Reason to Love Memphis #30 – Macaroni is a Vegetable

Posted by Holly Whitfield | February 25th 2010 6 156

Southern people are big fans of the meal known as the “meat and three”.  A typical meat and three includes some kind of meat (think fried chicken or catfish, maybe turkey and dressing) and three vegetables of your choice on the side. Usually, the vegetables are distinctly Southern – fried okra, slaw, green beans seasoned with salt pork, and fried green tomatoes are usually on the list.

But in Memphis, there seem to be a few items on the vegetable list that aren’t quite like the others. Mostly, I’m talking about macaroni and cheese.

Meat and two from Alcenias, Memphis, Tenn.

Meat and two from Alcenia's, Memphis, Tenn.

You see that? It’s my meat (fried catfish) and two vegetables from Alcenia’s on North Main. Yes, one of those vegetables is macaroni and cheese. Yum!

Alcenia’s is a tiny, colorful soul food joint that serves a daily rotation of home-cooked meats and vegetables. They’ve got brunch on Sunday, too. Alcenia’s also serves a beverage called Ghetto Aid that’s a super sweet mashup of three different Kool-Aid flavors that makes Ching’s Orange Mound Punch seem logically sweetened.

Mmmm, Ghetto-Aid!

Mmmm, Ghetto-Aid!

The food at Alcenia’s is incredible – the green beans were perfectly seasoned, the macaroni was gloriously cheesy, and the catfish was very lightly breaded. The service was insanely affectionate – at one point, the owner, B.J. Chester-Tomayo, came over and gave me a big hug and a kiss on the head. Aww!

You can get your Alcenia’s fix daily at their downtown restaurant, or during the summer at the downtown farmer’s market.

Alcenia’s Desserts & Preserves from BackBeat on Vimeo.

Go There:


317 North Main Street
Memphis, TN 38103

Alcenia's on Urbanspoon

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

Show Comments


  1. Jen says:

    I’ve always wondered about this place but never been. Do they take plastic?

  2. […] Finally, this morning I off you some dietary advice…yes, Macaroni and Cheese is a vegetable! […]

  3. southernbelle says:

    I love Alcenia’s and I love BJ! She has the best home cooking in Memphis. She’s always ready with a hug and a kiss for you. Super sweet lady.

  4. Maureen Spain says:

    Alcenia’s is INCREDIBLE. go there. but be prepared to sit for awhile, b/c they make everything to order. they do carry-out, so you can call ahead.

  5. […] more at var […]

  6. Marinel says:

    I want to know how to get her cook book on the Today show. I have searched borders and amazon. HELP!!!!! Please let me know. I loved the piece and want the ability to help heal souls here in MS.

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