I Love Memphis Food: Best Bites Edition
Where do chefs and restauranteurs in Memphis eat when they’re not busy in the kitchen themselves? The new I Love Memphis Food video series is all about what local experts eat and the best places for a special meals in Memphis.
I LOVE MEMPHIS FOOD: BEST BITES EDITION
Our third and final episode is all about the best bites—those favorite dishes you can’t get out of your head, the flavors you think about for a long time afterwards, the memorable menu items that you have to order every time.
This week’s video features Memphis restaurant “best bites” picks from Kelly English (Restaurant Iris and The Second Line), Michael Patrick (Rizzo’s), and B.J. Chester-Tamayo (Alcenia’s). Watch for their recommendations in this video, then get out there and support some local restaurants yourself!
Kelly English’s Favorite Sandwich In Town:
We already talked about chef Kelly English’s Restaurant Iris in Episode Two—his Spanish dishes at Iris were some of Karen Carrier’s favorites. He’s returning the love by picking Karen’s new Cooper Young deli, Hazel’s Lucky Dice for his “best bite” selection. In particular, Kelly loves the Ronzo, an NYC-style sandwich on Jewish rye piled high with pastrami and creamy slaw. He explains that the sandwich is an example of what Karen does best, taking something beloved and traditional, but adding a little bit of her own spin on it.
ABOUT THE SECOND LINE
Since we’ve already covered Restaurant Iris in Episode Two, let’s talk about its casual cousin next door, The Second Line. Kelly English opened The Second Line in 2014 as an homage to New Orleans cuisine and attitude. The popular restaurant is just off of Overton Square and offers po-boys, seafood, and excellent cocktails, plus a weekend brunch and a big patio.
The Second Line is open for dine-in, patio dining, and takeout.
Location: 2144 Monroe Avenue Hours: Wed. – Sun. 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Sat. – Sun 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Website & Menu: secondlinememphis.com
ABOUT HAZEL’S LUCKY DICE DELICATTESAN
Karen Carrier is a Memphis restauranteur who’s created gems like The Beauty Shop, Back Do Mi Yard, Bar DKDC, and most recently, a Jewish-style NYC deli in Cooper Young named after her mother: Hazel’s Lucky Dice Deli.
At Hazel’s you’ll find a slew of sandwiches like the aforementioned Ronzo, Reubens, and pastrami, plus Jewish favorites like matzo ball soup, knish, babka, and more. They’re open for takeout only (though their patio is unofficially open if you want to sit there and eat after ordering) during weekday lunch.
Address: 964 South Cooper St. Hours: Mon. – Fri. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Website: hazelsluckydicedeli.com
Michael Patrick’s Best Bite At Dino’s
I always say that Michael Patrick’s South Main restaurant, Rizzo’s, is one of the most underrated spots in town. For years, Michael has served up hearty, flavorful dishes that are Southern-inspired but with a unique twist. When Michael’s off-the-clock and looking for a delicious, memorable meal, he picks Dino’s in midtown for Italian classics.
Dino’s (which could also fit in our “comfort food” or “Memphis institutions” episodes, honestly) offers pasta, sandwiches, and daily lunch specials. Michael loves the stuffed shells, pasta pockets filled to the brim with creamy cheese and spinach, topped with a meat sauce and served with a side of spaghetti “like mama made it”.
ABOUT RIZZO’S BY CHEF MICHAEL PATRICK
Rizzo’s by Chef Michael Patrick is in the South Main neighborhood, in a remodeled space with a newly-added patio. They’re famous for their cheeseburger soup, lobster “Pronto Pups”, chorizo meatloaf, and more, but the menu is full of well-portioned delicious dishes. I think the atmosphere is nice enough for a celebration or date night, but comfortable enough to walk-in, which is a rare quality that I appreciate in a restaurant.
Rizzo’s is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch for dine-in, takeout, or patio dining.
Location: 492 S. Main St. Hours: Wed. – Fri. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Monday – Thu. 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Fri. – Sat. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Sat. – Sun. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Website & Menu: rizzosmemphis.com
ABOUT DINO’S GRILL
Dino’s Grill is a family-owned and operated Memphis staple for forty years. Whether you’re seeking out classic Italian American comfort food—Alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli, chicken parmesan—or down home meat-and-three weekday lunch specials, Dino’s has you covered. Extra hungry? Dino’s offers all-you-can-eat spaghetti on Thursdays from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. You can also BYOB with no corkage fee.
Dino’s is open for dine-in (50 percent capacity; masked required) or you can order takeout from their location on McLean in midtown.
Address: 651 N. McLean Blvd Hours: Wed. – Fri. 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sat. – Sun. 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Website: dinosgrill.com
B.J.’s Barbecue-Based Best Bite
B.J. Chester-Tamayo is not shy about her own restaurant Alcenia’s credentials. “Nobody cooks with more love than Alcenia’s. Nobody!” Her pride is well-earned, as her North Main shop is known around the world as the soul food restaurant where you “walk in as a stranger, but leave as part of the Alcenia’s family.”
B.J. does admit that The Bar-B-Q Shop is her favorite for food cooked with great ingredients and a little bit of love, too. She specifically goes for the bbq spaghetti, a Memphis delicacy that she says is made differently at The Bar-B-Q shop than it is other restaurants.
Alcenia’s soul food restaurant sits in an unassuming, cozy little building in the shadow of the gleaming Pyramid in the Pinch District of downtown Memphis. B.J. cooks fried chicken, catfish, meatloaf, and all the Southern sides your heart desires—greens, mac ‘n’ cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, green beans, and much more. The food is cooked fresh to order and in pre-covid times, you would have been greeted with a hug from B.J. herself.
These days, Alcenia’s is open for call-ahead takeout ordering. Hours vary.
Address: 317 North Main St. Hours: Call 901-523-0200 for hours, which vary. Website & menu: alcenias.com
ABOUT THE BAR-B-Q SHOP
The Bar-B-Q Shop is family-owned and operated since 1987, and the restaurant is always towards the top of any “best Memphis barbecue” lists. My personal favorites are the pork sandwich on buttery Texas toast, a slab of smoked, tender ribs, or a side of the original BBQ spaghetti. The Bar-B-Q Shop is currently offering takeout and dine-in.
Address: 1782 Madison Ave. Hours: Mon. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Website & Menu: thebar-b-qshop.com
Find all the episodes of I Love Memphis Food on our Rally For Restaurants page.