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Best of Memphis 2010: Staff Picks



Best Way To Debut an Album

Almost two months before the release of their highly anticipated Memphis, the members of Magic Kids celebrated the Fourth of July by putting their tracks on the jukebox at Midtown dive the Buccaneer. Word on the street is you can still stop by and drop in a few cents if you're itching to hear some infectious indie pop.

Halley Johnson

Best Place To Be a Dog

Earlier this summer, the city opened its first dog park on Avery behind the Memphis City Schools administration building. It's pretty bare bones — just a fence, a couple of benches, some signs, and doggie-poo bags. But the dogs who gather there every day to play fetch and sniff each others' butts don't seem to mind.

Bianca Phillips

Best Sigh of Relief

Petra enthusiasts breathed a sigh of relief when, after the restaurant closed last year, much of its menu was incorporated into the popular Madison sandwich shop Kwik Chek. But the store's redesign and consistent following didn't seem to matter on August 4th, when customers found Kwik Chek's doors locked, lights off, and signs posted saying the building had been seized for tax purposes. A few hours and an Internet rampage later, the store reopened with no apparent consequences, giving Midtowners a second collective sigh of relief. Way to keep us on our toes, Kwik Chek.

Halley Johnson

Best Thing About the New Playhouse on the Square

Everything. The theater was modeled after Chicago's Steppenwolf, so it looks good, sounds great, and is surprisingly comfortable. It's also got art galleries, multiple bars, and a rooftop patio overlooking Ike's and a boarded-up BP. Okay, so the view isn't perfect, but it's nothing another pharmacy or two can't fix. — Chris Davis


Best Fictional TV Memphis

Memphis Beat portrays a quaint city where crime occasionally rears its ugly head in between gnaws on barbecue ribs and slurps of sweet tea. Elvis impersonators litter Memphis streets like glam panhandlers. Hellcats depicts a cosmopolitan city where hip, sexy youth prevail — and work their killer bods but don't neglect the 'cue. Hot, manhandling cheerleaders flitter across downtown Memphis like oversexed butterflies. Edge: Hellcats. — Greg Akers

Best Reality TV Memphians

TLC's Police Women of Memphis made for compelling, utterly entertaining TV this summer. Though some of the crooks and knuckleheaded high jinks made me cringe — kinda wish people in Seattle and Montpelier didn't know about Running Man — officers Virginia Awkward, Joy Jefferson, Arica Logan, and Aubrey Olson made me proud to be a Memphian and happy to be protected by such stellar role models. — Greg Akers

Best Vegan Menu

Let's hear it for Deja Vu Creole Soul Food & Vegetarian Restaurant. Now with two locations (a tiny one downtown at 936 S. Florida and a massive one in Hickory Hill at 3557 Ridgeway), this soul food joint offers numerous vegan entrées ranging from mock chicken-salad sandwiches and barbecue tofu to TVP tacos and vegan cheese, spinach, and mushroom quesadillas. Though Deja Vu also serves meat, the soul sides (think collard greens, fried cabbage, and candied yams) are made vegan to accommodate all guests. Save room for the rich vegan chocolate cake with strawberry sauce or the super-moist vegan banana bread. — Bianca Phillips

Best of Both Worlds

As the Memphis Grizzlies enter their 10th season in town, the franchise has boasted players with all-star ability (Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay) and hard-nosed role players who do all the "little things" that help teams win (Shane Battier, James Posey). But only one player fits both categories: current center Marc Gasol, who was one of the NBA's most improved players a year ago and, by most statistical measures, the team's most important player. Similarly, the Grizzlies have had players who embody the increasingly international flavor of the world's second-most popular team sport (Hasheem Thabeet, Hamed Haddadi) and players who embody the local basketball scene from the ground up (Antonio Burks, the late Lorenzen Wright). But only one player fits both categories: the younger Gasol again, who started on the Spanish national team this summer and did his high school work locally at Lausanne.

Chris Herrington

Best Sinkhole Forever (BSF)

Forget Sigmund Freud. What would Jerry Springer say about a city that turns a crumbling, traffic-snarling depression on a crazy-busy stretch of I-240 into a cross-platform media celebrity? Months after the overgrown pothole stopped making headlines, people still comment on Sinkhole's Facebook page with messages like, "I miss you, Sinky" and "Hey, Sinkhole, hope things have been going well." Fans have posted hundreds of photos on "Sinky's" FB page with photoshopped images of the people and things they'd most like to see fall into the hellish crater. A flaming John Calipari is there, as is former Mayor Herenton and Kriner Cash and a fantasy bubble bath where Saddam Hussein and Al Gore play with rubber duckies in the nude. Ah, Sinkhole, what a magnificent sinkhole you were. — Chris Davis

Best Combination Expansion and Contraction

When the annual Indie Memphis Film Festival returns next month, it will be with two big changes that bode well: The festival will reduce its time frame from the recent week-long slate to a more concentrated Thursday-to-Sunday long weekend. At the same time, it’s expanding its Midtown footprint by adding Playhouse on the Square to returning venues Studio on the Square, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and (presumably) post-fest party center the Hi-Tone Café. These are astute moves that should make a good event even better. — Chris Herrington

Best Way To Order Coffee

Slowly sipping your vanilla soy latte inside a coffeehouse (while reading a copy of the Memphis Flyer, of course) may be the ideal way to take in your daily dose of caffeine. But when you’re on the go, the Edge Coffeehouse has you covered. The quaint Crosstown area coffeehouse’s online menu lists abbreviations customers can text to 901-652-8788 so their hot joe is ready upon arrival (for example, the signature Avalanche iced coffee drink is AVA). Customers can choose to have their coffee delivered CBU (drive-up curb service with correct change) or REG (pick up at counter). Check out for a full list of menu abbreviations. — Bianca Phillips

Best Deal

Because they depend largely on donations and the diligent perusal of customers, the hit-or-miss nature of thrift stores makes them hard to compare. But since Amy Hoyt took over MIFA’s store in June, her eye for great finds and excellent organization have made it number one on our list of well-curated Memphis thrift stores. Besides the frequent deals and special sections the store offers, they pump their revenue back into MIFA’s programs, which benefit the Memphis community directly. Talk about guilt-free shopping. — Halley Johnson

Best Endless (And Cheap!) Culinary Search

We will always have the barbecue pork sandwich, but lately the Memphis finger food that seems to inspire the most animated discussion and satisfied tummy is the taco, the most basic component of the city’s exploding array of authentic Mexican eateries. This year, I added Taqueria Garibaldi (on Summer, try the pastor) and Mike’s Express (Macon, ditto) to old favorites Taqueria Guadalupana (Summer, asada) and Las Tortugas (Germantown Parkway, red snapper or tilapia), while word-of-mouth has Vera Cruz (Jackson) and Caminos de Michoacan (Macon) at the top of my checklist. — Chris Herrington

Best iPhone App with a Memphis Connection

My vote is for Mark’s Menus. Created by local dudes Mark Dinstuhl and Scott Brown, this app (and its sister website) lists menu items for thousands of restaurants across the U.S. Open the app wherever you are and a map pulls up nearby participating restaurants. Click on the restaurant and read the full menu right on your phone. This especially comes in handy when trying to choose a restaurant for a picky eater, someone with food allergies, or a vegetarian. — Bianca Phillips

Best Benefit of Memphis’ Logistics Firepower

Netflix, the mail-based DVD rental service, has a distribution facility in Memphis. Because it’s located right here, local customers enjoy the benefit of quicker turnaround. When you absolutely positively need to see what happens next in Breaking Bad, a day less of a wait is exceedingly important. Not that a show about an unhealthy addiction is an apt metaphor or anything. — Greg Akers

Best Thing To Happen To Local Beer Lovers

At the first Memphis Brewfest in April, beer connoisseurs were served Vermont-based Magic Hat Brewery’s signature #9 beer (a crisp, apricot pale ale). But new fans of the beer were likely dismayed when they realized it wasn’t easy to find at local markets. If they were lucky, they might have stumbled upon Magic Hat #9 at Raffe’s Deli on Poplar. But a couple of months ago, something well, magical, happened. Suddenly, #9 and a host of other Magic Hat brews became widely available in local markets, like Schnucks, Miss Cordelia’s, Fresh Market, Kroger, and Whole Foods. — Bianca Phillips

Second Best Inanimate Facebook Celebrity from Memphis

True, the egg fried on a Memphis sidewalk only attracted 1,009 friends. That’s 1/10 the size of the Sinkhole posse. But who doesn’t love photos of a sidewalk-fried egg relaxing in a pan in the swimming pool? — Chris Davis

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