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Best of Memphis 2016 - Food & Drink



Best Chef

Kelly English - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Kelly English

1. Kelly English, Five Spot/Restaurant Iris/The Second Line

2. Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen/Hog & Hominy/Porcellino's Craft Butcher

3. Erling Jensen, Erling Jensen the Restaurant — tie — Patrick Reilly, Majestic Grille

Flyer readers can't get enough of Chef Kelly English. The Louisiana-raised grand master of finely tuned Southern comfort foods has topped this list for eight years running. If the man offers to give you a knuckle sandwich, let him. (Unless you're allergic to delicious lobster.)

Best Breakfast

1. Brother Juniper's

2. Bryant's Breakfast

3. Blue Plate Cafe

The real Brother Juniper — sometimes called "Juniper the Jester" — was a friar famous for being charitable with things that didn't belong to him, then making a strong case for why his light fingers were as much a blessing for those who unwittingly provided as it was for those who so gratefully received. "Would that the forest were full of such Junipers!" Saint Francis proclaimed. That goes double for the popular U of M area diner, where weekend crowds are thick watching beautiful Greek omelettes and brilliant fist-sized biscuits go by. Would that the city were full of such Junipers.

Best Brunch

1. Owen Brennan's Restaurant

2. Beauty Shop

3. Majestic Grille

With beautiful portions of wild game sausage, crispy fried catfish in a creamy crawfish sauce, lovely shrimp and grits, you might as well unbutton the top button on your pants when you walk into brunch at Owen Brennan's. Bananas Foster for breakfast!

Best Shared/ Small Plates Menu

1. Babalu Tacos & Tapas

2. Alchemy

3. Bounty on Broad

Someone should coin a new word for the custom tableside guacamole preparation that happens at Babalu. It's like Hibachi-style guac. Hibachimole, maybe? Perfect with a top-shelf margarita and some crispy pork belly tacos, whatever you call it.

Best Wine List

1. Flight

2. Folk's Folly Prime Steak House

3. Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen — tie — Bari Ristorante

Fall is here. It's the perfect time to sit outside on downtown's Main Street mall watching all the tourists pass by while slowly draining a bottle of Castello D'Albola chianti, which happens to be on the list at Flight — along with about 200 other choices.

Folk's Folly Prime Steak House - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Folk's Folly Prime Steak House

Best Steak

1. Folk's Folly Prime Steak House

2. Ruth's Chris Steak House

3. The Butcher Shop

Folk's Folly is serious — sturdy, steel gray walls, heavy wooden chairs, dark but not too dark, famous for ice-flecked martinis mixed to make Don Draper swoon, and pornographic cuts of aged beef cooked to order.

Best Date Night Restaurant

1. Flight — tie — Folk's Folly Prime Steak House

2. Restaurant Iris

3. Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen

Snuggles over a perfectly done rare steak. Sweet nothings and a sweet flight of desserts. Piano music. The ideal glass of wine. When it comes to romance, Flight and Folk's Folly have our readers swooning.

Best Barbecue

BOM 1. Central BBQ

2. The Bar-B-Q Shop — tie — Germantown Commissary

3. Corky's

Best Ribs

1. Central BBQ

2. Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous

3. Corky's

What is it that makes Central BBQ so good? Is it the smoky shoulder? The fall-apart ribs? The fat wings slathered in spice? The mountainous nachos? Is it the very nice brisket or the tangy array of sauces? Or is it all of that? It's probably all of that.

  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Huey's

Best Burger

BOM 1. Huey's

2. Belly Acres

3. Tops Bar-B-Q

Best Lunch

1. Huey's

2. Central BBQ

3. Elwood's Shack

Best Service

1. Huey's

2. Folk's Folly Prime Steak House

3. Restaurant Iris

Best Late-Night Dining

1. Huey's

2. Alex's Tavern

3. Earnestine & Hazel's

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant

1. Huey's

2. Belly Acres

3. Memphis Pizza Cafe

Best Hangover Food (restaurant)

1. Huey's

2. Slider Inn

3. Bardog Tavern

"Let's just go to Huey's" has probably saved more relationships than any other sentence in the Southern language. Tasty burgers, fast lunches, and great service make it the perfect default restaurant when nobody can agree on where to eat. It's kid-friendly, but you can order food till last call, and a round of afternoon bloody marys with a basket of thick-cut red onion rings can slap your tongue and knock the hangover clean out of your body.

Best Hot Wings

1. Ching's Hot Wings

2. Central BBQ

3. D'Bo's Wings n' More

Ching's Honey Gold wings are one of those things you force on out-of-town foodie friends who think they've been around a little and seen everything the spiced appendage has to offer. There's an extra-hot version too, for more adventurous souls.

Best Fried Chicken

BOM 1. Gus's Fried Chicken

2. Jack Pirtle's Chicken

3. Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken

Memphis is a fried chicken capital, and Gus's spicy, crispy, piping-hot bird provides diners with what may be the single most perfect bite in the flavorverse.

Best Place for Dessert

1. Beauty Shop

2. Flight

3. Paulette's

With the Beauty Shop, owner and executive chef Karen Carrier has created a perfectly modern mix of country, funk, and rock-and-roll. She knows diners delight in little plates artfully strewn with dainty, delicious things. But sometimes they crave something more substantial — like a big horking slab of caramel cake with ice cream. Or strawberry cake. Or red velvet cake. Or one of each to share. Or not share. Get your own damn cake.

Best Frozen Treat Shop

1. Jerry's Sno Cones

2. La Michoacana

3. MemPops

Few things are more Memphis than standing in line at Jerry's Sno Cones, the city's other pink palace. Like Memphis, Jerry's is a little quirky and a little off-the-beaten-path. But once you've gotten a taste of it, you know you're home.

Best Smoothies/Juices

1. Smoothie King

2. Tropical Smoothie Café

3. Cosmic Coconut

Memphis is a city of kings — Elvis, Lawler, and B.B. But make way for another. Smoothie King is our readers' king of juices and smoothies. Over 43 years, the company has built its kingdom of more than 650 locations on three continents.

Best Italian

1. Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen

2. Pete & Sam's

3. Coletta's

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen remains white hot even eight years after its 2008 opening. Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman opened the Brookhaven Circle restaurant to give "a fresh perspective on traditional Italian." The menu includes everything from macaroni to ocean trout.

Best Middle Eastern

BOM 1. Casablanca

2. Kwik Chek

3. Petra Café

Casablanca's menu hits the mark with Middle Eastern favorites like shawarma, hummus, and baba ghanoush. But don't miss the Casablanca special like chicken schnitzel sandwich or the Falafel "Big Mac" of the Middle East.

  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Hog & Hominy

Best New American

1. Hog & Hominy

2. Beauty Shop

3. Majestic Grille

"Italian cooking, Southern roots" is the guiding ethos of Hog & Hominy. Chefs Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman opened the restaurant on Brookhaven Circle in 2011. It's far more casual than the chef pair's flagship Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen. But Italian cooking with Southern roots? How about biscuit gnocchi or grits al forno? Just go. You'll get it. Then, you'll go back for more.

Best Ethiopian

1. Blue Nile Ethiopian Kitchen

2. Abyssinia

3. Ethiopian Restaurant & Coffee

Aromas of savory wat mingle with barbecue smoke on Madison Avenue now that Blue Nile Ethiopian Kitchen opened next to the Bar-B-Q Shop last year. Ethiopian food fans have rejoiced at the mounds of Blue Nile's many wats (or stews) on injera bread. Kabobs and burgers are on the menu, too.

Best Mexican

1. Las Delicias Mexican Bar & Grill

2. El Mezcal

3. Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana

House-made tortilla chips. Fresh guacamole. Handmade tamales. Las Delicias has built a massive fan base in Memphis on these core menu items. But its entire menu is built on Mexican authenticity and a commitment to quality. And it keeps Memphians headed to its three locations to get more.

Best Cajun/Creole

1. Bayou Bar & Grill

2. DeJaVu

3. Owen Brennan's Restaurant

Po-boys? Check. Oysters? Check. Gumbo, muffulettas, and jambalaya? Check, check, and check. Back in 1987, Chef Michael Cahal wanted to bring a New Orleans neighborhood bar and grill to Memphis. Check on that one, too. The Bayou has ridden Overton Square's boom and bust cycles and remains one of the best places in Memphis to celebrate Mardi Gras.

Best Chinese

1. Mulan

2. Wang's Mandarin House

3. A-Tan

Mulan's menu offers Chinese-American favorites like General Tso's chicken but also a lineup of authentic Szechuan dishes. The menu, the locations, the friendly delivery service, and the beautiful dining space ensure Mulan will be around for years to come.

Best Thai

1. Bhan Thai

2. Bangkok Alley

3. Pho Binh

The beautifully plated (and delicious) dishes and the posh decor make Bhan Thai a one-of-kind dining experience in Memphis. Thai favorites like Pad Thai, curries, and spring rolls have been lovingly prepared and artfully presented at Bhan Thai since it opened in 2002. Also, Bhan Thai's patio bar is not to be missed.

Best Vietnamese

1. Pho Binh

2. Pho Saigon

3. Lotus Vietnamese Restaurant

The buffet is eyed. The goods are delivered. The faithful rejoice! A line is formed. Elbows are (sometimes) swung. Who knew such a fuss would be made over lemongrass tofu? The Pho Binh faithful do. And they're crowding in to get it. Or the fried chicken. Or the green bean tofu. Or the Kung Pao tofu.

Best Japanese

1. Sekisui

2. Osaka

3. Sakura Japanese Restaurant

From a menu stocked with creative and diverse sushi to an expansive list of spirits that includes wine, sake, and shochu, Sekisui's menu is paired with a devoted staff that's earned the restaurant a winning streak for years.

Best Indian

1. India Palace

2. Golden India

3. Bombay House

India Palace wins again as the go-to spot for Indian cuisine in Memphis. Year after year, the restaurant builds on its faithful regulars who stand by the Palace's menu.

Best Home Cooking/Soul Food

1. Soul Fish Café

2. The Cupboard

3. The Farmer

What makes Soul Fish so special? Let us count the ways: mouth-watering catfish, terrific hushpuppies, great veggies, and a fine beer selection.

Best Vegetarian

1. LYFE Kitchen

2. Café Eclectic

3. Fuel Cafe

Meat-free Memphians have found deliverance in first-time winner LYFE Kitchen's vibrant and wholesome vegetarian dishes. Notable menu options: the quinoa crunch bowl or the quinoa crunch wrap. Add chile lime tofu. Go wild.

Best Seafood

1. Half Shell

2. Bonefish Grill

3. Tsunami

Self-proclaimed as the "best kept secret" in Memphis, the Half Shell opened in 1973 and has racked up awards ever since. The Baja Seafood Nachos are too good for this world.

Best Pizza

1. Memphis Pizza Café

2. Aldo's Pizza Pies

3. Broadway Pizza

Memphis Pizza Cafe reclaims the throne this year. As restaurants continue to pop up in Overton Square, the Cafe holds its own with generous deals, cold beers on draft, and filling pies.

Best Sandwiches

1. Elwood's Shack

2. Fino's

3. Young Avenue Deli

We all know Summer Avenue has some of the best restaurants Memphis has to offer. Elwood's Shack's inaugural win is also a win for the street. Drop in and try the citrus-smoked salmon sandwich.

Best Server

Reader's Choice

Brian Sutton, Molly's La Casita

Danielle Fong, Flight

Heather Farwell, Belmont Grill, Local, Soul Fish Cafe

Jimmy Berry, River Oaks

Lila Bear, Mulan

Nikki Graham, Huey's

Tony Dortch, Huey's

Flyer readers deemed these seven servers as the best in Memphis. Pay 'em a visit, eat and drink up, and tip 'em well.

Best Place for People-Watching

1. Beale Street

2. Peabody Lobby Bar

3. Flying Saucer

Beale Street is Memphis' own stretch of weird. Depending on the time of day, you can find whatever action you desire: blues in W.C. Handy Park, acrobats flippin' backwards, and, when the sun goes down, club crawlers with bottomless beers ending their night at Dyer's.

Best Patio

1. Lafayette's Music Room

2. Slider Inn

3. Bhan Thai — tieCeltic Crossing

Be it Saturday night drinks or Sunday brunch, Lafayette's two-story patio leaves room for you, your mother, and just about everyone else you know too.

  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Say Cheese!

Best Food Truck

1. Say Cheese!

2. Fuel Café

3. Central BBQ

Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches? That's all you need to know. Say Cheese! wears the crown for the first time this year, serving up greased goodness like the Elvis Italiano sandwich: cookie butter, mascarpone cheese, and sliced banana on sourdough bread.

Best Bakery

1. Muddy's Bake Shop

2. Frost Bake Shop

3. La Baguette

Best Coffeehouse

1. Muddy's Coffee and Bake Shop

2. Otherlands Coffee Bar

3. Café Eclectic

Best Dessert Shop

BOM 1. Muddy's Bake Shop

2. Cheesecake Corner

3. Frost Bake Shop

Muddy's continues to be a local favorite. With a second location in Midtown that opened last year, the Muddy's brand is growing, so stop in, grab some coffee, grab a treat, and see what all the hype is about.

Best Donut Shop

BOM 1. Gibson's Donuts

2. Howard's Donuts

3. Donald's Donuts

Gibson's is still the best in the business when it comes to quality donuts, no matter what time you're in the mood for them.

Best Brewery

1. Wiseacre

2. Ghost River

3. Memphis Made

Wiseacre has been named the best brewery in Memphis, and with an amazing selection that boasts a little something for everyone — how can you disagree? Wiseacre recently celebrated their third birthday, and we can't wait to see what else the brewery has in store.

Best Beer Selection (store)

1. Madison Growler/Cash Saver

2. Buster's Liquors & Wines

3. Kroger

This one is a no brainer. The Madison Growler has a great beer selection and great prices.

Best Beer Selection (Bar/Restaurant)

1. Flying Saucer

2. Young Avenue Deli

3. Boscos Squared

The Flying Saucer has been the destination of tourists and local beer lovers for years, and with Monday Night Pint Nite being one of the best deals in town, it's no wonder people from all over the world flock to this downtown staple.

Best Restaurant

Readers' Choice

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen


Folk's Folly Prime Steak House


Restaurant Iris

This one is too close to call, folks. But it's fair to say that our divided loyalties add up to some fantastic dining.

Best New Restaurant

1. Loflin Yard

2. LYFE Kitchen

3. Fino's East

Loflin Yard has quickly become a go-to destination for Memphians of all kinds. With a giant lawn, great cocktails, and a great menu (try the brisket po'boy), Loflin Yard is one of downtown's new jewels.


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