Memphis, Tennessee has some of the best food in the South and here is a list of the 10 newest hot restaurants Elvis would have enjoyed. On a personal note, I would add 148 North in Collierville, TN to this list.
After a year of discontent at almost every turn, the top ten new restaurants in Memphis provide a much-needed admonition to all sides of the table: Please people. Let’s eat.
Happily, dining out in Memphis couldn’t be any easier, especially when the city’s new restaurants offer food ranging from Southern-style meat-and-threes to carefully executed (and pricier) shareable plates. Even more fun, Memphis magazine’s annual poll includes so many new restaurants that diners can eat out for almost a month with no duplication. They will, however, have to traverse the city from downtown to the eastern suburbs, an area traditionally underserved by independently owned restaurants. The times, it seems, are a-changing.
Consider The Kitchen Bistro, which brought its Colorado sensibility to the redeveloped Shelby Farms Park, mixing sunset views with hand-crafted cocktails and a wood-fired grill. And what came next? Chef Michele D’Oto opened The Pasta Maker Restaurant in a Germantown shopping center, serving heavenly artisanal pastas all made in-house.
For now, the push eastward continues. Build-outs are almost complete for a trio of new restaurants on the University District’s Highland Strip, and on Collierville’s town square, three more restaurants are on tap for later this year, joining the recently opened 148 North from chef Brian Thurmond and Mac Edwards’ more casual Brooks Pharm2Fork. Does anyone want to Uber? — Pamela Denney
JUSTIN FOX BURKS
You may be a little buzzed from one (or two) of the barrel-aged cocktails — perhaps the Sazerac or the Old Fashioned. Chef Andy Knight’s food is already on the table — large piles of the expertly done beef brisket or pork tenderloin or the pimento cheese po’boy (for the vegetarians) with the great bread.
Sides also are crowding the table as there’s too much to choose from: street corn, Tiny Bomb-braised collard greens, and that just divine crispy peanut slaw.
You think to yourself: This is perfect; this is Memphis.
It is no surprise to anyone at all that Loflin Yard made the Best New Restaurant list (It also picked up first place in Outdoor Dining and a second place for People Watching), since roughly a minute after it opened, it was hailed as innovative. And we’ve got to give it to the folks behind the spot, who envisioned a little slice of heaven carved out of a mostly forgotten space in downtown’s South Memphis. — Susan Ellis
7 W. Carolina Ave. (901-249-3046)
JUSTIN FOX BURKS
The menus, directed by chefs Anthony Hatten and Steven Howell, combine classic favorites with some Southern whimsy, a feeling carried over to the restaurant’s décor. With 6,000 square feet, Char easily accommodates dinner celebrations, weekend brunch, and business lunches, when daily meat-and-two specials join more expected fare like pimento cheese burgers and chicken BLTs.
Owner Ben Brock says the steakhouse has soul, and I couldn’t agree more, especially when Le Tumulte Noir, a Memphis combo, riffs gypsy swing during Sunday brunch or Audie Smith plays Stevie Wonder songs for the couples snuggled up to his baby grand piano.
— Pamela Denney
431 S. Highland (901-249-3533)
Catherine & Mary’s
Located on the first floor of the newly renovated Hotel Chisca, Catherine & Mary’s is the fifth restaurant for superstar chefs Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer, who named the restaurant after their Sicilian and Tuscan grandmothers. “Our grandmothers made sure that whatever the occasion, both good and bad, revolved around some amazing food,” Ticer said before the restaurant opened in late September.
The restaurant’s menu of shareable plates honors the chefs’ family traditions with regional Italian specialties organized into four parts: snacks, plates, pastas, and entrées. Chef Ryan Jenniges moved to the new restaurant from Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen on Brookhaven Circle, and his inspired cooking drives dishes like caviar-
topped oysters baked with creamy brandade that are so good I feel no shame in using my fingers to scrape up every morsel from the sea-shaped shells. — Pamela Denney
272 S. Main (901-254-8600)
The Kitchen Bistro
JUSTIN FOX BURKS
Founders Kimbal Musk, Hugo Matheson, and Jen Lewin have created a visually elegant restaurant, with heart of pine paneling and stone appointments that give The Kitchen Bistro a contemporary, slightly Western feel.
With floor-to-ceiling windows offering expansive views of Hyde Lake Park, sunsets from the patio — with the sky reflected off the water — are nothing short of breathtaking. But you came here to eat, didn’t you? Well, rest assured, the food is just as eye-catching. Locally sourced and tastefully prepared, The Kitchen makes a trip to Shelby Farms, Memphis’ largest public park, a memorable one.
Head chef Dennis Phelps charts a slightly Southern course, with offerings like pan-fried catfish and wood-roasted chicken served with a crunchy cornbread panzanella (think Tuscan croutons on a salad), but his densely flavored pork chops, garnished with a roasted corn and ham relish, are also a crowd-pleaser. Cap off your meal with the Sticky Toffee Pudding, a popular closer.
The Kitchen’s Saturday/Sunday brunch has also found a ready audience and will satisfy those who crave omelettes made to order, crispy home-fried potatoes, and sausage or ham. The ricotta and blueberries with honey are savory if a bit chewy. Less plentiful are vegetarian offerings, though egg-beater omelettes are available upon request. — Jane Schneider
415 great view east (901-729-9009)
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