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Chewing Over the Food News of 2015

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In looking over 2015, one thing stood out: brand expansion. Aldo's Pizza Pies, with its swell rooftop patio, and City Market (grab and go!) came to Cooper-Young. Fino's opened a second restaurant in East Memphis (yay sandwiches!), and Mediterranean mainstay Casablanca returned to Midtown. Both Bedrock Eats & Sweets, the paleo eatery, and the all-vegan Pink Diva Cupcakery and Cuisine got places to call their own.

Bedrock Eats & Sweets - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Bedrock Eats & Sweets

Ermyias Shiberou, owner of Stickem food truck, opened Blue Nile Ethiopian Kitchen on Madison in Midtown, next to the Bar-B-Q Shop. Stickem's awesome kabobs are on the menu, and the lentil sandwich is terrific. Reverb Coffee got into the food-truck game, and Relevant Roasters opened its own coffee bar. Tamp & Tap Triad was unveiled in East Memphis.

Blue Nile Ethiopian Kitchen - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Blue Nile Ethiopian Kitchen

Last year, all the action was in Overton Square. This year, one could argue, it's South Main. The new location of Rizzo's, after much delay, opened in March. Don't worry, the Lobster Pronto Pups are still on the menu. The great and always-packed Maciel's offers downtowners tacos, tortas, and more. South Main Sushi & Grill took over the Grawemeyer's space, and there's Ray'z World Famous Dr. Bar-b-que a few blocks north. The hipsteriffic 387 Pantry is a small, curated market with locally sourced goods like Dr. Bean's coffee and Hanna Farm grits and cornmeal.

Ray’z World Famous Dr. Bar-b-que - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Ray’z World Famous Dr. Bar-b-que

Also new to downtown is the build-your-own tacos and burritos and nachos joint Burrito Blues (mmmm, nachos) and the Cuban and Mexican restaurant Sabrosura (try the Cuban sandwich). Jeff Johnson's latest venture Agave Maria, with its masterful decor and endless tequila menu, opened on Union. Recommendation: the cheesy mushroom and poblano enchilada. In April, Bass Pro finally opened in the Pyramid. Uncle Buck's, the underwater-themed restaurant with a bowling alley, offers a little something for everyone. Up top, the Lookout has one of the best views in the city.

Germantown got all the grocery stores. There's the 1,000,000-square-foot Kroger that opened. (Actually, it's only 100,000 square feet, but to put it in perspective, the Union Kroger is 36,000 square feet). It has a juice bar and a Corky's BBQ kiosk. The healthy-food-at-a-discount grocer, Sprouts, after opening Lakeland, introduced its second store in Germantown. Whole Foods opened its second Memphis-area store in Germantown, too. It features a charcuterie cave, a fresh pasta station, made-fresh savory and sweet crepes, and Korean street food from Kei Jei Kitchens. (I think about the steamed bao sliders all the time.) And, in September, there was news, which seems completely unfair depending on your zip code, that the first area Trader Joe's would open in Germantown sometime in 2016.

Breakfast for dinner? Breakfast for lunch? Breakfast for breakfast? Whenever! Another Broken Egg, a chain, opened in East Memphis. Order one of their scrambled skillets and their beignet biscuits and you'll feel like you've been hit by a bus, but in the best way possible. Also in the breakfast-whenever game is the colorful, pancake-centric Staks. You can even make your own pancakes, if you're so inclined. They also offer soups, salads, and sandwiches (including the Memphis Hot Brown).

And, and, and ... There's Mac's Burgers with a menu filled with gourmet mac-and-cheese and burgers. Coffeehouse/gift shop City & State opened on Broad. 3 Angels Diner made way for Maximo's on Broad. Encore Cafe offers wraps, smoothies, and salads, plus a place for Cozy Corner while it gets its building ready. Crazy Italians is owned by real-live Italians and features a menu of affordable, classic dishes like spaghetti alla carbonara. I Love Juice Bar features juices, smoothies, and essential oil shots. Mardi Gras, in Crosstown, has gotten great word-of-mouth for its Cajun fare. Diners can tour the U.S.A. at Heritage Tavern & Kitchen, which has a menu of regional favorites. Healthy, tastefully done meals are Julles Posh Food's focus. Ditto for LYFE Kitchen, where there's no fryer, and it's not missed at all.

Finally, two words: Cheesecake Factory.

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