Tasting the Cuisine of a Rising Culinary Star
Kelly English wasn't named one of Food & Wine's Best Chefs of 2009 for nothing. At his new fine-dining Restaurant Iris, 2146 Monroe Ave. (tel. 901/590-2828; www.restaurantiris.com), French-Creole specialties are as inspired as they are delicious.
Savoring Soul Food
Not far from the Stax Museum, Four Way Restaurant, 998 Mississippi Blvd. tel. 901/507-1519), churns out comforting Southern dishes such as fried catfish, green beans, black-eyed peas and sweet-potato pie.
Agonizing Over Who Has the Best Barbecue
Some favor the dry, spice-rubbed ribs at the Rendezvous, 52 S. Second St. (tel. 901/523-2746; www.hogsfly.com), while others drool over the sloppy-wet, pulled-pork sandwiches at Corky's Ribs & BBQ, 5259 Poplar Ave. (tel. 901/685-9744; www.corkysmemphis.com). With dozens of dives, sit-down eateries, and drive-throughs devoted to 'cue, you could literally eat your way across Memphis to decide for yourself.
Best Spot for a Romantic Dinner
Currents, 50 Harbor Town Square (tel. 901/260-3333; www.riverinnmemphis.com), the fine-dining restaurant at the intimate, European-style River Inn of Harbor Town, is the perfect place to pop the question or to enjoy a superb meal with someone special. The posh decor, gracious service, and gourmet cuisine will help ensure an evening to remember.
Best for Kids
Like Nashville, downtown Memphis has a cavernous Spaghetti Warehouse, 40 W. Huling. (tel. 901/521-0907; www.meatballs.com), that's been a longtime favorite for children. They can dine in an old trolley car while deciding whether to order the burger or a plate of pasta and meatballs.
Best Nostalgic Diner
If you want to feel as if you've gone back in time, grab a booth at The Arcade Restaurant, 540 S. Main St. (tel. 901/526-5757; www.arcaderestaurant.com), a last-of-its-kind downtown institution. Home-style breakfasts, burgers, and pizzas are best bets at this old-school eatery that's anchored this corner since 1919.
Best Soul Food
What Swett's is to Nashville, the Four Way Restaurant, 998 Mississippi Blvd. (tel. 901/507-1519), is to Memphis -- a historic, minority-owned restaurant that makes the best sweet-potato pie, fried catfish, and black-eyed peas you're ever likely to encounter. Always busy, it's a spacious, family-friendly restaurant offering full service (as opposed to the cafeteria format of Swett's).
Best New Restaurant: Up-and-coming culinary star Kelly English wasn't named one of Food & Wine magazine's Best Chefs of 2009 for nothing. At his French-Creole Restaurant Iris, 2146 Monroe Ave. (tel. 901/590-2828; www.restaurantiris.com), located in a Victorian house in Midtown, he presides over unforgettably delectable multicourse meals. Even the leftovers are special, gift-wrapped in pretty boxes tied with gold ribbon.
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