13 Places To Carb Load For The Memphis St. Jude Marathon (Or Anytime)
If you’re running in this weekend’s Memphis St. Jude Marathon or half marathon, congratulations! You’re incredible. And you’re going to need some serious fuel.
Here’s a list of places to carb and calorie load before and after the big race. It’s a good mix of both established and new places to eat in Memphis, and it’s been updated a little from last year.
1. Ciao Bella (565 Erin Drive)
Ciao Bella is a family-run Italian restaurant in East Memphis with pizza, pastas, sandwiches, and more for lunch and dinner. Try their Piccolo Sara pasta with penne, goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and spinach, then add chicken or shrimp if you like.
2. Tart (820 S. Cooper Street)
Tart is a French-style cafe and patisserie. They have a bountiful selection of pastries and breads made fresh daily, plus lunch specials.
3. Automatic Slim’s (23 S. 2nd Street)
Automatic Slim’s is a swanky lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch spot downtown. If you’re looking for a post-race, carb-laden brunch during marathon weekend go on Saturday or Sunday morning and order the chicken and waffles with breakfast potatoes, or anything from their waffle menu (they have different flavors and syrups).
4. Déjà Vu (51 S. Main Street or 936 Florida Street)
Déjà Vu is a Creole-Cajun restaurant with all the usual po-boys and gumbos you’d expect, plus a huge vegetarian and vegan menu. Between the breaded fish on your French bread po boy, rice-based etouffes, and fried plantains, you’ll have your carb needs more than satisfied.
5. Hammer & Ale (921 S. Cooper Street)
Beer is carbs, duh, and there is no better excuse for day drinking than “I just ran a marathon.” At Hammer & Ale you can get a flight of beer, pints, or fill up a growler to take with you. They also have sandwiches and other snacks. Read more here.
6. Strano (948 S. Cooper St.)
Load up on carbs Sicilian-style at Strano in Cooper Young for lunch or dinner. Their pizza is one of the best I’ve had in Memphis, and their fresh-baked bread is absolutely heavenly. They offer a choice of gourmet olive oils from The Mighty Olive to go with it. I recommend the blood orange or garlic herb flavors. Read more.
7. Oshi Burger Bar (94 S. Main St.)
Oshi is a burger diner downtown that will hook you up with all the carbs you need and some meat as well. Start with hearty appetizers like shoestring chili cheese fries, fried Philly cheese egg rolls, or tots. Then dive in to a burger – the buns are big, fluffy, full of delicious carbs, and perfect for a hungry marathoner.
8. Blue Plate Cafe (5469 Poplar Ave. and 111 S. Court Ave.)
Biscuits. Pancakes. Hashbrowns. Good for breakfast, good for brenner, good for runners. The East Memphis location (Poplar) is open during breakfast and lunch hours only, but the downtown location (off of Court Square) serves breakfast all day.
9. Crazy Noodle (2015 Madison Ave.)
I’m going to be completely honest with you: I have no idea what the name of the above dish is. All I can tell you is that if you want to choose from a variety of delicious, satisfying Korean noodle dishes, head to the Crazy Noodle on Madison for lunch or dinner. Their menu has pictures, so you should be fine. Read more.
10. Hog and Hominy (707 W. Brookhaven Circle)
Hog and Hominy’s wood-fired pizzas with thin, crispy-chewy crusts are perfect for carb-loading and oh-so-delicious. Head to the East Memphis eatery and try the ‘Shrooms pizza with arugula, mushrooms, and creamy cheeses, or, if you need some protein, too, go for the Red Eye Pizza with pork belly, celery leaves, and a fried egg. Update 2015: Right now, Hog & Hominy has a pizza with pepperoni and spicy honey and you need to eat it immediately because it’s wonderful.
11. Amerigo (1239 Ridgeway Road)
Amerigo Italian restaurant has been an East Memphis favorite for years. They have all manner of classic Italian dishes (pastas, lasagna, pizza). They’re even offering 20 percent off select pastas to St. Jude Marathon runners with their race bib on Friday night, and $1 off draft beers!
12. Cafe Eclectic (603 N. McLean / 510 S. Highland St. / 111 Harbortown Sq.)
Of course we know that Gibson’s is great, but if you’re looking for another option for donuts – perhaps second only to pasta as an efficient carb-vehicle – then Cafe Eclectic has you covered. Their decadent handmade donuts (and other pastries and food) are available at all three locations: midtown, Harbor Town, and the U of M area. Bonus: They also have coffee. Which you also might need. Because caffeine.
These are just a few options, of course. What are your favorite spots to carb load in Memphis?