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Eat Your Veggies

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Memphis isn't the most fertile ground for vegetarian and vegan dining. So many attempts -- La Montagne, Midtown Food Co-op, One Love Soulful Vegetarian Café and Juice Bar, Square Foods -- have failed or morphed into something else.

Bastet Ankh Re is holding down the fort with her small culinary enterprise Lion's Bread Vegetarian Cuisine. Re, founder of the currently dormant Vegan Sisters of Memphis, used to serve Lion's Bread's 100-percent vegan food out of a storefront on Airways. Recently, she's set up shop at Precious Cargo.

"After Raminyah, my partner with the Vegan Sisters, moved to Chicago, the Sisters went into hibernation, and I started doing Healthy Meals on Wheels," Re says. "I'm planning on continuing with that in the fall, but at the same time I was looking for a home base where people could enjoy my food in a coffee shop or restaurant."

Re's Lion's Bread menu is in addition to Precious Cargo's regular fare of meat and vegetable dishes and sandwiches. Re doesn't try to convert Precious Cargo's meatloaf-and-gravy eaters into vegans, but every now and then she does gets one of the regulars to try her barbecue tofu with sweet potatoes and kale or her vegan lasagna.

Precious Cargo is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to midnight. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. until?

Lion's Bread Vegetarian Cuisine @ Precious Cargo, 381 N. Main (406-0598)

If you were sad to see Square Foods in Overton Square go out of business earlier this month, cheer up. Although Square Foods as you knew it is gone, Jeanice Blancett, the store's owner, has been working feverishly to secure the lease for a new location and to hammer out the details for the store's somewhat different concept.

Square Foods will move to Cooper-Young into the former site of Pie in the Sky on Cooper adjacent to Blue Fish. For the new store, Blancett and her crew will focus less on the market side of the business and more on Square Foods' popular in-house dining, including sandwiches, smoothies, and vegetarian entrées, and its grab-and-go section. The store will also carry bulk foods, cheeses, and essential grocery items such as milk and bread. Blancett hopes for a May 18th opening, which was the day that Square Foods first opened its doors on Madison Avenue four years ago.

Square Foods will be open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Square Foods, 937 S. Cooper (728-4371)

According to legend, Sid Fanarof was dating a French girl when he opened the first zpizza restaurant in Laguna Beach California, in 1987. The way it is with those Europeans, they have trouble pronouncing the English th, making it sound like ze. And there you have it: zpizza was born as a single pizza parlor in an artsy, free-spirited community in California, where a few dedicated pizza lovers and a French girlfriend wanted to reinvent the pie.

Quality ingredients were very important in the endeavor, and that's why zpizza is now a national franchise offering hand-tossed pizzas with gourmet ingredients such as organic tomato sauce, Wisconsin skim Mozzarella, Cremini and Shitake mushrooms, and crusts made from premium Montana winter wheat (whole wheat or regular) that are fire-baked to just the right crispness. Additional menu items include as the ZBQ Salad, the Yuppie Veggie Sandwich, calzones, and Apple Pie Pizza for dessert.

In June, zpizza will open its first area store on Germantown Parkway in Cordova. Won't guarantee that you'll find a French girl there, though.

zpizza, 1250 N. Germantown Parkway

South Philly, the downtown Philly cheese steak shop is now serving its fully loaded sandwiches at the Poplar Lounge. Although South Philly owners Corey Miller and Mike Dinwiddie had plans to expand their business, the Poplar Lounge opportunity came by chance. "They've always had a kitchen at the Poplar Lounge with one guy doing all the food," Miller says. "He passed away, and we got offered the spot."

The menu at South Philly "east" is the same as at its downtown location. Right now, Miller and Dinwiddie are focusing on dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, but they want to open for lunch soon.

For the cheese-steak lover on the go, the new location comes with a take-out window, and home-delivery is in the works too.

South Philly in the Poplar Lounge, 2586 Poplar (324-5081)

The wine lovers among you might want to mark your calendar for two downtown events. On April 30th, it's time again for the annual Beale Street Wine Race, a day of debauchery-filled fun for local restaurant employees who compete in a number of contests. For more information, call 529-0999.

On May 9th at 6:30 p.m., Miss Cordelia's will host a "picnic on the river" wine tasting, during which featured wines from France and Australia will be pared with picnic food.

Miss Cordelia's, 737 Harbor Bend (526-4772), misscordelias.com

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