For Delicias Tapas, Go East
When I think about where to go for a big night out, I don’t generally think about heading east. But, my nighttime plans may have to change a little bit now that East Tapas & Drinks is open.
While East is part of Wang’s Mandarin House, it’s housed in its own space in the storefront next to the Park Ave. location. Yes, it’s a bar in a shopping center in East Memphis, but the important thing is that it doesn’t have the sort of sad vibe that permeates so many other storefront watering holes. The polished concrete floors, red walls and mood lighting make the space feel way more downtown than Ridgeway.
The tapas menu, which is unique to East, is divided into cold plates, hot plates, pizzas and desserts (there’s also a sushi menu, but I didn’t try any on this visit). I took a friend, and we ordered a bunch of food to share.
We started with the guacamole and sesame noodle salad from the cold menu. The guacamole was perfection – it was creamy and more than a little limey. The avocados were mashed, but not so perfectly that you couldn’t tell that the guacamole was homemade. It was served with a bowl of crunchy fried wonton chips.
The sesame noodles were served cold and topped with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onion and cliantro. They were pretty basic, but I appreciated the spicy Sriracha kick.
From the hot menu, we tried the mac’n’cheese and Asian-inspired sloppy joes. The mac’n’cheese came highly recommended by East’s manager, Lisa Ansley. She told me that she used to make the cheddar, cottage cheese and sour cream covered noodles in college.
I want to eat this mac’n’cheese every time I’m sad or have a bad day. It’s the food equivalent of a hug.
If I were a lunch lady, I would go on a crusade to serve East’s Asian-inspired sloppy joes in school cafeterias. They’re seasoned with an Asian black bean sauce that makes them taste a little more grown-up than Manwich. They come slider-sized and served in a pair, topped with cilantro.
Though all of the menu items are small plates, the portions are large given the price. Most of the items on the tapas menu are less than $10, so it’s easy to order a bunch to share. My friend and I split four dishes and got full with some left overs to spare.
The menu has a small selection of desserts, but I recommend skipping those and going for the weekly special. Yesterday, it was four hollowed out strawberries that had been stuffed with cheesecake batter.
East is open nightly Monday – Saturday. On Tuesday nights, classical guitarist Aaron Brock plays, and there’s live music on some weekend nights. The restaurant is non-smoking. They have a full bar, but I recommend starting with one of the specialty drinks (like the not-too-fruity ginger pear martini).