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I Love Memphis Food: Comfort Food Edition

Posted by Holly Whitfield | October 9th 2020 665 0

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.

Soul food at the Four Way Grill.

Find new episodes of I Love Memphis Food every Friday on the blog, Instagram, and Facebook, and read more about our Rally For Restaurants campaign.

I Love Memphis Food: Comfort Food Edition

Our first episode is all about comfort food. Comfort food doesn’t have to be chicken noodle soup, at least not in the 901. Here, comfort food can be hearty, warm, familiar dishes, something that sparks a special memory, or a unique recipe that hits that sweet, salty or spicy craving.

This week’s video features Memphis restaurant picks from Eric Vernon (The Bar-B-Q Shop), Deni and Patrick Reilly (Majestic Grille/Cocozza) and José Gutierrez (River Oaks). Check out their recommendations in the video, then make plans to support local restaurants and try some of these dishes yourself.

Watch the video:

Eric Vernon’s Comfort Food Picks

When he’s not smoking ribs or perfecting the sauce for the barbecue spaghetti at The Bar-B-Q Shop, owner Eric Vernon follows his heart and his stomach to The Four Way Grill, an historic restaurant in South Memphis. It’s not only the mouth-watering soul food platters than call to him, Eric’s parents have years worth of stories about meals at the Four Way that nurture his longtime love of the place.

Eric makes me laugh with his opinions about baked mac ’n’ cheese—probably the quintessential comfort food. I think we need a macaroni cook-off between him, the Four Way’s chefs, and few other mac ’n’ cheese experts in Memphis.

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

About The Four Way Grill

The Four Way Grill is a stalwart of the Soulsville community since 1946. The restaurant served as a meeting place for activists during the civil rights movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and is still a focal point of the neighborhood. I agree with Eric’s recommendation of mac ’n’ cheese, greens, and cornbread, but I can never decide between fried chicken or fried catfish for my entree.

Right now, the Four Way is open for limited hours with takeout only. Check their FB Page for the latest updates.

Address: 998 Mississippi Blvd. Hours: Thu. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. + 1st and 3rd Sundays. Website & Menu: fourwaymemphis.com

Deni and Patrick Reilly’s Memphis Taco Love

Deni and Patrick Reilly have been busy in 2020. They’ve been advocating for local restaurants through pandemic difficulties and pivoting their longtime downtown restaurant Majestic Grille into a new concept, Cocozza Italian American. But when it’s time to take a break, the two head down the street from Cocozza to Maciel’s for some Mexican comfort food.

Patrick loves the carne asada with super spicy habanero sauce, but they both love the potato tacos. “It’s called the Papa Taco,” Deni says. “It’s a fried taco with basically…roasted mashed potatoes in it.” It’s making my mouth water just thinking about the crispy shell filled with fluffy, flavorful taters.

About Cocozza American Italian

They call Cocozza the “red sauce joint of your dreams” which says to me that everyone’s favorite approachable Italian dishes are made simply and perfectly there. Think lasagna, manicotti, crusty garlic bread, meatballs, and surprises like a Taylor Ham breakfast sandwich at brunch. Open for dinner on select days, and weekend brunch—takeout with curbside pickup in nearby reserved spots, patio dining, and dine-in.

Location: 145 S. Main St. Hours: Wed – Sat. 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Sat 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Sun 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Website & Menu: cocozzamemphis.com

About Maciel’s Tortas y Tacos

Downtown Memphis let out a cheer when Maciel’s Tacos y Tortas opened a few years ago, finally providing the neighborhood with a fresh, authentic Mexican food restaurant. Each dish is made to order with love and care by owner/chef Manuel Martinez and his team. Besides tacos, try the Cubano torta, a sandwich with so many delicious ingredients it’s bound to hit the spot.

Maciel’s in downtown Memphis is open for takeout and delivery. There are a few outside tables, too.

Location: 45 S. Main St. Hours: Mon. – Thu. 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Fri. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Website: macielsonmain.com

José Gutierrez’s Comfort Dishes

Renowned Memphis chef José Gutierrez has been a staple of the city’s fining dining scene since 1982, and he’s now at the helm of River Oaks restaurant in East Memphis. When it’s time to hang up his chef’s coat for an evening, José visits ACRE for his favorite comfort food dish.

The Whole Crispy Red Snapper dish at ACRE, prepared by another Memphis culinary star Chef Wally Joe, reminds José of his French upbringing and a classic trout almandine with a twist.

About River Oaks

This upscale bistro is both elegant and comfortable, serving fresh seafood, free-range meats, and local favorites like Chef José’s Sirloin Burger that have kept Memphians coming to the restaurant for years. River Oaks is open for dine-in (reservations only) and takeout, and there is a new patio.

Location: 5871 Poplar Avenue Hours: Mon. – Thu. 11 a.m .- 9 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sat. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Website & Menu: riveroaksrestaurant.com

About ACRE

In a cozy converted home tucked away in East Memphis, ACRE meets all the criteria for a hidden gem of a Memphis restaurants. A farm-t0-table menu from Chef Wally Joe and Executive Chef Andrew Adams delight diners whether you’re dining in or in the picturesque courtyard patio. Open for takeout, dine-in, and patio dining.

Location: 690 S. Perkins Rd. Hours: lunch & dinner Tuesday – Friday; dinner only Saturday Website: acrememphis.com


Find new episodes of I Love Memphis Food every Friday on the blog, Instagram, and Facebook, and read more about our Rally For Restaurants campaign.

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