Best of Memphis 2019 Food & Drink 

  • Huey's

Best Burger

BOM 1. Huey's

2. Tops Bar-B-Q


Best Bar Food

1. Huey's

2. Young Avenue Deli

3. Bardog Tavern

Best Hangover Food

1. Huey's

2. Slider Inn

3. Bardog Tavern

Best Kid-friendly Restaurant

1. Huey's

2. Railgarten

3. Belly Acres

Best Service

1. Huey's

2. Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar

3. Catherine & Mary's

You want a good burger? Go to Huey's. It's that simple. You want a taste of a Memphis institution that helped make Midtown famous? Go to Huey's. You want to park the kids in front of some grub they'll love while you sneak a beer? Huey's. There's nothing to be ashamed of. It's Huey's.

click to enlarge Rendezvous
  • Rendezvous

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

Since our last BOM issue, the Central BBQ empire has continued to grow. Now, all of the city is just a few minutes away from our barbecue award-winners. What do they do well? Everything. Consistency is the key to their success, as they continue to spread the good word of Memphis 'cue to the world.

Best Breakfast

1. Brother Juniper's

2. Bryant's Breakfast

3. Sunrise Memphis

Brother Juniper's has been fueling up the University of Memphis area for decades. With their roots in San Francisco's utopian Haight Ashbury of the 1960s, and a rebirth in 1999 when the Koplin family took over, this breakfast spot is the Bluff City's favorite.

Best Lunch

1. Elwood's Shack

2. Huey's

3. Soul Fish Cafe

Elwood's is no upstart anymore. It's a full-fledged champion of the lunchtime hour. The menu is extensive: burgers, hot dogs, barbecue, cold-cut subs, po' boys, tacos ... And its central location means it's easy to get to from anywhere and get back to work on time.

Best Brunch

1. The Beauty Shop

2. Owen Brennan's

3. The Majestic Grille

See and be seen at Karen Blockman Carrier's Beauty Shop. The setting in the former Cooper-Young salon is both funky and elegant, just like Memphis. The mimosas are overflowing, and the beignets come 10 at a time. Dress your best for Sunday funday. You don't want to be caught looking homely at the Beauty Shop.

Best Bloody Mary

1. Bayou

2. The Beauty Shop

3. Sunrise Memphis

Ah, the bloody mary. It is the most enigmatic of the classic drinks. Is it a cocktail or a soup? Is its purpose to recover from a hangover or get you a head start on the next hangover? What is the proper garnish? Celery? Olives? Pickles? One thing's for sure: The Bayou makes the best Bloody Mary in Memphis.

click to enlarge Second Line
  • Second Line

Best Cajun/Creole

1. The Second Line

2. Bayou

3. Elwood's Shells

Kelly English's first spinoff from Restaurant Iris is an Overton Square favorite. The Verno, a pulled chicken with gravy po' boy, is a perennial favorite, but you can't go wrong with anything on the menu.

Best Chinese

1. Mulan Asian Bistro

2. Wang's Mandarin House

3. A-Tan

Is it just us, or did Memphis start to feel like a Real Big City™ the moment you could get good Chinese food delivered to your door? You can thank Mulan Asian Bistro for that. But their menu is so much deeper than General Tso's chicken and fried rice. Mulan also has a fully operational sushi bar, making it a truly pan-East Asian operation.

Best Ethiopian

1. Blue Nile Ethiopian Kitchen

2. Abyssinia Restaurant

3. Derae Restaurant

It is a sign of our continually diversifying city that we now have enough Ethiopian restaurants to make a real contest out of this category. Blue Nile on the Madison corridor took the top prize this year, spurred on by their vegetarian options and hearty platter experiences.

Best Indian

1. India Palace

2. Golden India

3. Bombay House

It may not be set in a literal castle, but India Palace certainly makes its customers feel like royalty. Nothing drives that home more than the veritable feast provided by the lunch buffet, where Palace-goers gorge themselves on lamb meatballs, tandoori chicken, curry varieties, lentils, rice ... oh, there's no room left on the plate. Guess you'll need to grab another!

Best Italian

1. Pete & Sam's

2. Ciao Bella Italian Grill

3. Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen

Memphis' favorite Italian restaurant boasts over seven decades of serving Italian cuisine satisfying faithful customers. Fill up on all the ravioli, cannelloni, pizza, lasagna, and Italian spinach imaginable; plus, you can even bring your own bottle of wine!

Best Margarita

1. Molly's La Casita

2. Las Delicias

3. Babalu Tapas & Tacos

Frozen or on the rocks? Doesn't matter. The devil's in the details, so whatever Molly's is putting into its secret recipe has seduced even the most snobbish of Memphis margarita enthusiasts. When it's time for the fiesta to escalate, hit the top shelf with the Sauza Gold-featuring "The Perfect Margarita."

Best Mexican

1. Las Delicias

2. Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana

3. Molly's La Casita

It's all in the name: "The Delights" boasts high-quality offerings across traditional staples of Mexican cuisine. Having started out selling tacos out of his garage as a hobby, Antonio Martinez's restaurant portfolio now includes three locations across Memphis, serving some of the best burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and fajitas in the metropolitan area.

Best Middle Eastern

BOM 1. Casablanca

2. Global Café

3. Grecian Gourmet Taverna

When it comes to covering all of the Middle Eastern dining classics, Casablanca stuffs its menu fuller than one of its shawarma super sandwiches. Beef, chicken, and lamb accompany many dishes for the carnivores, while each location has plenty of vegan options.

Best Latin American/Caribbean

1. Evelyn & Olive

2. Bahama Breeze

3. Arepas Deliciosas

For a small sample of the best that the Caribbean has to offer, visit Wayne and Caroline at Evelyn & Olive. Serving up some of the finest Jamaican dishes including jerk chicken, fried plantains, and Kingston cabbage, it's as authentic as it comes.

click to enlarge Bhan Thai
  • Bhan Thai

Best Thai

1. Bhan Thai

2. Bangkok Alley

3. Pho Binh

Curry is one of the greatest recipes ever created by mankind, and Bhan Thai sits at the top of the pedestal with its red, green, massaman, and panang varieties. Nothing beats kicking back on Bhan Thai's patio on a crisp Memphis night and digging into one of its spicy dishes accompanied by a sweet Thai iced tea.

click to enlarge City Silo Table + Pantry
  • City Silo Table + Pantry

Best Vegetarian

1. City Silo Table + Pantry

2. Pho Binh

3. Café Eclectic

Tasty food that's good for you and the earth? At City Silo Table + Pantry, sustainability is key. The result of that mindset is some of the freshest vegetarian options around, with the restaurant sourcing humanely produced ingredients from local farmers and striking the right balance between healthy eating and heavier Southern-style dishes.

Best Vietnamese

1. Pho Binh

2. Pho Saigon

3. Lotus — tie — Phuong Long

A simple utterance of the words "Pho Binh buffet" will see even the most resilient among us make a beeline for the restaurant's lemongrass tofu, fried chicken wings, and dizzying array of other Vietnamese classics. Even if you can't make it for lunch, Pho Binh's giant menu has plenty of pho and vegetarian options to suit all diners.

Best Home Cooking/ Soul Food

1. Soul Fish Cafe

2. The Cupboard Restaurant

3. The Four Way Soul Food Restaurant

Best Seafood

1. Soul Fish Cafe

2. Half Shell

3. Tsunami

When you fish upon a star, makes no difference where you are, as Soul Fish has locations all over Memphis with catfish baskets and hush puppies galore. Nothing screams Delta dining more than Soul Fish, with seafood offerings ranging from tacos to po' boys to even more catfish plates and beyond.

Best Fried Chicken

BOM 1. Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken

2. Joes' Fried Chicken

3. Jack Pirtle's Chicken

If you want to know how popular Gus's is, drive down Front Street when this chicken place is open. You'll probably see a crowd. All you have to say is "Gus's," and people think, "Yummy fried chicken."

Best Farm-to-Table

1. Bounty on Broad

2. The Trolley Stop Market

3. Belly Acres

Bounty on Broad brought fine dining to Broad Avenue. And it still delivers great cuisine in a beautiful setting, whether you're dining downstairs or drinking at the upstairs bar.

Best Hibachi

1. Nagasaki Inn

2. A-Tan

3. Osaka Japanese Cuisine

If you haven't seen chef/owner Harold make a "Pokemon rabbit" at your table, you've missed a great experience. Fabulous-tasting food cooked right in front of you. And a ginger salad dressing to die for.

Best Hot Wings

1. Ching's Hot Wings

2. Central BBQ

3. Alex's Tavern

You might be overwhelmed when you get your order of large hot wings slathered with sauce, but you will eat every bite. This is the after-school spot for teenagers, but adults love it, too.

Best Pizza

1. Memphis Pizza Cafe

2. Aldo's Pizza Pies

3. Broadway Pizza

This is the first food station you'll see when you enter Zoo Rendezvous, the annual Memphis Zoo fund-raiser. And with good reason. This veteran pizza restaurant is the first place many people think of when they think of locally made pizza pies.

Best Sandwiches

1. Young Avenue Deli

2. Elwood's Shack

3. Fino's Italian Deli & Catering

This is a Cooper-Young hot spot that's been around for years. Delicious sandwiches. (And don't forget about those famous French fries). Plus, you can hear live music many nights while you eat.

Best Smoothies/Juices

1. Smoothie King

2. Raw Girls

3. I Love Juice Bar

If you want a smoothie in winter as well as summer, you visit the "King." The name says it all.

Best Steak

BOM 1. Folk's Folly Prime Steak House

2. The Butcher Shop Steakhouse

3. Buckley's Grill

The elegant decor at Folk's Folly gets you in the mood for one of the truly fine steaks — whether it's a filet or a tomahawk steak. And it's fun to sit at one of the intimate tables, where a curtain separates you from the rest of the world.

Best Sushi

1. Sekisui

2. Sakura Japanese Restaurant

3. Red Koi Japanese Cuisine

Sekisui has been on a roll — and not just sushi rolls — since the first restaurant opened years ago. Diners were required to remove their shoes at the original location. This was part of the Japanese tradition — just like the great food that's stood the test of time in Memphis.

Best Taco

1. Maciel's

2. Las Delicias

3. Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana

Maciel's sells tacos called "Tinga" — a spicy chicken taco — and "Ahogado" — pork, avocado, and onions. If you're still reading and haven't jumped in your car to go get these, Maciel's is a restaurant that offers traditional cooking, which is more like everyday cooking in Mexico. Now you can get in your car and go.

Best Donut Shop

BOM 1. Gibson's Donuts

2. Howard's Donuts

3. Midtown Donuts

With almost 40 types of donuts, Gibson's keeps folks happy. Check out the diversity of the customers standing in line and anxiously waiting for the maple bacon, old fashioneds, or Gibson's acclaimed glazed.

Best Dessert Shop

1. Muddy's Bake Shop

2. Frost Bake Shop

3. Cheesecake Corner

Best Bakery

BOM 1. Muddy's Bake Shop

2. Frost Bake Shop

3. La Baguette French Bread and Pastry Shop

Some of us may have grown up eating mud pies. But now, as adults, we've upgraded to eating Muddy's Bake Shop treats, and rightfully so. Between their Shady Wake Pecan Pie and Prozac Cupcakes, it's no wonder they've made it to the top of two of our BOM lists this year.

click to enlarge El Mero Taco
  • El Mero Taco

Best Food Truck

1. El Mero Taco

2. Say Cheese

3. Fuel

Southern and Mexican foods combine to create El Mero Taco's diverse menu. The best part? You can book El Mero Taco for a private event. If not, the food truck gets around Memphis, having been spotted at the Levitt Shell, Food Truck Rodeo, Trolley Night, and much more.

Best Frozen Treat Shop

1. Jerry's Sno Cones

2. MemPops

3. La Michoacana

Jerry's Sno Cones has long been a popular destination for people seeking out frozen treats. Their Sno Cone Supreme is to die for. If you don't believe us, go try one!

Best Beer Garden

1. Railgarten

2. Wiseacre Tap Room & Patio

3. Loflin Yard

Beer garden, Railgarten. Tomato, tomahto. Railgarten isn't just known for its beer selection, though. With an expansive property full of activities, food, ice cream, and live music, you'll be sure to remain entertained for hours.

Best Patio

1. Loflin Yard

2. Brookhaven Pub

3. Slider Inn

Best Dog-Friendly Restaurant/Bar

1. Loflin Yard

2. Slider Inn

3. Railgarten

With a deck view of Loflin Falls, front yard green space for gathering and frolicing, and a backyard for watching the trains go by, Loflin Yard makes for a supreme hot spot in Downtown Memphis for people — and their dogs.

Best Place for People Watching

1. Peabody Hotel

2. Crosstown Concourse

3. Beale Street Entertainment District

Centrally located in Downtown Memphis, where people from all walks of life come to hang out or reside, Peabody Hotel is not only a place to watch the ducks, but people, too.

Best Late-Night Dining

1. Earnestine & Hazel's

2. Alex's Tavern

3. Slider Inn

While Peabody Hotel is the best place for people watching, Earnestine & Hazel's is undoubtedly the best place for ghost watching — and enjoying a Soul Burger while doing so.

Best Shared/Small Plates Menu

1. Babalu Tapas & Tacos

2. Hog & Hominy

3. Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar

Between house-made guac, starters, and tapas (or small plates), Babalu Tapas & Tacos offers no shortage of shareable plates.

Best Local Brewery

1. Wiseacre Brewing Co.

2. Meddlesome Brewing Company

3. Memphis Made Brewing Co.

Wiseacre Brewing Co., the makers of Ananda, Gotta Get Up to Get Down, and Tiny Bomb, has more to give than just these attractively packaged and delicious brews. The brewery also offers a variety of seasonal and specialty beers. And with their brand available for sale at locations as far as the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, it appears that much of the South would agree with our readers on Wiseacre's No. 1 ranking.

Best Local Coffeehouse

1. Ugly Mug

2. Otherlands Coffee Bar

3. Muddy's Bake Shop + Coffee

Ugly Mug
  • Ugly Mug

Best Coffee Roaster

1. Ugly Mug

2. French Truck Coffee

3. J. Brooks

With an emphasis on only supplying ethically sourced, fair trade coffee and meticulously roasting it for the ultimate flavor, Ugly Mug's coffee definitely does not taste ugly.

Best Restaurant for Dessert

BOM 1. Muddy's Bake Shop + Coffee

2. Cheesecake Corner

3. Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar

The "little blue house on the hill" at 585 S. Cooper adds a double shot of awesome in addition to their treats: a full-service espresso bar.

Best Server

1. Calvin Bell, The Rendezvous

2. Taylor Pfohl, Bayou

3. Tony Dortch, Huey's

Calvin Bell, 23-year veteran at The Rendezvous, tops the charts for the third year in a row as best server on the BOM list. He's had the honor of serving top-notch clientele like renowned chef Guy Savoy of Restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris.

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. Erling Jensen, Erling Jensen the Restaurant

Kelly English tops the Best Chef list for the 11th year in a row. If you've ever sampled the fare at his restaurants, Restaurant Iris or The Second Line, you know exactly why.

Best New Restaurant

1. Elwood's Shells

2. Global Café

3. Lucky Cat Ramen

When Elwood's opened its Shack on Summer, it became an instant hit, despite its unlikely location — the Lowe's parking lot. They've done it again, but in a more traditional location: a former home in Cooper-Young. Just as with the Shack, the Shells, with a focus on seafood, has caught the attention of our readers.

Best Date-Night Restaurant

1. Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar

2. Folk's Folly Prime Steak House

3. Southern Social

Best Fine Dining

1. Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar

2. Folk's Folly Prime Steak House

3. Restaurant Iris

Best Wine List

BOM 1. Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar

2. Catherine & Mary's

3. Folk's Folly Prime Steak House

Best Restaurant

1. Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar

2. Restaurant Iris

3. Folk's Folly Prime Steak House

We hate to be so blunt, but let's face it, if you go to Flight and don't have a fantastic dining experience, something must be wrong with you. Our readers voted this innovative restaurant their top choice in four categories, including Best Restaurant. They're going to need more wall space for all the plaques.



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