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It was exciting when the newly refurbished Chisca started leasing apartments, but it didn't feel quite done until Catherine & Mary's opened downstairs. From the carefully unfinished interior to the beautifully designed bar, it immediately feels welcoming. The menu is more than up to par with all of the other Andrew/Michael restaurants and features such gems as grilled quail with creamy polenta and maitake ragu, scarpinocc with fonduta, lemon brown butter and parmesan frico, and maple glazed fried chicken skins.
Loflin Yard is Downtown's dream park. Part restaurant, part bar, part event space, it has a little something for everyone while maintaining a simple, straightforward aesthetic. You can dine inside or out, and there's tons of green space to laze about on year round. The menu features mostly salads, veggies, as well as smoked meats (which appear on po' boys during lunch). Wine is available by the bottle and there are lots of local beers and specialty cocktails to choose from.
Chances are most folks need GPS to find the Dirty Crow Inn, but it's worth the hunt. Billed as a "5 Star Dive Bar" with delicious, homemade food, it keeps the doors open from 11am-3am, 7 days a week. If you know Alex -- a former employee turned owner -- you'll recognize the feel immediately. It's a nice, quiet spot to grab a burger for lunch, and a super fun spot to catch some live music (and eat some chicken wings) on weekend nights.
Maciel's wooed the Downtown working crowd in with its three tacos for $8 lunch special, and it isn't unusual to see the working class dining there multiple times a week. The menu also features hearty tortas, amazing salads, and authentic soups, all of which are ridiculously affordable. The staff couldn't be sweeter or more helpful, making this joint one of the most delightful places to eat in Memphis.
It's not easy to go out in Memphis and get a vegan meal, unless you like to eat a lot of sides. Thanks to Zaka Bowl we now have a place where everything on the menu is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free, all the other frees -- but at the same time, fresh and delicious. At Zaka Bowl you’re not sacrificing flavor for health. Best of all, you're the boss when it comes to building your own bowl full of grains, veggies, vegan proteins, and housemade sauces.
The Belle Tavern opened in September and is still a bit of a secret. It occupies the back third of the Southern Belle Restaurant, but is a separate business with a mood setting Barboro Alley entrance. It's more bar than restaurant, but there's plenty of food to be had. SB's menu is available till 9pm, then the Tavern has its own menu featuring such foods as smoked turkey and homemade dumplings, bourbon brown sugar glazed brisket, and a signature chili made with tenderloin. There's also an extensive cocktail list and an array of local beers on tap.
It's amazing to think we survived so long without being able to get a meal in beautiful Shelby Farms Park. Thanks to the Kitchen Bistro, visitors can enjoy delicious, healthy, and sustainable eats in a beautifully and environmentally-friendly constructed restaurant every day of the week. Even better, they can compliment said dishes with a cocktail. The meals are fairly simple, but tasty, and there's a price point for all budgets. Check it out at sunset -- that's the best time to head in.
Char, which started in Jackson, Mississippi, is a welcome addition to Highland Row. The space is warm yet expansive, and it's possible to enjoy a great meal without breaking the bank. Though its main identity is a fancy steakhouse, there are plenty of other southern inspired delights on the menu. Weekend brunch is a great time to check out the selection, especially if you are a fan of duck eggs and Jazz (who isn't?). The gumbo, crab claws, and crab cakes are also dishes you won't want to pass up.
1. Catherine & Mary's, Memphis
2. Loflin Yard7 W Carolina Ave, Memphis
3. The Dirty Crow Inn855 Kentucky St, Memphis
4. Maciel's Tortas & Tacos45 S Main St, Memphis
5. Zaka Bowl575 Erin Dr, Memphis
6. Belle Tavern117 Barboro Alley, Memphis
7. The Kitchen Bistro415 Great View Dr E, Memphis
8. CHAR Restaurant, Memphis
Catherine & Mary’s is an Italian concept from James Beard-nominated chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman. Named after Ticer and Hudman's Sicilian- and Tuscan-born grandmothers, the restaurant features regional Italian food with a Tennessee bent, like rigatoni with gravy and meatballs. The cocktail menu is no different, with a number of aperitivos and spritzes, as well as (unsurprisingly) an Italian-leaning wine list.
Modeled after Bacchanal Wine in New Orleans, Loflin is essentially a park with a lovely bar and restaurant on its grounds. The indoor/outdoor venue is split into a few areas: the Coach House, a building that was originally home to Downtown Memphis' carriage fleet and is now used as Loflin's event space; the Safe House, which features the main dining room and an outdoor deck overlooking the yard's waterfalls; the Front Yard, an outdoor community space with plenty of picnic tables and Adirondack chairs; and the Back Yard, a private green space that's available to book alongside the Coach House. The Loflin's food menu sticks to a family-style Southern format featuring dishes like beef brisket and trout with sides (collard greens, house-made slaw, sweet potato salad), and specialities like house-made sausages and po' boys.
Named for Old Crow Kentucky bourbon, The Dirty Crow Inn in South Memphis isn’t quite what you’d expect from the name -- the owners describe it as a “five star dive bar,” where the beer is cold and the pub-style menu is made from scratch (and served until 3am). The dive is known for its smoked, fried-to-order chicken wings -- the soy ginger with wasabi ranch and Sriracha honey are the standout sauce options here -- but you’d be remiss to skip the poutine. Wash it all down with one of eight, cold beers from the tap, or a selection of bottles on display behind the bar.
Maciel’s Tortas and Tacos is a small, fast-casual counter specializing in the hand-held delicacies it boasts in its name. Located downtown, Maciel’s is a great stop for affordable, authentic Mexican cuisine -- quesadillas, nachos, and huaraches are also on offer, if tortas and tacos don’t strike your fancy -- made to order. Order fried tacos (three per order, served with rice and beans) and the Cubana Torta from the counter, find a seat (if you can) among chalk-graffitied walls, and don’t leave without the horchata.
In a city whose dining scene is anchored by the fried, butter-heavy nature of Southern cuisine, Zaka Bowl is a ray of vegetable-focused light for the health-conscious. The build-your-own-style counter in East Memphis is vegetarian and vegan friendly (read: no meat). Create your own bowl -- choose one base (quinoa, brown rice, vegetable noodles, or spinach), three high-protein vegetables, hot garnish (cooked and seasoned vegetables), and cold garnish (raw vegetables) -- and finish it with a generous drizzle of any of their sauces at the self-serve table (but they’re healthy, so feel free to douse). Or, order one of their featured bowls, should indecision bog you down.
Downtown, tucked away inside Barboro Alley, Belle Tavern is serving up quality craft cocktails and elevated pub fare in a dimly lit, dark wood-accented space. Cocktails are primarily classic -- some tweaked, some decidedly traditional -- with a section for Prohibition (read: alcohol free) concoctions that are equally as crafty. At Belle, cocktails are king, but should hunger strike, Southern-inspired bar bites and sandwiches -- like Mississippi stone-ground grits and a Creole shrimp and crawfish salad sandwich -- are also on offer.
From a restaurant group based in Boulder, The Kitchen Bistro features creative, Southern-inspired American fare. Wood-roasted okra, ratatouille flatbread, and pan-fried catfish are accompanied by classic Prohibition cocktails -- like Remember the Maine, Vesper, and an Aviation -- and local and regional beers dominate the draft and bottle selection. The restaurant is dedicated to providing diners with healthy, locally and ethically sourced ingredients -- its locale in the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy is just chance. Don’t forget to look up -- the view of Patriot Lake is unrivaled.
Much of Char’s Highland Row neighborhood caters to University of Memphis students, making this southern steakhouse and piano bar combo, owned by Amerigo alum Ben Brock, stand out as a sophisticated culinary destination. You’ll likely spend most of your visits to Char in either the main dining room or piano bar, but there are two private dining rooms – the Woodland Room and the Bluff Room – for when you’ve really earned it. The charcoal-and-chocolate color scheme, whose sultry mood is echoed in black-and-white photo of Memphis personalities throughout, will seduce you into ordering a few more cocktails than you’d planned for, and you’ll indulge in the seemingly endless bourbon program or limited cocktail selection, perhaps with a whiskey concoction, with Rittenhouse Rye, Meletti Amaro, Cynar, honey syrup, lemon twist, and lemon juice. The dinner menu is organized into “Beginnings,” “Steaks & Chops,” “Seafood, Poultry & Veal,” “Salads,” “Sides to Share,” and “Desserts.” Southern specialties, like crab, shrimp, and andouille gumbo is available by the cup or by the bowl, to be paired with gulf shrimp and Delta Grind garlic cheddar grits, with mushrooms and spicy Creole butter. It would be sacrilege to leave Char without devouring a signature steak; the standout is the Original Cowboy Prime Ribeye, fit for the irreverent rancher in you.