For a neighborhood with a large Jewish community, there are remarkably few kosher restaurants in East Memphis. Shoshana and Dovid Cenker took note of this when they selected a restaurant space on Sanderlin for their Table 613.
"There was a void," Shoshana says.
"There wasn't a restaurant certified under the Vaad, the kosher supervisory panel in Memphis, so we thought we could provide a really great service to people who keep kosher."
But this isn't only for kosher diners. Shoshana emphasizes that Table 613 is first and foremost a restaurant, which also happens to be kosher. Diners of all dietary styles can enjoy a variety of sandwiches, salads, and soups, including a matzah ball soup made fresh daily.
Keeping their restaurant certifiably kosher — meaning they do not mix meat and dairy — is not something the Cenkers take lightly.
"We have a kosher supervisor, me or my husband or one of the other employees, at the restaurant at all times to make sure we're following the laws of kosher, specifically checking all the vegetables and products that come through our doors," she says.
Pastrami-on-rye lovers take note: Table 613 isn't a Jewish deli. But there is plenty more to try, from the salmon salad to the schnitzel sandwich.
"We want everybody to come and enjoy because my husband cooks really delicious food," Shoshana says. "We're also listening to the feedback from our patrons, and we'll be adding some pasta dishes soon."
Business has been good for Table 613 so far, which opened its doors at the end of December 2012.
"[Sanderlin] has actually worked out twofold, because we're right near the Jewish community, but we're also surrounded by a lot of offices and the shopping center. And there's a hotel directly across from us, so it's helping us in other communities as well."
Table 613 offers catering, to-go orders, and Sabbath meals and is open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant closes at 2 p.m. on Friday in accordance with the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sundown on Friday.
Table 613, 5101 Sanderlin (683-8404)
Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe, a Birmingham-based chain restaurant, has taken over the space formerly occupied by Pei Wei in the Mendendall Commons Shopping Center.
Serving classic Mediterranean fare like gyros, dolmades, and chargrilled lamb, Taziki's nevertheless throws in a few Southern curveballs, like the spicy pimento cheese sandwich.
"It's Mediterranean-influenced food and a fresher and wider approach," local owner Greg Clotfelter says. "We use all fresh-cut meats. When we make gyros, it's from fresh-cut lamb. No processed foods. We don't have a freezer, and we don't use a fryer."
Taziki's opens this week and will open every day at 11 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 p.m. on Sunday. The menu includes the option of taking home dinner for four — roasted lemon herb chicken, leg of lamb, pork loin — for $26 to $29, including salad and sides. Sandwiches range from $6.50 to $8.50; larger entrées, known as "feasts," range from $9 to $12.
"This area of town has some great high-end options," Clotfelter says, "but this offers an approachable price point for almost anyone."
Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe, 540 S. Mendenhall