What We Ate in 2016 

Come for Elvis, stay for the food. The foodie revolution continued in Memphis in 2016, as restaurants expanded their empires, new establishments added to the already colorful palate of Memphis eateries, and Memphis proved itself to be oh-so-festival-tastic.

La Michoacana moved one of their five locations next door to 4075 Summer into a space four times the size of their previous shop, while MEMPops made it a little easier for their followers to find them by adding a brick-and-mortar location at 1243 Ridgeway to their food truck business. Frost expanded its empire to Collierville, opening their second retail spot at 1016 W. Poplar, Suite 107. On the less sugary side of things, LYFE Kitchen opened its second location downtown in the refurbished Chisca on Main. Havana's Pilón answered the call to opening a second location further out from their original downtown restaurant and set up shop at 3135 Kirby Whitten in Bartlett, while DWJ moved westward from their 14-year-old Hacks Cross space, adding a "2" to their moniker and bringing Korean BBQ to Cooper-Young. And the Mandanis continued to grow their business model, changing up their City Market brand a little by adding comfort food to their offerings in the form of 901 Grille and Market.

click to enlarge MEMPops
  • MEMPops

Memphis got more sweet options in the form of HM Dessert Lounge at 1586 Madison, where hungry folks can find much more than just desserts, and Scoops Parlor at 106 GE Patterson, also serving up savory items including made-to-order crêpes in addition to their fantastic selection of gelato. More international flavors were added to the landscape, including the Caribbean fusion restaurant Sabor Caribe at 662 Madison as well as the new Yemeni spot, Queen of Sheba, at 4792 Summer. The South End turned the bad-ass notch up significantly with "five-star dive bar" Dirty Crow Inn at 855 Kentucky and the uber-hip Loflin Yard at 7 W. Carolina. Downtown got sweeter with Cupcake Cutie (109 S. Court), a little more soulful with 99¢ Soul Food Express (414 S. Main), a little more Italian with Tuscany Italian Eatery (116 S. Front), a little more fried with Jerry Lawler's Hall of Fame Bar and Grille (159 Beale), and a little more exquisite with the new Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman concept, Catherine and Mary's, also in the Chisca (272 S. Main).

click to enlarge HM Dessert Lounge
  • HM Dessert Lounge

There are some more steak houses to patronize, with the much-anticipated Ben Brock project Char (431 S. Highland, #120), and STEAK by the award-winning barbecue pit master Melissa Cookston (4975 Pepper Chase in Southaven). Then there's the Kitchen. Oh how we love the Kitchen, now open in Shelby Farms next to the FedEx Event Center at 415 Great View E., #101., and Collierville continued to grow its foodie scene with Brian Thurmond's French-Southern fusion restaurant 148 North (148 N. Main on the square).

click to enlarge the Kitchen
  • the Kitchen

Buntyn Corner Cafe reopened after several years of depriving Memphians of their favorite yeast rolls, this time a smaller version in the iBank Tower at 5050 Poplar, Suite 107. Newby's brought the party back to the University district, and Cozy Corner moved back into its old digs after having to borrow space from its neighbors across the street when a fire broke out and all of our hearts in January of last year.

Memphians love a good festival, and they were served a plenty in the food department. There were not one, but two food truck festivals this year — the Great River Indoor Food Truck Festival in March at the Cook Convention Center and the Mid-South Food Truck Festival in May at the Liberty Bowl. We, that is The Memphis Flyer, brought you Memphis' first Bacon and Bourbon Festival, held at the Memphis Farmers Market pavilion in April, and the Memphis Flyer Margarita Festival in June at the Overton Park Greensward, both of which were sold out. There was the Best Memphis Burger Fest, held in August at Tiger Lane and which raised money for Memphis Paws, Inc., as well as numerous crawfish festivals, the Southern Hot Wing Festival, Italian Festival, Memphis Black Restaurant Week, and even a festival celebrating breakfast (my favorite food to eat).

As always with these end-of-the-year round-up lists, there's just too much going on in the foodstuff department to name, but there's no doubt that Memphis is gaining ground on the listicle scene, and this will undoubtedly continue in 2017.

Oh. And Kroger. We got a new Kroger. With wine. All the Krogers got all the wine (as did all the other grocery stores), and Midtown got the latest Uber Kroger.

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