Canvas of Memphis Is An Art Gallery In A Bar
In Memphis, it seems like many of our watering holes fall into one of three categories. First, we have the places that are primarily restaurants, but have popular bars in them, i.e., Bari, Local, Half Shell.
Then, there are the dive bars. These are self explanatory and for some reason they sound like they need a “the” in front, like the P&H, the Hi Tone, the Lamplighter. (Or am I the only one who does that?)
In recent years, we’ve also seen a proliferation of the third variety: the upscale artisan-cocktail-and-small plates spots like Alchemy, East Tapas, or Maximo’s on Broad.
Those aren’t perfect categories, but in general they can work. (I promise I’m going somewhere with this.) Two new bars have opened this year in Memphis – Canvas and Dirty Crow Inn – and I had a hard time placing them in any of those categories, which I found refreshing. Let me tell you about Canvas first; I’ll do another post soon on the Dirty Crow Inn.
Canvas (sometimes written as CANVAS of Memphis) looks and feels like a thrifty art shop or maybe, a bar/cafe that opened in a (well-lit, clean) back room of an art gallery. It opened early this year in a former antiques shop on Madison Avenue, just a little west of the Bar-B-Que Shop.
The walls are covered with local art: photo collections, metal sculptures, paintings. A lot of it is Memphis-themed. There’s also a juke box and a little platform for open mic nights and performances.
There’s a chandelier made from Canvas brand wine bottles and a colorful mural on the exterior wall. There’s a bar, several tables, and a great, semi-shaded patio.
As for drinks, Canvas has your usual beer offerings (including local brews on tap), a full bar, and wines. I was there one night and folks were ordering colorful shooters. This isn’t the place to get a seven-ingredient cocktail with dewdrop-infused elderberry vapor garnish, and that’s OK by me.
Not everywhere has to be that. I had a Wiseacre Ananda with my pizza, my friends took advantage of the domestic beer special, and everyone was perfectly happy.
Speaking of the menu, they have apps, salads, pizzas, and sandwiches and most everything is under $10. I liked my pizza – it didn’t have a name, just a list of ingredients – and so did my friend, who got the veggie pizza. The real draw here, though, is the sandwiches.
Our server wisely suggested we try something that wasn’t yet on the permanent menu – the Italian (pictured above). We tried it to rave reviews. That’s what you want to order. You can pay a $1.75 extra for a bag of locally made Nikki’s Hot Ass Chips.
Canvas is open from 4 p.m. to midnight every day. They have vegetarian options, but not so much for gluten-free or vegan diets. While there’s no kid menu, I think it’s perfectly family-friendly in the early evening.
I liked Canvas because it was chill, visually interesting, and the staff made me feel like a regular even though I’d only been there a few times. I’ll be back. Check out their Facebook page for a live music and other events schedule.
1737 Madison Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38104