Best of Memphis 2017: Food & Drink 


Best Bakery

1. Muddy's Bake Shop

2. Frost Bake Shop

3. La Baguette

Best Dessert Shop

BOM 1. Muddy's Bake Shop

2. Cheesecake Corner — tie — Frost Bake Shop

3. La Baguette

You know what's great about Muddy's Bake Shop? Besides the pies (Bananarama!), cookies, muffins, cupcakes, and vegan bars which have put them atop our BOM list? They call their bakers "gnomies."

Best Breakfast

1. Brother Juniper's

2. Bryant's Breakfast

3. Arcade

Brother Juniper's is named for the beloved cook at the monastery St. Francis founded near Assisi in 1209 AD. He was said to always be full of good cheer as he prepared simple, delicious meals for the monks. Brother Juniper's has taken his example to heart. There's no better place to get your day off to a wholesome start.

  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Beauty Shop

Best Brunch

1. Beauty Shop

2. Owen Brennan's

3. Majestic Grille

Karen Blockman Carrier's Cooper-Street oasis is the place to be the morning after a rough Saturday night. Not only can you go on an international tour of egg possibilities (Jamaican! Israeli! Italian!), but they also have beignets. What more do you want with your hangover mimosa?

Best Burger

1. Huey's

2. Tops Bar-B-Q

3. Earnestine & Hazel's

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant

1. Huey's

2. Belly Acres

3. Memphis Pizza Cafe — tie — Railgarten

Best Late-Night Dining

1. Huey's

2. Earnestine & Hazel's

3. Alex's Tavern

Best Bar Food

1. Huey's

2. Young Avenue Deli

3. Bardog Tavern

Best Service

1. Huey's

2. Folk's Folly

3. Restaurant Iris

Huey's has got this thing down to a science. Both Best Late-Night AND Kid Friendly? They say you can't be all things to all people, but in Memphis, Huey's comes close. It's no-nonsense, master-the-fundamentals restauranting that has made Thomas Boggs' baby a Memphis institution. Señor Huey forever!

Best Chinese

1. Mulan

2. Wang's

3. A-Tan

You can pinpoint the moment that Memphis turned the corner on the way to being a real Big City: When Mulan started delivering. Not only could you get Chinese food delivered in little white cardboard containers, but it was great Chinese food. Get the Homestyle Tofu and tell 'em the Flyer sent you.

click to enlarge Ugly Mug - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Ugly Mug

Best Coffee Roaster

1. Ugly Mug

2. French Truck

3. J. Brooks

Ugly Mug's cozy little coffee shop at Poplar and Perkins is one of Memphis' best kept secrets. This Memphis company roasts a mean bean. If you drink your coffee black, the Saving Grace is one of the finest balanced cups you'll ever sip.

Best Date-Night Restaurant

1. Flight

2. Restaurant Iris

3. Folk's Folly

Best Wine List

1. Flight

2. Bari

3. Folk's Folly

The interior of Flight is one of the most architecturally interesting spaces to dine in the city. You can either be seen on the Main Street patio, sit under the chandelier on the first floor, or get a cozy, private spot on the mezzanine. If you're in the mood to try some new wine, you can try a variety of varietals with their signature flight.

Best Dog-friendly Restaurant/Bar

1. Loflin Yard

2. Slider Inn

3. Young Avenue Deli

The most impressive thing about Loflin Yard — besides the fact it has an actual stream running through the middle of it — is just how much space there is. Your pupper can stretch its legs while you prop yours up and sip some suds.

Best Donut Shop

BOM 1. Gibson's Donuts

2. Howard's Donuts

3. Donald's Donuts

Is there such a thing as a bad donut? Okay, maybe so, but you won't find any bad ones at this Memphis landmark. It's hard to pick a favorite, but the Red Velvet donuts are divine. You want one right now, don't you?

  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Blue Nile

Best Ethiopian

1. Blue Nile

2. Abyssinia

3. Ethiopian Restaurant & Coffee

Blue Nile's menu is a place where spicy Ethiopian favorites bleed into traditional American cuisine. Not in the mood for gorgeous kebabs or Wat wrapped in injera bread? The lamb burger and rosemary fries won't disappoint.

Best Food Truck

1. Say Cheese!

2. Fuel Cafe

3. Sushi Jimmi

What's better than a joint that makes perfect grilled cheese sandwiches where the outside's crispy and dark but not burned and the inside's full of molten comfort? A joint like that on wheels. "Homemade pimento cheese with bacon on sourdough" is all you really need to know.

Best Barbecue

BOM 1. Central BBQ

2. The Bar-B-Q Shop

3. Germantown Commissary

Best Ribs

1. Central BBQ

2. Rendezvous

3. Bar-B-Q Shop

Everybody makes a big deal about Central BBQ's hickory-smoked meats. People rant about the spice, rave about the variety of sauces, and go crazy for the wings and nachos. But what about every location's ultra-casual, beer hall-meets-family picnic vibe? There's a reason why people feel so at home in this perennial favorite — besides all the incredible smells and flavors, of course.

Best Fried Chicken

BOM 1. Gus's

2. Jack Pirtle's Chicken

3. Uncle Lou's

Nashville's tasty Hot Chicken may be the food buzz du jour, but it's always gonna get the side-eye from Memphis, where Gus's has been quietly spreading its crispy wings and steadily taking over the world, one newly opened location at a time. Gus's dishes up dark, spicy, always right-out-of-the-fry-basket-hot chickeny perfection.

Jerry's Sno Cones - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Jerry's Sno Cones

Best Frozen Treat Shop

1. Jerry's Sno Cones

2. La Michoacana

3. MemPops

How many things can you think of that will cause people from Shelby County to drop whatever they're doing, drive to an old car wash on Wells Station, and stand in long lines on hot asphalt in the hot sun for as long as it takes? Jerry's fluffy, snowy, syrup-and-soft-serve laden sno cones sing to us — and we answer the siren call.

Best Hangover Food

1. Bryant's Breakfast — tie — Huey's

2. Elwood's Shack

3. CK's Coffee Shop

At Bryant's the gravy's rich. The country ham's like porcine candy. And, if you're too fuzzy to decide what you want, you can basically get a little of everything dumped into a bowl. Hangovers were also made for Huey's as well because they're everywhere, their potato soup is healing, and when you can't remember the name of any other restaurant in town, your muscles remember how to drive to Memphis' classic burger bar.

Best Hibachi

1. Benihana

2. Nagasaki Inn

3. A-Tan — tie — Osaka

Who doesn't love dinner and a show? Japanese flattop grill cuisine is all about freshness, minimalism, and not hiding the beauty or delicate flavors of steak and seafood with too much seasoning. Everything is elevated by the communal dining experience in the presence of a knife-happy hibachi master — part comedian, part culinary daredevil. Nobody knows the business like Benihana.

Best Home Cooking/ Soul Food

1. Soul Fish Cafe

2. Cupboard

3 Little Tea Shop — tie — Patrick's

A visit to Soul Fish means total satisfaction. Beautifully fried and grilled catfish may give the restaurant its name, but succulent smoked chicken may be this Memphis favorite's secret weapon. Vegetable selections are always plentiful and generously portioned.

Best Cajun/Creole

1. Bayou Bar & Grill

2. Second Line

3. DeJaVu

Best Bloody Mary

1. Bayou Bar & Grill

2. Majestic Grille

3. Beauty Shop

Bayou Bar & Grill's menu is an extensive sampler platter of Louisiana-style classics. Gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice are all accounted for every day of the week, while dishes like eggs sardou and the Creole Benedict drop in on the weekends. All best enjoyed with the Absolut Pepper Bloody Bayou — a tangy, tongue-searing take on the Bloody Mary.

Best Hot Wings

1. Ching's Hot Wings

2. Central BBQ

3. The Dirty Crow Inn — tie — D'bo's Wings N More

Crayola should name a color Honey Gold in honor of Ching's certifiably next-level wings. Beautiful to look at, better to devour in a hedonistic fit.

Best Indian

1. India Palace

2. Golden India

3. Bombay House

Friendly, generous, attentive, consistent — with tasty tandoori and a variety of vegetarian options, India Palace is a nexus where heady flavors from another continent commingle with Southern hospitality. Always get the chai.

Best Italian

1. Pete & Sam's

2. Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen — tie — Ciao Bella

3. Dino's Grill

You think of mouth-watering spaghetti and lasagna when you think of Pete & Sam's, but if you think again, you'll conjure up thin-crusted pizzas with tantalizing toppings. Or maybe incredibly tasty steaks — sirloin strip, ribeye, etc. Their Italian salad dressing is unsurpassed. And Pete & Sam's crab cakes — a new addition — are amazing. Note: Their whole fried chicken is a favorite of wrestler Jerry Lawler.

click to enlarge JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks

Best Local Brewery

1. Wiseacre

2. Ghost River

3. Memphis Made

"Ananda," the name of the hoppy, citrusy beer at Wiseacre, is a Hindu word meaning "extreme happiness." That could describe the reaction from Wiseacre beer fans when they sip their favorite brew from the brewery's list of suds. It also can refer to the feeling people get when they hang out at the brewery, whether it's in the taproom, at a special event, or at Wiseacre's weekly tour/beer tasting.

Best Beer Selection (in a store)

1. Memphis Cash Saver/Madison Avenue Growler Shop

2. Buster's Liquors & Wines

3. Joe's Wines & Liquor — tie — Kroger

The prices are good, the beer station staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the selection is wide and deep. Whether you're into local brews or deep diving artisanal brands, Cash Saver is a mandatory stop on Midtown party weekends.

Best Local Coffeehouse

1. Otherlands

2. Cafe Eclectic

3. Muddy's Coffee & Bake Shop

Not only is this the best place to drink coffee, but it's the best place to write a term paper on your laptop — and drink coffee at the same time. Or hear a cutting edge new local band at night. This is pure Midtown, folks.

Best Lunch

1. Elwood's Shack

2. Fino's

3. Pho Binh

A fish taco like you've never eaten — made with steelhead trout — may be the signature dish at Elwood's Shack, but there's so much more, including brisket, barbecued pork, and even pimento cheese (with bacon). That's barely touching the menu. A fire a while back didn't curtail business for long; Elwood's is up and running. God bless America!

Best Margarita

1. Molly's La Casita

2. Las Delicias

3. Babalu Tapas & Tacos

The opposite of "Blue Monday" is "Margarita Monday." The weekly event, when you can get margaritas for $6 instead of $8 between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m., has been going on for 30 years at Molly's La Casita. So, it's easy to see why Molly's won "Best Margarita." This is the place, where veteran Molly fans like to say, "I remember when they were on Lamar. In that little house." The "new" digs are much more spacious.

Best Mexican

1. Las Delicias

2. Las Tortugas

3. Molly's La Casita

If you like guacamole, go to Las Delicias. If you just like Mexican food, go to Las Delicias. This restaurant lives up to its name. You can get several types of fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, tortas, and quesadillas. And the huevos rancheros (the one with the fried egg) is yummy.

Best Middle Eastern

BOM 1. Casablanca

2. Kwik Chek

3. Petra Cafe

Humphrey and Ingrid won't be there, but kebabs, lamb, and hummus will be in the house. Diners can pretend they're in a movie and say, "Of all the gin joints ...," but Casablanca — at all its locations — is no "joint."

Best New American

1. Hog & Hominy

2. Majestic Grille

3. Char Restaurant

Don't expect to see traditional lasagna or spaghetti on a red-and-white-checkered tablecloth at Hog & Hominy. And don't expect to see a red-and-white-checkered tablecloth. Hog & Hominy likes to call itself "Italian Dining with a Southern Drawl," so its menu items are not the type of food usually accompanied by Dean Martin songs. You can begin with poutine, which includes fries and neckbone gravy, and progress to margherita pizza and, for dessert, a slice of peanut butter pie. They do serve meatballs. And it's all in a hip, cool setting.

Catherine & Mary's - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Catherine & Mary's

Best New Restaurant

1. Catherine & Mary's

2. Char Restaurant

3. Railgarten — tie — Southern Social

Nothing better than sitting at the bar at Catherine & Mary's in the old Chisca Hotel. The hotel now houses apartments, but its grandeur remains in the tall-ceilinged, beautifully designed restaurant. It's the hip downtown place to see and be seen. It's better to be seen eating the fabulous cuisine, which ranges from meatballs, also a staple at other restaurants owned by chefs Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman, to seasonal dishes, including the current to-die-for halibut.

Best Pizza

1. Memphis Pizza Cafe

2. Aldo's Pizza Pies

3. Pyro's Fire Fresh Pizza

When you think "pizza" in Memphis, Memphis Pizza Cafe surely comes to mind. This restaurant, which serves fabulous pizza pies, has been around for a while. It's been around the block for years, maybe in your neighborhood. It has several locations, including one in Collierville.

Best Place for People-Watching

1. Overton Square

2. Peabody Lobby Bar

3. Beale Street

Whether you're sitting on patios at Second Line, Bar Louie, and Local on the Square, lounging on the balcony at Lafayette's Music Room, or just peering out of the numerous windows at other restaurants, bars, and shops, you're going to see see lots of happy people at Cooper and Madison. Overton Square may be the most relaxed place to check out fellow earthlings.

Best Patio

1. Loflin Yard — tie — Slider Inn

2. Bhan Thai

3. Second Line

If you're looking for the best patio in town, our readers say it's a tie — between Loflin Yard's downtown grassy spaces and decks and Slider Inn's dog-friendly, misted deck in Midtown. Can't go wrong either way.

Best Restaurant for Dessert

1. Beauty Shop — tie — Flight

2. Paulette's

3. Hog & Hominy

You have to "Check the Mirror" for Best Dessert winner Beauty Shop's daily dessert choices, but they're always fantastic. Pro tip: If any sort of cake is an option, take it. And for those indecisive types with a sweet tooth, Flight's dessert flights are a true boon, featuring a chocolate flight with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Souffle, Lava Cake, and the Peanut Shoppe Brownie among other offerings. Swoon!

click to enlarge Fino's - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Fino's

Best Sandwiches

1. Fino's

2. Elwood's Shack

3. Young Avenue Deli

Saturday lunch at Fino's is a long-time Midtown tradition, and now this old-school Italian-style deli has opened a spot on Brookhaven Circle so East Memphis can join in. Fresh ingredients on chewy slices of white sandwich bread is a winning tradition, wherever you find it.

Best Seafood

1. Half Shell — tie — Tsunami

2. Soul Fish Cafe

3. Bonefish Grill — tie — Pearl's Oyster House

Though famous for his Roasted Sea Bass on Black Thai rice, Tsunami chef Ben Smith is equally good at making culinary magic with tuna, scallops, shrimp, and salmon. And the folks at the Half Shell know a thing or two, having served up some of the best seafood in these parts since 1973. Try the oysters.

Best Server

1. Calvin Bell, Rendezvous

2. Stephanie McGee, Slider Inn

3. J.J. Palmer, Huey's

Calvin "Pooh" Bell has been serving ribs, sandwiches, smiles, and "no french fries" at the legendary Rendezvous for more than 20 years. A well-deserved win for a winning guy.

Best Shared Plates

1. Babalu Tapas & Tacos

2. Flight

3. Bounty on Broad

The guac is a draw in and of itself, and the braised beef short ribs are not to be missed. Really, it's hard to go wrong with anything on this menu. The food's so good, you may not want to pass it around.

Best Smoothies/Juices

1. Smoothie King

2. I Love Juice Bar

3. Raw Girls — tie — Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Smoothie King's menu asks the existential question: What's Your Purpose? What they mean is, what are you looking for in your smoothie? Do you want to slim down? Bulk up? Get energized? Smoothie King's three Memphis locations can help you out, whichever way you want to go.

Best Steak

1. Folk's Folly

2. Ruth's Chris

3. Butcher Shop

There's a reason Folk's Folly wins the Best Steak category nearly every year: There's no other steakhouse experience like it in Memphis. It has a warm, dark, and clubby atmosphere, with friendly and knowledgeable servers who bring the best steaks in town to your table. Or to your private dining room for special occasions.

Best Sushi

1. Sekisui

2. Sakura

3. Osaka — tie — Sushi Jimmi

Sekisui has been serving the Best Sushi in Memphis for many years. Flyer readers know that in addition to sushi, Sekisui offers an extensive menu of other Asian delights, including gyoza, tempura, teriyaki, and kushiyaki. There are now four locations around Memphis to get your Sekisui on.

Best Taco

1. Las Delicias

2. Babalu Tapas & Tacos — tie — Maciel's

3. Swanky's

This bustling restaurant draws big crowds of food lovers seeking authentic Mexican cuisine. They've got five tacos to choose from: Pastor, Pork Chop, Chicken, Chorizo, and Gringo. All are $2, and all are fantastic.

  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Bhan Thai

Best Thai

1. Bhan Thai

2. Bangkok Alley

3. Pho Binh

Tucked into a rambling house on Peabody, Bhan Thai offers great atmosphere along with a great Thai and Thai-fusion menu, including Drunken Seafood, Thai Red Snapper, Roasted Duck Curry, and Salmon Panang. And don't miss the funky screened-in bar and rambling patio out back.

Best Vegetarian

1. Fuel Cafe

2. LYFE Kitchen

3. Mama Gaia

Fuel Cafe's food is fuel for the body, with a menu that is ideal for non-meat-eating diners. Some of the standout dishes include its much-loved veggie burger, the walnut loaf with mushroom and leek gravy, and the Vegan TV Dinner, which includes a chia pudding cup.

Best Vietnamese

1. Pho Binh

2. Pho Saigon

3. Lotus — tie — Phuong Long

If you've never tried pho, you really should. It's kind of like ramen and clear soup had a baby and named it pho. The menu at Pho Binh is extensive, so if pho won't do, you can still choose between an array of chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, and vegetarian dishes. Whatever you do order, though, make sure to ask for some peanut sauce to go with it. You can thank us later.

Best Chef

1. Kelly English, Restaurant Iris/Second Line

2. Michael Hudman & Andy Ticer, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen/Catherine & Mary's/Hog & Hominy/Porcellino's

3. Michael Patrick, Rizzo's

Best Restaurant

1. Restaurant Iris

2. Flight

3. Folk's Folly — tie — Majestic Grille

Kelly English takes the cake in his 9th year in a row as "Best Chef," and this year, he brought Restaurant Iris to the top of the list, too. Born and raised in Louisiana, English specializes in French-Creole cuisine. His Surf and Turf and Knuckle Sandwich are worth trying; don't worry, neither one will bite — or punch. English's other restaurant, Second Line (Restaurant Iris's more casual younger sister), is right next door with a more down-home style of Louisiana fare.


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