Best of Memphis 2018: Food & Drink 

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Best Bar Food

1. Huey's

2. Bardog Tavern

3. Young Avenue Deli

click to enlarge JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks

Best Burger

1. Huey's

2. Tops Bar-B-Q

3. Belly Acres

Best Hangover Food

1. Huey's

2. Slider Inn

3. Young Avenue Deli

Best Service

1. Huey's

2. Restaurant Iris

3. Catherine & Mary's — tie — Houston's

Best Late-Night Dining

1. Huey's

2. Earnestine & Hazel's

3. Alex's Tavern

Who hasn't heard of a "Huey Burger"? It's almost like "Band-Aid" or "Kleenex" around these parts. Huey's dominates these categories because of their consistency. They are a port in this burger, hangover, late-night, service, bar food storm.

Best Barbecue

BOM 1. Central BBQ

2. The Bar-B-Q Shop

3. Germantown Commissary

Best Ribs

1. Central BBQ

2. The Rendezvous

3. The Bar-B-Q Shop

With its new location on Poplar, Central BBQ is winning more and more fans. Whether you're eating their succulent ribs or their generous portions of pork or chicken or just dining on their homemade chips, you know you're eating the real thing.

Best Bloody Mary

1. Bayou Bar & Grill

2. The Beauty Shop

3. The Majestic Grille

Flyer readers voted Bayou Bar & Grill's Bloody Mary as best so it has to be that perfect combination of tomato juice, booze, and other accoutrements to jump start your day.

Best Breakfast

1. Brother Juniper's

2. Bryant's Breakfast

3. Sunrise Memphis

Nothing is more relaxing than eating breakfast at Brother Juniper's. You know you're going to get a tasty, big meal. And it doesn't have to just be bacon and eggs.

Best Brunch

1. The Beauty Shop

2. Owen Brennan's

3. The Majestic Grille

The definition of "chilling" is eating brunch at The Beauty Shop. The food is fabulous, and the people-watching is terrific. The vibe is hip and cool — just like its chef/owner Karen Carrier.

click to enlarge JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks

Best Chef

1. Kelly English, Restaurant Iris, The Second Line

2. Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Hog & Hominy, Gray Canary, Catherine & Mary's

3. Josh Steiner, Strano by Chef Josh

Best Cajun/ Creole

1. The Second Line

2. Bayou Bar & Grill

3. Mardi Gras Memphis

Best Fine Dining

1. Restaurant Iris

2. Folk's Folly Prime Cut Shoppe

3. Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar

Best Restaurant

1. Restaurant Iris

2. The Majestic Grille

3. Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar

England has a king; we have a king — Kelly English — when it comes to food. Not only was English voted Best Chef, but his Restaurant Iris was voted Best Restaurant and Best Fine Dining. And The Second Line — his restaurant next to Iris — was voted Best Cajun/Creole.

Best Chinese

1. Mulan Asian Bistro

2. A-Tan

3. Mosa Asian Bistro

Tasty Asian fare? Our readers voted Mulan Asian Bistro, which offers delicious cuisine in Cooper-Young and in East Memphis.

Best Coffee Roaster

1. French Truck Coffee

2. Ugly Mug

3. J Brooks

French Truck Coffee is a great addition to the Crosstown family of shops and restaurants. Drop by and pick up some beans — and while you're there, enjoy a cuppa and their excellent pimiento cheese toast.

Best Date-Night Restaurant

1. Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar

2. Restaurant Iris

3. Catherine & Mary's

Best Wine List

1. Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar

2. Folk's Folly Prime Cut Shoppe

3. Bari Ristorante e Enoteca

Flight has been a Downtown dining favorite for years, with its innovative flights of paired wine and entrees. Dine in or sit out at a sidewalk table and enjoy the passing trolleys (and scooters) with your main squeeze.

Best Dessert Shop

1. Muddy's Bake Shop

2. Frost Bake Shop

3. Two Girls and a Whip

Best Bakery

1. Muddy's Bake Shop

2. Frost Bake Shop

3. La Baguette

Muddy's Bake Shop has been sweetening the lives of Memphians for several years now. Muddy's devotees swear by the shop's cupcakes, red velvet cake, and longtime favorite, oatmeal cream pie.

Best Dog-friendly Restaurant/Bar

1. Loflin Yard

2. Slider Inn

3. Railgarten

Loflin Yard has quickly become a South Main institution. With its generous lawn, family-friendly performance stages, excellent craft cocktails, and the Gayoso Bayou running through it all, dogs like it, too.

Best Donut Shop

BOM 1. Gibson's Donuts

2. Howard's Donuts

3. The Dapper Donut

Gibson's is the Huey's of Memphis donut shops, standing invincibly atop our Best Donuts category year after year. Try the bacon-glazed donut. It's so good it will make you slap your pappy.

Best Ethiopian

1. Blue Nile Ethiopian Kitchen

2. Evelyn & Olive

3. Abyssinia

Nestled on Madison Avenue in Midtown, Blue Nile has gained a great reputation for its excellent vegetarian fare, as well as traditional favorites, including steaks, chicken, and eight different varieties of kebabs.

Best Farm to Table

1. Bounty on Broad

2. The Trolley Stop Market

3. Belly Acres

Bounty on Broad, now one of that burgeoning street's established anchors, serves delicious farm-to-table food on family-style platters — as well as small plates. Specialties include chicken-fried quail and braised pork shank.

Best Food Truck

1. Say Cheese

2. Sushi Jimmi

3. Fuel Cafe

Here's a great idea: Get you a food truck and drive around Memphis serving the most delicious, savory grilled cheese sandwiches in town. That's what Say Cheese did, and, boy, are our readers happy about it.

click to enlarge JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks

Best Home Cooking/Soul Food

1. The Arcade Restaurant

2. Four Way Restaurant

3. Regina's Cajun Restaurant

The city's oldest cafe is a brand-new winner in this category. Go for the neon and the old-school vibe. Stay for the biscuits, gravy, and endless cups of amazing coffee — all of it served up by the nicest servers in town.

Best Fried Chicken

BOM 1. Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken

2. Jack Pirtle's Chicken

3. Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken

From a humble chicken joint in Mason, Tennessee, Gus's Fried Chicken moved on to Front Street Downtown and took over Memphis. And now Gus's is taking over the country, with new locations all over the U.S. They're doing something right.

Best Frozen Treat Shop

1. Jerry's Sno Cones

2. La Michoacana

3. MemPops

Memphians don't mind Jerry's off-the-beaten-track locations in northeast Memphis and in way-out Cordova. In fact, that's part of its charm. Just follow the crowds to one of the city's most unique treat shops. Sno cones are only the tip of the iceberg.

Best Hibachi

1. Nagasaki Inn

2. Osaka

3. A-Tan

Nagasaki Inn is a new winner in this category, which is great. But over the decades, thousands have already voted with their feet to make Nagasaki a beloved Japanese oasis on Summer.

Best Hot Wings

1. Ching's Hot Wings

2. Central BBQ

3. Dirty Crow Inn

Eating wings at Ching's may be the most real-Memphis experience in town. The walls are plastered with photos of customers (famous or not), Memphis memorabilia, and, yes, acres of television screens. Get your wings on the spectrum from seasoned to suicide.

Best Indian

1. India Palace

2. Golden India

3. Bombay House

Palace is right. The massive space, high ceilings, curved archways, and animal murals of India Palace give it regal appeal. It's a fitting throne room for the food. Yes to the palak paneer, lamb meatballs, and tandoori chicken, and don't skip the amazing condiment bar.

click to enlarge JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks

Best Italian

1. Pete & Sam's

2. Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen

3. Bari Ristorante e Enoteca

Pete & Sam's has been Memphis' dining room for 60 years. Fire shut it down from December to May, but it came back with a retro facelift to look like an "old Italian restaurant you see in a movie." It still has your favorites. Fried chicken to T-bones. Tortaloni to pizza.

Best Kid-friendly Restaurant

1. Railgarten

2. Huey's

3. Belly Acres

Friend to both kids and kids-at-heart, Railgarten is a Memphis mecca for fun-havers. Hard to find a sunny Saturday afternoon without kids having a blast there. Don't worry, millennials, they clear out later, and the yard's so big you hardly even notice them anyway.

Best Patio

1. Railgarten

2. Slider Inn

3. The Second Line

Patios are hallowed sanctuaries in Memphis. Railgarten is the city's Taj Mahal. Dozens of independent parties simmer simultaneously in the yard, the tiki bar, the music venue, or fun nooks and crannies. Go. Seek refuge.

Best Local Brewery

BOM 1. Meddlesome Brewing Company

2. Wiseacre Brewing Co.

3. Memphis Made Brewing Co.

Meddlesome Brewing has arrived with force. Within months of opening its Cordova taproom last year, Meddlesome's 201 Hoplar won the Memphis Flyer's 2018 Beer Bracket Challenge. Our voters have, again, put the first-time category winners at the top of the heap (and by a landslide). Their motto: Never settle. Always meddle.

Best Local Coffeehouse

1. Otherlands Coffee Bar

2. Ugly Mug

3. Cafe Eclectic

Midtown is Otherlands. Work. People watch. Hang out. Study. Do it all in a rebelliously authentic coffee bar. Get coffee, natch. But breakfast and lunch shouldn't be missed. Pro tip: happy-hour beers are $1.50-$2. You're welcome.

click to enlarge JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks

Best Lunch

1. Elwood's Shack

2. Huey's

3. Soul Fish Cafe

Thousands have found religion in the Lowe's parking lot, and left as Elwood's evangelicals. Thanks to its pimento cheese biscuit, or brisket, or wings, or trout taco, or ribs, or ... not to get preachy, but you should go.

Best Margarita

1. Molly's La Casita

2. Las Delicias

3. Babalu Tapas & Tacos

You can't miss the peach-colored adobe on Madison. And you don't want to. Molly's La Casita has been a Midtown mainstay for 35 years. The food and atmosphere keep folks coming back for years, but it's the margarita that brings 'em through the door. Don't miss $6 margs on Mondays!

Best Mexican

1. Las Delicias

2. Molly's La Casitas

3. Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana

Many Memphians probably don't even need to leave their house to enjoy a taste of Las Delicias. The restaurant's pillowy tortilla chips and their tangy guac and salsa are available in supermarkets and are rapidly becoming local staples. But if you want those crispy flautas, you're going to have to visit Las Delicias in person.

Best Middle Eastern

BOM 1. Casablanca

2. Grecian Gourmet Taverna

3. Petra Cafe

Vegans may wish to try the Jerusalem salad. Non-vegans may wish to try the Jerusalem salad with a side of lamb. When it comes to Middle Eastern classics like hummus, falafel, kebabs, couscous, and shawarma, Casablanca has you covered like baba ganoush on a pita wrap.

Best New Restaurant

1. Gray Canary — tie — Liquor Store

2. Sunrise Memphis

3. Maciel's Highland

It's so Memphis to be split down the middle on our favorite new restaurant. Are we Gray Canary dapper, visiting the raw bar, while sampling an array of small plates and artisanal cocktails? Or are we classic diner casual, like the Liquor Store on Broad, an all-day breakfast joint with a menu full of fat sandwiches and a sweet potato hash to die for? Screw it, we're both!

Best Pizza

1. Memphis Pizza Cafe

2. Aldo's Pizza Pies

3. Broadway Pizza

Some people don't think Canadian bacon and pineapple belong anywhere near a pizza. Those people haven't tried Memphis Pizza Cafe's Hawaiian salad. The Bluff City loves its namesake pizza place, and with hot, generously appointed pies, calzones, subs, and that salad, what's not to love?

Best Place for People Watching

1. The Peabody Lobby

2. Beale Street

3. Railgarten

The South's grand hotel earns its reputation over and over again. The lobby with its busy, floral-topped fountain, is a nexus where movers meet shakers and old schoolers mingle. The twice daily duck parade ensures at least a modicum of "only in Memphis" weirdness.

Best Restaurant for Dessert

1. Cheesecake Corner

2. Paulette's Restaurant

3. The Beauty Shop

Keep it simple is a good philosophy. Cheesecake Corner is a cozy, candle-lit hangout that specializes in wine, quiche, and luxuriously smooth cheesecakes. Try the red velvet. Or the lemon pound. Or the white chocolate raspberry. Oh heck, try them all!

Best Sandwiches

1. Fino's

2. Young Avenue Deli

3. Elwood's Shack

The Acquisto sandwich is such an amazing balancing act it should be on The Gong Show. It sounds so simple: ham, mortadella, salami, and provolone. But when you pile it all on Fino's crusty bread and ladle on the olive dressing, something special happens.

Best Seafood

1. Soul Fish Cafe

2. Tsunami

3. Half Shell

Soul Fish Cafe's finer diner aesthetic may place grilled and fried catfish center stage. But this new winner in the Best Seafood category also serves blackened salmon, ruby red trout, baskets of crispy shrimp, a terrific oyster po' boy, tangy fish tacos, and some of the best vegetables in town.

Best Server

1. Calvin Bell, Rendezvous

2. Tony Dortch, Huey's

3. Meredith Shaw, Aldo's Pizza Pies

At so many places, the servers come and go. Not so at the Rendezvous, where, like Calvin Bell, they become institutions.

Best Shared/Small Plates Menu

1. Babalu Tapas & Tacos

2. Hog & Hominy

3. Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar

Sharing is caring and what better way to show you care than sharing delectable dishes from Babalu — the meatballs and crab cakes and short ribs? Every dish is a treat.

click to enlarge JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks

Best Smoothies/Juices

1. I Love Juice Bar

2. Smoothie King

3. Raw Girls

Health up your day with one of Juice Bar's greens- or roots-based juices, enjoy one of their smoothie bowls, and round it out with an essential oil or monster shot.

Best Sushi

1. Sekisui

2. Sakura Japanese Restaurant

3. Sekisui Pacific Rim

Sekisui's tantalizing selection of staple and specialty rolls never disappoints. Plus, you can wash it all down with a hot sake flight or plum wine.

click to enlarge JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks

Best steaks

BOM 1. Folk's Folly Prime Cut Shoppe

2. Buckley's Grill

3. The Butcher Shop Steakhouse

When it comes to steak, getting the right cut can make all the difference. For Memphis beef connoisseurs, it's folly to skip out on Folk's offerings.

Best Taco

1. Maciel's

2. Las Delicias

3. Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana

If you have a hankering for Mexican, Maciel's provides all the sabor you need. In the mood for something conventional? Snag one of their regular chicken, beef, or chorizo tacos. Otherwise, go out on a limb with the "Tinga" spicy chicken fried taco.

Best Thai

1. Bhan Thai

2. Bangkok Alley

3. Pho Binh

Sizzling golden shrimp, satay slathered in peanut sauce, hot and spicy curry: Those are just a few examples of Bhan Thai's mouthwatering cuisine. Wash it all down with a specialty Thai iced tea on their beautiful patio.

click to enlarge JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks

Best Vegetarian

1. Fuel Cafe

2. City Silo Table + Pantry

3. Pho Binh

How does mushroom pizza with cashew cream cheese sound? How about delicious olive oil-fried black eyed pea falafel bits? Or, for a change of pace, a walnut loaf? Whatever it is, Fuel Cafe's diverse vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu has enough variety to keep you coming back to try everything.

Best Vietnamese

1. Pho Binh

2. Pho Saigon

3. Lotus — tie — Phuong Long

The phrase "Pho Binh" is incomplete without including "buffet" at the end. The Vietnamese restaurant's star lunch attraction is home to the best lemongrass tofu around and supplemented by a never-ending supply of delectable selections. Their main menu items are nothing to sniff at, either.


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