It’s easy to eat like a local in Memphis – we love food, and there’s no shortage of unique restaurants. Here are ten locally-owned restaurants that use ingredients from area farmers to get you started:
1. Restaurant Iris (2146 Monroe Avenue)
The sample menu on the Restaurant Iris website comes with this disclaimer: “In order to provide you with the freshest ingredients, menus are subject to change frequently, depending on the season and products available at the farmers’ market.” Chef Kelly English’s New Orleans-inspired brunch and dinner menus are full of locally grown produce and raised-in-Tennessee meats (like foie gras).
2. Au Fond Farmtable (938 South Cooper Street)
Chef Ben Vaughn takes the whole farm-to-table thing very seriously. If he can’t get an item from one of his local suppliers, it’s probably not going to be on the menu. The restaurant’s menu changes frequently, but some favorites (like the Harris bagel sandwich) are consistent. The Cooper-Young restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch.
3. Sweet Grass (937 South Cooper Street)
Since it opened last year, Sweet Grass has become one of the most popular restaurants in Memphis. If you’re planning dinner there, make reservations – crowds pack the small Cooper-Young restaurant nightly for unique, low-country inspired cuisine. Don’t skip desert – the deep dish apple pie with a scoop of cinnamon gelato is incredible.
4. South of Beale (361 South Main)
Though South of Beale is a great bar, you shouldn’t go there just to drink. You need to eat. You need to eat a lot. The menu, which changes seasonally, is loaded with amped-up bar food like housemade chips and dip, burgers, and a pizza of the day. SOB walks a unique line – it’s both perfect for a casual drink or a semi-fancy dinner out.
5. Three Angels Diner (2617 Broad Avenue)
“Diner” probably isn’t quite the right word to describe Three Angels. Yes, it’s got inexpensive, low-key food (like fried chicken and burgers). Yes, it’s family friendly. It’s also got a full bar, pinball machines, and a kitchen that’s open until 2 a.m. The side items and soup change daily based on what’s fresh and available. That said, if you’re there on potato pancake day, it’s a mistake not to order them.
6. Trolley Stop Market (704 Madison Avenue)
Trolley Stop market is all about locally sourced ingredients. The owners, Keith and Jill Forrester, are local farmers, and they support their own. The menu is packed with sandwiches, pizza, breakfast items and daily specials made with ingredients grown in the Mid-South. Monday night is vegan night, and they’ll deliver to Midtown and downtown.
7. Las Tortugas (1215 South Germantown Rd.)
Every day, Las Tortugas’ owner Pepe Magallanes goes shopping for the ingredients that will be used in his authentic Mexican food. All of the meats, vegetables and breads are super fresh because they’re bought locally. The food at Las Tortugas is different from other Mexican restaurants – there are no burritos, no sour cream, and don’t you dare ask for cheese dip. Instead, load up on tacos, tortas and elote (the best corn on the cob you’ll ever have).
8. Cafe Eclectic (603 North McLean)
Cafe Eclectic has it all: a coffee bar with insanely good espresso, a menu loaded with fresh salads, sandwiches and breakfasts, and house-made desserts. Get a side of home fries with your breakfast or lunch, and try one of the milkshakes for dessert. They’ve also got wireless access, live music on the weekends and old school sodas.
9. Tsunami (928 South Cooper Street)
Though Tsunami’s chef, Ben Smith, is known around town for his way with seafood, he does a lot of things very well. If you eat at his mellow Cooper-Young restaurant, don’t miss out on the Neola Farms beef carpaccio appetizer. Most of the regular menu items are Pacific Rim inspired, but the daily small plate specials are always surprising.
10. Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen (712 West Brookhaven Circle)
Chef Andrew Michael’s high-end Italian food is more than spaghetti and pizza. Take a second and click on the link to Andrew Michael’s website. Now tell me you don’t immediately want to stuff your face with roasted pork, fresh vegetables, homemade pasta and artisan cheeses. The food is fresh and simple, but never boring.