Looking back, it feels like an eternity since we were sitting in restaurants eating beautifully plated meals and sipping hand-crafted cocktails. To-go is the new go-to until the COVID-19 crisis ends. Restaurant owners and chefs are hustling now more than ever to keep their doors open and their staff paid with takeout and delivery. If the places you love are still operating, help keep it that way by enjoying a little fine dining, Taco Tuesday, coffee, dessert, or whatever at home.
Share photos of what you are eating and drinking on social media and encourage others to also support local. If you aren’t comfortable getting takeout or delivery, then show your support by purchasing gift cards, buying merch, donating to employee funds, or leaving positive reviews on Google and the like. If your regular happy hour has become a Zoom happy hour, send your bartender a tip via Cash App or Venmo.
But, if you are comfortable ordering out, now is the time to try something new. Several restaurants have completely changed their menus or added affordable family meals and other specials. Some are sending food to medical professionals and others are serving industry workers for free (we see you, Caritas!). Here are our current favorite picks for takeout and delivery in Memphis.
Take out can be expensive, but banh mi is still a deal. At $4 each, these Vietnamese “po-boys” with pork two ways, pickled veg and perfectly crispy French rolls can be your go to when the going gets rough. Call ahead and have them brought out to the car. Cost: $3.99; order by calling 901.458.1644 or online via Postmates, DoorDash, or Grubhub
Have slushie, will travel. Midtown’s Slider Inn is one of the few places left where you can still see signs of life as people in cars, on foot, and riding bikes queue up to get their slushies to-go. Made with house lemonade and Jameson Whiskey, these slushies have always been the official frozen drink of spring and summer and not even COVID-19 can change that. Cost: $12; call 901.725.1155 for delivery and takeout
Speaking of cocktails, career bartenders David Parks and Jef Hicks were both recently laid off, and have started a new venture called Thunder Road that is operating out of The Cove. Their Passionate Purple Gin Drank, which can be delivered curbside or to your door by the quart, is causing quite the buzz. Made from Asian flower-infused gin, a lavender shrub, ginger syrup, and fresh lime juice -- it really is all that. Cost: $18 for a quart; to order, join the Thunder Road Facebook group and follow the directions
“Just when you thought all of the chicken ideas ran out, God did this” -- just one of the customer reviews you’ll see about this latest innovation from the Wileys, who got their start running a food truck. They have since made a stellar transition to takeout and offer flash deals almost every day. Follow them on social to get your wing fix. Cost: $15 for a ten-piece; order by calling 901.726.5347 or via Grubhub, Uber Eats, or DoorDash
Pabellon is a plate full of Venezuelan deliciousness -- tasty shredded pork, fried plantains, rice, and beans. Add an arepa or two and some empanadas and you’ve got yourself a party. Global Cafe also has Syrian and Sudanese cuisine, family meals, and free delivery. Being a social enterprise that supports immigrants and refugees, the restaurant knows the importance of giving back. Pay it forward with a $9 donation that they can use to feed a medical professional on the front lines or a laid off industry worker. Cost: $10.85; order online or via Postmates
Six of the ten restaurants inside Puck are still operating and you can order from them all with just one call and one payment. Choose from Venga’s Mexican delights, Wok’n Memphis’s Chinese American fare, Doughjo’s New York style pizza, City Block Salumeria’s deli sandwiches, Dr. Bean’s coffee and tea, and Sweet Magnlia’s gelato. By supporting one vendor, you support them all. Cost: Prices vary; call 901.500.6548 for curbside takeout or delivery
Hustle & Dough inside the Arrive Hotel was one of the first restaurants to shut its doors, so it was a great surprise when operator Ali Rohrbacher announced they were reopening with a limited to-go menu. Hello, freshly baked sourdough bread. Hello, Korean fried chicken with pork belly kimchi fried rice, corn cheese with sweet peppers, potato salad, and pickled radish. Hustle & Dough is obsessive about the details and their offerings are nothing short of spectacular. Cost: $45 for the Korean fried chicken meal, $7 for sourdough; order online for pickup
There’s probably no one feeling the COVID-19 hit harder than our beloved dive bars. Known just as much for its food as it is for fun, Alex’s is open and ready to serve you all of your favorites. Though “late night” doesn’t exactly have the same meaning, this is still a great late night option. Rocky and Miss E are ready to fire up the grill so just give them a call. Cost: $7.50 for a Greek burger with fries; call 901.278.9086 or through Postmates
Broad Avenue moguls Lisa and Luis Toro have started takeout and delivery at both of their businesses, The Liquor Store and City & State. The best part is that when you order your regular coffee from City & State, you can also order their pastries (like lemon poppyseed cake) and a selection of all-day breakfast goodies (like sweet potato hash) from The Liquor Store. Cost: $4.50; order online
Keep your brunch habit alive with a family platter (biscuits, bacon and sausage, scrambled eggs, hash browns, fruit) and mimosa makings delivered to your door, possibly by a man dressed as a chicken. Sunrise has several casseroles to choose from as well. Cost: $20 for a breakfast platter for two; all delivery orders must be in by 7pm the night before, deliveries take place between 8:30-10:30 a.m., call 901.552.3144 to order or via Postmates
Choose one entree and two sides for a mix and match family meal for four at Mardi Gras that will keep everyone fed and happy. Regular menu items are also available so feel free to add on some gumbo and/or shrimp and grits to make you feel a little less sad about missing that NOLA vacation. Cost: $49.95 for a family of four; call 901.480.8233 to order or via Grubhub or DoorDash
Raffe’s is another great option for the budget conscious -- and not just because they are offering falafel by the patty for 89 cents! The falafel wrap, which includes three patties, spicy hummus, pickle, tomato, lettuce, and spicy olive oil, wrapped in pita bread is affordable, too. Hopefully you’ll have a little cash leftover to add a 12-pack of beer to your order. They are being sold at convenience store prices, since you know, Raffe’s is attached to one. Well played. Cost: $6.50 for the falafel wrap; order online
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Stacey Greenberg writes in Midtown Memphis where she lives with her two sons. She is the author of the award-winning blog Dining with Monkeys and is a regular contributor to The Memphis Flyer & Edible Memphis.