The Best (OK, Only) Restaurant on President’s Island
Since this is the I Love Memphis Food & Drink Week 2014, I promised that I'd tell you about the weirdest food day I'd ever had in Memphis. The day was only strange because I ate at the two places that are so totally different, it's hard to believe they're only a few miles apart.
On that day, for lunch I ate at The Port restaurant, which is President's Island's dive-y neighborhood joint. It's in a small shopping center next to a post office, a hearty sandwich and meat-and-three place.
For dinner, I ate at Chez Philippe in the Peabody Hotel, arguably the fanciest place to have a meal in the Mid-South, complete with white tablecloths and lobster. This post is about The Port.
The Port started as "The Islander" in the 1960s, and very little seems to have changed in the building since then. The wood paneled interior and nautical wall decorations seem like they've been there forever, there's a buffet, and the menu offers sandwiches priced below $7. The clientele appeared to be exclusively people who work on the Island.
A glass wall divides the restaurant in half in one of the more unique solutions to Memphis' restaurant smoking laws. The two sides are accessible through different exterior doors, and the smoking side (which also contains the bar) is 21 and up. The glass wall is tinted, which gives it a bit of a fishbowl / two-way mirror sort of vibe. The menu proclaims "Ye Old Happy Hour with "mixed drink specials" from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The menu is pretty simple – inexpensive sandwiches, salads, and entrees. They've got daily specials. The day I went, the special was a "Cajun Cheeseburger", which was a burger with blue cheese, buffalo sauce, and jalapeños. Now, I'm dubious about how "Cajun" that recipe is (someone tell me if I'm wrong) but I was craving a burger and some strong flavors so I went for it.
It took a few minutes longer than I thought it would to get the food, but it didn't disappoint. The burger was juicy and it was full of flavor; it absolutely hit the spot. The fries were your basic frozen seasoned variety, but I loved them in the way that anyone with a soul loves that style of cafeteria fries.
The Port is open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. They have a full bar and yes, they serve breakfast.
The Port Restaurant
1039 Harbor Avenue
Memphis, TN 38106
(Ed. Note: This is an updated version of a post from 2012.)