EAST MEMPHIS: My old neighborhood where I lived and taught school for 16 years. Even before Walnut Grove and Highland was "my hood" I visited this neighborhood constantly as a child and as a college student. I grew up in Mississippi but my parents and I would visit Memphis at least 3 times a month. My great aunt Mildred lived on Northwood Drive and then years later I would move to 124 N. Century Street where I threw many parties and cooked many meals and made the best memories of my life. Below is a picture of a rare icy day in Memphis, my hubby staring at the clouds in our old neighborhood.
Below is a picture of the Dixon Art Gallery where I wandered many hours looking at the gardens and the beautiful art inside the old home-turned-museum. My husband and I played gigs here when we had our French band, Tarte Blanche.
Pictured below is Staks. Here's an excerpt from my Holiday Diary: The day after Christmas was a perfect shopping and eating day. Stephanie and I left her house at 7:15 AM and drove to Poplar and Perkins to Staks for breakfast. This place is so cute and though the food doesn't scream gourmet, it was special. The GF cinnamon pancakes were sweet and heavy on nutmeg. The Gouda grits were perfect. The eggs and bacon and biscuit (especially the biscuit) were really tasty. The hash browns would have been delicious if the cook hadn't burned on the edges. Stephanie and I left this place ready to shop. And we did.
Below is the window at Dinstuhl's in Memphis on Poplar across from the Oak Court Mall. It has every homemade candy imaginable. I especially love the coffee prims.
Soul Fish Café pictured below: blackened catfish dip with tortilla chips and fried pickled green tomatoes. Below that is the veggie plate I had for lunch: grilled zucchini, white beans, turnip greens and cucumber salad with a side of cornbread. Heavenly.
Below: Piccadilly Cafeteria- The Piccadilly may not be at the top of your foodie list when visiting Memphis but as a child it was my favorite place to eat with my parents and my Aunt Mildred who lived around the corner from the Poplar and Highland location. It is a cafeteria so you walk down the line of every delicious fried food you possibly could dream of and put it on your tray. As a child my favorites were the rice and gravy, the strawberry shortcake and the blue jello cubes. As an adult I love the fried cod, the coconut pie and every single vegetable offered.
Below is Muddy's Bakery. It is a must-visit place in Memphis. Now there is an additional Muddy's in Cooper-Young but this is the original. You will find at least five cupcake flavors you will never forget. Most people love the chocolate-chocolate (The Prozac) but my favorite is the Classic: vanilla cupcake with chocolate icing. The Grasshopper (chocolate and mint) is unforgettable too. Try all of them!
Below is El Porton, a chain in Memphis and possibly the whole Mid-South. The one at Poplar and Highland is my favorite Mexican joint and the waiters even had a nickname for me: the lady who only orders ONE margarita. Their margaritas tasted medicinal unless you added a lot of lime juice. I preferred the food. The cheese dip was my favorite of all time. The Speedy Gonzalez pictured below is a fast cheap combo of two tacos, rice and beans. I'd order ONE margarita, cheese dip, pico de gallo and pickled jalapenos to go with it. The pollo a la parilla was my favorite meal for about 10 years but then I discovered the chicken nachos. Although Kansas if chock full of great Mexican places, El Porton will always be home.
Pictured below is Mayuri Indian. You have to really know Memphis to know where this gem is. It's at Kirby and Quince. I once taught at Kirby High School when I was very young. When this restaurant moved to Quince from Union Ave I gladly trekked all the way out east to visit the lunch buffet and the Friday and Saturday night buffet. All my Indian favorites in one buffet.
As a Memphian with Celiac I LOVED Oh My Ganache bakery because they have the most delicious gluten-free cupcakes. To me they taste like Magnolia Bakery in NYC.
Below is The Elegant Farmer, a farm-to-table restaurant smack dab in the middle of the University of Memphis hustle and bustle. This place has yummy, fresh Southern food in an old house right on Highland Street.
La Baguette - One of my favorite places in the whole world, my first introduction to French pastries before I ever visited France. A dear friend in college introduced me to it and then I eventually moved right around the corner from it coincidentally. For a while it was the only bakery in town that sold macarons. I would buy these at the end of the year for my French 1 and 2 students. Nam, the owner of La Baguette, is always happy to see me. I love her smile and her high-pitched voice. The Chickasaw Oaks Village Mall is one of my favorite places to walk around in Memphis. It's especially beautiful at Christmas.
In the "north of Summer Ave" neighborhood is the iconic and unforgettable Jerry's Sno Cones. This place has been around for decades and it is crazy popular. Order your sno cone "supreme" and it will have a column of soft serve vanilla ice cream in the middle of it. The grape is the grapest thing you will ever taste and the wedding cake is the most heavenly thing you will ever taste.
Mempops is a great addition to Memphis. The popsicles are delicious and the food truck is so cute!
Los Compadres is a Mexican Cuban restaurant around the corner from our old house in Memphis. I always ordered from the Cuban menu and I always got the same thing: the churrasco with a side of black beans, white rice and two orders of maduros (fried, sweet plantains). The strip steak is seasoned perfectly and topped with pickled pink onions. My mouth is watering thinking about it.
East Memphis is such a great place to eat. Over the Christmas holidays 2016 Stephanie Wilson and I finally tried a favorite breakfast place for Memphians: Bryant's. How in the WORLD did I not try this place sooner than the end of 2016 having lived near it for 13 whole years of my life? Okay, the breakfasts in this place? Amazing. Jumbo biscuits, perfectly prepared eggs and bacon, good coffee, perfectly seasoned potato cakes, delicious hash browns, and jumbo-jumbo size cinnamon rolls. And did I mention everything is homemade? Drive to this place immediately.