night, and after a death in the family. I swear they can tell when we need a little care, throwing extra snacks or vegetables into our carry-out bag. Empathy can take the form of mango lassis and samosas, presented with kindness. – Anna Traverse Fogle


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Jerry’s Sno Cones If you somehow were not aware (phh), I am the dog who posed for a cover of this magazine (May 2019) while eating a rainbow snow cone from Jerry’s. I have had many good days, but that was one of the best — my tongue has never been so cold, or so colorful. Jerry’s is nirvana if nirvana were a year-round snow-cone stand that also serves snack-bar savory classics, and that sounds like my nirvana anyway. Like if a belly rub turned into a business. I hear Jerry’s is a Memphis institution with two locations and what the humans call “a retro vibe,” but what I know is that the people there kept replenishing my snow cone after I plunged my snoot into its chilly sweetness again and again, and my god, I wish my humans would do the same trick with my dinner each night. – Lily Bear Traverse


Kwik Chek Quick — to Kwik Chek! The unassuming little Madison Avenue convenience store-meetsdeli serves up Greek- and Mediterranean-style meals certain to satisfy. The bipimbap burger caused quite a stir on Memphis foodie social media feeds a few years ago — and with good reason. The wraps are edible rhapsodies. Kwik Chek’s shish kebabs are a perennial favorite in our house, and you’d be crazy not to crave their fried mandus or rice pudding. The turkey club makes for a laudable lunch as well. – Jesse Davis

Maciel’s Only a hop, skip, and a jump away from Memphis magazine headquarters, Maciel’s Tortas & Tacos saw many a staffer in the pre-covid times. The fast-casual restaurant offers all the handcrafted Mexican classics you could ever want. The tightly packed burritos offer a surprise with the inclusion of french fries, while the fried tacos pair a perfectly crunchy shell with delectable proteins (my recommendation? Try the spicy Tinga Tacos). And there’s plenty more for every return visit (since you will be back): fajitas, nachos, huaraches, quesadillas, postres, you name it. – SXC


The Little Tea Shop The Little Tea Shop is THE place to go Downtown for lunch for comfort food, including the Lacey Special (baked chicken and cornbread), and tantalizing turnip greens, which some customers make their complete lunch. The heart and soul of the restaurant, temporarily closed during the pandemic, is owner Suhair Lauck, who seemingly knows everybody in Memphis. She also is responsible for special menu items, including Moroccan chicken. The restaurant is the subject of a documentary, The Little Tea Shop, by Molly Wexler, who calls the restaurant the long-time “business person’s go-to place.” And, Wexler says, “Imagine the conversations they had there. If only the walls could talk.” – Michael Donahue


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PHOTOS: F: Four Way owner Patrice Bates Thompson; G: Global Café’s Chef Fayha; H (L-R): Ashley Boggs Robilio, Lauren McHugh Robinson, Alex Boggs, and Samantha Dean Boggs of Huey’s; J: Lily Bear at Jerry’s Sno Cones; K: Kwik Chek façade on Madison; L: Little Tea Shop owner Suhair Lauck; M: Fried tacos at Maciel’s Downtown. F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 23

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Owen Brennan’s


Napa Café Two words greet you as you enter Napa Café. Wine. Dine. They’re boldly emblazoned on the East Memphis restaurant’s sign, each on either side of the Napa Café logo. They perfectly and simply crystalize the essence of the restaurant, a neighborhood favorite on Sanderlin since 1998. Untold special occasions — anniversaries, birthdays, and first dates — have been celebrated at Napa Café. Maybe that’s because its dark wood and warm lighting pulse with effortless sophistication, elevating any night into a special one. Napa Café’s wine list has earned it numerous awards and accolades, making it a can’t-miss experience for oenophiles. For food, the watermelon salad (with avocado and cucumber tossed in a basil-mint dressing and feta) is a must. So is the beautifully plated, miso-marinated salmon with forbidden black rice. – Toby Sells

PHOTOS: N: Miso-marinated salmon at Napa Café; O: Owen Brennan’s interior; Q: Central BBQ mural and other restaurant facades; S: Sashimi at Sekisui; T: Tsunami owner Ben Smith. 24 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1

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If it’s crawfish etouffee or shrimp and grits, if it’s a Sazerac or an Abita Amber, if it absolutely has to be authentic New Orleans food, drink, and atmosphere and has to be in Memphis, it has to be Owen Brennan’s. For 30 years, the East Memphis restaurant has been where “‘Nawlins meets Memphis.” With its wide-open spaces, tall ceilings, and white tablecloths, Owen Brennan’s is easily reminiscent of some of New Orleans’ famed and storied dining halls, like Commander’s Palace. If you go, the bourbon beef brisket po’ boy and the gumbo are menu essentials. But don’t skimp on oysters done four ways. – TS


Pho Binh The lemongrass tofu at Pho Binh is the stuff of dreams and legend; when my family orders carryout, we ask for a whole extra order of the plump, bright, sour cubes for freezing. Pre-pandemic, the Vietnamese restaurant anchoring an unlovely strip of shops on Madison bustled with boisterous tables and with single folks reading novels and spooning steaming noodle soup, the pho of the name (pronounced “fuh”). The Pho Binh crew pivoted to the covid-19 era with a gracefully choreographed, safe carryout set-up. The restaurant temporarily closed starting in mid-December when the virus struck the family behind this family business. Of the nearly 750 people who responded to a recent Facebook status update, not a one mentioned lemongrass tofu: We all just want the kind, welcoming folks who prepare it to be okay. – ATF

Q ’Q

In my garage band days, when I would play outof-town concerts, I always made sure to seek out a local barbecue offering at mealtimes, often to raised eyebrows from my bandmates. “You’re from Memphis. Why bother with barbecue from anywhere else?” Fair question, and my answer was always the same: “Research.” After years of research, I can say without hesitation that there’s nothing else quite like Memphis ’q — ’nuff said. Barbecue is a culinary, cultural, and economic institution in Memphis. It’s where the sweet and heat meet (on the meat). It’s helped build generational wealth, pulled communities together, and drawn ’q-cooking competitors to Tom Lee Park from all over the world. Barbecue shops have been second homes for hungry Memphians, community hubs, and meeting places for the city’s movers, shakers, and music makers. “It’s just part of the culture of Memphis,” says Ron Payne. “Look at the essence of what barbecue is,” says The Barbecue Shop’s Eric Vernon.


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Ronnie Grisanti’s


A mural of Lucca on the wall at Ronnie Grisanti’s Italian Restaurant says it all. “That’s our hometown,” says owner Judd Grisanti. The restaurant is “a tribute to my grandfather, to my uncle, and to my dad. They paved the road for me.” The menu includes traditional Grisanti favorites, including stuffed ravioli and lasagna with Judd’s “little bit of new world” added to it. But it also features Judd’s creations. The restaurant is a mixture of traditional and modern decor. “I wanted something new and old,” he says. “In Italy, they have all these old buildings, but they have a little modern twist to them inside.” – MD

Tsunami chef/owner Ben Smith’s wit is dry but his fantastic Pacific Rim cuisine is anything but. It’s one of those places where you can confidently order “chef’s choice” and know that you’ll get a dish well-thought-out and meticulously executed. You could, for example, get the bacon-wrapped dates for an appetizer, but any of the choices are swoonworthy. The ever-changing “small plates” are exercises in perfection. The sea bass entree is legendary, but all the fare warrants a taste. You’ll just have to go back (or take out) more often. – JWS


“Why do you have a barbecue? It is a time you are going to gather, the majority of the time, with people you love and care about. It brings people together.” Best of all, there’s room for all kinds of ’q in our little city on the bluffs. Tops Bar-B-Q remains the go-to for many Memphians. Payne’s has a handle on mustard-based coleslaw and fried bologna sandwiches. The Rendezvous has the dry-rubbed ribs covered. Central BBQ is where locals and out-of-towners alike line up for a pregame sandwich (or wings or nachos). The Barbecue Shop does pulled pork on Texas toast and barbecued spaghetti like nobody’s business. At the Cozy Corner, the staff and customers both are treated like family. Jim Neely’s Interstate Barbecue has racked up enough local and national awards to seriously stress the structural integrity of even the stockiest picnic table. The list of my favorite lunch destinations goes on, and I’ve already met and exceeded my word count. That’s because you can’t spell “Memphis eats” without the ’q. – JD

Sekisui There’s a heck of a lot that goes into a sushi roll. It’s a work of art, a finely composed amalgam of ingredients that pop with the colors of the day’s freshest cut, bright pinks and oranges welcoming diners to the oceanly heaven that beckons. And, they have to taste good, too. Sekisui ticks both boxes, and then some, with it’s carefully curated and artfully arranged sushi platters. You’ve got your California rolls, spicy tuna, and the regular ilk, but where Sekisui truly shines is in the customer-inspired rolls like the Kraken or T-Ruth, all crafted with that little bit of extra magic. – SXC


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Venice Kitchen


There’s a lot of great pizza in Memphis, but none better than VK’s Mona Lisa: mushrooms, artichoke hearts, black olives, red onions, and arugula with a blend of mozzarella and feta. Cozy (but not small), with a bar for solo visits, this East Memphis posto felice (happy place) is perfect for celebrations, romantic outings, or simply an evening away from your kitchen. The spicy chicken sandwich — Buffalo sauce! — will make a sad person smile. You might start things with an order of crawfish rolls. Delizioso. – Frank Murtaugh

I only have 100 words, but glance at the accompanying photograph; the expressions of sheer delight, exuberance, joy, and thrill my colleagues experienced upon the emergence of Westy’s hot fudge pie says it all. And you can expect that reaction for every menu item at the Pinch District’s best diner (formerly known as The North End). Sandwiches, catfish baskets, burgers, wild rice, tamales, North End creole: You want it, Westy’s has got it. And as Downtown continues to change, it’s always comforting to see that, 36 years on, Westy’s — and those hot fudge pies — is still going strong. – SXC

Chef Tam’s Underground Café When Chef Tamra Patterson (whom you might recognize from The Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games) opens the doors to her Underground Café, diners come flooding in. The restaurant, located in the Edge District, could see up to two- or three-hour waits. And that’s at a building that can hold up to 150 people! Indeed, the allure of Chef Tam’s creative fusion recipes is too much to resist. If you have to get one thing, make it the soul-infused Muddy Waters Mac and Cheese, which hits a home run through melding delicious cheesy goodness with crawfish, crab, and shrimp. – SXC 26 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1

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Samuel X. Cicci The “X” category doesn’t go to a local eatery; we’ve reserved it for “Mister X,” associate editor Samuel X. Cicci, this magazine’s resident “foodie.” Raised in Santa Fe, Sam came here to attend Rhodes College, and after graduation joined the staff of Memphis and Inside Memphis Business, while also contributing to the Memphis Flyer and Memphis Parent. Let’s face it, he plays a big role in anything and everything we do. When he’s not interviewing business leaders, he covers local sports and outdoor events, especially the Memphis 901 FC soccer team, oversees our home remodeling sections, writes and edits the “Dining In,” “Dining Out,” and “Tidbits” columns, and even curates the magazine’s ever-changing dining listings. Heck, he even oversaw the production of this list. If all that epicurean effort doesn’t earn “X” a place in “Memphis Eats A-Z,” we don’t know what should. – Vance Lauderdale



Young Avenue Deli


Pool tables, a jukebox, and the largest beer selection in three counties (36 drafts!). Cooper-Young’s anchor is a comfort zone before you even pick up a menu. But make time for lunch. (Or dinner on a Grizzlies game night, when they light up the big screen.) The Smokin’ Turkey sandwich — smoked turkey, smoked gouda, and barbecue sauce on a pair of English muffins — is the kind of delight that warms even an off night for Ja Morant. Add an order of the sweet potato fries (sprinkled with cinnamon) and your taste buds might forget the dessert menu features which include, yes, a fried Moonpie sundae. – FM

The first time I wandered into Zinnie’s, it was well into the early hours of the morning, and my friend and I were done drinking. We collapsed into a table, looking mighty disheveled and worse for wear, hoping to sober up. The servers continuously brought us waters, chatted, and let us sit there without ordering anything until we were okay to leave. That initial friendly, relaxing experience had me coming back time and time again to the “Best Little Neighborhood Bar in the Universe.” If you want to hang out in a chill environment, throw back a few beers, or munch on some great comfort food (hot wing Mondays!), you can’t beat Zinnie’s. – SXC

PHOTOS: U: Underground Café owner Tamra Patterson; V: Venice Kitchen’s John Wayne Pizza; W: Memphis magazine staffers Jesse Davis and Michael Donahue enjoying Westy’s hot fudge pie; X: Memphis magazine associate editor Samuel X. Cicci; Y: Young Avenue Deli patio; Z: Mural outside Zinnie’s. SAMUEL X. CICCI BY MADISON YEN; YOUNG AVENUE DELI PATIO COURTESY YOUNG AVENUE DELI; ZINNIE’S BY MICHAEL DONAHUE

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Presenting the winners of the

2021 Readers’ Restaurant Poll

First-place winners who received at least a third of the total votes in their category.


Folk’s Folly Prime Steak House Erling Jensen, The Restaurant Coastal Fish Company


Kelly English — Restaurant Iris, The Second Line Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman — Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Hog & Hominy, Catherine & Mary’s, Gray Canary, Bishop José Gutierrez — River Oaks

BEST NEW RESTAURANT Coastal Fish Company Porch and Parlor Magnolia & May Bishop Cocozza Hazel’s Lucky Dice Delicatessen Southall Café Ben-Yay’s Curfew Edge Alley | Restaurant


or more than 35 years, readers have turned to our annual Readers’ Restaurant Poll for a guide to the city’s best restaurants, cafés, diners, bakeries, food trucks, bars, breweries — and lots more. And every year, our readers select the best of the best from among so many great dining options in Memphis. They’ve done so again, and you’ll see the winners on these pages. So much has changed over the past year, not least in the food industry, which has undergone a radical and challenging transformation in the time of covid-19. Owners, servers, and even diners have changed how they operate in and around restaurants to keep everyone safe and healthy. Several favorite establishments have been forced to close their doors, while others struggle to keep their heads above water. But those in food service are nothing if not a resilient bunch. The pandemic has spawned many innovations, encompassing take-out pivots, ghost concepts, new specials, and meal donations for those in need. And you’ll be sure to see some of these changes represented in our poll results this year. What follows is a list of the best places to eat and drink in the Bluff City — independent from our “Memphis Eats A - Z” feature — as determined by the most qualified judges in town: you, our readers. To ensure the poll results were accurate, we installed online safeguards to ensure only one ballot per person, making this the definitive resource for Memphis restaurant-goers. We’ve named the top three restaurants in most categories, with the first-place winner in bold type. Ties are indicated when they occurred. A special designation — we’re calling them Super 28 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1

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Stars — indicates first-place winners who received more than a third of the total votes cast in that category. Whether you’re a longtime Memphian, or just a casual visitor, there’s plenty here to satisfy any palate, with some 40 categories of food, and a special section devoted to liquid refreshments. We even tell you where to find the best service — and server. And if you don’t mind heading out of town a ways, we tell you places that are worth the drive. We congratulate all the winners, and we thank the readers who shared their favorite places to eat, drink, and be merry. But restaurants need our support now, more than ever — whether they appear on this list or not. Local restaurants are more than just places to pick up food. During the good times, they are community pillars, gathering spaces, hang-out spots, maybe even live music venues; an essential fabric of the identity that makes up Memphis. And that many of these institutions are able to keep their doors open after the tumult of the past year, well, that’s certainly worth celebrating. So, unsure where to start? Let your fellow readers offer some suggestions with the winners of our 2021 Readers’ Restaurant Poll.

BEST 2020 PIVOT Muddy’s Bake Shop Cocozza American Italian Restaurant Iris

BEST ASIAN FUSION Mulan Mosa Asian Bistro A-Tan

BEST BARBECUE RIBS Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous Central BBQ The Bar-B-Q Shop


BEST BREAKFAST Brother Juniper’s Sunrise Memphis Bryant’s Breakfast

BEST BRUNCH Owen Brennan’s Brother Juniper’s The Beauty Shop


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BEST BURGER Huey’s Top’s Bar-B-Q Belly Acres

BEST CAJUN / CREOLE The Second Line Owen Brennan’s Bayou Bar & Grill

BEST CHAIN RESTAURANT Houston’s Seasons 52 Capital Grille


Mulan Wang’s Mandarin House Formosa Chinese Restaurant

BEST COFFEEHOUSE (NON-CHAIN) Ugly Mug Coffee Café Eclectic Otherlands Coffee Bar


Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar Restaurant Iris Southern Social Erling Jensen, The Restaurant


Elwood’s Shack Young Avenue Deli Bogie’s Delicatessen

BEST DESSERT SHOP Muddy’s Bake Shop Frost Bake Shop La Baguette

BEST FOOD TRUCK Cousins Maine Lobster Say Cheese Central BBQ

BEST FRIED CHICKEN Gus’s Fried Chicken Jack Pirtle’s Uncle Lou’s

BEST FROZEN TREAT Jerry’s Sno Cones Mempops La Michoacana

BEST INDIAN India Palace Bombay House Golden India


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Pete & Sam’s Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen Coletta’s

BEST JAPANESE Sekisui Sakura Red Koi

BEST KID-FRIENDLY Huey’s Memphis Pizza Café Belly Acres

BEST MEDITERRANEAN Casablanca Restaurant Taziki Mediterranean Café Petra Café


Las Delicias Molly’s La Casita Los Tortugas Deli Mexicana


Coastal Fish Company Slider Inn Loflin Yard


Peabody Lobby Bar Lafayette’s Music Room Railgarten Flying Saucer


Memphis Pizza Café Aldo’s Pizza Pies Little Italy

BEST PLACE TO IMPRESS OUT-OF-TOWNERS Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous Itta Bena Folk’s Folly Prime Steak House

BEST PLACE TO WATCH THE GAME Brookhaven Pub Huey’s Bayou Bar & Grill Celtic Crossing Irish Pub

BEST PLATE LUNCH Soul Fish Cupboard Restaurant Patrick’s



Coastal Fish Company The Half Shell Tsunami

Celtic Crossing Irish Pub Alchemy Memphis Huey’s



Jeff Frisby — Tsunami Taylor Pfohl — Bayou Bar & Grill Scarlet McWhorter — Tsunami

Flying Saucer Young Avenue Deli Boscos Squared



Porch and Parlor Huey’s Folk’s Folly Prime Steak House

Alchemy Peabody Lobby Bar Majestic Grille



Babalu Tapas & Tacos Bounty on Broad Tsunami

Earnestine & Hazel’s Alex’s Tavern The Cove



Folk’s Folly Prime Steak House Buckley’s Restaurant Butcher Shop Steak House


Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana Maciel’s Tortas & Tacos Swanky’s Taco Shop

BEST THAI Bhan Thai Bangkok Alley Pho Binh

BEST VEGETARIAN / VEGAN City Silo Table + Pantry Raw Girls Global Café Pho Binh


Alchemy Huey’s Brookhaven Circle The Half Shell

BEST LOCAL BREWERY Wiseacre Brewing Co. Ghost River Brewery & Tap Room Memphis Made Brewing Co.


Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar Folk’s Folly Prime Steak House Bari Ristorante Napa Café

BEST CATEGORY WE LEFT OUT Best Take-Out Best Wings Best Bartender

Pho Saigon Pho Binh Lotus Vietnamese Restaurant

RESTAURANT WE MISS THE MOST Jim’s Place East Justine’s Anderton’s


City Grocery (Oxford, MS) Como Steakhouse (Como, MS) Bozo’s Hot Pit Bar-B-Q (Mason, TN)

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Inside the lair of The Chubby Vegetarian.     B Y C H R I S M c C O Y

Young coconut ceviche. Spaghetti squash ribs. Vegan chipotle sweet potato burger. Bagna cauda smashed chickpea dip. Pastrami-cured beets. Cauliflower steak with confit mushroom pilaf, herbed tomatoes, cheddar-parsley butter, and fried capers. Figs in a blanket. These are just a few of the more than 500 vegetarian recipes developed by Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence over the last eight years. Their creations have drawn praise from the culinary

world, even from people who don’t normally embrace meatless cooking. Chef Kelly English, for one, has served the couple’s mushroom-based debris po-boy at The Second Line in Overton Square. “I’ve never had a po-boy that was intended to be vegetarian but still rang true,” he says. Justin and Amy began blogging in 2008 under the name The Chubby Vegetarian. “We always liked food and cooking,” says Amy. “We always had that in common. I never imagined this

far left: Amy Lawrence and Justin Fox Burks, the minds behind The Chubby Vegetarian, at work in their studio kitchen. left: Burks is a photographer who creates food styling shots for clients such as Elise

Dessert Company (top), Philip Ashley Chocolates (second and fourth from top), and Blue Note Bourbon (bottom). Burks and Lawrence have co-authored three popular vegetarian cookbooks (middle).

is what we would be focusing on for the last ten years now, but it makes sense.” They were high school sweethearts who got married while Justin was the drummer for country punks Half-Acre Gun Room. “It’s hard being in a touring band,” he says, “especially when you’re newly married and want to be home. So I quit, came home, and still played a little music. Then, one day, Amy said, ‘You know what, let’s do a project together.’ I was like, ‘A music project?’” Justin became a vegetarian at age 12, and Amy wanted to document some of his kitchen creativity. “We came up with the name and we just put up a photo of our dinner, which was sopes, the Mexican dish, a kind of thick corn tortilla topped with beans,” she says. The internet gods were smiling that night, and they were soon inundated with requests for the recipe. Since then, they have written three books on vegetarian cooking: The Chubby Vegetarian: 100 Inspired Recipes for the Modern Table, The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table, and The Low-Carb Vegetarian. Both have a history with Memphis magazine. Justin is a photographer who specializes in food, but has also done extensive advertising and editorial

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to renovate something, and once you’re in it for that long, you kind of want to stay.” “It’s almost like our ongoing art project, you know?” says Justin. “It’s not just art that you look at, but functional art that you live inside of. We’re always doing things that are cost-effective in a way that suits our needs. We’re almost built into it. It’s been transformed. There’s not a doorknob or a ceiling that hasn’t been touched by one of our ideas.”

top: The easement garden lets Justin and Amy grow vegetables in a space on their East Memphis property that would otherwise be wasted. middle: A drone shot of Concord Farm in Slayden, MS. bottom: A sunflower grown at the one-acre Concord Farm. right: A fire roars in Justin’s custom-built pizza oven.

photography. Amy worked here as an intern while a student at Rhodes College, and has since written about food in these pages. Unlike Justin, she is not a strict vegetarian. “One of the positive things about her eating traditional protein every once in a while is that she can keep our recipes honest,” says Justin. “Is it good, or is it just good for a vegetarian meal? If I had a goal of turning the world vegetarian, that’s just jousting at windmills. I’m not going to win that battle. But if we can get more people — say 80 percent of people, ditching meat 10 percent of the time — that is an incredibly big impact on the environment and on people’s health. We want to make it accessible, bring more people into it, and write about vegetarian food from so many different vantage points and perspectives. A vegan or vegetarian meal is not something where you’re giving up anything — it’s actually a window into more opportunities and more flavors.” They try to grow as many of the ingredients for their photogenic

dishes as possible. “To be able to know your food from seed to plant to plate is something really incredible,” Justin says. “It’s something I think a lot of people lose sight of these days.“ Much of it comes from a oneacre patch in Slayden, Mississippi, owned and tended by Amy’s father, Steve Lawrence. “He plants so much, and we’re the helpers. He always wanted a huge garden,” says Amy. “When we have a bumper crop of something and we’re able to share, we love to give to the Memphis Union Mission,” says Justin. Most of the land where their East Memphis home stands is too shaded by trees to grow anything, so Justin and Amy built what they call an easement garden. “We have raised beds in the front yard, and we change them by the season,” says Amy. “Right now, we have kohlrabi, turnips, beets, cabbage, bok choy, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and onions.” Justin thinks the easement garden is an idea that can catch on. “Imagine how much farmland there is just between the sidewalk and the road,” he says. He starts to list all the herbs they grow in the compact space just outside their kitchen door, then stops himself: “Easier way to put it: We have all of them.” Their 1,700-square-foot home was built in 1956 (“the rockand-roll year,” says Justin), and expanded in the 1970s. “It was just a plain box when we bought it,” Justin recalls. “We liked the house and saw it had potential,” says Amy. “We’d rather not spend a lot of money, and be able to make it our own to do what we want to do. I wanted

A s you might expect from the lair

of The Chubby Vegetarian, the home’s focus is the kitchens. Yes, that’s kitchens, plural. “In 2013, I had the harebrained idea to build a pizza oven,” says Justin. “We loved being in our backyard, but there’s this usefulness component that’s not there.” Amy’s father loved the idea, knowing he would gain a place to visit with the kids and eat pizza. Amy was more ambivalent. “Just don’t involve me in it,” she remembers saying. “It’s too stressful.” Justin’s research led him to a

company offering free pizza oven plans, only to be disappointed. “They weren’t plans. They’re more like suggestions. ‘You can make it tiny!’ or ‘You can make it huge!’ So I actually designed that oven’s every dimension.” Somewhere along the line, the pizza oven became an entire outdoor kitchen space. The former patio wouldn’t support the weight of the massive brick construction, so they had it removed. “We put rebar under it to make sure that it didn’t sink into the ground,” he

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says. “It was bigger than what was in my imagination when I was drawing the plans.” After building the sturdy pedestal, they used a sand mold to create the cooking space. “We built a sand pile the dimensions of what we wanted the inside of the oven, the dome, to be. Then we bricked over the top of that, and once it dried, we dug the sand out.” As a novice oven architect, Justin was worried it wouldn’t work. “Much to my surprise,” he says,

“from the first firing in that oven in 2013, it has operated perfectly. The smoke draws up the chimney, which is in the front.” The oven is surrounded by 12 feet of countertop. A built-in range which Justin describes as “very powerful” operates from a gas line rerouted from a disused indoor fireplace. “It’s going to a much better use cooking veggies, kebabs, and stir fries.” Along with ample seating and dining areas, the entire space is

enclosed by a spacious wooden gazebo. “It is a really fun and different way to interact with food and to entertain,” says Justin. “That’s what we wanted. Plus, pizza.” Since its completion, the outdoor kitchen has hosted countless gatherings, as well as photoshoots, a Memphis tourism commercial, and a televised cooking session with Amy’s idol, garden guru P. Allen Smith. “That was like a dream come true for me,” she says.

While the exterior cooking space

was getting all the love, the regular interior kitchen hadn’t changed much, beyond some new cabinet doors and a backsplash. “It was not in the plan,” says Amy. “But one day, I walked in the kitchen and stepped on a tile. It was wet. I was like, ‘What did we spill? What’s going on?’ Water was seeping up from the ground.” An undetected slow leak had undermined the kitchen subfloor. It soon became obvious, even to their reluctant insurance com-

left: The Roast Beast is a vegetarian Thanksgiving recipe featured in The Chubby Vegetarian. Justin says, “It’s essentially a big kabob” of portobello mushroom, eggplant, and red peppers flavored with pesto. Side dishes include wood fire-roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potato almondine. below: The 450-square-foot outdoor kitchen is built around the wood-fired pizza oven. The space also includes a gas cooktop, smoker, sink, built-in fridge, and 12-foot bar.

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right: A wall was removed to combine the original living room and dining room. The furnishings are a mixture of custom pieces and thrift store finds. The rafters were added by Uhlhorn Brothers Construction to create a rustic look. below: Another wall was removed to connect the kitchen with the great room. The beam at top left was made from an oak tree which fell on Concord Farm. The dining room table was custom built by Memphis record producer Doug Easley. below right: Stone City installed the cabinets, which combine premade convenience with custom installation.

pany, that it would all have to be replaced. Justin and Amy took it as an opportunity to completely remake the space with the help of their old friend, Walker Uhlhorn of Uhlhorn Brothers Construction. “By the time the tear-out was all said and done, we were standing in what looked like the surface of the moon.” The floor wasn’t the only thing that had to go. The former exterior wall of the home was removed to connect the 1970s-era expansion with the kitchen, combining cooking and dining spaces into a great room. The couple credit

Uhlhorn with making the crazy idea work. A beam hewn rough from an oak tree that fell on the Slayden farm keeps the ceiling from falling in. “The joke here is that we’re done once all the walls are gone,” says Justin. “I like taking out walls,” says Amy, “but Justin says we can’t take out any more.” It’s in this welcoming space where Justin and Amy spend most of their time at work on their newest cookbook. “We have an inordinate amount of counter space to work on our projects. We have a six-foot island that’s

double-wide, and then four other counters in just one space. Each of them has its own purpose. We believe an organized kitchen is a happy kitchen.” None of it was easy. The couple scrimped, saved, and improvised to make their renovation budget. For a long time, Memphis’ most prominent cookbook authors were making do with a microwave in their living room. And while their home was all torn up, Justin’s father was diagnosed with cancer, adding to their stress. “We had no kitchen,” says Amy. “How I cope is I cook, I make sure everything looks nice, and I clean everything.” As they worried over Justin’s father’s worsening condition, Amy’s sister, Lindsey Lettvin, and niece, Percy Lettvin, visited. When Amy told them how upset the kitch-

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right: The kitchen in the Downtown photography studio was designed with sight lines in mind. The oven is located above the countertop line, and the magnetic induction stovetop is built into the countertop so Justin and Amy can demonstrate recipes without turning from the camera. below: An opposite angle shows plenty of space to maneuver Justin’s bulky photography equipment.

BUILDING THE PERFECT KITCHEN en carnage made her, “My little niece, who was probably 10, said, ‘Just don’t look at it. Don’t look over there. For however long this goes on, it’s like it’s not even there. Don’t face that direction.’ From a 10-year-old, that’s really smart.” Justin says the project took on new meaning for him. “If you’ve ever had a sick parent or family member, it can be all-encompassing. It felt a little bit like a blessing to have something else to take some of my energy and emotion away from that.” When the worst happened, their friends stepped up. “Walker was amazing,” says Justin. “When my dad ultimately passed, Walker said, ‘We’re finishing that kitchen.’ A couple of days later, it was put back together, cleaned up, and done.”

L ike a band can’t go too long without putting out a new album, I can’t go too long without building a new kitchen,” says Justin. “While it seems excessive to have three kitchen spaces, for us as professionals in the food industry, as recipe developers and food photographers, each one of these spaces really does serve a different purpose and moves the game along in a different way.” The Chubby Vegetarian’s third kitchen is in their photography studio in Downtown Memphis. They started from scratch after buying the former apartment from a friend. They ripped out the tiny galley kitchen and built a new one along one side of a 16-foot-long room. The space is designed to provide good camera angles. “You can actually use the telephoto

lens and whatever photo magic you need to do. That’s difficult to do in a normal kitchen. By the time you set up a soft box and a reflector in a typical kitchen, you don’t have anywhere to go.” Justin and Amy say when setting out to redesign your kitchen, the most important thing is storage. “You have to have more storage than you think you need, so you can keep like items in the same place,” says Amy. The next factor is counter space. To give yourself room to operate, Justin recommends refining your design to create “as much counter space as you can squeeze in.” If, as is often the case, the kitchen entrance is used more than the front door, Amy recommends creating a “drop zone. You have to have hooks, a bench, something where people know where to put their stuff.” Justin says to learn from industrial kitchens and create stations for each different cooking activity. Gather everything you need for baking in easy reach of the oven, for example. “Custom cabinets are wonderful, but they’re also very expensive,” says Justin. “You can work with a company like Stone City. They’re a local company who

does prefab cabinets, but they will install them in a custom way. You really end up with what looks like custom work.” “People make the biggest deal about countertops,” says Amy. “People think you have to spend all this money, and there’s only one nice kind of countertop, and people are really weird about it. But at home and in the studio, we just have butcher-block countertops.” Perhaps the most vexing question facing the kitchen renovator is the choice of cooktop. Both gas and electric have their strengths and drawbacks, Justin says. “But what I’m going to suggest is what we have at the studio, which is an induction cooktop. It looks like an electric cooktop — it’s glass — but it works in a different way.” Induction cooktops use magnetic fields to heat the pots and pans themselves. With no dangerous open flames, the cooktop stays cool to the touch. “You turn it on, and water is boiling in 30 seconds,” says Justin. Amy agrees the technology is amazing, but “for the first month or two we had it, Justin would be like, ‘Watch this!’ And I was like, ‘Stop making people watch you boil water!’”

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RemarkableL Remarkable emarkableLife Life THE



How a local pioneer challenged Victorian notions and paved her own way in the fields of medicine and education. B Y



t the turn of the twentieth century, contrasts between pre-modern and modern ways of life were palpable if you were a woman, especially if you were a Black woman, and especially if you were a Black woman in West Tennessee. In bridging those contrasts, few figures are more intriguing than Beebe Steven Lynk. As one of the nation’s first Black women scientists and university instructors, she paved the way for many more who came in her wake, even as she distinguished herself as an author through writings on African-American culture and do-it-yourself beauty practices. Though historical accounts of her personal details are fragmentary, we do know she occupied the cusp of transition to a more modern mindset. As the years leading up to 1900 established the currents of life that we still recognize well into


the digital age, Lynk’s accomplishments proudly announced a new era. Just when radioactivity and electrons were being discovered, and as motion-picture cameras, diesel engines, and gramophone discs were being invented, gender roles were being redefined. And yet America still had one foot in the world of horse-drawn wagons and dirt roads. Lynk came of age just in time to challenge prevalent notions of women’s roles in science and medicine, and to raise herself up as a respected educator, only to see her prestige and power diminish in the face of a wave of medical modernization greater than even she could have imagined. Nonetheless, she left behind a legacy of Black self-empowerment that survived in spirit, if not in the physical buildings of the college she helped found.

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above: Faculty and students of the University of West Tennessee in 1915, in front of the school at 1135-9 South Phillips Place in Memphis.


ynk was born in Mason, Tennessee (northeast of Arlington), in 1872 — a year of contradictions if ever there was one. We don’t know if her parents, Henderson and Judiam Steven, were enslaved before the war, though prior to 1865 the Tennessee constitution required emancipated Blacks to leave the state. It was also in 1872, when former Union General Ulysses S. Grant was reelected, that the General Amnesty Act pardoned most former Confederate soldiers. But perhaps Henderson and Judiam were more focused on their new baby girl than U.S. politics. That baby girl seems to have enjoyed a nurturing childhood; she apparently enrolled at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, at a young age, earning her bachelor’s degree when she was only 20. Lane College was itself a sign of the changing times. Founded in 1882 by the Colored Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church in America, it was named after Methodist Bishop Isaac Lane and aimed to educate newly emancipated people to be “teachers and preachers.” One can safely assume that Lynk pursued the former track, as her subsequent career attests. That Lane was founded at all in the heart of the Jim Crow South is remarkable enough; but it carries on to this day, with more than 1,400 students strolling its 55-acre campus, part of which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At some point during her college years, young Beebe Steven met Dr. Miles Vanda-

hurst Lynk of Brownsville. He must have been impressive, if a bit on the formal side, having set up his medical practice in Jackson shortly after earning his M.D. from Nashville’s Meharry Medical College in 1891. Meharry was the first medical school for African Americans in the South, and carries on today as the nation’s largest private historically Black institution dedicated to medicine and science. Even in its earliest years, the college clearly instilled a sense of purpose in its graduates. Within a year after graduating, the ambitious young Lynk had founded the nation’s first African-American-published journal of medicine, the Medical and Surgical Observer. We can only guess at the romance that ensued after the two met. The autobiography he penned later in life, Sixty Years of Medicine, or the Life and Times of Dr. Miles V. Lynk, features four short paragraphs titled “Marital Relations,” where he writes, “On April 12, 1893, I was united in the bonds of matrimony to Miss Beebe Steven, graduate of Lane College, Jackson, Tennessee, to whom I owe a great deal for whatever degree of success I have attained. She was always at my side encouraging me in whatever undertaking I might engage, and many times darkness would have completely over-shadowed my pathway but for the brilliancy of the light cast by her encouragement.” This and three spare sentences on her education and death are the only mention of Beebe in his manuscript.

And yet Beebe Steven Lynk was not one to settle for an “MRS” degree. As a member of the National Federation of Women’s Clubs, serving as treasurer of the Tennessee chapter, she embraced a nascent form of women’s rights. By 1896, she had published her first book, Advice to Colored Women, which advocated improving the status of African-American women through education and respectability. A few years later, she would be drawn to medical education, a field in which she became distinguished in her own right. One can only surmise what hopes and dreams the young couple inspired in each other as the turn of the century approached. Miles shared Beebe’s literary bent, and after his medical journal folded in 1894, he published a literary monthly from 1898 to 1900, and went on to write two books, including the popular The Black Troopers, or Daring Deeds of the Negro Soldiers in the Spanish-American War. They were undoubtedly thinking big. In a few short years they would make their greatest ambition a reality, beginning the work that would consume their lives well into the 1920s.


n 1900, still in Jackson, Miles obtained a charter for the University of West Tennessee College of Medicine and Surgery (UWT). A 1903 article in The Freeman noted that it included “Colleges of Medicine, Law, Dentistry, Pharmacy, and School of Nurse Training — A Prosperous, Unique and Most Interesting Institution.” It was actually one of 14 Black medical schools that sprouted up in the South after the Civil War. And for


inset: Dr. Miles V. Lynk, the university’s founder and president, also published the nation's first African-American journal of medicine.

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THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION ENCOURAGES A FOCUS ON YOUR HEALTH DURING AMERICAN HEART MONTH For decades, every February Memphis has joined communities across America to bring awareness to our nation’s number one killer, heart disease. Despite the devastating toll of COVID-19, heart disease remains the #1 cause of death in the U.S and worldwide. In fact, in the U.S. on average, someone dies of heart disease every 37 seconds and according to 2017 data, there are 2,353 deaths from heart disease each day. But this February, Heart Month will look a little different. After months of isolation, being tied to computer screens and waiting for the world to return to

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normal, we’ve seen the nightmare of health disparities exacerbated for communities across the MidSouth. In February during Heart Month, AHA is calling for action from Memphians to reimagine what a healthy world could look like right here in our own neighborhood. In the video-everything world of TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, is inviting everyone to be the healthy, positive influencer in their own community. Record a 5-10 second video sharing your fitness goals, eating habits, or lifestyle changes saying, “Watch me…” and then post to social media channels with #WATCHME and encourage family and friends to do the same. “Our world is different than it was a year ago and it will keep changing. American Heart Month is an ideal time to take the challenges we are facing and turn them into opportunities,” said Trey Moore, Executive Director of the Mid-South American Heart Association. “We want to remind our neighbors to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their families, friends and communities involved as well.”

The City of Memphis Chief Operating Officer, Doug McGowen has always been passionate about health, but his role leading the city’s COVID-19 task force has highlighted how critical our individual health is to the wellbeing of our community. “Our partnership with the American Heart Association is an investment to provide positive outcomes to the health and quality of life for the people of Memphis in the city we love,” said McGowen who is leading the Mid-South Heart Walk campaign as he looks ahead to the city’s health — after COVID. Throughout February there will be several activities happening to celebrate American Heart Month, including the launch of a new Mid-South program, Women of Impact, which celebrates twenty local women changemakers, dedicated to making a lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of our community. To get involved with the Mid-South American Heart Association visit www.heart.org/ Midsouth or follow us on social media @AHATennessee.

Stats and Facts

• Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United States.

• Here in Shelby County, nearly 20 percent of all deaths are due to heart disease. • Coronary heart disease accounted for approximately 13% of deaths in the United States in 2017, causing 365,914 deaths. • Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds on average. • The American Heart Association has funded more than $4.5 billion in research since 1949 and funds more research into cardiovascular diseases and stroke than any other private not-for-profit organization except for the federal government. • From 2013 to 2016, 57.1% of non-Hispanic (NH) Black females and 60.1% of NH Black males had some form of cardiovascular disease. For additional information, charts and tables, see Heart Disease & Stroke Statistics — 2020 Update.

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any African American aspiring to a career in healthcare, they were typically the only option: most Black physicians in the late nineteenth century attended such schools. The year 1903 also marked the graduation of one of UWT’s most notable students: Beebe Steven Lynk herself. After two years of study, she was granted a degree in pharmaceutical chemistry, and soon thereafter began teaching medical Latin, botany, and materia medica at UWT. To this day, she is celebrated in such volumes as Wini Warren’s Black Women Scientists in the United States and Jeanette Brown’s African American Women Chemists. Even so, we shouldn’t assume that Beebe was the firebrand our modern imaginations might be inclined to conjure. As a figure with stakes in both the archaic and the modern, she represents contradictory forces in the empowerment of Black women. One biographical sketch of the Lynks, dating back to UWT’s heyday, celebrates her for being “one of the truest helpmeets” that a husband could ask for, urging “young girls of the race to emulate her good example — a woman of a lovable disposition, of an immaculate character and giant intellect — a benefactress to her husband and race.” There are indications that Beebe herself would approve of this appraisal. Her most readily available writings are in her 1919 book, A Complete Course in Hair Straightening and Beauty Culture, which begins with the chapter title “Be Beautiful”: “It is the duty of every woman to be beautiful. When a woman loses interest in her beauty she is losing interest in the only thing that keeps her alive and up to date. A careless woman loses her beauty, her love, her friends and her ambitions. ... It pays to be attractive!” The contradiction inherent in any calls for women’s empowerment based on their duty “to be beautiful” should not diminish what Beebe Lynk did accomplish. The daughter of parents who were likely enslaved navigated beyond obstacles of the Jim Crow South and of gender inequities to become both a published author and one of only two female instructors at a medical college. Lynk’s journey is individually phenomenal, and more broadly indicative of the large-scale upheavals occurring through the Progressive Era. It’s also worth noting what UWT achieved as an institution. More than 155 physicians, as well as a number of pharmacists, nurses, and dentists, were trained during its years of operation. And beyond the medical training, the university championed a vision of Black excellence on par with any white institution, developing students’ knowledge of law, botany, and “a thorough superstructure built on a broad and liberal literary foundation.”


mong the 14 Black medical colleges of its time, UWT seems to have

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set some of the strictest graduation criteria, offering in-depth clinical and laboratory experience, with courses spanning a full four years (as opposed to others that might be completed in a year). And it was successful. According to one university tract:

The rapid growth of the school made it necessary that we move to a more metropolitan center, where facilities would be adequate for a great educational plant. Accordingly, in the spring of 1907, the trustees decided to locate the school in Memphis, Tenn., a city of over 200,000 inhabitants and business and manufacturing interests that will easily make it the commercial mistress of the Mississippi valley. ... Memphis furnishes a wealth of clinical material second to no city of the South. The university’s 1907 catalog touted the relocation to Memphis with a list of the city’s many attractions and features:

Memphis has an up-to-date electric street car service — over 100 miles. Memphis has the fastest trotting track in the world, Has the largest artesian water system in the world, Has one hundred and forty churches, Five theaters and two park theaters. Is the home port of eighty-four steamboats, Two hundred and thirty-five miles of sewers. There are over thirty-five educated AfroAmerican physicians, dentists and pharmacists actively engaged in the lucrative pursuit of their professions. Afro-Americans of Memphis own over two million dollars worth of property. Indeed, UWT represented a rapidly growing professional class of African Americans in the city. And Beebe Steven Lynk, in her teachings and writings, was proof positive that Black women could elevate themselves to such prosperity as well.


n a twist of tragic historical irony, however, forces were at work in the national medical community that would spell the downfall of UWT. Indeed, most African-American medical schools would close in the years to come. And much of that was due to the work of one Abraham Flexner, the man hired in 1908 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to survey American medical education. Though he was neither a physician, a scientist, nor a medical educator, Flexner had run a successful private school in his native Kentucky. And he was very thorough. Casting a critical eye on the medical teaching practices of the day, he summed up his findings in 1910 with the Flexner Report, which marked a quan-

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tum leap in the professionalization of medicine in the United States. As Patricia M. LaPointe explains in her 1984 historical account, From Saddlebags to Science: A Century of Health Care in Memphis, 1830-1930:





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The University of West Tennessee was one of the schools visited by Abraham Flexner, and he noted the school’s lack of adequate buildings, meager laboratory equipment, and poor clinical facilities. Because of the revolution in medical education that came about after publication of the Flexner Report in 1910, the University of West Tennessee was one of the schools that had to close because of its lack of funding and inability to meet rising standards. In spite of the lack of scientific equipment, a dedicated faculty did manage to continue the school in operation until the close of the 1923-24 session. ... It is interesting to note that the University of West Tennessee had a four-year medical program from the outset and many Black physicians and dentists who practiced in Memphis in the early decades of the 20th Century were graduates of this institution. Black colleges were not the only recipients of Flexner’s scathing critiques; he actually celebrated the medical education at two historically Black schools, Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and Meharry Medical College, Miles Lynk’s alma mater. Flexner sat on the board of Howard for a time. But among other factors surrounding the creation of Flexner’s report, questions of race loom large. He dealt a death blow to UWT, which shut down not quite a quarter century after Dr. Miles Lynk founded the school. Largely because her fate was tied with that of the school, that is where the historical record fades out for Beebe Steven Lynk. As her husband writes, “On November 11, 1948, after 55 years and seven months of marital bliss, the Lord saw fit to call her from labor to reward.” She is buried in Memphis’ New Park Cemetery with her husband, who died in 1956. Though the vanishing of the Lynks’ life work is tragic, it is heartening to consider the mark they made in their most active years. One can imagine the many former students of UWT fanning out into the city, or the state, or the nation, to ply their trade in the healing arts, and what impact they may have made over the course of generations. In the Lynks’ lives, and in Beebe’s in particular, we see in miniature the power and the potential realized by those who challenged assumptions about who they were supposed to be. And all the while, Beebe stood astride two worlds, the archaic and the modern, the traditional and the scientific, the oppressed and the free.   With thanks to the Special Collections Department at the University of Memphis Libraries, and to the Jackson-Madison County Library Tennessee Room.

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A drive through the Mississippi Delta Blues. BY ALEX GREENE

The land was perfectly flat and level but it shimmered like the wing of a lighted dragonfly. It seemed strummed, as though it were an instrument and something had touched it. — “ Delta Wedding” by Eud or a Welt y


vast expanse of fields, edged here and there with the odd line of trees, frames any journey into the Delta. But the real draw for many travelers is the sonic territory of the blues, a music born in this land. As I drive south through northwestern Mississippi, listening to Howlin’ Wolf, it does indeed feel, as Eudora Welty suggested, like the land itself is an instrument. Or a sounding board, its vast, flat expanse seeming to cry out for a howl to fill the emptiness, to reverberate and lend relief to the horizon. If the music of Appalachia teems with the cascading, tumbling notes of bluegrass, then the blues of the Mississippi Delta generates drones, as when the Wolf’s harp rings out with a single note while the band churns out chords behind him like a tractor plowing furrows. Legions of blues innovators have made their way north from Mississippi to the Bluff City. So, from Memphis, I follow the birth of the blues in reverse: heading south from Second and Beale, until Second becomes Third, then further on until Third becomes Highway 61. If you really have the blues, you don’t even need to drive yourself. As Mississippi Fred McDowell sang,

Well, there some folks said them / Greyhound buses don’t run, Lordy, some folks said them / Greyhound buses don’t run, Just go to West Memphis, baby / Look down Highway 61.


1ST ROW (L -R): The big skies and flat earth of the Mississippi Delta region (PHOTOGRAPH BY DREAMSTIME / BLAKE BILLINGS); Robert Johnson’s gravesite in Greenwood (PHOTOGRAPH BY ALEX GREENE). 2ND ROW (L -R): Clarksdale’s Greyhound station and Delta Blues Museum exhibits (PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALEX GREENE) ; a sign at the crossroads of Highways 61 and 49 (PHOTOGRAPH BY DREAMSTIME / ANDY MORGAN) .

3RD ROW (L -R): The B.B. King Museum in Indianola (PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY B.B. KING MUSEUM) . 4TH ROW (L -R): The Grammy Museum in Cleveland (PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY GRAMMY MUSEUM). F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 45

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above: The Mississippi Blues Trail has left markers where key players were born or died, and wherever the music made an impact (there’s even one in Liverpool, England). This plaque, just outside Tunica’s Gateway to the Blues, celebrates the road that connected the towns and roadside juke joints with the wider world to the north and south. inset: A few miles down Highway 61, in Clarksdale, the Delta Blues Museum collects rare records, like this one by the Chatman Brothers, and other artifacts that evoke the evolution of the blues.

Sam Cooke, John Lee Hooker, and Ike Turner — dot the city’s Arts and Culture District. That’s where the city’s major clearinghouse for blues lovers, the Cat Head shop, can be found. Owner/operator Roger Stolle is a one-man encyclopedia of local blues events, and the curator of the fine records, books, and folk art for sale. He’s also the current president of the Clarksdale/Coahoma County Tourism Commission. “We know people are concerned about traveling during the pandemic,” he says. “That’s why our website, visitclarksdale.com, asks the question, ‘Ready for a road trip?’ It puts the question on you. Safety is the top concern. And really, this town has a lot of open space; the pace is slow. You won’t feel crowded or pushed around. That’s why we’re going ahead with the annual Juke Joint Festival this April 15-18. Most of it will be outside, and there will be limited attendance for some events.” There’s certainly plenty of space when I wander down the street to the Delta Blues Museum, a spacious new building next to the train tracks. On this weekday afternoon, I have the place to myself, ideal for taking my time with all the displays, culminating in the exhibit on Muddy Waters. His former home, a cypress log cabin from the Stovall Plantation outside of town, has been moved and reassembled here. Next to it sits a green 1939 Ford Deluxe, complete with vintage recording gear in the trunk, just like the one John Works and Alan Lomax drove when As you roll through the counthey pulled up to the cabin and tryside and towns, by bus or car, made the first recordings of the you’ll likely notice the blue plaques young bluesman. For a moment, I’m of the Mississippi Blues Trail, which transported to a time when musical startell the history of the blues in detail by way dom was only a gleam in Waters’ eye after a hard day in the fields. of marking great musicians’ birthplaces, burial sites, and other locations of significance. Download the app You can still walk those fields, northwest of town, or view the website (msbluestrail.org) for dewhere Stovall Farms can still be seen today; a Mississippi tailed information on the plaque locations. Blues Trail plaque marks where Waters’ Clarksdale is a That’s also where you can view the short cabin once stood. Thirteen acts from muldocumentaries created just for the trail tiple genres can be heard ringing across hotbed of living by Memphis filmmakers Robert Gordon the landscape this October 1-2, when the music, not just Mighty Roots Music Festival goes down. and David Julian Leonard. Heading south on Highway 61, the first such plaque is Clarksdale is a hotbed of living music, memories, and that’s just west of Walls, where the pioneering not just memories, and that’s especially especially so in guitarist and composer Memphis Minnie so in non-pandemic times, when clubs non-pandemic times, is buried (see the feature in our June/July, and more festivals light up the nights. For 2020 issue). Anyone traveling through the now, I content myself with the live blues when clubs and Delta will find these plaques enriching the available every day on visitclarksmore festivals light experience of nearly every place they visit. dale.com, as I turn around and head southeast on Highway 49. Its entire route up the nights. r avelers encounter the is described in the song of the same name, first Greyhound station south of Beale Street in featured on the 1962 album Blues on Highway 49, “feaClarksdale, and there’s no better place to start, whether turing Big Joe Williams and his Nine-String Guitar.” driving or riding. This is one small town that knows its history and its value. Don’t be rattled by a bit of s it turns out, I don’t need Big Joe’s rust on the marquee of the New Roxy Cinema, now guidance: I head straight for Greenwood, which a multi-purpose arts and cultural center, or the other serves as my home base on this Delta pilgrimage. signs of age throughout town. Most of Clarksdale is Searching for accommodations, it’s hard to resist the well-loved and ready to present its weathered history allure of The Alluvian, a boutique hotel and spa in with pride. Banners saluting musical heroes with a the heart of Greenwood’s historic downtown. With connection to the area — including Clarksdale natives sumptuous modernist decor offset with vintage pho-

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of the Tallahatchie River off County Road 518, where a lovingly crafted stone marks the spot near a pecan tree, surrounded by flowers, liquor bottles, and other offerings. One can contribute to the church’s upkeep of the grave in a small donation box nearby. Out in the cemetery, alone, as the burning orange sun settled into the murky air of the Tallahatchie, those flat fields surrounding me seem to sing more than ever. The spare, haunting guitar lines from Johnson’s records come to me, and the space around the notes could have well been the landscape itself, an indelible part of the music. Words from Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues” came to me:

this page: The weathered brick of Greenwood’s historic downtown paradoxically features stateof-the-art accommodations like The Alluvian hotel (above left), kitchen equipment and classes at the Viking Cooking School (above right), and cuisine at Fan and Johnny’s (left).


You may bury my body, down by the highway side. (Baby, I don’t care where you bury my body when I’m dead and gone.) You may bury my body, ooh, down by the highway side. So my old evil spirit, can catch a Greyhound bus and ride. tos along the halls, it feels like the past, present, and future all coexist comfortably here. That’s also true of The Alluvian’s neighbor across the street, the Viking Cooking School. One of Greenwood’s success stories, Viking Range Corporation is known for its top-ofthe-line ranges and refrigerators. Viking opened The Alluvian in 2003, leading to a symbiosis between the cooking school, the hotel, and its associated restaurant, Giardina’s. For my repast, I opt for the fare at Fan and Johnny’s, a newer restaurant created by James Beard Award-nominated chef Taylor Bowen Ricketts. Her offerings, centered on specials that change daily, deftly blend the traditional and the innovative, as with the black-eyed pea cakes and remoulade appetizer, or the sublime Creole crawfish and cauliflower gnocchi entree. As always, I am mostly hungry for more music history. Greenwood has many Blues Trail plaques, including one near the birthplace of the galvanizing Hubert Sumlin, erstwhile member of Howlin’ Wolf’s band, and named among the world’s 100 greatest guitarists by Rolling Stone. But the holy grail of blues sites is the grave of Robert Johnson, the brilliant and otherworldly songwriter, guitarist, and singer. For decades, the location of his gravesite was disputed, until evidence accumulated (notably the eyewitness account of Johnson’s burial by Rose Eskridge, the gravedigger’s wife) indicating that Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church was the most likely place. It’s in the countryside near Greenwood, on the banks


could stay a long time in Greenwood, but the Museum of the Mississippi Delta is open by appointment only, and there is more musical history to discover. And so I head west the next day, down the B.B. King Memorial Highway to Sunflower County. “We Buy Pecans,” roadside signs announce. “Pecans Ahead.” Not far down the road is Indianola, where King spent many formative years before his career took off, and where his life story is honored at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center. Built in 2008, the museum nonetheless has some antique charm, thanks to the 100-year-old cotton gin that’s incorporated into the design. King worked here for a time, and later, would occasionally play the building’s grounds as a kind of homecoming, well before the museum came to be. Now the gin boasts a stage and can be rented for events; pre-covid-19, visitors could often experience live music here. I begin my journey through the museum proper in the screening room, which lays out the story of King’s career. Moving on to the exhibits, that story comes vividly to life through artifacts from waypoints in the B.B. King story. One kiosk plays old jazz “soundies” — short musical films predating World War II — with the star noting that they “just made little Riley B. King go crazy!” Naturally, a long section of the exhibit focuses on Memphis, including his early sponsor, Pep-ti-kon Tonic, which helped make him a local star on WDIA. And one can see many versions of “Lucille,” his name for the line of Gibson guitars he favored. Towards the F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 47

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The Gateway to the Blues


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ore than one plaque on the Mississippi Blues Trail is dedicated to Highway 61, the road that looms so large in the mythology of the Delta blues. The first you’ll encounter after leaving Memphis sits on the north edge of Tunica, a prime destination for every casino-hopper who’s feeling lucky. But this marker is special — it has a museum all to itself.   Housed in a restored train depot that dates back to 1895, the Gateway to the Blues Museum and Visitors Center is an impressive portal to the musical world that awaits southbound travelers. The permanent exhibits include W.C. Handy’s first cornet and displays tracing the evolution of the guitar. Interactive stations teach you how to play the lap steel and the diddley bow. The visitors’ center offers detailed guidance to other attractions in Tunica, including the Blues Trail markers for Eddie James “Son” House and James Cotton.   And then there are the casinos. Yes, they are open, albeit with special measures to ensure the safety of all. For starters, they have “scrubbed every square inch of felt, leather, and neon.” The casinos are operating at 50 percent capacity, seating areas have been reconfigured for social distancing, and plexiglass barriers separate dealers and gamers. Masks are required except when drinking or eating.   Why not try your hand at the gaming tables? You know, just once ... or a few times. Clarksdale native John Lee Hooker once sang about “Jack o’ Diamonds,” and you can, too. Just repeat these words: Put your Jack against the Queen, It will turn your money green. Jack of Diamonds is a hard card to play.

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end is a large display of his dozen Grammy Awards, though one is missing. A note on the pedestal notes that it’s temporarily housed at the Grammy Museum in Cleveland, just a few miles to the north.



nd so, heading to Cleveland, I rejoin Highway 61 on the last leg of my journey through the Delta, which is circling back to Memphis in more ways than one. It is also expanding to encompass all recorded music. If you’re surprised that the only museum for the Grammy Awards outside of Los Angeles is in Mississippi, you shouldn’t be. According to the Jackson Free Press, Mississippi can claim more Grammy winners than any other state. And given the importance of the blues to all forms of popular music today, this location makes perfect sense. The grand opening in 2016 was made all the more glorious by the building itself, looming over the crowd and bands that filled the greenspace spreading out before it. The architecture of the place strikes me first, with an open, sunlit lobby that seems as wide as the Delta itself. Walking past portraits of the most recent Grammy winners, I enter the more intimate space of the exhibits. As with all the museums I visit on this trip, I am the only one there, making for a rather safe pandemic excursion. Being a member of the Recording Acade-

The Grammy Museum in Cleveland, MS

my, the multi-chapter organization that created the Grammy Awards, I must admit to getting choked up at the sweep of history that the awards represent, even if they skew more to the commercial side of music than my own taste. Something about the Academy’s persistence through time, representing the power of music through generations, tugs at my sentimentality. It is positively gripping, then, to see the Grammy borrowed from the B.B. King Museum, for the Best R&B Vocal Performance of 1970, “The Thrill Is Gone.”

Then, turning a corner, I come face to face with Memphis in the museum’s current exhibit: “Willie Mitchell and the Music of Royal Studios.” There, nestled among the permanent displays of American music’s greatest artists, are the names that most Memphians hold dear. Here is a 45 on the Home of the Blues label from 1961, “Willie’s House Party,” an early indication of the greatness that Mississippi native Willie Mitchell, then a band leader, would represent as he later became a studio- and label-owner, and eventually a pro-


visitjackson.com/safertravel F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 49

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ducer of global hits by Al Green, Ann Peebles, and others. The same label from the early ’60s, the caption notes, also featured Don Bryant, who, now enjoying a career renaissance, has been nominated for a 2020 Grammy. There, further along, is the weathered mixing board that all of Green’s hits were mixed on, and the cherished “Microphone #9” through which he recorded his vocals (still used in projects today). Here are the bizarre “electronic bongos/congas” that supplied the disarming synthetic drum sound featured on Peebles’ 1973 hit, “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” written by Bryant.

Back on Highway 61, driving into Memphis, I feel the same thrill as more than a century’s worth of musicians as they sought their fortune in the Bluff City, leaving the Delta’s countryside in the rearview mirror. The exhibit’s end celebrates the achievements of Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, the studio’s current owner/operator, raised at Willie’s side in the studio — including a Record of the Year Grammy Award for his contribution to Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk album, recorded at Royal. In a video documentary accompanying the exhibit, Boo speaks of the importance of having a Grammy Museum in a region that’s so important to popular music, and of the museum’s “huge role in getting young people exposed to the music, with Delta State being right here on the campus.” Indeed, Delta State University’s tradition of music education was one reason Cleveland was selected to host the museum. Further through the museum, another ongoing exhibit, “Stronger Together: The Power of Women in Country Music,” salutes that genre as a vehicle for women’s self-expression. An entire room is devoted to the musical greats of Mississippi, across all genres. It’s a fitting capstone to this journey through the Delta. Just as the blues was a foundation on which so much popular music was built, my deep dive into blues history culminates in a celebration of music’s full flowering from the Delta’s rich soil. Back on Highway 61, driving into Memphis, I feel the same thrill as more than a century’s worth of musicians as they sought their fortune in the Bluff City, leaving the Delta’s countryside in the rearview mirror. And yet, having soaked up the magic of that landscape, I can also sense the ways that Mississippi stayed with them — the wind howling over the flattened fields, the incandescent sun sinking in the west, with a long, soulful note ringing out low.  

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• 1/29-31: 11th Clarksdale Film & Music Festival • 4/15-18: 17th Juke Joint Festival & Related Events • 4/18: Cat Head Mini Blues Fest (post-JJF) • 5/8: 15th Clarksdale Caravan Music Fest • 5/29: 3rd Red’s Old-Timers Blues Fest • 5/29-31: Goat Fest VII • 8/13-15: 34th Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival • 10/1-2: Mighty Roots Music Festival • 10/10: Cat Head Mini Blues Fest (post-Biscuit) • 10/10: Super Blues Sunday – downtown venues • 10/14-16: Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival • 10/14-17: Deep Blues Fest

LIVE BLUES • LOCAL TOURS • HISTORY MARKERS • CANOE EXPEDITIONS • MUSEUMS In-person and virtual music calendars plus lodging info at VisitClarksdale.com. #VisitMSResponsibly

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Dr. Kaitlin Ryan

Caring for Tiny Hearts

Pediatric cardiology has come a long way since treating children simply as “little adults.” BY MICHAEL FINGER


t’s a fitting sentiment for the month of Valentine’s Day: “I fell in love with pediatric hearts,” says Dr. Kaitlin Ryan, discussing her pediatric residency training in Washington, D.C., and the career path that led her to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. A graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, Ryan completed medical school at Temple University, finished her fellowship at Georgetown University, then applied for a cardiology fellowship with the UT Health Science Center and Le Bonheur. That turned into a full-time staff position with the hospital in 2018. As an attending pediatric cardiologist, she specializes in cardiomyopathy, heart failure, and heart transplant medicine at Le Bonheur while also working with the cardio-oncology service at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “I feel very lucky to be part of an incredible group,” she says, “who work so well together to provide excellent care for the children of this area.” F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 53

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ith its four chambers, valves, veins, arteries, muscles, nerves and electrical pathways, the human heart is an incredibly complex organ that circulates oxygen-carrying blood from the lungs to every part of the body. With so many components having to work in perfect synchronization, there’s always the chance something may go wrong — at any age, even before birth. “The heart actually begins developing before many women even know they are pregnant,” says Ryan. “There’s still some muscle development over time, but the chambers are formed and the coronary connections are the way they should be within eight to 12 weeks of gestation.”

Years ago, physicians relied on EKGs and X-rays to diagnose heart problems. Advances in imaging allow pediatric cardiologists to detect problems early.

Some pediatric heart conditions are considered minor. The most common is a septal defect, a small opening between two chambers that is supposed to close before birth, but in one out of a hundred children, it doesn’t. As a result, the heart pumps inefficiently, and parents report vague symptoms: Their child seems more tired than other babies, doesn’t eat as much, or acts irritable. The good news is that treatment for this problem is relatively simple: A device called an occluder — basically a plug made of metal alloy — is threaded inside the heart through a catheter inserted in a leg vein and placed in the opening. “It stays in place for life,” says Ryan. “Obviously, it doesn’t grow as the child’s heart grows, but it gets incorporated into scar tissue that forms around it, and it keeps the hole closed.” A far more serious complication is a transposition of the major arteries, where the blood vessels linking the heart to the lungs are reversed. This causes the so-called “blue baby” syndrome, since the child isn’t

getting enough oxygen to thrive, and the skin actually takes on a blue color. In the past, children with this condition weren’t given much hope for survival. Today, thanks to better imaging and surgical techniques, outcomes have dramatically improved. “Catheter-based advancement over the past 10, 20, or 30 years has constantly been moving forward,” says Ryan. “We’re now able to save these ‘blue babies’ that otherwise didn’t have any option and can do complex palliative procedures that can give these children a life they otherwise wouldn’t have.” Even though open-chest surgery may be the best option, Ryan is impressed with advances in catheter interventions — working on the heart by threading tiny instruments inside the organ through arA fetal teries in the legs and echocardiogram can arms. “A child can look at the anatomy come in, we insert a plug for a septal defect, of a baby’s heart long and they go home maybefore birth. A more be two days later,” she says, “instead of having advanced technique, to be in the hospital a cardiac MRI, can for a week after major open-chest surgery.” provide very detailed The new procedures information about aren’t just a benefit for heart function. the young patient. “It’s a lot less stressful for the parents and family,” Ryan says. “It’s hard when a child has to go under anesthesia of any kind, because of the risks associated with that. So if we can lessen the concern of something bad happening to their child, that’s something we always try to aim for.” Other procedures that can now be performed by catheter include heart-valve replacement and cardiac ablations to correct problems with the heart rhythm. Atrial fibrillation, a chaotic beating of the upper chambers rather common in adults, is usually not a problem with children. They can, however, develop more serious arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia, normally detected by simply checking a child’s pulse, which can be treated by an electrophysiologist (a specialist in heart rhythm disorders), who threads catheters inside the heart to correct aberrant electrical pathways that are interfering with the normal heartbeat. “It’s obviously patient-dependent,” says Ryan, “but you’d be surprised how small of a patient you can actually treat with catheter procedures.”


an babies have heart attacks? Not in the usual sense, Ryan explains, where the problem is the result of an artery blocked by plaque formation. But a child of any age can have a wide range of heart conditions that are not immediately obvious. “Parents may notice their baby doesn’t finish his bottle, doesn’t have any appetite, or they’re not gaining weight,” says Ryan. “That’s because all these activities take energy, and because their hearts are not providing oxygen, they just don’t have the energy they need.” The tiny patients themselves often can’t vocalize how they


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feel, and some symptoms don’t immediately appear to be heart-related. She remembers one little boy, brought to the hospital because he seemed to have gastrointestinal problems. The other members of the family had caught a “stomach bug” weeks earlier but had all recovered; the child was still not feeling well.

“Parents may notice their baby doesn’t finish his bottle, doesn’t have any appetite, or they’re not gaining weight. That’s because all these activities take energy, and because their hearts are not providing oxygen, they just don’t have the energy they need.” — Dr. Kaitlin Ryan

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After a thorough exam, Ryan says, “It turned out he had very poor heart function. He was sick to his stomach because he wasn’t getting enough oxygen and nutrients to digest food effectively.” He was treated successfully with medications. In cases like that one, the problem is a disorder with the heart muscle. Some of these conditions are genetic, but Ryan admits, “We still don’t understand how all of them develop.” The most common conditions, which can develop at any age, are dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and restrictive cardiomyopathy, but in very basic terms they mean the same: Either because the muscles are weak or the chambers are dilated, the heart is not pumping as strongly as it should. Advances in imaging allow cardiologists to detect these problems early. A fetal echocardiogram, for example, can look at the anatomy of a baby’s heart long before birth. A more advanced technique, a cardiac MRI, can provide very detailed information bout heart function. “This can tell us the volume of the chambers and what percentage of blood is being pumped from the heart,” says Ryan. “It can show us very precisely how much blood flow is going to the right lung, and how much is going to the left lung. It can also show us if there’s been any scarring or damage to the heart muscle.” In many cases, the good news is that these conditions can be treated by medications. For more serious cases, surgeons implant battery-powered ventricular assist devices to help with heart function. Sometimes, however, it’s not that easy.


hildren are born with congenital diseases that, despite all the advances we’ve made, we just don’t have good surgical options where they would have a long-term life expectancy,” says Ryan. “So that’s my area

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of expertise — managing patients with abnormal anatomy and physiology who need a heart transplant.” Every week, Le Bonheur’s cardiology team meets to discuss pediatric patients with special challenges. “We’re a very collaborative group — congenital cardiologists, fetal cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, and the cardiothoracic surgeons — working together to explore potential treatment options.” Ryan particularly remembers one patient, “and there was really no great palliative surgical options, so she was put on the transplant list once she was born.” The little girl was fortunate: A donor was found before she was two months old, and she received a heart transplant. “She’s doing very, very well,” says Ryan, explaining that children often handle transplant procedures better than adults. “They are less likely to have organ rejection, which is your body’s way of trying to rid itself of something it considers foreign. But because infant immune systems are not as well developed, they tend to do much better in the long-term. I believe she was the youngest transplant that we’ve ever done.” According to Ryan, Le Bonheur performs about a dozen heart transplants a year, and conducts more than 200 cardiac surgeries or procedures. Even though “pediatric” usually refers to children, in many situations these boys and girls remain patients for life, with the doctors at Le Bonheur following their progress when they transfer to an adult cardiologist — such as specialists at Stern Cardiovascular Center or Sutherland Cardiology Clinic — in their late teens or early twenties. “We usually transition them over a couple of visits, so they and their families can gain that comfort level working with somebody new,” says Ryan, “and knowing that somebody is going to be providing that same level of impeccable care for their child.” Besides, as she points out, “It’s hard to let go of a relationship you’ve built over 20 years or more.”



ven though the specialists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital primarily focus on pediatric cancer, there is considerable crossover with the cardiologists at Le Bonheur. “A lot of cardiac disease can be associated with hematological disorders associated with cancer,” says Ryan, “and we know that some of the chemotherapies given to save their lives from cancer can be cardiotoxic.” She consults with the patient’s oncologist and then meets with the families to give them assurance their child is in good hands. “I tell the families that this is by far the most important treatment they can get. We know it can be potentially detrimental to the heart muscle, but it’s going to save your child’s life, and I have lots of medicines available to support the heart.”

Among other things, Ryan would like to see more advances in pediatric medicine. “Children are not just small adults,” she says. “I would like more things made available just for children. Everything seems to get looked at first for adults, and then for children, because — thankfully — fewer kids are sick. But there are a lot of things about children’s anatomy and physiology that are not met by simply making the devices smaller. “We’ve recently seen the FDA approval of Entresto, originally developed for older patients, for use in pediatric heart failure, and that’s been a huge step for us,” she continues. “But I want to see more medicines that aren’t just given to children as an afterthought, as well as more mechanical support or devices that can help children specifically and improve their life quality and life expectancy.”


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ess than a hundred years ago, “blue babies” didn’t have a chance for survival. Other cardiac conditions meant short lifespans for children. Recent years have seen impressive advances in education, awareness, medications, procedures, and overall treatment. “The types of surgery that we do now are different from what we did 30 years ago,” says Ryan, “and having the knowledge that each patient is unique and their physiology is different is really important.” The best part of her job, she says, is building relationships with families, especially as part of the transplant team. “I get to meet families, though it’s usually not under the best circumstances. I’m meeting them when they’ve been told something devastating about their child, who they thought was perfectly healthy.” But then, says Ryan, “Being able to grow with them and see their child get through all that, and thrive and run around? That’s been such a special part of what I do.” 

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Biz 901

or several years, INSIDE MEMPHIS BUSINESS magazine has celebrated CEOs of the Year — those top leaders possessed of insight and vision who have made a difference in our community. The process was straightforward: We would choose four, each representing an organization of a different size. IMB would have a sponsored breakfast honoring the executives, each of whom would speak at the gathering. Soon after last year’s event, the coronavirus hit our shores and changed everything. When it came time to consider how we’d honor CEOs this time around, we decided to change the format. Instead of limiting it to four bosses from a variety of companies, we’d recognize those on the front lines of battling the pandemic. We chose seven leaders of healthcare organizations in Memphis, each of whom had to react quickly to the evolving situation. They had some issues in common, such as changing the environment for employees and patients, but they also had different challenges and priorities that reflected their missions. In every case, the CEOs spoke highly of their staffs who went above and beyond, from physicians, to nurses, to administrators, to environmental clean-up crews. Patient care was the first priority, but processes had to change; consideration had to be given to families of covid-19 patients, to non-covid patients, to newly remote workers. Regulations were coming in fast, from the federal level, the state level, and the county level. Supply chains were disrupted, and information was often incomplete and always changing. New ways of doing things were implemented, and many of those will stay even after the pandemic, such as telemedicine and the way visitors and patients are processed. Working remotely will be much more common than it was a year ago. And these CEOs have watched, learned, and guided their organizations to deal with the challenges and, as many of them will say, doing it without a playbook to guide them. But they all have those qualities of leadership, experience, and empathy that allow them to confront the singular trials of this era. As for our annual CEO breakfast, that’s not going to happen. Instead, we’ve invited the honorees to participate in a virtual panel discussion about the state of running a healthcare organization in 2021. We’ll be announcing that shortly, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, read these seven remarkable stories. — Jon W. Sparks, IMB Editor


Michael Ugwueke, MPH, DHA, FACHE President and CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare


CEO since 2017 over five adult inpatient hospitals and affiliated companies. He recently received the Harry S. Hertz Leadership Award from the Baldrige Foundation.


hief executive officers come with plenty of experience before landing the top job, but 2020 changed the entire calculus. “It was learning on the job with pivoting as the way to do it,” says Michael Ugwueke of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. “Being nimble is one thing we learned early on in the process.” As he recalls it, those days seem so long ago in a way, but one of the early challenges was overcoming the lack of protective equipment. “They say that necessity is the mother of in-

vention,” Ugwueke says, “so we went on and started manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment [PPE] with the help of our community and various other entities.” A lot of information was coming in, but not so much that the course was always clear. “No one knew exactly how much volume we would be getting, but we wanted to make sure we had enough capacity, particularly on ventilators and ICU bed availability,” Ugwueke says. Elective surgeries were shut down for a time and effort was devoted to studying treatments and what might happen with vaccines. “It was a work in progress and we were learning every day, back in those days.” One of the less common practices that found sudden favor was that of telehealth or telemedicine. “We quickly pivoted to that when this came about,” he says, “because we wanted to discourage people from coming to the hospital, but at the same time we did not want them to suffer at home without reaching out to their physicians. And that has become one of the things I look forward to continue

on with when this is over. Part of innovation is making sure that our patients now have that as one of the options. You can come to see a physician, you can go to the ER, you can be admitted to the hospital — but now you have another option where you don’t have to leave your home.” The concept goes well beyond just getting a consult online. “There’s something called Hospital at Home, and that is a means of keeping people at home for what I would call low-acuity care,” Ugwueke says. “They don’t have to be in the hospital occupying beds, but rather are in their own beds with family members around them. We know from studies that people tend to recover quickly when they’re in their own element, in their own house.” The effects of the pandemic also, of course, impacted every part of the hospital’s operation, including logistics. “We’re looking at our supply chain processes, asking what could we do differently if we’re faced with shortages again. We’re looking at inventories and determining all the things that we could do to betF E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 • I N S I D E M E M P H I S B U S I N E S S • 59

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Leading Together Baptist Memorial Health Care proudly congratulates the seven talented executives named CEO of the Year by Memphis Magazine, including our own Jason Little. At a time when exceptional leadership proved more valuable than ever, these professionals set a shining example of what can be accomplished when we work together. Thank you, and congratulations to all on this well-deserved recognition.


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ter prepare.” He adds, fervently, that “I hope though, there won’t be another hundred-year pandemic happening.” Ugwueke is particularly grateful for the work done by the people under Methodist’s umbrella. “Our employees truly rose to the occasion and they still are continuing,” he says. He notes that most disasters or crises have a distinct beginning and end. If there’s an earthquake, there may be aftershocks, and then help can go in. Or when a hurricane hits, it blows over and recovery gets underway. “But this pandemic has been going on since March,” he says. “In fact, it’s gotten much more intense. Day in and day out there are staffing challenges and the volume increases and for employees, there’s fear associated with catching the virus, both for your family and your kids. And you have schools shut down and have to pivot through virtual learning for your kids. Parents are now working from home. Even with all that, our employees adapted in ways that we never could imagine.” The role of communication, always essential in a complex operation like a hospital, became even more critical. “We have to be totally transparent in everything that we’re doing,” Ugwueke says. “We can tell you exactly how many covid patients are in the hospital, how we’re doing on our PPE levels, because we have dashboards that we share every day. We have to be able to communicate to the staff everything that has gone on at the hospital because it gives them a window to what’s going on across our six hospitals.” Running a healthcare organization like Methodist requires special skills even in normal times. The pandemic ramped up the challenges even further. And then there was the acquisition. Methodist was all set to take over the two Memphis-area Saint Francis hospitals owned by Dallas-based healthcare system Tenet Healthcare Corporation, which wanted to pull out of the local market. The $350 million acquisition was moving along until November, when the Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint and authorized a suit in federal court to block the merger, claiming healthcare costs would rise and quality of care would diminish. Methodist and Tenet were surprised by the action and strongly disagreed, but decided to abandon the merger plan. It was just another complicating element in a topsy-turvy year that forced challenges on everyone. But for Ugwueke, he sees Methodist coming out of the era of the coronavirus victorious. “It’s a tough time,” he says, “but we are in it together, and we are encouraged to fight the fight for however many months before we get all these vaccines in our bodies.”

James Downing, MD President and CEO of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital St. Jude is one of the world’s premier pediatric cancer research centers, with more than 3,600 employees. It costs about $1 billion to operate St. Jude annually, most of which comes from donations.


r. James Downing well remembers when he knew his world would change. “Things were looking good,” he says of the time in early March of last year. There had been a successful faculty retreat and his daughter had taken him to a concert in Las Vegas. And then he was out riding his bike with another person from St. Jude when he got the page. “It said Shelby County had its first positive individual. We looked at each other and said, ‘Everything’s going to change from this moment forward.’” The campus shut down very quickly. “We knew we weren’t going to be overrun by covid-19 patients,” he says, “but we knew we had to protect our patients from the virus because we had no idea what the virus would do to the immune-suppressed cancer patients or children with sickle cell disease or the other diseases that we treat.” St. Jude’s senior leadership group quickly met and established protocols for who could interact with patients, and who was essential to be on campus and who wasn’t. They realized they needed to know right away who was infected and to be able to trace, isolate, and quarantine. Testing would be key, but not the maladroit approach going on in the rest of the country. “Like all hospitals, we immediately invoked our emergency operating procedures and set up an incident command center, and all the leadership went and lived there for over six months,” Downing says. Everybody worked there, with a big boardroom, computers, printers, meals, support, video, TV, hookups. “We were getting information as it was coming constantly during those first months.” The campus was zoned and employees badged. Employees on the patient care side were tested every four days. What couldn’t be gotten through the supply chain was made there. Eventually all employees could be tested and get an app that told them their status. They could eventually do up to 6,000 tests a week with a 24-hour turnaround, which makes tracing much easier. “We created what we felt was the safest environment in the world against the sars-

cov-2 virus, which is what we needed to prevent any chance of our patients or families getting infected from our employees, or employees getting infected from those patients,” Downing says. A big part of his role was communicating. “Every single day I sent out a communication. It was to tell them why we’re making the decisions that we are making, when those decisions may change, and why they’re changing federal regulations, CDC regulations, or recommendations. It was to provide comfort to the employees and say, ‘Sure this is tough, but here’s what we’ve got to do.’” Much of the effort was to provide support and encouragement. Downing had lots of town halls with 15 employees in an auditorium that could hold 80, covering anything of concern from protocols, to working remotely, to dealing with children and school. “We decreased the number of patients that were coming to campus to decrease the risk of those that have to be on campus as inpatients,” Downing says. And part of that, he says, was figuring out the best approach for patients staying in St. Jude’s housing facilities who didn’t need to come in every day. “If we could draw blood at the housing facilities, they wouldn’t have to come here,” he says. “If we could take care of their surgical wounds at the housing facility, they wouldn’t have to come here. If we could do telemedicine, then they could stay in the housing and not have to come every day to increase exposure. So we really beefed up telemedicine services.” Their efforts never stopped. “For three-plus months,” he says, “I don’t think any of us did anything but pay attention to the pandemic and work 24 hours a day to make sure that we were responding appropriately, creating the right environment, and providing the right level of protection for our employees and for our patients and for their families.” St. Jude’s considerable research muscle wasn’t going to add much to the resources available to the pharmaceutical companies working directly on treatments, therapies, and vaccines. But, Downing asks, “We’re the world experts in immunology and infectious disease, so can we look at the pathophysiology of covid-19 and learn something about how it induces illness? And we can look at the immune response and how that reacts to the virus, and see what that might tell us about vaccination in the future and what it might tell us about the pathophysiology of the disease.” Individual investigators at St. Jude were free to pursue studies on covid-19, and it received about $6 million in grants from federal or private agencies to fund that research. Downing says it’ll be a long time until we’re back to normal. There is much yet to be learned about the disease and related strains, F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 • I N S I D E M E M P H I S B U S I N E S S • 61

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and it’s not yet known whether a vaccine prevents infection or prevents disease. And trials on children are only recently underway. But one thing is certain: Downing will keep up with those emails he’s been sending out. “The communication has really helped build a community,” he says. “As we go forward the next year, it isn’t all about the logistics of covid, but there are lots of things we can communicate about that help employees realize they’re part of a family, that I’m here, that I’m watching, that I’m listening, that I’m learning, and that I appreciate what they’re doing.”

Jason Little, MBA, MSHA, FACHE President and CEO of Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation

In 2014, he became only the fifth person since 1912 to serve as the organization’s president and CEO. The Baptist network offers inpatient, skilled nursing, rehabilitation, cardiac and cancer care, dental, mental health, pain management, and clinical services.



e’ve had 19,000 heroes who have done the real work,” says Jason Little. “It has been a year where heroism has been a word, but I certainly don’t think that it’s misapplied here. Every day our employees put their own safety on the line to show up and take care of patients and fight this coronavirus, and they’ve done a remarkable job.” It was good to have that staff across the Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation network, because the challenges of 2020 were enormous. For Little, it was crucial for him to provide support and remove barriers. “There was no operating manual for the pandemic,” he says, “so we’ve had to put our best thinking caps on.” At the beginning of the pandemic, not every decision was the right one. “Let me give you an example,” Little says. “When we were still learning what it all meant, I looked at my colleagues and said that it was important for all of us who don’t take direct care of patients to show up, to work every day, and support those who do. All for one and one for all. Everybody would show up to work every day. But we learned more about how contagious the virus was, and we thought about the essential workforce. For instance, if our two payroll people got sick, people couldn’t get paychecks.” Organizations who succeeded on the many levels required to fight the coronavirus soon realized that they had to think creatively and quickly. Hence, the ability to break down those barriers and swiftly amend ideas, such

as the notion of showing up to work every day. One of the stunning changes that Little witnessed has also proven to be the wave of the future. “In January 2020, we had about 90 people a month who were receiving their care through telemedicine with a primary care visit with their physician,” he says. “In April that number shot up to 22,000. That meant removing a lot of barriers there, and it took a complete team effort. Certainly the information system technology folks, but also all the care providers that have to figure out how to engage with that. And then the patients who have to learn it and everything else to be able to interact and get their care needs met. It tested all of our mettle across the entire corporation, for sure.” Another example of a wave of the future relates to new physician clinics that Little describes as “kind of looking like a Sonic on the outside. Think about driving up and placing your order and a car hop coming to your window. We’ve learned with having now done over half a million coronavirus tests that nobody likes to get a cotton swab stuck up their nostrils. However, if you can drive through and get that done by a caregiver through your window, that’s not a bad way to go. And there are a lot of things from a care perspective where we used to bring patients into a waiting room and they’d get lab draws, vaccines, and such that we can now simply come out to their car and administer right from our physician’s office. That is something that will definitely be carried forward.” Like all organizations who offered elective procedures and who made significant revenues from them, Baptist had to cut back. “We serve three different states — Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas — and each state was slightly different, but they all put a moratorium on elective cases,” Little says. “And at that time, our revenues dropped by about 70 percent. And so you can think about trying to not only take care of our communities, but also figure out how you’re going to continue to fulfill your responsibility to 19,000 team members when your revenues drop 70 percent. Those were uncertain days. We took out a significant line of credit just so that we could maintain liquidity, not knowing what was coming. Fortunately, we never had to tap into that, but we had it there and we were able to start back up again in May with the electives.” But later in the year, elective cases, particularly ones that required an overnight stay, had to be cut back to accommodate the surge of coronavirus patients. Those surgeries pay the bills, but Baptist had to be able to move staff from the operating rooms to take care of the growing number of covid-19 patients. Little says that this has been the year of the healthcare worker. “We had the highest em-

ployee satisfaction survey results we’ve ever had this year, and in the middle of a crisis,” he says. “That’s the result of many things. I’d like to think that there’s some good management nestled in there for sure, but I think the common purpose and mission that everybody shared, and also the recognition that they are relying upon our nurses and respiratory therapists and physicians and others to get through this time, has really translated into some unique rewards for these caregivers who are sacrificing to provide this care. And I think all of that really has translated on the bottom line to a good result for us.”

Sally Hurt-Deitch, RN, MSN, MHA, FACHE

Group CEO of Tenet Health’s Mid-South Region, Saint Francis Healthcare Market CEO, and Saint Francis Hospital CEO since 2019. Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare operates 65 acute-care and specialty hospitals nationwide, including St. Francis Hospital–Memphis and St. Francis Hospital–Bartlett.


hen S a l ly Hurt-Deitch took over leadership of Tenet Healthcare’s Memphis market in late 2019, the parent company was looking to sell off the two Saint Francis hospitals in the area. Little did she — or anyone — realize what the next year-plus would hold. “The year 2020 was like no other, and I’ve been in this field for about 30 years,” she says. “It raised different challenges for all of us that we’d never really thought through. It affected healthcare, whether emphasizing the need or shifting and changing the dynamic and the way people look at hospitals and health systems.” As the pandemic seized global attention, the focus, she says, was almost like doing disaster preparation. “We were looking at mobilization, how you do everything from triaging patients and figuring out our resources. The initial issues with running low on PPE — would we have enough to protect our teams waiting for giant surges and influxes of patients? The beginning month was the adrenaline rush of adrenaline rushes.” Dealing with internal communications had to be rethought. “The days of giant town hall meetings and the ways of communicating in-person with your teams was really halted for quite a while,” she says. “How do you continue that communication flow so that nobody ever gets to a point of feeling like they don’t know what’s going on?”



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When you fast-forward, Hurt-Deitch says, it becomes the long-term normal. “It changes the way you have to look at the hospitals and the way you have to run hospitals or health systems. It’s all based on what we need to do for the community and the realization that, while we’re having to live and understand and learn how to deal with a pandemic and a novel virus and the health effects of that, what else has this made an impact on?” Hurt-Deitch offers the example of patients with other conditions, such as heart disease or lung disease. “It’s a total curveball,” she says. “People say they’re afraid to go to the hospital because they might catch covid, but they need to seek emergency care. So how do you make sure the community feels that hospitals are a safe place to come to seek care? It changed the dynamic of our communication pattern and style.” People needed to know that the hospital was safe, but they have been processing so much more information on surges, coordination with public health agencies, community leadership, and institutes of higher education. Hospitals, she says, have to help the public distill all that and prepare for what the future may or may not hold. Hurt-Deitch says that some changes are likely to become permanent, something most organizations have found to be true. The way that her hospitals register patents, identify people with needs, and create outreach have all been impacted. “In the past, a typical community event was a gathering,” she says. “Now it has forced the issue of how to create a virtual type of offering and an education that is still available, but with different precautions.” Beyond community events, she says there’s the larger challenge of community education. “It’s unfortunate, but so much of the healthcare world and services have become politicized, and whether there’s distrust of government or vaccines, there’s rhetoric from multiple areas feeding information to so many people. As CEOs and healthcare providers, we really have to put out one message that resonates through multiple communities.” And as for that planned acquisition by Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare of the Saint Francis hospitals? In November, the Federal Trade Commission announced it would oppose the deal. The two healthcare organizations disagreed with the FTC’s action but decided to abandon the merger plan. For Hurt-Deitch, it was crucial that whatever happened, her job was to make sure the staff was not distracted by the business goings-on. “The staff shouldn’t become concerned about a potential sale or merger or anything else,” she says. “The messaging all along had been and continues to be that we are a hospital and

are here to serve our community. It should never take our focus away from the patient.”

Reginald W. Coopwood, MD

President and CEO of Regional One Health Appointed in 2010. Recipient of Inside Memphis Business’ CEO of the Year in 2014. Regional One provides services to residents from all backgrounds in a 150-mile radius from its main campus. It has the only Level 1 Trauma Center in the Mid-South, its burn center is verified by the American Burn Association and American College of Surgeons, and it has delivered more high-risk pregnancies than any other Memphis hospital.


he normal course of operation at Regional One has long been devoted to dealing with the urgent. It routinely handles a high volume of trauma cases, high-risk OB situations, and critical burn cases. For Dr. Reginald Coopwood, the onset of the pandemic was when “all of a sudden, the world laid covid in all of our laps. We didn’t stop what we normally do, but it added a whole new dynamic on top of it. We were in a position to continue doing our normal while trying to navigate the abnormal.” For example, Regional One has a department that handles protective equipment, but that rapidly became a top priority when PPEs became scarce. “We were scrambling around trying to find source product in China,” Coopwood says, “and that was the first wave of how our life changed, because what happened was it didn’t take away what we’d normally do. It just added on this complexity.” And then the covid cases ballooned in early July, slowed down, then went up again around Thanksgiving with the weeks after the holidays keeping everyone on high alert. “It has kept us focused on the immediacy while we’re trying to manage the strategic imperatives that are always before us,” he says. One of Coopwood’s challenges came because many working at the hospital decided to help out at the hotspots around the country. “Some people didn’t give notice,” he says, “but just said, ‘I’m going to New York, see ya.’ And there we were with a workforce shortage that had to be replaced, and trying to keep salaries competitive so the next group of people don’t leave.” On top of all this was handling typical CEO duties in a decidedly atypical situation. “We were in the process of putting our budget together, one that’s based on a five-year run rate, last year’s experience, projecting growth here and there,” he explains. “But in the middle of last March we were shutting down elec-

tive procedures and volumes go down. So we met with our board and instead of having a full year budget, we said we couldn’t predict quarter to quarter — the best we could do was give a quarter budget. “And so we had a three-month budget approved at the end of June for July, August, September, which was as far as we could see. And it was still a guess. We’ve been fairly good at it, but it’s a scary thing to not be able to see the future like we normally see it.” The future also arrived a bit sooner than expected. “We will continue to grow our telemedicine impact,” Coopwood says. “We tend to figure out how to do stuff when we know that we’ll get paid for it. Telemedicine wasn’t well reimbursed prior to the pandemic, but during the pandemic they agreed to reimburse for it. Now it becomes a part of all of our strategy going forward.” And like other organizations, the notion of managing people by watching their productivity while working at their cubicles has changed. “We’ve transitioned a lot of our billing and collecting functions off-site,” he says. “Now we’re managing people by outcomes and that’s really how we should have been managing people, but we’d never envisioned that part of our workforce could function well outside of a hospital environment. And some of those areas we won’t bring back in.” For example, a patient’s electronic medical record is easily accessible now, and there’s no need for physicians to haul around a thick paper chart. “We’d always thought that the patient wanted that touch when seeing the doctor, and to have a nurse take their blood pressure,” Coopwood says. “And I think to a high degree they did, but now that they’ve seen that they can have that physician interaction through a computer or on the phone, the public will get a little more comfortable with telemedicine as well.”

Steve J. Schwab, MD

Chancellor and CEO of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) The Center, headquartered in Memphis, contains all six of UT’s doctoral-degree-granting health science colleges and has locations around the state. It employs more than 6,000 people statewide.


s chancellor of UTHSC, Dr. Steve J. Schwab oversees the sprawling educational operation largely at the doctoral level at four main campuses in the state’s largest cities. UTHSC t r ai ns mo st of t he st ate’s do ctor a l hea lt hca re work force , i nclud i ng




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physicians, dentists, pharmacists, physical therapists, nurses, and more. “Education was hit hard by the pandemic,” Schwab says. Maintaining the Center’s mission required a lot of face-to-face work, since “more than half of our training is usually clinical and done in clinics and hospitals. We maintained our clinical enterprise using PPE and had to adapt our educational programs to go full-speed in our partner hospitals.” The Center also educates residents and fellows before they go into practice. “Those physicians and dentists stayed working full-time and they were on the front lines,” Schwab says. “We adapted to decrease our density, maintain everything we could do online, and do our laboratories, simulation, and clinical care face-toface. We had a near-hospital-like experience, but with an educational flavor, and I think we’ve successfully adapted.” More than a thousand physicians are faculty who are active in clinical care and, Schwab says, the Center didn’t miss a beat. “There was some slow-down such as the elective procedures like plastic surgery,” he says, “but the inpatient setting dramatically expanded. The intensive-care units were full, the hospitals were full, but they weren’t full of elective cases, they were full of covid cases. So it put not only work stresses, but financial stresses on all of our clinical practice groups, but we worked our way through that.” UTHSC does more than $100 million of research a year, and the changes last year meant it needed a new set of guidelines on how to do research in a pandemic. In addition, he says, “We had one of the 11 regional biocontainment labs in the United States and that lab literally went into 24-hour operation. We almost doubled our staff doing covid-related research, usually collaborative projects with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and major pharmaceutical manufacturers on either aspects of vaccine development or therapeutic interventions.” So Schwab needed to keep the operation functioning on as many levels as possible. “We did so with social distancing, masking, and everything else, and we learned what everyone else learned is that if you pay attention to the rules strictly you really limit transmission dramatically,” he says. The UTHSC community was often tested and used PPE rigorously, which limited occurrences of positive test results. However, being able to continue in that way was expensive. It added costs but didn’t bring in revenue. “And unlike the hospitals, we got very little CARES money, but we were able to make our way through it by tightening our belt,” Schwab says. Some of the changes forced on the Center in the last year can be useful to carry on even

after the pandemic passes. For example, UTHSC has learned that a lot of work can be done at home and it will be more flexible in encouraging that, Schwab says. Didactic teaching will be available faceto-face, but even before the pandemic, in-person attendance wasn’t required. Lectures will continue to be podcast and broadcast and students can always use email and the telephone to talk with faculty. Some hands-on teaching will always need to be that way, such as surgery and pharmaceutical compounding. “You’ll see us doing more things remotely than we did before,” he says. “It will be not a revolution, but a matter of degree.” The last year has provided more than the usual learning experience for students. Firstand second-year students, Schwab says, had “an opportunity to participate both in terms of diagnostic testing and in terms of administering vaccines. They’ve risen to the occasion in a major way — nursing students, doctoral nursing students, pharmacy students, and the dental and medical students.” He says he was impressed by the way faculty, staff, and students stepped up and did what had to be done. Students had to learn additional things in a more difficult environment, the staff was tasked with sterilizing rooms every day, and the faculty worked longer hours teaching the same number of students, but in smaller groups to keep distance. Schwab is particularly proud of one achievement in particular: “We graduated everyone on time last year, and we’re on track to graduate everyone on time this year.”

Michael Wiggins, MBA, FACHE

President of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital Appointed in April 2019. Le Bonheur began in 1923 as a charitable organization and eventually grew its mission to give medical care to children with a promise to never turn a child away. It now has a network throughout the Mid-South and has been rated one of the top children’s hospitals in the nation.


ichael Wiggins appreciates the chal lenges that have threatened to overwhelm adult hospitals. He also notes that the experience of the pediatric world brings its own needs for quick thinking and the ability to respond quickly to a changing situation. “We’re still seeing a number of children with covid-19, but thankfully with kids, their symptoms are not nearly as severe as adults, so fewer children are requiring hospitalization and intensive care,” he says. “But some of our



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challenges are dealing with covid-positive parents, grandparents, or other caregivers. Our teams have certainly been on the front lines, but very often with children, the outcome is much more positive than what we’ve seen in the adult world.” Le Bonheur still took steps from the beginning, such as cutting back on elective procedures and offering more telehealth visits. “We do whatever we can to continue providing care to the chronic high-acuity types of patients we have so that they would not have any delays in care.” He says the facility noticed from the beginning that families were concerned that bringing their children in would risk exposure to covid. The physicians, nurses, and therapists quickly adapted to provide care. Wiggins says, “And I’m just as proud of our hospitality team, our housekeepers for developing new cleaning

“I think if I did anything it was to try to inspire the confidence in the team’s own abilities, the confidence in our mission of providing healthcare to kids, and to know that we were indeed going to get through this together.” — Michael Wiggins protocols and new ways to create safe environments so that no family would feel like they needed to delay care out of fear for contracting covid.” Nonetheless, surgeons at Le Bonheur noticed consequences of people reluctant to bring their children in for treatment. “They were seeing more ruptured appendixes than they had ever seen,” Wiggins says. “Other physicians were telling me they’d seen other childhood illness that was more progressed than what they’d seen in the past. And so we wanted to make sure we were creating environments that families didn’t worry about seeking care. I’m confident that today you’re much safer coming to Le Bonheur than you are going to the grocery store.” Certain practices brought about by the pandemic are likely to remain even after the crisis has passed. “We’ve put in place protocols around how we schedule appointments, how we deal with waiting areas, how we deal with cleaning our environment. Those are going to be with us from now on, I think,” Wiggins says. “And there’s the work that we’re doing in the community that we’ll continue to see going forward.” Beyond the hospital’s mission of caring for sick and injured children, there is a focus on how to keep children well and safe. “Through telehealth, we’ve been able to interact with children and families in a new way,” he says. “Some of our chronic families that in the past would make an in-person clinic visit

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are now making that visit via tele-health. And we’re able to actually see their environments in the home and find better ways to care for them. We’ve had community health workers who have identified issues through those virtual visits, such as food insecurity or other needs in the home. They’ve taken it upon themselves to deliver food to some of these families, take paper products to some of these families, anything we can do to maximize their health status.” Wiggins lauds his staff for “stepping up in a remarkable way and demonstrating flexibility and resilience. We’ve had to follow what felt like ever-changing policies from the Centers for Disease Control and others, but the staff has just been tremendous in finding new ways to provide care to the families who need us.” A side benefit of covid prevention practices, he notes, is that masking and distancing also limit the spread of flu and some of these other seasonal illnesses we might see in children. That has allowed some of Le Bonheur’s staff to go to adult hospitals in the community and help provide care. As the leader at Le Bonheur, Wiggins reflects that, “sometimes you get into these crisis situations and the best thing that you can do is be a calm and reassuring presence that we’re going to get through this together. I think if I did anything it was to try to inspire the confidence in the team’s own abilities, the confidence in our mission of providing healthcare to kids, and to know that we were indeed going to get through this together.” Wiggins also tapped into the national network of children’s hospitals to mine for information on what was going on elsewhere. “The Children’s Hospital Association is a professional organization for the various children’s hospitals across the country,” he says, “and we had routine discussions at least weekly about handling particular situations and providing the best environments.” Wiggins says that he also serves on the board for the Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee. “Those are all the CEOs of Tennessee’s children’s hospitals, and we likewise would be together virtually every week to discuss how we were responding to the situation, whether it was visitor guidelines or how we were dealing with testing, and how we were dealing with providing isolated environments for our patients who were covid-19." Meanwhile, vaccines for children typically lag behind development of those for adults. Le Bonheur researchers are involved in that, and when vaccines finally do arrive, Wiggins will urge parents — particularly those who may be reluctant to allow vaccinations — to understand the science. “Vaccination is the right decision for the children and for our community. We want to help them understand that.” 

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The Cotton Boll

Our history expert solves local mysteries: who, what, when, where, why, and why not. Well, sometimes.

DEAR VANCE: I understand that a popular eatery called the Cotton Boll once stood near Overton Park, but I can find no trace of that establishment. Can you help? — T.G., MEMPHIS.

DEAR T.G.: Anyone reading the winners of the Readers’ Restaurant Poll in this issue and perusing our “Memphis Eats A-Z” feature is surely struck by this notion: With so many classic dining establishments in town, and so many restaurateurs who have devoted their lives to serving mouth-watering dining dishes, why hasn’t our city ever established something like a Restaurant Hall of Fame? I suppose they are waiting for the Lauderdale Foundation to kick off the fund-raising for such a venture. And I’ll be glad to do that — just as soon as I find some funds of my own. But let me say right now that if I were allowed a vote, the first person I would nominate for inclusion in a culinary hall of fame would be Harold Fortune. This gentleman established three of our city’s most popular eateries: Fortune’s Belvedere, Fortune’s Jungle Garden (both on Union Avenue), and Fortune’s Cotton Boll, on East Parkway, where Sam Cooper dead-ends into Overton Park. I’ve told stories of his Belvedere and Jungle Garden ventures before, as I’m sure everyone remembers. But I’ve put off saying much about the Cotton Boll, for

the simple reason that I wasn’t able to find much about the place — not even a grainy snapshot. Until now, that is, when I turned up a 1961 menu (left), which has a decent image of the restaurant on the cover, and inside — well, I’ll get to that in a minute. First, a quick background. Fortune was born in 1883 in Hickman, Kentucky, but his parents quite naturally brought him along when they moved to Memphis in the early 1900s to open a drugstore on Main Street. When he began working in the family business, young Harold quickly noticed that the most popular (and money-making) part of that operation was the soda fountain, and Fortune’s home-made ice cream was in such demand that drivers parked outside and waiters brought passengers their sodas, sundaes, and milkshakes. According to some historians, Fortune-Ward Drug Store was the first soda fountain in America to offer “drive-in” service. Sometime in the late 1920s, Fortune opened his own place at Union and Belvedere, a handsome mission-style building that he called Fortune’s Belvedere. He served diner-type food — hamburgers and hotdogs, mostly — and made his own ice cream from a small factory on the premises. That location proved so successful that he embarked on a more ambitious plan — and created one of this city’s most fondly remembered “hot spots” for the young crowd. Several miles to the west, he opened the famous Jungle Garden, also serving casual food, but in a “tropical” setting, complete with palm trees, bamboo, cages holding various wild animals, and even a pet chimpanzee (shown here). In 1939, he opened a third location, but the one on East Parkway was considerably more sedate — more of a full-scale restaurant. That 1961 menu mentioned earlier offers an enticing selection of regular “sit-down” fare: T-bone steaks, filet mignon, pork chops, jumbo shrimp, veal cutlets, and more. That year, the most expensive items on the menu were the filet mignon for



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$2.95 and something called “Lobster Dainties” for only $2. Everything else, from steaks to seafood — whether it was a broiled whole flounder, stuffed deviled crabs, or Florida fried shrimp — was less than two bucks. The Cotton Boll served more than 20 different sandwiches. Diners enjoyed the usual fare such as hamburgers, grilled cheese, and ham and cheese, but one oddity that’s hard to find at any restaurant today — and quite a bargain at only 30 cents — was the goose liver sandwich. Fortune apparently thought his salads were good enough to declare them “famous” and the menu reminded diners that chicken salad, potato salad, shrimp salad, and others were “crisp, fresh, and inviting, with vitamin-filled vegetables.” The man got his start with soda fountains, and the Cotton Boll included frozen treats, among them an Really? I honestly can’t remember the last time — or “extra good” ice cream sundae, milkshakes, malts, anytime, for that matter — I noticed the driver of the and freezes in three flavors (lime, orange, and pinenext car munching on fried shrimp. Some things just apple). One item designed to “double your pleasure,” don’t work as take-out food, if you ask me. according to the menu, was a “Frosted Coke,” availIncredibly popular at the time, none of Fortune’s able for a quarter. restaurants have survived. He sold the Belvedere loThat intrigues me, for this reason: The menu’s listing cation, which had been converted into a full-blown for refreshments includes lemon- and limeades, sweet ice cream factory, to Midwest Dairy, but the old buildmilk, chocolate milk, coffee, and even ice ings were demolished to make way The old menu water. There’s not a single mention of a for a gas station. really pushes the The Jungle Garden, his most famous soft drink of any kind, yet they served a “frozen” Coke — presumably Coca-Cola. venture, came down in the 1960s, when “Chicken-On-The-Go” Not everything came from the freezthe city pushed I-240 through the city. featured on the cover, er. Other desserts included “homemade It stood where Union Avenue crosses pies baked in our own kitchen” (apple, described as “the South’s over the expressway today. cherry, and pecan) and homemade layer And the Cotton Boll? Another vicbest golden-brown fried cake, though they don’t say what flavors tim of the interstate system, it was chicken served unjointed demolished in the 1960s when everyor icing; I guess you just asked. With Fortune’s keen sense of the valone thought I-40 would slice through without silverware.” ue of “drive-in” food, it’s not surprising Overton Park. For years, the site was that the Cotton Boll offered “Take-Out Treats.” The a vacant lot, with just a stump of the original sign reold menu really pushes the “Chicken-On-The-Go” maining. Now, that whole block is being converted into featured on the cover, described as “the South’s best a modern apartment complex. golden-brown fried chicken served unjointed withLate in life, Fortune embarked on yet another venout silverware.” ture, a combination pet and garden center on Elvis Yes, he said “unjointed” and I really don’t care to Presley Blvd., but I don’t believe he had made much know what that means. It kind of makes me want to orprogress on it when he died in 1963 at the age of 80. He was quite a character, well-known around town, der something else. I mean, the chicken probably didn’t especially when he was accompanied by his pet chimcome with a head, either, but they don’t say “headless.” panzee. I hope I answered your question, T.G., and I’m Some things are best left unsaid. The only other “Take-Out Treat” was something a glad I found the old menu. It’s an interesting artifact bit unusual: “Shrimp On-the-Go.” For just $1.50 diners of bygone days because the back has a map directing carried home “tender jumbo fantail shrimp” (the menu visitors to long-gone local tourist attractions, such as doesn’t specify how many), along with hot rolls, a baked Cherokee Golf Course on Lamar, and the Crescent potato or French fries, and a combination salad. Now, Lake Hotel Court on Summer. Fortune was savvy about anything food-related, but I Perhaps someday I’ll find photos of the interior; I’d have to wonder how successful take-out shrimp was. like to see if the inside matches the quaint Colonial He advises, “Eat it here while it’s hot — or it’s a deliRevival exterior. In the meantime, I have quite a hancious delight to enjoy while you drive.” kering for a goose liver sandwich. I have no idea why. 

left: Fortune’s ice cream was sold across the Mid-South. This sign still hangs outside Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi. The building once housed a soda fountain.

Got a question for Vance?

EMAIL: askvance@memphismagazine.com MAIL: Vance Lauderdale, Memphis magazine, P.O. Box 1738, Memphis, TN 38101 ONLINE: memphismagazine.com/ ask-vance

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emphis magazine offers this curated restaurant listing as a service to our readers. Broken down alphabetically by neighborhoods, this directory does not list every restaurant in town. It does, however, include the magazine’s “Top 50” choices of must-try restaurants in Memphis, a group that is updated every August. Establishments open less than a year are not eligible for “Top 50” but are noted as “New.” This guide also includes a representative sampling of other Bluff City eating establishments. No fast-food facilities or cafeterias are listed. Restaurants are included regardless of whether they advertise in Memphis magazine; those that operate in multiple locations are listed under the neighborhood of their original location. Suggestions from readers are welcome; please contact us at dining@ memphismagazine.com.

FLYING FISH—Serves up fried and grilled versions of shrimp, crab, oysters, fish tacos, and catfish; also chicken and burgers. 105 S. Second. 522-8228. L, D, X, $-$$ THE GRAY CANARY—The sixth restaurant from chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, offering small plates and entrees cooked on an open flame. Oysters, octopus, and hearty steaks are among the menu options at this eatery in Old Dominick Distillery. Closed Mon. 301 S. Front. 4666324. D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$ GRECIAN GOURMET TAVERNA—Serves traditional favorites like spanakopita, pastitso, moussaka, and hand-rolled dolmathes, as well as lamb sliders and pita nachos. Closed Mon. 412 S. Main. 249-6626. L, D, X, $ GUS’S WORLD FAMOUS FRIED CHICKEN—Serves chicken with signature spicy batter, editor’s note: As Memphis continues to navigate covid-19, some restaurants are open for socially along with homemade beans, slaw, and pies. 310 S. distanced dine-in, while others are focusing on takeout and delivery. Please call ahead to confirm Front. 527-4877; 215 S. Center St. (Collierville). 853-6005; 2965 N. hours, adjusted menus, and available services. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 373-9111; 730 S. Mendenhall. 7672323; 505 Highway 70 W., Mason, TN. 901-294-2028. L, D, X, MRA, $ including fried green tomatoes with smoked catfish, a HAPPY MEXICAN—Serves quesadillas, burritos, chimiDOWNTOWN buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, burgers, and more. Closed changas, vegetable and seafood dishes, and more. 385 S. Second. Mon.-Thurs. 141 E. Carolina. 321-5553. L, D, WB, $-$$ 529-9991; 6080 Primacy Pkwy. 683-0000; 7935 Winchester. 117 PRIME—Restaurateurs Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp team CATHERINE & MARY’S—A variety of pastas, 751-5353. L, D, X, $ up with Chef Ryan Trimm to recreate the traditional American grilled quail, pâté, razor clams, and monkfish are HU. DINER—An extension of Hu. Hotel, diner serves such steakhouse. Serving oysters on the half shell and a variety of surf among the dishes served at this Italian restaurant in dishes as country-fried cauliflower, cornflake-fried chicken, and and turf options. 117 Union. 433-9851. L, D, WB, X, $-$$$ the Chisca. 272 S. Main. 254-8600. D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ octopus and grits. 3 S. Main. 333-1224. L, D, X, $-$$ ALDO’S PIZZA PIES—Serving gourmet pizzas CHEF TAM’S UNDERGROUND CAFE—Serves HU. ROOF—Rooftop cocktail bar with superb city views serves — including Mr. T Rex — salads, and more. Also 30 beers, Southern staples with a Cajun twist. Menu items include toasts with a variety of toppings including beef tartare with cured bottled or on tap. 100 S. Main. 577-7743; 752 S. Cooper. totchoes, jerk wings, fried chicken, and “muddy” mac and egg, cognac, and capers or riced cauliflower with yellow curry, 725-7437. L, D, X, $-$$ cheese. Closed Sun. and Mon. 668 Union Ave. 207-6182. L, D, $ currants, and almonds. Also salads, fish tacos, and boiled peanut THE ARCADE—Possibly Memphis’ oldest cafe. CHEZ PHILIPPE—Classical/contemporary French hummus. 79 Madison. 333-1229. D, $ Specialties include sweet potato pancakes, a fried peacuisine presented in a luxurious atmosphere with a HUEY’S—This family-friendly restaurant offers 13 nut butter and banana sandwich, and breakfast served seasonal menu focused on local/regional cuisine. The different burgers, a variety of sandwiches, and delicious all day. 540 S. Main. 526-5757. B, L, D (Thurs.-Sat.), X, MRA, $ crown jewel of The Peabody for 35 years. Afternoon tea served soups and salads. 1927 Madison. 726-4372; 1771 N. AUTOMATIC SLIM’S—Longtime downtown favorite Wed.-Sat., 1-3:30 p.m. (reservations required). Closed Sun.Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 754-3885; 77 S. Second. 527-2700; specializes in contemporary American cuisine emphasizing local Tues. The Peabody, 149 Union. 529-4188. D, X, MRA, $$$$ 2130 W. Poplar (Collierville). 854-4455; 7090 Malco Blvd. ingredients; also extensive martini list. 83 S. Second. 525-7948. L, COZY CORNER—Serving up ribs, pork sand(Southaven). 662-349-7097; 7825 Winchester. 624-8911; 4872 D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$ wiches, chicken, spaghetti, and more; also homemade Poplar. 682-7729; 7677 Farmington Blvd. (Germantown). 318-3030; BARDOG TAVERN—Classic American grill with Italian banana pudding. Closed Mon. 745 N. Parkway and 8570 Highway 51 N. (Millington). 873-5025. L, D, X, MRA, $ influence, Bardog offers pasta specialties such as Grandma’s Manassas. 527-9158. L, D, $ HUSTLE & DOUGH BAKERY & CAFE—Flaky, baked NJ Meatballs, as well as salads, sliders, sandwiches, and daily CURFEW—An elevated sports bar/American tavern breakfast goodness every day with fresh pastries, sandwiches, and specials. 73 Monroe. 275-8752. B (Mon.-Fri.), L, D, WB, X, MRA, concept by Top Chef contestant Fabio Viviani at the more at Arrive Hotel. 477 S. Main St., 701-7577. B, L, X, $ $-$$ Canopy Memphis Downtown hotel. 164 Union Ave. B, ITTA BENA—Southern and Cajun-American cuisine served BEDROCK EATS & SWEETS—Memphis’ only PaleoL, D, X, $-$$ here; specialties are duck and waffles and shrimp and grits, along centric restaurant offering such dishes as pot roast, waffles, EVELYN & OLIVE—Jamaican/Southern fusion cuisine with steaks, chops, seafood, and pasta. 145 Beale St. 578-3031. D, enchiladas, chicken salad, omelets, and more. Closed for dinner includes such dishes as Kingston stew fi sh, Rasta Pasta, and X, MRA, $$-$$$ Sun. 327 S. Main. 409-6433. B, L, D, X, $-$$ jerk rib-eye. Closed for lunch Sat. BELLE TAVERN—Serving elevated bar food, including a KING & UNION BAR DINING SYMBOLS and all day Sun.-Mon. 630 Madison. butcher board with a variety of meats and cheeses, as well as GROCERY—Classic Southern 748-5422. L, D, X, $ daily specials. 117 Barboro Alley. 249-6580. L (Sun.), D, MRA, $ favorites including catfish plate, B — breakfast FAM—Casual Asian restaurant serves BEN YAY’S GUMBO SHOP—Spiritual successor to pimento cheese, po-boys, chicken & sushi rice bowls, noodle bowls, sushi L — lunch DejaVu, offering fresh and authentic Creole staples. 51 S. Main St., waffles. Open for breakfast, lunch and rolls, and spring rolls. Closed Sun. 149 D — dinner 779-4125. L, D, X, $-$$ dinner with cocktails served with flair and Madison; 521 S. Highland. 701-6666. L, SB — Sunday brunch BISHOP—Ticer and Hudman’s newest venture at the Central favorite Memphis beers. Locally made D, X, $ Station Hotel features upscale dishes in a French brasserie style. WB — weekend brunch confections available in the grocery. 185 FELICIA SUZANNE’S— 545 S. Main St., 524-5247. L, D, X, $$-$$$ X— wheelchair accessible Union Ave. 523-8500. B, L, D, $-$$ Southern cuisine with BLEU—This eclectic restaurant features American food with KOOKY CANUCK—Offers prime MRA — member, Memphis low-country, Creole, and Delta global influences and local ingredients. Among the specialties are rib, catfish, and burgers, including the Restaurant Association infl uences, using regional fresh seafood, a 14-oz. bone-in rib-eye and several seafood dishes. 221 S. Third, 4-lb. “Kookamonga”; also late-night local beef, and locally grown foods. $ — under $15 per person without in the Westin Memphis Beale St. Hotel. 334-5950. B, L, D, WB, X, menu. 87 S. Second. 578-9800; 1250 N. Entrees include shrimp and grits. Closed drinks or desserts MRA, $$-$$$ Germantown Pkwy. 1-800-2453 L, D, X, Sun. and Mon. A downtown staple at $$ — under $25 BLUEFIN RESTAURANT & SUSHI LOUNGE— MRA, $-$$$ Brinkley Plaza, 80 Monroe, Suite L1. $$$ — $26-$50 Serves Japanese fusion cuisine featuring seafood and steak, THE LITTLE TEA 523-0877. L (Fri. only), D, X, MRA, $$-$$$ with seasonally changing menu; also a sushi bar. 135 S. Main. $$$$ — over $50 SHOP—Downtown institution FERRARO’S PIZZERIA & 528-1010. L, D, X, $-$$ serves up Southern comfort PUB—Rigatoni and tortellini are BRASS DOOR IRISH PUB—Irish and New-American cooking, including meatloaf and such veggies as turnip greens, among the pasta entrees here, along with pizzas (whole or by cuisine includes such entrees as fish and chips, burgers, yams, okra, and tomatoes. Closed Sat.-Sun. 69 Monroe. 525-6000, the slice) with a variety of toppings. 111 Jackson. 522-2033. L, D, shepherd’s pie, all-day Irish breakfast, and more. 152 Madison. L, X, $ X, $ 572-1813. L, D, SB, $-$$ LOCAL—Entrees with a focus on locally sourced products include FISHBOWL AT THE PYRAMID—Burgers, CAFE KEOUGH—European-style cafe serving quiche, lobster mac-and-cheese and ribeye patty melt; menu differs by fish dishes, sandwiches, and more served in a unique paninis, salads, and more. 12 S. Main. 509-2469. B, L, D, X, $ location. 95 S. Main. 473-9573; 2126 Madison. 725-1845. L, D, WB, “underwater” setting. Bass Pro, 1 Bass Pro Drive, 291CAPRICCIO GRILL ITALIAN STEAKHOUSE—Offers X, $-$$ 8000. B, L, D, X, $-$$ prime steaks, fresh seafood (lobster tails, grouper, mahi mahi), LOFLIN YARD—Beer garden and restaurant serves vegetarian FLIGHT RESTAURANT & WINE BAR— pasta, and several Northern Italian specialties. 149 Union, The fare and smoked-meat dishes, including beef brisket and pork Serves steaks and seafood, along with such specialties Peabody. 529-4199. B, L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$$ tenderloin, cooked on a custom-made grill. Closed Mon.-Tues. 7 as bison ribeye and Muscovy duck, all matched with CAROLINA WATERSHED—This indoor/outdoor eatery, W. Carolina. 249-3046. L (Sat. and Sun.), D, MRA, $-$$ appropriate wines. 39 S. Main. 521-8005. D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ set around silos, features reimagined down-home classics,

We celebrate our city’s community table and the people who grow, cook, and eat the best Memphis food at M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M / F O O D 72 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1

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(This guide, compiled by our editors, includes editorial picks and advertisers.)

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THE LOOKOUT AT THE PYRAMID—Serves seafood and Southern fare, including cornmeal-fried oysters, sweet tea brined chicken, and elk chops. 1 Bass Pro Dr. 620-4600/291-8200. L, D, X, $-$$$ LUNA RESTAURANT & LOUNGE—Serving a limited menu of breakfast and lunch items. Dinner entrees include Citrus Glaze Salmon and Cajun Stuffed Chicken. 179 Madison (Hotel Napoleon). 526-0002. B, D (Mon.-Sat.), X, $-$$$ MACIEL’S—Entrees include tortas, fried taco plates, quesadillas, chorizo and pastor soft tacos, salads, and more. Downtown closed Sun. 45 S. Main. 526-0037, X, MRA, $
 THE MAJESTIC GRILLE, DBA COCOZZA— It’s red sauce, all the time in the Majestic Grille space on Main. Variety of Italian dishes for curbside and takeout orders. 145 S. Main. 522-8555. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$ McEWEN’S—Southern/American cuisine with international flavors; specialties include steak and seafood, sweet potato-crusted catfish with macaroni and cheese, and more. Closed Sun., Monroe location. 120 Monroe. 527-7085; 1110 Van Buren (Oxford). 662-234-7003. L, D, SB (Oxford only), X, MRA, $$-$$$ MESQUITE CHOP HOUSE—The focus here is on steaks, including prime fillet, rib-eyes, and prime-aged New York strip; also, some seafood options. 5960 Getwell (Southaven). 662-8902467; 88 Union. 527-5337; 3165 Forest Hill-Irene (Germantown). 249-5661. D, SB (Germantown), X, $$-$$$ MOLLIE FONTAINE LOUNGE—Specializes in tapas (small plates) featuring global cuisine. Closed Sun.-Tues. 679 Adams Ave. 524-1886. D, X, MRA, $ MOMMA’S ROADHOUSE—This diner and dive at highway 55 serves up hot and crispy fried chicken wings, among other solid bar food options. 855 Kentucky. 207-5111. L, D, MRA, $ THE NINE THAI & SUSHI—Serving authentic Thai dishes, including curries, as well as a variety of sushi rolls. Closed for lunch Sat. and Sun. 121 Union. 208-8347. L, D, X, $-$$ PAULETTE’S—Presents fine dining with a Continental flair, including such entrees as filet Paulette with butter cream sauce and crabmeat and spinach crepes; also changing daily specials and great views. River Inn. 50 Harbor Town Square. 260-3300. B, L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$ PEARL’S OYSTER HOUSE—Downtown eatery serving seafood, including oysters, crawfish, and stuffed butterfly shrimp, as well as beef, chicken, and pasta dishes. 299 S. Main. 522-9070; 8106 Cordova Center Dr. (Cordova). 425-4797. L, D, SB, X, $-$$$ PONTOTOC LOUNGE—Upscale restaurant and jazz bar serves such starters as alligator filet fritters; entrees include Mississippi pot roast with jalapeño cornbread and tagliatelle with braised beef. 314 S. Main. 207-7576. D, X, $-$$ PUCK FOOD HALL—Food hall featuring a variety of vendors serving everything from bagels and beer to comfort food and healthy cuisine. 409 S. Main. 341-3838. $-$$ REGINA’S—New Orleans-inspired eatery offering po’boys, Cajun nachos topped with crawfish tails, catfish platters, oysters, and more. Closed Mon. 60 N. Main. 730-0384. B, L, D, SB, X, $-$$ RENDEZVOUS, CHARLES VERGOS’—Menu items include barbecued ribs, cheese plates, skillet shrimp, red beans and rice, and Greek salads. Closed Sun.-Mon. 52 S. Second. 523-2746. L (Fri.-Sat.), D, X, $-$$ RIZZO’S DINER—Chorizo meatloaf, lobster pronto puff, and lamb belly tacos are menu items at this upscale diner. Michael Patrick is among the city’s best chefs. 492 S. Main. 304-6985. L (Fri.-Sat.), D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$ SABOR CARIBE—Serving up “Caribbean flavors” with dishes from Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Closed Sunday. 662 Madison. 949-8100. L, D, X, $ SAGE—Restaurant and lounge features daily lunch specials and tapas with such dishes as braised short ribs, teriyaki pulled pork, and the Sage burger made with Angus beef, avocado mash, fried egg, and flash-fried sage. 94 S. Main. 672-7902. L, D, WB, X, $-$$ SILLY GOOSE LOUNGE—Gourmet, wood-fired pizzas and hand-crafted cocktails at this Downtown restaurant and lounge. 150 Peabody Place, Suite 111. 435-6915. L, D, X, $ SLEEP OUT LOUIE’S—Oyster bar with such specialties as char-grilled Roquefort oysters and gulf oysters on the half shell with Prosecco mignonette; also serves flatbread pizzas and a variety of sandwiches. 150 Peabody Place, Suite 111. 707-7180. L, D, X, $

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American Heart Association Events February 5th - National Wear Red Day American Heart Month kicks off with National Wear Red Day® when the Mid-South joins the nation and ignites a wave of red from coast to coast. From landmarks to news anchors and neighborhoods to online communities, we all come together to end heart disease and stroke in women and GO RED! All February – Heart Month at the Memphis Zoo Heart facts about humans (and animals!) will be featured throughout the zoo all month long. Be sure to wear your sneakers and count your steps to help you stay on track with your fitness goals! 2021 Mid-South Heart Walk Chair: Doug McGowen, Chief Operating Officer, City of Memphis When: Saturday, April 24, 2021 Contact: Madison.Peddycoart@Heart.org Breakfast in Red When: July 2021 Location TBD Contact: Kate.Staggs@Heart.org 2021 Go Red ed for Women Luncheon Chair: Susan san Springfield, Chief Credit Officer, First Horizon Bank Honorary Chair: Leigh Anne Tuohy, Motivational Speaker When: September ptember 30, 2021 at The Graceland Soundstage Contact: Kate.Staggs@Heart.org

The phrase (word mark) Go Red for Women® iss a registered trademark of the American Heart Association, Inc., and is registered with the U.S. S. Patent and Trademark Off Office. ffi ff fice. It is appropriate pp and necessary when using this phrase to notice itss registration pursuant to Section 29 off the th he Trademark Act, which may be given by use of the ® symbol. bol.

#MemGoesRed oesRed

@AHATennessee F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • 73

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SOUTH MAIN SUSHI & GRILL—Serving sushi, nigiri, and more. 520 S. Main. 249-2194. L, D, X, $ SOB—Elevated gastropub that serves favorites like general Tso’s cauliflower or duck fried rice. 361 S. Main. 526-0388. L, D, WB, X, $-$$. SPINDINI—Italian fusion cuisine with such entrees as woodfired pizzas, Gorgonzola-stuffed filet, and fresh seafood; large domestic whiskey selection. 383 S. Main. 578-2767. D, X, $$-$$$ SUNRISE MEMPHIS—From owners of Sweet Grass and Central BBQ. Serves breakfast all day, including house-made biscuits, frittatas, kielbasa or boudin plates, and breakfast platters. 670 Jefferson. 552-3144. B, L, X, MRA, $ TERRACE—Creative American and Continental cuisine includes such dishes as filet mignon, beef or lamb sliders, chicken satay, and mushroom pizzetta. Rooftop, River Inn of Harbor Town, 50 Harbor Town Square. 260-3366. D, X, MRA, $$ TEXAS DE BRAZIL—Serves beef, pork, lamb, and chicken dishes, and Brazilian sausage; also a salad bar with extensive toppings. 150 Peabody Place, Suite 103. 526-7600. L (Wed.-Fri.), D, SB, X, $$-$$$ TUG’S—Famous for New Orleans gumbo, fabulous burgers, fried thin catfish, and specialty pancakes. Now serving Grisanti Crafted Pizza. 51 Harbor Town Sq. 260-3344. B, L, D, WB, X, $$-$$$ THE VAULT—Oysters, shrimp beignets, flatbreads, stuffed cornish hen, and Smash Burger featured on “Late Nite Eats” are among the dishes offered at this Creole/Italian fusion eatery. 124 G.E. Patterson. 591-8000. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$ WESTY’S—Extensive menu includes a variety of wild rice dishes, sandwiches, plate lunches, and hot fudge pie. 346 N. Main. 543-3278.L, D, X, $

MIDTOWN (INCLUDES THE MEDICAL CENTER) ABYSSINIA RESTAURANT—Ethiopian/Mediterranean menu includes beef, chicken, lamb, fish entrees, and vegetarian dishes; also a lunch buffet. 2600 Poplar. 321-0082. L, D, X, $-$$ ALCHEMY—Southern fusion, locally grown cuisine features small and large plates; among the offerings are pan-seared hanger steak, quail, and lamb chops; also handcrafted cocktails and local craft beers. 940 S. Cooper. 726-4444. D, SB, X, $-$$ ART BAR—Inventive cocktails feature locally foraged ingredients; snacks include house-cured salt & vinegar potato chips and herb-roasted olives. Closed Mon. 1350 Concourse Avenue #280. 507-8030. D, X, $ BABALU TACOS & TAPAS—This eatery dishes up Spanish-style tapas with Southern flair; also taco and enchilada of the day; specials change daily. 2115 Madison. 274-0100; 6450 Poplar, 410-8909. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$ BACK DO / MI YARD—A revamped patio space behind The Beauty Shop features rotisserie meats and fishes via Brazilian-style outdoor grill. Dinner Wednesday-Saturday, weather permitting. 966 S. Cooper, 272-7111. D, X, $$ BAR DKDC—Features an ever-changing menu of international “street food,” from Thai to Mexican, Israeli to Indian, along with specialty cocktails. 964 S. Cooper. 272-0830. D, X, MRA, $ BAR KEOUGH—It’s old school eats and cocktails at the new Cooper-Young neighborhood corner bar by Kevin Keough. 247 Cooper St. D, X, $ BAR-B-Q SHOP—Dishes up barbecued ribs, spaghetti, bologna; also pulled pork shoulder, Texas toast barbecue sandwich, chicken sandwich, and salads. Closed Sun. 1782 Madison. 272-1277. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ BARI RISTORANTE ENOTECA—Authentic Southeastern Italian cuisine (Puglia) emphasizes lighter entrees. Serves fresh fish and beef dishes and a homemade soup of the day. 22 S. Cooper. 722-2244. D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ BARKSDALE RESTAURANT—Old-school diner serving breakfast and Southern plate lunches. 237 S. Cooper. 722-2193. B, L, D, X, $ BAYOU BAR & GRILL—New Orleans fare at this Overton Square eatery includes jambalaya, gumbo, catfish Acadian, shrimp dishes, red beans and rice, and muffalettas. 2094 Madison. 278-8626. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$ BEAUTY SHOP—Modern American cuisine with international flair served in a former beauty shop. Serves steaks, salads, pasta, and seafood, including pecan-crusted golden sea bass. Perennial “Best Brunch” 74 • M E M P H I S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1

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winner. Closed for dinner Sunday. 966 S. Cooper. 272-7111. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ BELLY ACRES—At this festive Overton Square eatery, milkshakes, floats, and burgers rule. Burgers are updated with contemporary toppings like grilled leeks, braised tomatoes, and sourdough or brioche buns. 2102 Trimble Pl. 529-7017. L, D, X, $ BHAN THAI—Authentic Thai cuisine includes curries, pad Thai noodles, and vegetarian dishes, as well as seafood, pork, and duck entrees. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. and all day Mon. 1324 Peabody. 272-1538. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ BOSCOS—Tennessee’s first craft brewery serves a variety of freshly brewed beers as well as wood-fired oven pizzas, pasta, seafood, steaks, and sandwiches. 2120 Madison. 432-2222. L, D, SB (with live jazz), X, MRA, $-$$ BOUNTY ON BROAD—Offering family-style dining, Bounty serves small plates and family-sized platters, with such specialties as chicken fried quail and braised pork shank. 2519 Broad. 410-8131. L (Sat. and Sun.), D (Mon.-Sat.), SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ BROADWAY PIZZA—Serving a variety of pizzas, including the Broadway Special, as well as sandwiches, salads, wings, and soul-food specials. 2581 Broad. 454-7930; 627 S. Mendenhall. 207-1546. L, D, X, $-$$ CAFE 1912—French/American bistro owned by culinary pioneer Glenn Hays serving such seafood entrees as seared sea scallops with charred cauliflower purée and chorizo cumin sauce; also crepes, salads, and onion soup gratinée. 243 S. Cooper. 722-2700. D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ CAFE BROOKS BY CITY & STATE—Serving grab-and-go pastries, as well as lunch items. Menu includes soups, salads, and sandwiches, such as the Modern Reuben and Grown-Up Grilled Cheese. 1934 Poplar (Memphis Brooks Museum of Art). 544-6200. B, L, X, $ CAFE ECLECTIC—Omelets and chicken and waffles are among menu items, along with quesadillas, sandwiches, wraps, and burgers. Menu varies by location. 603 N. McLean. 725-1718; 111 Harbor Town Square. 590-4645. B, L, D, SB, X, MRA, $ CAFE OLÉ—This eatery specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine; one specialty is the build-your-own quesadilla. 959 S. Cooper. 343-0103. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$ CAFE PALLADIO—Serves gourmet salads, soups, sandwiches, and desserts in a tea room inside the antiques shop. Closed Sun. 2169 Central. 278-0129. L, X, $ CAFE SOCIETY—With Belgian and classic French influences, serves Wagyu beef, chicken, and seafood dishes, including bacon-wrapped shrimp, along with daily specials and vegetarian entrees. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. 212 N. Evergreen. 722-2177. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ CELTIC CROSSING—Specializes in Irish and American pub fare. Entrees include shepherd’s pie, shrimp and sausage coddle, and fish and chips. 903 S. Cooper. 274-5151. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$ CENTRAL BBQ—Serves ribs, smoked hot wings, pulled pork sandwiches, chicken, turkey, nachos, and portobello sandwiches. Offers both pork and beef barbecue. 2249 Central Ave. 272-9377; 4375 Summer Ave. 7674672; 147 E. Butler. 672-7760 ; 6201 Poplar. 417-7962. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ THE COVE—Nautical-themed restaurant and bar serving oysters, pizzas, and more. The Stoner Pie, with tamales and fritos, is a popular dish. 2559 Broad. 730-0719. L, D, $ THE CRAZY NOODLE—Korean noodle dishes range from bibam beef noodle with cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables, to curry chicken noodle; also rice cakes served in a flavorful sauce. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. 2015 Madison. 272-0928. L, D, X, $ THE DOGHOUZZ—It’s both bark and bite at the Doghouzz, which pairs a variety of gourmet hot dogs alongside local craft beer and one of the city’s most extensive whiskey selections. Open for lunch, dinner, and late-night. Closed Sunday. 1349 Autumn Ave. 207-7770. L, D, X, $ ECCO—Mediterranean-inspired specialties range from rib-eye steak to seared scallops to housemade pastas and a grilled vegetable plate; also a Saturday brunch. Closed Sun.-Mon. 1585 Overton Park. 410-8200. L, D, X, $-$$ FARM BURGER—Serves grass-fed, freshly ground, locally sourced burgers; also available with chicken, pork, or veggie quinoa patties, with such toppings as aged white cheddar, kale coleslaw, and roasted beets. 1350 Concourse Avenue #175. 800-1851. L, D, X, $

FINO’S ITALIAN DELI & CATERING—The newly revived Fino’s offers the old favorites such as the Acquisto as well as a new breakfast menu. 1853 Madison. 272-FINO. B, L, D, X, $ FRIDA’S—Mexican cuisine and Tex-Mex standards, including chimichangas, enchiladas, and fajitas; seafood includes shrimp and tilapia. 1718 Madison. 244-6196. L, D, X, $-$$ GLOBAL CAFE—This international food hall hosts three immigrant/refugee food entrepreneurs serving Venezuelan, Sudanese, and Syrian cuisines. Samosas, shawarma, and kabobs are among the menu items. Closed Mon. 1350 Concourse Avenue #157. L, D, X, MRA, $ GOLDEN INDIA—Northern Indian specialties include tandoori chicken as well as lamb, beef, shrimp, and vegetarian dishes. 2097 Madison. 728-5111. L, D, X, $-$$ GROWLERS—Sports bar and eatery serves standard bar fare in addition to a pasta, tacos, chicken and waffles, and light options. 1911 Poplar. 244-7904. L, D, X, $-$$ HATTIE B’S—Fried chicken spot features “hot chicken” with a variety of heat levels; from no heat to “shut the cluck up” sauce. Sides include greens, pimento mac-and-cheese, and black-eyed pea salad. 596 S. Cooper. 424-5900. L, D, X, $ HAZEL’S LUCKY DICE DELICATESSEN— Jewish deli venture by Karen Carrier, serving up all manner of New York-style and kosher sandwiches. Takeout only. 964 Cooper St. 272-0830. L, S. HM DESSERT LOUNGE—Serving cake, pie, and other desserts, as well as a selection of savory dishes, including meatloaf and mashed potato “cupcakes.” Closed Monday. 1586 Madison. 290-2099. L, D, X, $ IMAGINE VEGAN CAFE—Dishes at this fully vegan restaurant range from salads and sandwiches to full dinners, including eggplant parmesan and “beef” tips and rice; breakfast all day Sat. and Sun. 2158 Young. 654-3455. L, D, WB, X, $ INDIA PALACE—Tandoori chicken, lamb shish kabobs, and chicken tikka masala are among the entrees; also, vegetarian options and a daily all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. 1720 Poplar. 278-1199. L, D, X, $-$$ INSPIRE COMMUNITY CAFE—Serving breakfast all day, in addition to quesadillas, rice bowls, and more for lunch and dinner. 510 Tillman, Suite 110. 509-8640. B, L, D, X, $ LAFAYETTE’S MUSIC ROOM—Serves such Southern cuisine as po’boys, shrimp and grits, and wood-fired pizzas. 2119 Madison. 207-5097. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$ LBOE—Gourmet burger joint serves locally sourced ground beef burgers, with options like the Mac-N-Cheese Burger and Caprese. Black bean and turkey patties available. 2021 Madison. 725-0770. L, D, X, $ THE LIQUOR STORE—Renovated liquor store turned diner serves all-day breakfast, sandwiches, and entrees such as Salisbury steak and smothered pork chops. Closed for dinner Sun.-Mon. 2655 Broad. 405-5477. B, L, D, X, $-$$ LITTLE ITALY—Serving New York-style pizza as well as subs and pasta dishes. 1495 Union. 725-0280; L, D, X, $-$$ MARDI GRAS MEMPHIS—Fast-casual establishment serving Cajun fare, including an etouffee-stuffed po’boy. Closed Mon.-Tues. 496 N. Watkins. 530-6767. L, D, X, $-$$ MAXIMO’S ON BROAD—Serving a tapas menu that features creative fusion cuisine; entrees include veggie paella and fish of the day. Closed Mon. 2617 Broad Ave. 452-1111. D, SB, X, $-$$ MEMPHIS PIZZA CAFE—Homemade pizzas are specialties; also serves sandwiches, calzones, and salads. 2087 Madison. 726-5343; 5061 Park Ave. 684-1306; 7604 W. Farmington (Germantown). 753-2218; 797 W. Poplar (Collierville). 861-7800; 5627 Getwell (Southaven). 662-536-1364. L, D, X, $-$$ MIDPOINTE FROM EDGE ALLEY—Edge Alley’s sister cafe at the Ballet Memphis headquarters focuses on freshness for its breakfast, lunch, and happy hour tapas. Closed SundayMonday. 2144 Madison Ave. 425-2605. B, L, X, $ MOLLY’S LA CASITA—Homemade tamales, fish tacos, a vegetarian combo, and bacon-wrapped shrimp are a few of the specialties. 2006 Madison. 726-1873. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ PAYNE’S BAR-B-QUE—Opened in 1972, this family-owned barbecue joint serves ribs, smoked sausage, and chopped pork sandwiches with a standout mustard slaw and homemade sauce. About as down-toearth as it gets. 1762 Lamar. 272-1523. L, D, $-$$ PARISH GROCERY—Shrimp? Roast beef? Oysters? Whatever type of po’boy you want, the New Orleansthemed eatery has got it. Closed Monday. 1545 Overton Park Ave. 207-4347. L, D, X, $-$$

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PIZZERIA TRASIMENO—Small pizzas baked in wood-fired clay ovens along with a selection of small salads. Menu is soon to include desserts, local beer on tap, and Umbrian wine. 1350 Concourse Ave., Suite 181. 308-1113. L, D. $ PHO BINH—Vietnamese, vegetarian, and Cantonese specialties include lemon tofu and spring rolls. Closed Sunday. 1615 Madison. 276-0006. L, D, $ RAILGARTEN—Located in a former rail station space, this eatery offers breakfast items, a variety of salads and sandwiches, and such entrees as short rib mac-and-cheese and fish tacos. Also serves shakes, malts, floats, and cream sodas. 2166 Central. 231-5043. B, L, D, $-$$ RED FISH ASIAN BISTRO—In the former Nineteenth Century Club building, serves sushi, teriyaki, and hibachi. Specialties include yuzu filet mignon and Chilean sea bass. 1433 Union. 454-3926; 9915 Highway 64 (Lakeland). 729-7581; 6518 Goodman (Olive Branch). 662-874-5254. L, D, X, $-$$$ RESTAURANT IRIS—French Creole-inspired classics, such as Gulf shrimp and rice grits congee served with lap chong sausage and boiled peanuts, are served at this newly remodeled restaurant owned by Chef Kelly English, a Food and Wine “Top Ten.” 2146 Monroe. 590-2828. D, X, $$-$$$ ROBATA RAMEN & YAKITORI BAR—Serves ramen noodle bowls and Yakitori skewers as well as rice and noodle dishes. 2116 Madison. 410-8290. L, D, X, $ SABROSURA—Serves Mexican and Cuban fare, including arroz tapada de pollo and steak Mexican. Closed Sun. 782 Washington. 421-8180. L, D, X, $-$$ SALTWATER CRAB—Offers an array of seafood dishes including boils with blue crab, crab legs, lobster tails, and more, and specialty sushi like the Dynamite or Royal King rolls, in addition to signature sangrias and cocktails. 2059 Madison Ave. 922-5202. L, D, X, $$ SAUCY CHICKEN—Specializes in antibiotic-free chicken dishes with locally sourced ingredients, with such items as hot wings and the Crosstown Chicken Sandwich, and a variety of house-made dipping sauces; also, seafood, salads, and daily specials. 1350 Concourse, Suite 137. 203-3838. L, D (Mon.-Fri.), $ THE SECOND LINE—Kelly English brings “relaxed Creole cuisine” to his newest eatery; serves a variety of po’boys and such specialties as barbecue shrimp, andouille shrimp, and pimento cheese fries. 2144 Monroe. 590-2829. L, D, WB, X, $-$$ SEKISUI—Japanese fusion cuisine, fresh sushi bar, grilled meats and seafood, California rolls, and vegetarian entrees. Poplar/Perkins location’s emphasis is on Pacific Rim cuisine. Menu and hours vary at each location. 25 Belvedere. 725-0005; 1884 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 309-8800; 4724 Poplar. 767-7770; 2130 W. Poplar (Collierville). 854-0622; 2990 Kirby-Whitten (Bartlett). 377-2727; 6696 Poplar. 747-0001. L, D, X, $-$$$ STICKEM—Brick and mortar location for the popular food truck, which offers grilled meat on a stick. 1788 Madison. Closed Sunday. 474-7214. L, D, X, $ STONE SOUP CAFE—Cooper-Young eatery serving soups, salads, quiche, meat-and-two specials; and daily specials such as Italian roast beef. Closed Monday. 993 S. Cooper. 922-5314. B, L, SB, X, $ SOUL FISH CAFE—Serving Southern-style soul food, tacos, and po’boys, including catfish, crawfish, oyster, shrimp, chicken, and smoked pork tenderloin. 862 S. Cooper. 725-0722; 3160 Village Shops Dr. (Germantown). 755-6988; 4720 Poplar. 590-0323. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ SWEET GRASS—Chef Ryan Trimm takes Southern cuisine to a new level. Low-country coastal cuisine includes such specialties as shrimp and grits. Closed Mon. Restaurant’s “sister,” Sweet Grass Next Door, open nightly, serves lunch Sat.-Sun. 937 S. Cooper. 278-0278. D, SB, X, $-$$$ TAMBOLI’S PASTA & PIZZA—Pasta Maker Josh Tamboli whips up Italian soul food with seasonal menus featuring dishes like crispy fried chicken or creamy bucatini with pecorino cheese. Serves dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Pizza only menu after 9pm. 1761 Madison. 410-8866. D, X, $-$$ TAKASHI BISTRO—Fusion restaurant with an open kitchen that lets customers watch chefs prepare a variety of Japanese and Thai cuisine. 1680 Union Ave. Ste. 109. 800-2936. L, D, $-$$. TSUNAMI—Features Pacific Rim cuisine (Asia, Australia, South Pacific, etc.); also a changing “small plate” menu. Chef Ben Smith is a Cooper-Young pio-

neer. Specialties include Asian nachos and roasted sea bass. Closed Sunday. 928 S. Cooper. 274-2556. D, X, MRA, $$-$$$ ZINNIE’S—Dive bar classic reopens with a makeover and signature Zinnaloni sandwich. 1688 Madison. 726-5004. L, D, X, $



COLETTA’S—Longtime eatery serves such specialties as homemade ravioli, lasagna, and pizza with barbecue or traditional toppings. 1063 S. Parkway E. 948-7652; 2850 Appling Rd. (Bartlett). 383-1122. L, D, X, $-$$ CURRY BOWL—Specializes in Southern Indian cuisine, serving Tandoori chicken, biryani, tikka masala, and more. Weekend buffet. 4141 Hacks Cross Rd. 207-6051. L, D, $ DELTA’S KITCHEN—The premier restaurant at The Guest House at Graceland serves Elvis-inspired dishes — like Nutella and Peanut Butter Crepes for breakfast — and upscale Southern cuisine — including lamb chops and shrimp and grits — for dinner. 3600 Elvis Presley Blvd. 443-3000. B, D, X, $-$$$ DWJ KOREAN BARBECUE—This authentic Korean eatery serves kimbap, barbecued beef short ribs, rice and noodles dishes, and hot pots and stews. 3750 Hacks Cross Rd., Suite 101. 746-8057; 2156 Young. 207-6204. L, D, $-$$ THE FOUR WAY—Legendary soul-food establishment dishing up such entrees as fried and baked catfish, chicken, and turkey and dressing, along with a host of vegetables and desserts. Around the corner from the legendary Stax Studio. Closed Monday. 998 Mississippi Blvd. 507-1519. L, D, $ HERNANDO’S HIDEAWAY–No one cares how late it gets; not at Hernando’s Hideaway. Live music, killer happy hour, and plenty of bar fare at this South Memphis hang. 3210 Old Hernando Rd. 917-9821829. L, D, $ INTERSTATE BAR-B-Q—Specialties include chopped pork-shoulder sandwiches, ribs, hot wings, spaghetti, chicken, and turkey. 2265 S. Third. 775-2304; 150 W. Stateline Rd. (Southaven). 662-393-5699. L, D, X, $-$$ LEONARD’S—Serves wet and dry ribs, barbecue sandwiches, spaghetti, catfish, homemade onion rings, and lemon icebox pie; also a lunch buffet. 5465 Fox Plaza. 360-1963. L, X, $-$$ MARLOWE’S—In addition to its signature barbecue and ribs, Marlowe’s serves Southern-style steaks, chops, lasagne, and more. 4381 Elvis Presley Blvd. 332-4159. D, X, MRA, $-$$ UNCLE LOU’S FRIED CHICKEN—Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives for good reason: fried chicken (mild, hot, or home-style); jumbo burgers four patties high; strawberry shortcake, and assorted fruit pies. 3633 Millbranch. 332-2367. L, D, X, MRA, $

SUMMER/BERCLAIR/ RALEIGH/BARTLETT ASIAN PALACE—Chinese eatery serves seafood, vegetarian items, dim sum, and more. 5266 Summer Ave. 766-0831. L, D, X, $-$$ ELWOOD’S SHACK—Casual comfort food includes tacos, pizza and sandwiches. Specialties include meats smoked in-house (chicken, turkey, brisket, pork), barbecue pizza, and steelhead trout tacos. 4523 Summer. 761-9898. B, L, D, X, $ EXLINES’ BEST PIZZA—Serves pizza, Italian dinners, sandwiches, and salads. 6250 Stage Rd. 382-3433; 2935 Austin Peay. 388-4711; 2801 Kirby Parkway. 754-0202; 7730 Wolf River Blvd. (Germantown). 753-4545; 531 W. Stateline Rd. 662-3424544 (check online for additional locations). L, D, X, MRA, $ GRIDLEY’S—Offers barbecued ribs, shrimp, pork plate, chicken, and hot tamales; also daily lunch specials. Closed Tues. 6842 Stage Rd. 377-8055. L, D, X, $-$$ LA TAQUERIA GUADALUPANA—Fajitas and quesadillas are just a few of the authentic Mexican entrees offered here. A bona-fide Memphis institution. 4818 Summer. 685-6857; 5848 Winchester. 365-4992. L, D, $ LOTUS—Authentic Vietnamese-Asian fare, including lemon-grass chicken and shrimp, egg rolls, Pho soup, and spicy Vietnamese vermicelli. 4970 Summer. 682-1151. D, X, $

MORTIMER’S—Contemporary American entrees include trout almondine, chicken dishes, and hand-cut steaks; also sandwiches, salads, and daily/nightly specials. A Memphis landmark since the Knickerbocker closed. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. 590 N. Perkins. 761-9321. L, D, X, $-$$ NAGASAKI INN—Chicken, steak, and lobster are among the main courses; meal is cooked at your table. 3951 Summer. 454-0320. D, X, $$ PANDA GARDEN—Sesame chicken and broccoli beef are among the Mandarin and Cantonese entrees; also seafood specials and fried rice. Closed for lunch Saturday. 3735 Summer. 323-4819. L, D, X, $-$$ QUEEN OF SHEBA—Featuring Middle Eastern favorites and Yemeni dishes such as lamb haneeth and saltah. 4792 Summer. 207-4174. L, D, $ SIDE PORCH STEAK HOUSE—In addition to steak, the menu includes chicken, pork chops, and fish entrees; homemade rolls are a specialty. Closed Sun.-Mon. 5689 Stage Rd. 377-2484. D, X, $-$$ TORTILLERIA LA UNICA—Individual helping of Mexican street food, including hefty tamales, burritos, tortas, and sopes. 5015 Summer Ave. 685-0097. B, L, D, X, $


A-TAN—Serves Chinese and Japanese hibachi cuisine, complete with sushi bar. A specialty is Four Treasures with garlic sauce. 3445 Poplar, Suite 17, University Center. 452-4477. L, D, X, $-$$$ THE BLUFF—New Orleans-inspired menu includes alligator bites, nachos topped with crawfish and andouille, gumbo, po’boys, and fried seafood platters. 535 S. Highland. 454-7771. L, D, X, $-$$ BROTHER JUNIPER’S—This little cottage is a breakfast mecca, offering specialty omelets, including the open-faced San Diegan omelet; also daily specials, and homemade breads and pastries. Closed Mon. 3519 Walker. 324-0144. B, X, $ CHAR RESTAURANT—Specializing in modern Southern cuisine, this eatery offers homestyle sides, char-broiled steaks, and fresh seafood. 431 S. Highland #120. 249-3533. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$ DERAE RESTAURANT—Ethiopian and Mediterranean fare includes fuul, or fava beans in spices and yogurt, goat meat and rice, and garlic chicken over basmati rice with cilantro chutney; also salmon and tilapia. Closed Monday. 923 S. Highland. 552-3992. B, L, D, $-$$ EL PORTON—Fajitas, quesadillas, and steak ranchero are just a few of the menu items. 2095 Merchants Row (Germantown). 754-4268; 8361 Highway 64. 380-7877; 3448 Poplar (Poplar Plaza). 452-7330; 1805 N. Germantown Parkway (Cordova). 624-9358; 1016 W. Poplar (Collierville). 854-5770. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ JOES’ ON HIGHLAND—Specializes in fried chicken and comfort sides such as warm okra/green tomato salad and turnip greens. Entrees include salmon patties and chicken-fried steak. Closed Mon. 262 S. Highland. 337-7003. L, D, X, $ MEDALLION—Offers steaks, seafood, chicken, and pasta entrees. Closed for dinner Sunday. 3700 Central, Holiday Inn (Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality). 678-1030. B, L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$


(INCLUDES POPLAR/ I-240) ACRE—Features seasonal modern American cuisine in an avante-garde setting using locally sourced products; also small plates and enclosed garden patio. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. 690 S. Perkins. 818-2273. L, D, X, $$-$$$ AGAVOS COCINA & TEQUILA—Camaron de Tequila, tamales, kabobs, and burgers made with a blend of beef and chorizo are among the offerings at this tequila-centric restaurant and bar. 2924 Walnut Grove. 433-9345. L, D, X, $-$$ AMERIGO—Traditional and contemporary Italian cuisine includes pasta, wood-fired pizza, steaks, and

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cedarwood-roasted fish. 1239 Ridgeway, Park Place Mall. 7614000. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ ANDREW MICHAEL ITALIAN KITCHEN— Traditional Italian cuisine with a menu from two of the city’s top chefs that changes seasonally with such entrees as Maw Maw’s ravioli. Closed Sun.-Mon. 712 W. Brookhaven Cl. 347-3569. D, X, MRA, $$-$$$ ANOTHER BROKEN EGG CAFE—Offering several varieties of eggs Benedict, waffles, omelets, pancakes, beignets, and other breakfast fare; also burgers, sandwiches, and salads. 6063 Park Ave. 729-7020; 65 S. Highland. 623-7122. B, L, WB, X, $ BANGKOK ALLEY—Thai fusion cuisine includes noodle and curry dishes, chef-specialty sushi rolls, coconut soup, and duck and seafood entrees. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. at Brookhaven location; call for hours. 715 W. Brookhaven Cl. 590-2585; 2150 W. Poplar at Houston Levee (Collierville). 854-8748. L, D, X, $-$$ BENIHANA—This Japanese steakhouse serves beef, chicken, and seafood grilled at the table; some menu items change monthly; sushi bar also featured. 912 Ridge Lake Blvd. 767-8980. L, D, X, $$-$$$ BLUE PLATE CAFÉ—For breakfast, the café’s serves old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes (it’s a secret recipe!), country ham and eggs, and waffles with fresh strawberries and cream. For lunch, the café specializes in country cooking. 5469 Poplar. 761-9696; 113 S. Court. 523-2050. B, L, X, $ BROOKLYN BRIDGE ITALIAN RESTAURANT— Specializing in such homemade entrees as spinach lasagna and lobster ravioli; a seafood specialty is horseradish-crusted salmon. Closed Sun. 1779 Kirby Pkwy. 755-7413. D, X, $-$$$ BRYANT’S BREAKFAST—Three-egg omelets, pancakes, and The Sampler Platter are among the popular entrees here. Possibly the best biscuits in town. Closed Mon. and Tues. 3965 Summer. 324-7494. B, L, X, $ BUCKLEY’S FINE FILET GRILL—Specializes in steaks, seafood, and pasta. (Lunchbox serves entree salads, burgers, and more.) 5355 Poplar. 683-4538; 919 S. Yates (Buckley’s Lunchbox), 682-0570. L (Yates only, M-F), D, X, $-$$ CAPITAL GRILLE—Known for its dry-aged, hand-carved steaks; among the specialties are bone-in sirloin, and porcini-rubbed Delmonico; also seafood entrees and seasonal lunch plates. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. Crescent Center, 6065 Poplar. 683-9291. L, D, X, $$$-$$$$ CASABLANCA—Lamb shawarma is one of the fresh, homemade specialties served at this Mediterranean/Moroccan restaurant; fish entrees and vegetarian options also available. 5030 Poplar. 725-8557 ; 7609 Poplar Pike (Germantown). 4255908; 1707 Madison. 421-6949. L, D, X, $-$$ CIAO BELLA—Among the Italian and Greek specialties are lasagna, seafood pasta, gourmet pizzas, and vegetarian options. Closed for lunch Sat.-Sun. 565 Erin Dr., Erin Way Shopping Center. 205-2500. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$$ CITY SILO TABLE + PANTRY—With a focus on clean eating, this establishment offers fresh juices, as well as comfort foods re-imagined with wholesome ingredients. 5101 Sanderlin. 729-7687. B, L, D, X, $ CORKY’S—Popular barbecue emporium offers both wet and dry ribs, plus a full menu of other barbecue entrees. Wed. lunch buffets, Cordova and Collierville. 5259 Poplar. 685-9744; 1740 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 737-1911; 743 W. Poplar (Collierville). 405-4999; 6434 Goodman Rd., Olive Branch. 662893-3663. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ DAN MCGUINNESS PUB—Serves fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, burgers, and other Irish and American fare; also lunch and dinner specials. 4694 Spottswood. 761-3711; 3964 Goodman Rd. 662-890-7611. L, D, X, $ DORY—Chef David Krog whips up Southern specialties with classic French techniques and locally-sourced ingredients. Current specialties include pork tenderloin, beef bourguignon, or cocoa dusted chocolate truffles, with new weekly additions. 716 W. Brookhaven Cir. 310-4290. L, D, X, $$-$$$ ERLING JENSEN—For over 20 years, has presented “globally inspired” cuisine to die for. Specialties are rack of lamb, big game entrees, and fresh fish dishes. 1044 S. Yates. 763-3700. D, X, MRA, $$-$$$ FLEMING’S PRIME STEAKHOUSE—Serves wetaged and dry-aged steaks, prime beef, chops, and seafood, including salmon, Australian lobster tails, and a catch of the day. 6245 Poplar. 761-6200. D, X, MRA, $$$-$$$$

FOLK’S FOLLY ORIGINAL PRIME STEAK HOUSE—Specializes in prime steaks, as well as lobster, grilled Scottish salmon, Alaskan king crab legs, rack of lamb, and weekly specials. 551 S. Mendenhall. 762-8200. D, X, MRA, $$$-$$$$ FORMOSA—Offers Mandarin cuisine, including broccoli beef, hot-and-sour soup, and spring rolls. Closed Monday. 6685 Quince. 753-9898. L, D, X, $-$$ FOX RIDGE PIZZA & GRILL—Pizzas, calzones, sub sandwiches, burgers, and meat-and-two plate lunches are among the dishes served at this eatery, which opened in 1979. 711 W Brookhaven Cir. 758-6500. L, D, X, $ FRATELLI’S—Serves hot and cold sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts, all with an Italian/Mediterranean flair. Closed Sunday. 750 Cherry Rd., Memphis Botanic Garden. 766-9900. L, X, $ FRANK GRISANTI’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT— Northern Italian favorites include pasta with jumbo shrimp and mushrooms; also seafood, filet mignon, and daily lunch specials. Closed for lunch Sunday. Embassy Suites Hotel, 1022 S. Shady Grove. 761-9462. L, D, X, $-$$$ HALF SHELL—Specializes in seafood, such as king crab legs; also serves steaks, chicken, pastas, salads, sandwiches, a ”voodoo menu”; oyster bar at Winchester location. 688 S. Mendenhall. 682-3966; 7825 Winchester. 737-6755. L, D, WB, X, MRA, $-$$$ HIGH POINT PIZZA—Serves a variety of pizzas, subs, salads, and sides. Closed Monday. A neighborhood fixture. 477 High Point Terrace. 452-3339. L, D, X, $-$$ HOUSTON’S—Serves steaks, seafood, pork chops, chicken dishes, sandwiches, salads, and Chicago-style spinach dip. Farmous for first-class service. 5000 Poplar. 683-0915. L, D, X $-$$$ LA BAGUETTE—An almond croissant and chicken salad are among specialties at this French-style bistro. Closed for dinner Sun. 3088 Poplar. 458-0900. B, L, D (closes at 7), X, MRA, $ LAS DELICIAS—Popular for its guacamole, house-made tortilla chips, and margaritas, this restaurant draws diners with its chicken enchiladas, meat-stuffed flautas, and Cuban torta with spicy pork. Closed Sunday. 4002 Park Ave. 458-9264; 5689 Quince. 800-2873. L, D, X, $ LIBRO AT LAURELWOOD—Bookstore eatery features a variety of sandwiches, salads, and homemade pasta dishes, with Italian-inspired options such as carbonara and potato gnocchi. Closed for dinner Sun. 387 Perkins Ext. (Novel). 800-2656. B, L, D, SB, X, $-$$ LISA’S LUNCHBOX—Serving bagels, sandwiches, salads, and wraps. 5885 Ridgeway Center Pkwy. 767-6465; 2650 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Suite 1200; 730-0064; 6070 Poplar. 2335875; 50 N. Front. 574-0468. B, L, $ LOST PIZZA—Offering pizzas (with dough made from scratch), pasta, salads, sandwiches, tamales, and more. 2855 Poplar. 572-1803; 5960 Getwell (Southaven). 662-892-8684. L, D, X, $-$$ LYNCHBURG LEGENDS—This restaurant with a Jack Daniels’ theme and Southern cuisine serves such entrees as Bourbon Street salmon, buttermilk-fried chicken, and grilled steak and wild mushroom salad. DoubleTree Hotel, 5069 Sanderlin. 969-7777. B, L, D, X, $-$$$ MAGNOLIA & MAY—The family behind Grove Grill cooks up Southern-inspired casual dining at this country brasserie, with popular menu items like peach gazpacho and low country shrimp n’ grits. 718 Mt. Moriah Rd. 676-8100. D, $$-$$$. MAHOGANY MEMPHIS—Upscale Southern restaurant offers such dishes as coffee-rubbed lamb chops and baked Cajun Cornish hen. Closed for dinner Sun. and all day Mon.-Tues. 3092 Poplar, Suite 11. 623-7977. L, D, SB, X, $-$$$ MARCIANO MEDITERRANEAN AND ITALIAN CUISINE—Veal Saltimbocca with angel-hair pasta and white wine sauce is among the entrees; also steaks, seafood, and gourmet pizza. 780 Brookhaven Cl. 682-1660. D, X, $-$$
 MAYURI INDIAN CUISINE—Serves tandoori chicken, masala dosa, tikka masala, as well as lamb and shrimp entrees; also a daily lunch buffet, and dinner buffet on Fri.-Sat. 6524 Quince Rd. 753-8755. L, D, X, $-$$ MELLOW MUSHROOM—Large menu includes assortment of pizzas, salads, calzones, hoagies, vegetarian options, and 50 beers on tap. 5138 Park Ave. 562-1211; 9155 Poplar, Shops of Forest Hill (Germantown). 907-0243. L, D, X, $-$$

MOSA ASIAN BISTRO—Specialties include sesame chicken, Thai calamari, rainbow panang curry with grouper fish, and other Pan Asian/fusion entrees. Closed Mon. 850 S. White Station Rd. 683-8889. L, D, X, MRA, $ NAM KING—Offers luncheon and dinner buffets, dim sum, and such specialties as fried dumplings, pepper steak, and orange chicken. 4594 Yale. 373-4411. L, D, X, $
 NAPA CAFE—Among the specialties are miso-marinated salmon over black rice with garlic spinach and shiitake mushrooms. Closed Sun. 5101 Sanderlin, Suite 122. 683-0441. L, D, X, MRA, $$-$$$ NEW HUNAN—Chinese eatery with more than 80 entrees; also lunch/dinner buffets. 5052 Park. 766-1622. L, D, X, $ ONE & ONLY BBQ—On the menu are pork barbecue sandwiches, platters, wet and dry ribs, smoked chicken and turkey platters, a smoked meat salad, barbecue quesadillas, Brunswick Stew, and Millie’s homemade desserts. 1779 Kirby Pkwy. 751-3615; 567 Perkins Extd. 249-4227. L, D, X, $ ONO POKÉ—This eatery specializes in poké — a Hawaiian dish of fresh fish salad served over rice. Menu includes a variety of poké bowls, like the Kimchi Tuna bowl, or customers can build their own by choosing a base, protein, veggies, and toppings. 3145 Poplar. 618-2955. L, D, X, $ OWEN BRENNAN’S—New Orleans-style menu of beef, chicken, pasta, and seafood; jambalaya, shrimp and grits, and crawfish etouffee are specialties. Closed for dinner Sunday. The Regalia, 6150 Poplar. 761-0990. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ PARK + CHERRY—The Dixon offers casual dining within the museum. Seasonal menu features sandwiches, like rustic chicken salad on croissant, as well as salads, snacks, and sweets. Closed for breakfast Sun. and all day Mon. 4339 Park (Dixon Gallery). 761-5250. L, X, $ PATRICK’S—Serves barbecue nachos, burgers, and entrees such as fish and chips; also plate lunches and daily specials. 4972 Park. 682-2852. L, D, X, MRA, $ PETE & SAM’S—Serving Memphis for 60-plus years; offers steaks, seafood, and traditional Italian dishes, including homemade ravioli, lasagna, and chicken marsala. 3886 Park. 458-0694. D, X, $-$$$ PF CHANG’S CHINA BISTRO—Specialties are orange peel shrimp, Mongolian beef, and chicken in lettuce wraps; also vegetarian dishes, including spicy eggplant. 1181 Ridgeway Rd., Park Place Centre. 818-3889. L, D, X, $-$$ PHO SAIGON—Vietnamese fare includes beef teriyaki, roasted quail, curry ginger chicken, vegetarian options, and a variety of soups. 2946 Poplar. 458-1644. L, D, $ PYRO’S FIRE-FRESH PIZZA—Serving gourmet pizzas cooked in an open-fire oven; wide choice of toppings; large local and craft beer selection. 1199 Ridgeway. 379-8294; 2035 Union Ave. 208-8857; 2286 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 207-1198; 3592 S. Houston Levee (Collierville). 2218109. L, D, X, MRA, $ RED HOOK CAJUN SEAFOOD & BAR—Cajunstyle array of seafood including shrimp, mussels, clams, crawfish, and oysters. 3295 Poplar. 207-1960. L, D, X, $-$$ RIVER OAKS—Chef Jose Gutierrez’s French-style bistro serves seafood and steaks, with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. 5871 Poplar Ave. 683-9305. L, D, X, $$$ RONNIE GRISANTI’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT— This Memphis institution serves some family classics such as Elfo’s Special and handmade ravioli, along with house-made pizza and fresh oysters. Closed Sun. 6150 Poplar #122. 850-0191. D, X, $-$$$ RUTH’S CHRIS STEAK HOUSE—Offers prime steaks cut and aged in-house, as well as lamb, chicken, and fresh seafood, including lobster. 6120 Poplar. 761-0055. D, X, $$$-$$$$ SALSA—Mexican-Southern California specialties include carnitas, enchiladas verde, and fajitas; also Southwestern seafood dishes such as snapper verde. Closed Sun. Regalia Shopping Center, 6150 Poplar, Suite 129. 683-6325. L, D, X, $-$$ SEASONS 52—This elegant fresh grill and wine bar offers a seasonally changing menu using fresh ingredients, wood-fire grilling, and brick-oven cooking; also a large international wine list and nightly piano bar. Crescent Center, 6085 Poplar. 682-9952. L, D, X, $$-$$$

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special advertising section

Broadway Pizza


Old-fashioned pizza house with a lovely comfortable atmosphere where the staff has you feeling like you are in their pizza home. Delicious hot pizzas overflowing with toppings of your choice. Appetizers, salads, spaghetti,catfish, cheeseburgers, Philly cheese steaks, Broadway whole wings, daily plate lunch specials, and more. Located in Memphis’ Broad St. Arts District and look out, Memphis ... NOW a second location at 629 South Mendenhall at Poplar. Legendary Pizza since 1977. Call-in orders are welcomed!

Huey’s has been serving up “Blues, Brews, & Burgers” in the Bluff City since 1970. More than 50 years later, this family-owned business has since expanded to nine locations across the greater Memphis area and northwest Mississippi. Proudly recognized as the Best Burger in Memphis for more than 35 years, Huey’s menu features 13 distinct burger choices, a variety of delicious sandwiches, homemade soups, and more. Check out the full menu, locations, hours, merchandise, and more at hueyburger.com.

Memphis Pizza Cafe

Mulan Asian Bistro

2581 Broad Ave • 901.454.7930 & 629 South Mendenhall • 901.207.1546

memphispizzacafe.com memphispizzacafe.com Our crust is prepared one way — thin and crisp. Choose one of our specialty Our crust is prepared thinextensive and crisp.ingredients Choose one of and our specialty pizzas or create your one own way from—our list, see why pizzas or create your“Best own Pizza” from our and see why we’ve been voted 20extensive years in ingredients a row. Bestlist, pizza. Coolest we’ve been “BestOverton Pizza” Square 27 years a row. Best -pizza. Coolest workers. Fivevoted locations: at in 2087 Madison 901.726.5343, workers. Four locations: Overton at 2087 Madison — 901.726.5343, East Memphis at 5061 Park Ave. Square - 901.684.1306, Germantown at 7604 W. East Memphis at 5061 ParkSouthaven Ave. — 901.684.1306, Germantown at 7604and W. Farmington - 901.753.2218, at 5627 Getwell - 662.536.1364, Farmingtonat —797 901.753.2218, Collierville at 797 W. Poplar — 901.861.7800. Collierville W. Poplar -and 901.861.7800


mulanbistro.net Mulan Asian Bistro has been rated No. 1 in Memphis for over 5 years and is the only Chinese restaurant serving authentic Szechuan Cuisine! Now serving you from three locations: Midtown, East Memphis, and Collierville/ Germantown area. Let us cater your family gathering, wedding or anniversary party. Try our newest signature item: Charcoal Roasted Duck! We deliver up to 10 miles and are the only restaurant that delivers sushi in Memphis! Located at 2149 Young Ave. in Memphis, 901.347.3965; 4698 Spottswood Ave. in Memphis, 901.609.8680 and 2059 Houston Levee in Collierville, 901.850.5288. Order online at www.mulanbistro.net!


52 South Second Street • 901.523.2746 • 888.HOGSFLY • hogsfly.com

The Vergos family has been cooking up food in a downtown Memphis alley since 1948. The pork ribs are legendary, as are the waiters and the vintage Memphis décor. Winner of numerous awards in Southern Living and other publications, the menu offers barbecued ribs, pork shoulder, beef brisket, cheese plates, barbecue nachos, Greek salads, local beers and wine. We ship our ribs overnight, too! Call about private parties for lunch and dinner. Check out our new catering menu online today!

To advertise in the August 2021 Scene Dining please contact Margie Neal at: 901.521.9000 or margie@memphismagazine.com.

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SOUTHALL CAFE—Locally-sourced ingredients bolster a chef-driven menu offering breakfast and lunch classics. 669 S. Mendenhall. 646-5698. B, L, WB, X, $ STAKS—Offering pancakes, including birthday cake and lemon ricotta. Menu includes other breakfast items such as beignets and French toast, as well as soups and sandwiches for lunch. 4615 Poplar. 509-2367; 7704 Poplar (Germantown). 800-1951. B, L, WB, X, $ SUSHI JIMMI—This food truck turned restaurant serves a variety of sushi rolls, fusion dishes — such as kimchi fries — and sushi burritos. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Mon. 2895 Poplar. 729-6985. L, D, X, $ SWANKY’S TACO SHOP—Taco-centric eatery offers tortas, flatbreads, quesadillas, chimichangas, burgers, and more. 4770 Poplar. 730-0763; 6641 Poplar (Germantown). 737-2088; 272 S. Main. 779-3499. L, D, X, $ THREE LITTLE PIGS—Pork-shoulder-style barbecue with tangy mild or hot sauce, freshly made coleslaw, and baked beans. 5145 Quince Rd. 685-7094. B, L, D, X, $ TOPS BAR-B-Q—Specializes in pork barbecue sandwiches and sandwich plates with beans and slaw; also serves ribs, beef brisket, and burgers. 1286 Union. 725-7527; 4183 Summer. 3244325; 5391 Winchester. 794-7936; 3970 Rhodes. 323-9865; 6130 Macon. 371-0580. For more locations, go online. L, D, X, $ VENICE KITCHEN—Specializes in “eclectic Italian” and Southern Creole, from pastas, including the “Godfather,” to hand-tossed pizzas, including the “John Wayne”; choose from 50 toppings. 368 Perkins Ext. 767-6872. L, D, SB, X, $-$$ WANG’S MANDARIN HOUSE—Offers Mandarin, Cantonese, Szechuan, and spicy Hunan entrees, including the golden-sesame chicken; next door is East Tapas, serving small plates with an Asian twist. 6065 Park Ave., Park Place Mall. 763-0676. L, D, X, $-$$ WASABI—Serving traditional Japanese offerings, hibachi, sashimi, and sushi. The Sweet Heart roll, wrapped — in the shape of a heart — with tuna and filled with spicy salmon, yellowtail, and avocado, is a specialty. 5101 Sanderlin Rd., Suite 105. 4216399. L, D, X, $-$$ WOMAN’S EXCHANGE TEA ROOM—Chicken-salad plate, beef tenderloin, soups-and-sandwiches, and vegetable plates are specialties; meal includes drink and dessert. Closed Sat.-Sun. 88 Racine. 327-5681. L, X, $

CORDOVA BOMBAY HOUSE—Indian fare includes lamb korma and chicken tikka; also, a daily luncheon buffet. 1727 N. Germantown Pkwy. 755-4114. L, D, X, $-$$ THE BUTCHER SHOP—Serves steaks ranging from 8-oz. filets to a 20-oz. porterhouse; also chicken, pork chops, fresh seafood. 107 S. Germantown Rd. 757-4244. L (Fri. and Sun.), D, X, $$-$$$ COASTAL FISH COMPANY—Upscale offerings of international fish varieties utilizing styles ranging from Carribbean, East Coast, West Coast, Chinese, to Filipino, and more. 415 Great View Dr. E., Suite 101. 266-9000. D, X, $$-$$$ GREEN BAMBOO—Pineapple tilapia, pork vermicelli, and the soft egg noodle combo are Vietnamese specialties here. 990 N. Germantown Parkway #104. 753-5488. L, D, $-$$ KING JERRY LAWLER’S MEMPHIS BBQ COMPANY—Offers a variety of barbecue dishes, including brisket, ribs, nachos topped with smoked pork, and a selection of barbecue “Slamwiches.” 465 N. Germantown Pkwy. #116. 509-2360. L, D, X, $ JIM ’N NICK’S BAR-B-Q—Serves barbecued pork, ribs, chicken, brisket, and fish, along with other homemade Southern specialties. 2359 N. Germantown Pkwy. 388-0998. L, D, X, $-$$ EL MERO TACO—This food truck turned restaurant serves up Mexican and Southern-style fusion dishes, including fried chicken tacos, chorizo con papas tacos, and brisket quesadillas. 8100 Macon Station, Suite 102. 308-1661. Closed Sun.-Mon. L, D, WB, X, $ SHOGUN JAPANESE RESTAURANT—Entrees include tempura, teriyaki, and sushi, as well as grilled fish and chicken entrees. 2324 N. Germantown Pkwy. 384-4122. L, D, X, $-$$ TANNOOR GRILL—Brazilian-style steakhouse with skewers served tableside, along with Middle Eastern specialties; vegetarian options also available. 830 N. Germantown Pkwy. 443-5222. L, D, X, $-$$$

GERMANTOWN BLUE HONEY BISTRO—Entrees at this upscale eatery include brown butter scallops served with Mississippi blue rice and herb-crusted beef tenderloin with vegetables and truffle butter. Closed Sun. 9155 Poplar, Suite 17. 552-3041. D, X, $-$$$ FOREST HILL GRILL—A variety of standard pub fare and a selection of mac-and-cheese dishes are featured on the menu. Specialties include Chicken Newport and a barbecue salmon BLT. 9102 Poplar Pike. 624-6001. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$ GERMANTOWN COMMISSARY—Serves barbecue sandwiches, sliders, ribs, shrimp, and nachos, as well as smoked barbecued bologna sandwiches; Mon.-night all-you-can-eat ribs. 2290 S. Germantown Rd. S. 754-5540. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ KOHESIAN SOKO STYLE EATERY—KoreanAmerican eatery serves up fusion-style dishes like bibimbap burgers or gochujang marinated loaded spicy pork nachos. 1730 S. Germantown Rd. 308-0223. L, D, X, $$ LAS TORTUGAS DELI MEXICANA— Authentic Mexican food prepared from local food sources; specializes in tortugas — grilled bread scooped out to hold such powerfully popular fillings as brisket, pork, and shrimp; also tingas, tostados. Closed Sunday. 1215 S. Germantown Rd. 751-1200; 6300 Poplar. 623-3882. L, D, X, $-$$ MOONDANCE GRILL—From the owners of Itta Bena and Lafayette’s. Serves steak cooked sous vide and seafood dishes including Abita-barbecued shrimp and pan-seared sand dab, in addition to an extensive wine and cocktail list. 1730 S. Germantown Road, Suite 117. 755-1471. L, D, X, $$-$$$ NOODLES ASIAN BISTRO—Serves a variety of traditional Asian cuisine, with emphasis on noodle dishes, such as Singapore Street Noodles and Hong Kong Chow Fun. 7850 Poplar #12. 755-1117. L, D, X, $ OPEN FLAME—This authentic Persian and Mediterranean eatery specializes in shish kebabs as well as kosher and halal fare. 3445 Poplar. 207-4995. L, D, X, $ PETRA CAFÉ—Serves Greek, Italian, and Middle Eastern sandwiches, gyros, and entrees. Hours vary; call. 6641 Poplar. 754-4440; 547 S. Highland. 323-3050. L, D, X, $-$$ PIMENTO’S KITCHEN + MARKET—Fresh sandwiches, soups, salads, and plenty of pimento cheese at this family-owned restaurant. 6540 Poplar Ave. 602-5488 [Collierville: 3751 S. Houston Levee. 453-6283]. L, D, X, $ RED KOI—Classic Japanese cuisine offered at this family-run restaurant; hibachi steaks, sushi, seafood, chicken, and vegetables. 5847 Poplar. 767-3456. L, D, X $-$$ ROCK’N DOUGH PIZZA CO.—Specialty and custom pizzas made from fresh ingredients; wide variety of toppings. 7850 Poplar #6. 779-2008. L, D, SB, X, MRA, $$ ROYAL PANDA—Hunan fish, Peking duck, Royal Panda chicken and shrimp, and a seafood combo are among the specialties. 3120 Village Shops Dr. 756-9697. L, D, X, $-$$ RUSSO’S NEW YORK PIZZERIA AND WINE BAR—Serves gourmet pizzas, calzones, and pasta, including lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo, scampi, and more. 9087 Poplar, Suite 111. 755-0092. L, D, WB, X, $-$$ SAKURA—Sushi, tempura, and teriyaki are Japanese specialties here. 2060 West St. 758-8181; 4840 Poplar. 572-1002. L, D, X, $-$$ SOBEAST—Eastern branch of the popular South of Beale, featuring the restaurant’s traditional staples, as well as rotating special menu items. 5040 Sanderlin. 818-0821. L, D, SB, X, $-$$. SOUTHERN SOCIAL—Shrimp and grits, stuffed quail, and Aunt Thelma’s Fried Chicken are among the dishes served at this upscale Southern establishment. 2285 S. Germantown Rd. 754-5555. D, SB, X, MRA, $-$$$ WEST STREET DINER—This home-style eatery offers breakfast, burgers, po’boys, and more. 2076 West St. 757-2191. B, L, D (Mon.-Fri.), X, $ WOLF RIVER BRISKET CO.—From the owners of Pyro’s Fire Fresh Pizza, highlights include house-smoked meats: prime beef brisket, chicken, and salmon. Closed Sun. 9947 Wolf River Boulevard, Suite 101. 316-5590. L, D, X, $-$$ ZEN JAPANESE FINE CUISINE—A full sushi bar and plenty of authentic Japanese dishes, like Hibachi or Wagyu beef. 1730 S. Germantown Rd. 7792796. L, D, X, X, $-$$$

COLLIERVILLE CAFE EUROPE—From Italian chef Michele D’oto, the French, Spanish, and Italian fusion cuisine includes a variety of dishes like Rosette al Forno, fish ceviche, and sole meuniere. Closed Sun. 4610 Merchants Park Circle, Suite 571. 286-4199. L, D, X, $$-$$$$ CAFE PIAZZA BY PAT LUCCHESI—Specializes in gourmet pizzas (including create-your-own), panini sandwiches, and pasta. Closed Sun. 139 S. Rowlett St. 861-1999. L, D, X, $-$$ CIAO BABY—Specializing in Neapolitan-style pizza made in a wood-fired oven. Also serves house-made mozzarella, pasta, appetizers, and salads. 890 W. Poplar, Suite 1. 457-7457. L, D, X, $ COLLIERVILLE COMMISSARY—Serves barbecue sandwiches, sliders, ribs, shrimp, and nachos, as well as smoked barbecued bologna sandwiches. 3573 S. Houston Levee Rd. 9795540. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$ DAVID GRISANTI’S—Serving Northern Italian cuisine and traditional family recipes, like the Elfo Special, shrimp sauteed in garlic and butter, tossed with white button mushrooms and white pepper, and served over vermicelli with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Closed Sun. 684 W. Poplar (Sheffield Antiques Mall). 861-1777. L, D (Thurs.-Sat.), X, $-$$$ EL MEZCAL—Serves burritos, chimichangas, fajitas, and other Mexican cuisine, as well as shrimp dinners and steak. 9947 Wolf River, 853-7922; 402 Perkins Extd. 761-7710; 694 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 755-1447; 1492 Union. 274-4264; 11615 Airline Rd. (Arlington). 867-1883; 9045 Highway 64 (Lakeland). 383-4219; 7164 Hacks Cross Rd. (Olive Branch). 662-890-3337; 8834 Hwy. 51 N. (Millington). 872-3220; 7424 Highway 64 (Bartlett). 417-6026. L, D, X, $ EMERALD THAI RESTAURANT—Spicy shrimp, pad khing, lemongrass chicken, and several noodle, rice, and vegetarian dishes are offered at this family restaurant. Closed Sunday. 8950 Highway 64 (Lakeland, TN). 384-0540. L, D, X, $-$$ FIREBIRDS—Specialties are hand-cut steaks, slow-roasted prime rib, and wood-grilled salmon and other seafood, as well as seasonal entrees. 4600 Merchants Circle, Carriage Crossing. 8501637; 8470 Highway 64 (Bartlett). 379-1300. L, D, X, $-$$$ JIM’S PLACE GRILLE—Features American, Greek, and Continental cuisine with such entrees as pork tenderloin, several seafood specialties, and hand-cut charcoal-grilled steaks. Closed for lunch Sat. and all day Sun. 3660 Houston Levee. 861-5000. L, D, X, MRA, $-$$$ MULAN ASIAN BISTRO—Hunan Chicken, tofu dishes, and orange beef served here; sushi and Thai food, too. 2059 Houston Levee. 850-5288; 2149 Young. 347-3965; 4698 Spottswood. 609-8680. L, D, X, $-$$
 OSAKA JAPANESE CUISINE—Featuring an extensive sushi menu as well as traditional Japanese and hibachi dining. Hours vary for lunch; call. 3670 Houston Levee. 861-4309; 3402 Poplar. 249-4690; 7164 Hacks Cross (Olive Branch). 662-890-9312; 2200 N. Germantown Pkwy. (Cordova). 425-4901. L, D, X, $-$$$ RAVEN & LILY—Eatery offers innovative Southerninspired cuisine with such dishes as crispy shrimp and cauliflower salad, spiced lamb sausage and parmesan risotto, and bananas foster pain perdu. Closed Monday. 120 E. Mulberry. 286-4575. L, D, SB, X, $-$$ STIX—Hibachi steakhouse with Asian cuisine features steak, chicken, and a fillet and lobster combination, also sushi. A specialty is Dynamite Chicken with fried rice. 4680 Merchants Park Circle, Avenue Carriage Crossing. 854-3399. 150 Peabody Pl. Suite 115 (Downtown). 207-7638 L, D, X, $-$$ ZOPITA’S ON THE SQUARE—Cafe offers sandwiches, including smoked salmon and pork tenderloin, as well as salads and desserts. Closed Sun. 114 N. Main. 457-7526. L, D, X, $

OUT-OF-TOWN BOZO’S HOT PIT BAR-B-Q—Barbecue, burgers, sandwiches, and subs. 342 Hwy 70 (Mason, TN). 901-294-3400. L, D, $-$$ CATFISH BLUES—Serving Delta-raised catfish and Cajunand Southern-inspired dishes, including gumbo and fried green tomatoes. 210 E. Commerce (Hernando, MS). 662-298-3814. L, D, $ CITY GROCERY—Southern eclectic cuisine; shrimp and grits is a specialty. Closed for dinner Sunday. 152 Courthouse Square (Oxford, MS). 662-232-8080. L, D, SB, X, $$-$$$ COMO STEAKHOUSE—Steaks cooked on a hickory charcoal grill are a specialty here. Upstairs is an oyster bar. Closed Sun. 203 Main St. (Como, MS). 662-526-9529. D, X, $-$$$

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ELFO GRISANTI’S NORTHERN ITALIAN CUISINE—Grisanti family classics like lasagna, homemade ravioli, garlic bread, and Northern Italian pizza. Closed Sun. 5627 Getwell Rd. (Southaven, MS). 662-470-4497. L, D, X, $-$$ LONG ROAD CIDER CO.—Specializes in hard apple ciders made with traditional methods. Cafe-style entrees include black-eyed peas with cornbread and greens, chicken Gorgonzola pockets, cider-steamed sausage, and housemade ice creams. Closed Sun.-Wed. 9053 Barret Road. (Barretville, TN). 352-0962. D, X, $ MANILA FILIPINO RESTAURANT—Entrees include pork belly cutlet with lechon sauce, and shrimp and vegetables in tamarind broth; also daily combos, rice dishes, and chef specials. Closed Sun.-Mon. 7849 Rockford (Millington, TN). 209-8525. L, D, X, $ MARSHALL STEAKHOUSE—Rustic steakhouse serves premium Angus beef steaks, seafood dishes, rack of lamb, and more. Breakfast menu features griddle cakes, and lunch offerings include hamburger steak and oyster po’ boys. 2379

SERVING MEMPHIS SINCE 1984 Memphis Magazine’s

THE 2020



Four convenient

locations Memphis Collierville Cordova Olive Branch

CASINO TABLES BOURBON STREET STEAKHOUSE & GRILL AT SOUTHLAND CASINO RACING—1550 Ingram Blvd., West Memphis, AR, 1-800-467-6182 CHICAGO STEAKHOUSE AT THE GOLDSTRIKE—1010 Casino Center Dr., Robinsonville, MS, 1-888-24KSTAY /662-357-1225 FAIRBANKS AT THE HOLLYWOOD—1150 Casino Strip Blvd., Robinsonville, MS, 1-800-871-0711 JACK BINION’S STEAK HOUSE AT HORSESHOE—1021 Casino Center Drive, Robinsonville, MS, 1-800-303-SHOE LUCKY 8 ASIAN BISTRO AT HORSESHOE—1021 Casino Center Drive, Robinsonville, MS, 1-800-303-SHOE THE STEAKHOUSE AT THE FITZ—711 Lucky Ln., Robinsonville, MS, 1-888-766-LUCK, ext 8213 Highway 178 (Holly Springs, MS). 628-3556. B, L, D, X, $-$$$ MEMPHIS BARBECUE COMPANY—Offers spare ribs, baby backs, and pulled pork and brisket, along with such sides as mac-and-cheese, grits, and red beans. 709 Desoto Cove (Horn Lake, MS). 662-536-3762. L, D, X, $-$$ NAGOYA—Offers traditional Japanese cuisine and sushi bar; specialties are teriyaki and tempura dishes. 7075 Malco Blvd., Suite 101 (Southaven, MS). 662-349-8788. L, D, X, $-$$$
 PANCHO’S—Serves up a variety of Mexican standards, including tacos, enchiladas, and mix-and-match platters; also lunch specials. 3600 E. Broadway (West Memphis, AR). 870-735-6466. 717 N. White Station. 685-5404. L, D, X, MRA, $ PIG-N-WHISTLE—Offers pork shoulder sandwiches, wet and dry ribs, catfish, nachos, and stuffed barbecue potatoes. 6084 Kerr-Rosemark Rd. (Millington, TN). 872-2455. L, D, X, $ RAVINE—Serves contemporary Southern cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, locally grown foods and a menu that changes weekly. Closed Mon.-Tues. 53 Pea Ridge/County Rd. 321 (Oxford, MS). 662-234-4555. D, SB, X, $$-$$$ SAINT LEO’S—Offering sophisticated pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, and salads. A James Beard nominee for Best New Restaurant in 2017. 1101 Jackson (Oxford, MS). 662-234-4555. D, L, WB, $-$$ SNACKBAR—Billed as an intriguing mix of “French Bistro with North Mississippi Cafe.” Serving a confit duck Croque Monsieur, watermelon-cucumber chaat, pan-fried quail, plus a daily plate special and a raw bar. Chef Vishesh Bhatt was named as Best Chef South by the James Beard Foundation in 2019. 721 N. Lamar (Oxford, MS). 662-236-6363. D, $-$$$ WILSON CAFE—Serving elevated home-cooking, with such dishes as deviled eggs with cilantro and jalapeño, scampi and grits, and doughnut bread pudding. 2 N. Jefferson (Wilson, AR). 870-655-0222. L, D (Wed. through Sat. only), X, $-$$$

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Order Up!

Even a brief stint in the restaurant business will shape you. BY FR A NK MURTAUG H

Fifty people would have been quite intimate with one another had they packed themselves into the Red Kettle for some French toast and home fries. The dining room more often seated between 10 and 20, with a few regulars at the counter chatting with the wait staff. But the Kettle made up in impact what it lacked in square footage. And it provided lessons for a young man not yet sure which northbound (or, as it turned out, southbound) route he’d be traveling. The lessons have steered me for more than three decades. Preparation is everything. I would typically enter the kitchen at 6 a.m., but I wasn’t the first in the building. Particularly during hunting season, certain regulars brewed their own coffee at an hour that would make a rooster groggy. The Kettle’s owner provided keys for these customers. (When I say “small town,” Northfield has topped out at roughly 4,000 residents since Nixon was in the White House. Locking doors is optional.) These men — they were only men, at least at that time — barely nodded at me when I turned on the grill. For them, I was a late arrival. Waiting for me in the refrigerator, even at that hour, were chopped onions, chopped peppers, a large jar of premixed pancake batter, potatoes cut nicely

into cubes. I could have an omelet on a plate by 6:15 if ordered, as the kitchen’s regular cook — Jody — had finished his shift the previous day by making sure I started mine smoothly. And I finished

each of my shifts — even if a busy day pushed us beyond our 2 p.m. closing time — by chopping onions, chopping peppers, mixing pancake batter. There’s a flow to every good business, one managed better with anticipation than reaction. A customer knows what a customer likes. “Ellie’s toast!” Most orders were delivered on a small piece of paper, peeled from a tablet (the old-fashioned kind). But one of the Kettle’s most endearing regulars was Ms. Ellie, an elderly woman who knew precisely how she liked

her toast: burned (seriously, almost entirely black) and slathered with butter (I applied it, already melted, with a brush). Whichever waitress saw Ellie pull into the parking lot — Leslie, Pam, Gretchen, Becky, it didn’t matter — would simply shout those two words … or gently deliver them if my hands were full. I’ve come to appreciate personal preferences and custom orders. And I often think of Ms. Ellie when someone asks for a very specific article or magazine from our archives. Favorites

matter. They color our personalities and make us memorable to others. Next time you’re making toast, burn a slice for Ms. Ellie. Just make sure you have plenty of butter. Our work affects others. In what’s now a commentary on the maturity level of your average 17-yearold, I included “busy mornings at the Red Kettle” as a pet peeve in my yearbook profile. When the establishment’s owner — the late, great Dolly Stone — learned of my jab, she let me have it, emphasizing what “busy mornings”

did for her family’s livelihood. The aggravation and “stress” of serving a big breakfast crowd — while many of my pals nursed hangovers — paid the bills not just for Dolly’s family, but for my teammates at the Kettle: Jody and the waitresses who actually toiled to reduce aggravation and stress for me. I learned about the ripple effect of serving a club sandwich with bacon cooked just right, but it took the regurgitation of that yearbook quote for me to fully appreciate it. “You can solve your problem if you exert yourself.” I have this note — from a fortune cookie — taped inside a beer mug Dolly gave me as a graduation gift. (She knew I had Saturday nights, too.) I’ve never taken a sip from that mug, as it’s been home to pens and pencils on my various desks throughout college and every life stage since. Not an insignificant vessel for someone who aspires to a career in writing. Wisdom comes to us in different forms, from different voices, with varying degrees of impact as we absorb it. I damaged some fingerprints on that grill at the Red Kettle. I prepared a Western omelet for someone who ordered mushrooms and cheese. And yes, I sometimes cursed my decision to slice Friday nights in favor of work on predawn Saturday mornings. But I also served a lot of tasty breakfasts to very fine people, some who knew me outside the kitchen, but most who didn’t. I like to think some left the Red Kettle happier than they were when they walked in the door. And I hope memories of the place make them as happy today as those Saturday mornings now make me. 



was a short-order cook for a few precious months of my youth. For two summers — and every Saturday of my senior year in high school — I prepared breakfast and lunch at the Red Kettle in my little hometown of Northfield, Vermont. The first business northbound travelers saw on their way into town on Route 12, the Kettle was a charming “greasy spoon” … but so much more than such a tag implies.

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Profile for Contemporary Media

Memphis Magazine February 2021  

2021 Readers' Restaurant Poll Winners Local Eats A to Z Road Trip Mississippi Delta Habitats - Justin Fox Burks & Amy Lawrence IMB CEOs

Memphis Magazine February 2021  

2021 Readers' Restaurant Poll Winners Local Eats A to Z Road Trip Mississippi Delta Habitats - Justin Fox Burks & Amy Lawrence IMB CEOs