Food & Drink

The Thrillist Awards: Memphis’ Best Food & Drink of 2015

Published On 12/28/2015 Published On 12/28/2015
Courtesy of Aldo's (edited)

Over the last year, Broad Ave has become one of the most vibrant corridors in the City. Young entrepreneurs have launched and succeeded with completely new concepts. And it’s been exciting to watch the folks who weren’t content to just be awesome as they constantly improved on their already good things (looking at you, Andrew Michael). Of all of the new openings and dishes we loved over the past 12 months, these are the best of Memphis’ best.

Chip Chockley

Best new restaurant

Porcellino’s Craft Butcher

Address and Info

East Memphis

Breakfast is low key and marked by nitro coffee, Dutch baby pancakes, and amazing sandwich biscuits. Lunch is a little livelier, and the menu is full of outstanding sandwiches (try the Hudbano!) and delightful salads. Dinner is simply off the charts -- standard menu items include such delicacies as greens and pork belly dumplings -- and dim sum-style carts offer daily specials. Plus they serve a mean cocktail. And there’s an entire butcher shop!

Courtesy of Rec Room

Best new bar

Rec Room

Address and Info

Broad Avenue Arts District

Free video games, five jumbo screens, and rent-by-the-hour living rooms make the Rec Room an easy winner in the Best New Bar category. Whether you are watching the game or trying to get the high score on Ms. Pac-Man, it’s pretty hard not to have fun here.


Wiseacre Brewing Company

Best new beer garden

Wiseacre

Address and Info

Broad Avenue Arts District

The crew at Wiseacre is constantly coming up with new and exciting beers & new and exciting ways to enjoy them. Their new outdoor space, dubbed Chautauqua, is more than a beer garden. Named after the popular adult educational movement from early in the last century, it’s designed to bring together entertainment and culture for the whole community. So, go have a beer!

Courtesy of Hammer & Ale

Best new beer bar

Hammer & Ale

Address and Info

Cooper-Young

This is a great spot to start the evening with a beer and food, grab a growler to go, or to have a nightcap or float after dinner. It feels more like you are hanging out in someone’s super cozy house rather than a bar. It’s never too loud, and there’s always a comfy place to sit.

Courtesy of Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen

Best new cocktail bar

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen

Address and Info

East Memphis

Andrew Michael unveiled its new addition in February -- it features a huge, 16 seat bar, a few extra tables for dining and a patio. Managed by award-winning bartender, Evan Potts, it’s a great place to grab a drink and/or enjoy dinner. Evan’s signature cocktails (hello, Calabrian Winter!) as well as expanded bourbon and scotch offerings make it well worth the trip.

Courtesy of Belly Acres

Best new burger

Belly Acres

Address and Info

Overton Square

Chef Rob Roy created the Mushroom State of Mind Burger for the Better Burger Project. The half mushroom/half grass-fed beef patty landed him a third place win and the opportunity to serve it at the James Beard House in New York.

Courtesy of Aldo's

Best new pizza

Aldo’s Midtown

Address and Info

Cooper-Young

Aldo’s has been serving some damn fine pizza Downtown for several years, but the addition of the Midtown location (and its genius rooftop patio) has catapulted them to the top of the pizza charts. The vodka sauce is a major crowd pleaser. The Willie Cheech & Bob is a personal favorite.

Courtesy of Raw Girls

Best new food truck

Raw Girls

Address and Info

East Memphis & Cooper Young

Marketed as a mobile grocery store, the Raw Girls truck can feed you lunch or feed you all week. Everything is made from scratch, packaged to sell, and unlike anything else in the city. The menu is constantly changing to match the season, and will regularly blow your mind.

Courtesy of Maciel's

Best new Mexican

Maciel’s

Address and Info

Downtown

Downtown has had its share of Mexican restaurants, but Maciel’s authentic tacos and tortas have had people lined up out the door from day one. For tacos, they offer asada, pollo, pastor, tinga, and chorizo for the meat lovers and papas (potatoes) for the veggie lovers. Tortas include pollo, milaneza, Cubana, and huevos. Each order is served with homemade salsas and rings up under $10.

Stacey Greenberg/Thrillist

Best new donut

Gibson’s Samoa

Address and Info

East Memphis

Because Girl Scout cookies aren't addicting enough, Gibson’s added a Samoa donut. This caramel, coconut and chocolate triple threat is even better than the cookie. So now you can get your fix 24/7/365.

Courtesy of City & State

Best new coffee shop

City & State

Address and Info

Broad Avenue Arts District

City & State has created a space that is crisp and cool yet totally warm and inviting. Their specialty coffees really are something special (I’m looking at you summertime carbonated coffee!). Add on a friendly staff and the impressive handmade goods for sale in the retail space and we’ve got ourselves a winner.

Courtesy of Broad Avenue Arts District

Best new date spot

Broad Ave Arts District
Play ping pong at the Rec Room, enjoy a beer in Wiseacre’s beer garden, have a coffee at City & State, get dinner at Bounty, take a class at Five in One, or have a cocktail on the Cove’s patio. If you and your date can’t find something to do on Broad Ave, then maybe it’s time to see other people!

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Stacey Greenberg lives in Cooper-Young with her two sons and can't wait for 2016. She's the author of the award winning blog, Dining with Monkeys.

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1. Porcellino's 711 W. Brookhaven Cr., Memphis, TN 38117 (East Memphis)

From Andy Ticer & Michael Hudman, Porcellino's manages to impress at every meal. Breakfast is marked by nitro coffee, meaty breakfast sandwiches, fresh pastries, and delights like the Dutch baby pancakes. Lunch has great sandwiches and salads, plus the entire breakfast menu. The real standout, however, is dinner. In addition to a menu full of one of a kind dishes, there are dim sum style carts that come around with mini daily specials. Not in the mood to sit and stay? Grab a cocktail and pick up a dinner to go from the butcher.

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2. Rec Room 3000 Broad Ave, Memphis, TN 38112 (Broad Avenue)

Rec Room is Broad Avenue’s resident barcade. It’s a gamer’s mecca, featuring boundless vintage arcade games like pinball and Skee ball, table games in the vein of shuffleboard, air hockey, foosball, and more -- not to mention the infinite collection of classic console games. It’s a sprawling industrial dive, furnished with plush sofas in red leather and overhead chandeliers for a touch of class, and the sheer size of the place makes it a great option for large groups and private events. Don’t stress if all that competition makes you work up an appetite -- in addition to the full bar, there’s a limited yet killer menu of pizza pies for your perusal.

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3. Wiseacre Brewing 2783 Broad Ave, Memphis, TN 38112 (Binghampton)

Wiseacre Brewing is a Binghampton hot spot for craft beer-loving locals. The ten taps pour exclusively Wiseacre brews, but the variety at hand is enough to satisfy any grain/hop/yeast-craving palate. The award-winning Tiny Bomb Pilsner and crisp, hop-heavy Ananda are draft staples (due to popular demand), and the remaining taps rotate through seasonal and one-off labels. Taste your way through Wiseacre's repertoire at communal tables inside or on the patio out back, and maybe treat yourself to a snack from the roster of food trucks while you're at it. On your way out, be sure to fill a growler with your favorite draft of the day, or purchase cans of past favorites, rare selections, or even just your preferred flavor of the week.

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4. Hammer & Ale 921 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104 (Cooper Young)

With 24 taps rotating every week, this Cooper Young hang out is the top in local and regional beer from ten different breweries. The restaurant side offers a short but sweet menu of bar snacks and sandwiches, and beer floats. And if you just want the beer, they offer growler refills and pints to take with you.

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5. Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen 712 W Brookhaven Cir, Memphis, TN 38117 (East Memphis)

When childhood friends Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman opened their first restaurant in 2008, they combined Memphis' reverence for pork with their own Italian culinary training. The chefs' strength is consistent execution of an ambitious menu (think beef tartare, squid ink bucatini, or local pork roast with vegetables); go for the monthly no-menu Monday and you might find yourself enjoying sweetbreads or pork snouts.

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6. Belly Acres 2102 Trimble Pl, Memphis, TN 38104 (Overton Square)

The latest addition to the Memphis burger scene, Belly Acres offers 100% grass-fed, locally sourced beef with a slew of different toppings and buns, like the Early Riser (served on waffles with a fried egg) and the Southern Gentleman with bacon, sweet potato, and greens. And as if the one-seater airplane that appears to fly through the restaurant's facade weren't a clear enough indicator, the decor is as much a part of the dining experience as the food. Painted murals color the space throughout, kids' menu items are served on take-home frisbees, and if you'd like a beer, feel free to take a seat at one of the reclaimed tractor seats.

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7. Aldo's Pizza Pies 752 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104 (Cooper Young)

Aldo’s is a gourmet pizza joint with two locations (one Downtown and one in Midtown). It's famous for its Trippy Truffle and vodka sauce, plus there are delicious sandwiches that can hold their own. Unlike its sister, this Copper Young location has a rooftop patio, the premiere spot to enjoy a slice and pint in Memphis.

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8. Raw Girls Mobile Grocery Store Overton Square, Memphis, TN 38127 (Overton Square)

Raw Girls specializes in natural, organic and minimally processed goodies and pressed juices. They operate out of a food truck set up in Overton Square Wednesdays beginning at 8 am, but if you can't make it there, they also deliver their fresh healthy food to the entire country. Raw soups, salads, and superfood coffee are just some of the highlights of visiting their truck.

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9. Maciel's Tortas & Tacos 45 S Main St, Memphis, TN 38103 (Downtown)

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.

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10. Gibson's Donuts 760 Mount Moriah Rd, Memphis, TN 38117 (East Memphis)

If you're looking for contemporary takes on everyone's favorite morning pastry, head to Gibson's Donuts. The East Memphis donut haven is serving some serious dessert-worthy treats, like the Samoa, a caramel, coconut, and chocolate triple threat is even better than the cookie. Unlike the all-too-short Girl Scout cookie season, Gibson’s is open 24/7.

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11. City & State 2625 Broad Ave, Memphis, TN 38112 (Broad Avenue)

The only thing better than a quaint coffee shop is a quaint coffee shop that sells artisan goods from around the country. City & State on Broad Avenue is a hybrid concept that combines Intelligentsia pourovers with over 40 brands of timeless handcrafted goods, ranging from blankets from an American Woolen Mill that’s been weaving heirloom pieces for over 100 years to cutting boards from third generation woodworkers in Tennessee. City & State practices this attention to local and sustainable business with food and drink items as well; the Smokey Salted Caramel Latte’s sea salt is made in state, while baked goods like the brown sugar cinnamon roll are sourced from Porcellino’s on Brookhaven Circle.

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