Category Archives: Memphis

Little Italy – Midtown Memphis

A classic “Pizza Joint”: Counter service, deli display, smells like garlic, basil, and tomato sauce when you walk in. If you tried them before 2015, it wasn’t the same quality, because I had my first experience in 2013. It was just average. Then saw they had changed hands. Since the change: Better pizza sauce, better spinach, better delivery, a make over of the room, friendlier staff, etc.. – and still really great prices.

My favorite is the Spinach Roll or Spinach “Stromboli”. It’s delicious with fresh Spinach, garlic and spices wrapped in homemade dough and freshly baked.   To be truthful they usually are par-baked and in the display cabinet, and when you order they put it in the pizza oven until piping hot and serve with their homemade marinara for dipping. I like with some Parmesan sprinkled on top, but they are pretty tasty just by themselves. $5.25 and is a meal in itself.

The  regular Pizza is very good too, taste like New York pizza. Individual slices are served to order, and are too big for the paper plates – pretty tasty standing, in the passenger seat, or sitting down. They have stuffed pizza for those that like that, but I prefer just the 10” Fresh Mozzarella & Basil pizza with marinara. Can’t beat it under for $10!

It’s only fair to tell you that they also have great Pasta it’s priced great too.  Pasta with Marinara and Meatballs (lots of food!) with slice of Garlic Bread and a small salad with house Italian dressing for only $7.99. Honestly most people can make 2 meals out of this deal.

Oh yeah – Free delivery in Midtown Memphis area! And that’s good, because the only drawback is the parking along that part of Union can be tricky and they are next door to a Cigar lounge and Kimbrough Liquors both of whom have a following.   Here is their FB:

https://www.facebook.com/littleitalypizza/

1495 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana

Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana

Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana

1215 South Germantown Road, Germantown, TN 38138

Traveling to Memphis Germantown area Medical Clinics?   Looking for delicious food on the go?  Give Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana a try.

First, this is not your average Mexican Restaurant and certainly stands out in the Memphis area.   If for no other reason for what they offer. Of course they also feature the unique personality of the Owner; Jose “Pepe” Magallanes, whose philosophy and humor is plastered all over the walls in Pictures, Quotes, Check copies, and more.

The name Tortugas comes from the Bread Loaves they bake daily, then scoop out and grill. So it is just the shell of the bread called a “Tortuga”.

You can spend from $4.25 to $17.95 on a menu item here, again, not the norm.               In fact the only Tacos they serve are the small soft tacos, served 4 to an order with 2 kinds of homemade salsa, lettuce and spiced cucumber salad and hand cut tortilla chips. Each taco is then garnished with fresh avocado, lime, cilantro, sweet onion and salsa tayde.

I tell you because it’s important to know it’s not going to be like any Mexican place you have probably ever been, especially around Mid South, unless you’ve also traveled to Mexican Baja Gulf coastal towns. And there it would be a lot cheaper.

I like the Antojitos or “small plates” section of the menu. Recommend: Flauta de Huachinango – Red snapper rolled in a Fried “flute” with lime, cotija cheese, crema fresca and salsa Valentina.   Also everyone likes the: Elote Con cotija y Mayonesa – Sweet corn steamed fresh rolled in lime mayo cotija cheese and crushed chilies.

Fresh Mango juiced and blended with shaved ice – very authentic, but some might consider it pricey at $4.95

I really enjoy the place, but it may not be for everyone, and as Pepe says: “Be nice or leave.”   In other words he doesn’t want to hear that you are disappointed that he doesn’t have Taco Bell items!

The presentation is 1st class.   The Daily Special board may offer Lobster, Ceviche, Clams, Locally raised Beef, or even Scallops on any given day. They say their food is purchased at local markets daily, instead of large food service companies.  Though there is something on the wall about it not being street food, it is served in lined plastic baskets and disposable cutlery that you get at the serve yourself beverage station…so I guess they are referring to the content in the baskets…

 

Las Tortugas Corn

Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana Mirror Sign

The Cupboard – Lunch

The Cupboard is a Memphis tradition since 1943 and has been at its current location since 2000.  It features fresh vegetables, prepared “Down Home” style, but now make their vegetables without the animal fats, as they were usually prepared in the good old days on the farm.  The family used to be in the Produce business and their knowledge of fresh vegetables shows in the daily variety of sides they offer.

The offer 8 to 10 entrees every day with about 20 sides to choose from.  You can get a 4 veggie plate for $8.49, or Meat and 2 for $9.87 or Meat and 3 for $10.49.  They all come with your choice of fresh breads: Corn bread mini muffins or Homemade pan rolls.  There is always at least 6 desserts on the menu and a Dessert of the day that is usually Cobbler or Banana Pudding.  Banana Pudding may be the best around.

My personal favorite is the 4 Veggie plate and generally put together 4 of my favorites, including:  Eggplant casserole, Fresh Turnip Greens, Italian Spinach, Carrot Souffle, Butter Beans, Lima Beans, Field Peas with snaps, Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Okra, Buttered Squash, Crowder Peas, etc..   If I get a meat they have some of the best Grilled Catfish around, and of course if you prefer it Fried that is excellent as well, served with Hush Puppies and homemade Tartar sauce (with Red Onions which gives it a pink tint).

Can’t really go wrong here, the menu varies daily, even on the weekends, they close at 8pm and I recommend that you eat there from 11am to 3pm, but dinner is certainly a value as the prices stay the same all day.  Link:

https://thecupboardrestaurant.com/

The Cupboard – Breakfast

I really think the Meat and 3 lunches are what put them on the map in Midtown Memphis, but they have a good breakfast going too, so check it out some time.  It isn’t cutting edge, just great value that’s fresh and prepared to order.

Just an old fashioned ‘Blue Plate’ style breakfast.  Eggs how you like it, with Homemade Biscuits or toast, bacon, sausage or ham, Hash browns, grits, or Home fries.   They also have simple Omeletes (their spelling!), Pancakes, French Toast, Steak & Eggs, Biscuits with white gravy, or Country Fried Steak.

The prices are reasonable $5 to $12 depending on how big a breakfast you want, and the staff is usually experienced and fast.  They will keep the coffee flowing, butter and jelly is already on the table as well as a couple types of hot sauce.  Also the Breakfast special from 7am to 11am as of this writing was 2 eggs, biscuits or toast with sausage or bacon for $4.99!

El Mezcal – Midtown Memphis, TN

El Mezcal Website and Menu

1492 Union Ave. – Memphis, TN 38104

After living in Arizona for 30 years and dozens of trips down to Mexico while living there, it has become apparent that “Mexican Food” takes on influences where ever you go throughout the USA.  I mention that because to me it is only authentic when you are in Mexico or near the border, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.  El Mezcal is family owned and operated, but has 8 or more locations, I prefer the Union Ave. location.  They definitely have their own brand of “Mexican Food” and some is definitely unique to Memphis, TN., and perhaps USA.

They have pretty good salsa that is almost pureed but has cilantro and other proper ingredients and the fresh made chips are crispy and thin.

My favorite is the Pescado y Camarones al Ajillo – Grilled fish and shrimp in garlic butter sauce.Topped with sautéed mushrooms and guajillo peppers. The Guajillo  pepper is usually used in making different sauce and tamales, in fact I have used them in tamale making myself.  It gives this dish a nice balanced flavor that allows the garlic to come through.

Chile Colorado – This has a good spicy red sauce and chopped steak and is consistently a satisfying dish.

Empanadas El Mezcal – These aren’t exactly “Central American” style, larger, but pretty tasty.  They are pretty good on their own, which is good because the ‘green sauce’ is not a consistent item in my experience.  The green sauce can be really spicy and not like the tomatillo or cilantro/pepper sauces I have had in Costa Rican or Panamanian restaurants, but the Empanadas are usually pretty good and can be filled several different ways, I prefer the shredded beef or spinach.

The Beauty Shop for Lunch

The Beauty Shop Web site might be here

 966 Cooper St. Memphis, TN 38104

Located in the Cooper Young District in Midtown Memphis, the motto here is              “Look Good. Eat Good”

A one of a kind atmosphere self described as ‘Jetsons-era Vitrolite’ with seating offered beneath Belvedere hair dryers among Box Glass cubby hole booths.  Brunch is a standing room only affair on the weekends, but I prefer Lunch at this time travel gastro-boundary bending eatery.

My favorite is the Fish Club (sandwich) with avocado, fried green tomatoes, and marmalade in addition to Tilapia, Bacon, greens, and lemon zest.  Fries or Onion Curls are both presented in unique fashion.   Oh and Beverages here can double as dessert with such must haves such as Lorina French Lemonade, Ice Cream Float, or a Fancy Milk Shake.

It’s not a real macho hang out, but the ladies will love it and Foodies of all persuasions can’t help but enjoy the dining offered here.