Wadfords isn’t exactly a bar and grill—it bills itself as a “grill and bar,” and the variation on a familiar formula indicates the neighborhood hangout’s attention to the food as well as the drinks. A team of three chefs oversee the grill, using it to produce juicy burgers, Caribbean chicken, French-cut pork chops, and steak filets, which they refuse to cook well-done. Along with pouring from a diverse wine list, mixologists blend a candy store’s worth of sweet flavors into 17 specialty martinis, including flavors based on Almond Joy bars, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and a mystery blend promising “Jagermeister . . . and other surprises.”
High ceilings and exposed ductwork give Wadfords a bit of industrial chic, but below them is a space designed for community, with long, central rows of tables that make it easy to get the inside scoop on a neighbor’s plate of crab cakes or make sure the bartender didn’t give someone else a bigger wedge of lime. Sports games on TVs behind the bar and, on Wednesday–Saturday, live music curated from around the region provide further avenues for socialization.
From the elegant and elephant-arted confines of their new Southaven restaurant, Bangkok Alley’s Thara and Dottie Burana keep the fresh fish swimming into their lunch and dinner dishes, where they morph into schools of sushi and Thai concoctions both creative and traditional. Starters such as the shrimp hompa—which envelops its shrimp with golden-fried panko and sweet-and-sour sauce ($6)—irrigate parched mouth-deserts to create an inviting climate for the seafood keow han, a mélange of shrimp, scallops, and the fish of the day served in green curry with basil sauce ($20). Otherwise, silence the howls of were-stomachs with heartier fare such as a grilled strip steak and panang sauce served with grilled asparagus and squash ($20), or a panang curry underscored with a coconut base and garnished with chopped Kaffir lime leaf (up to $14 with choice of protein).
With claims to more than 200 first-place trophies and participation in 55 barbecue grand champions, 10 Bones BBQ boasts a menu of comfort-fare favorites crafted by seasoned pit masters. An opener of fried pickles ($7.95) or the sausage-and-cheese plate ($8.95) warms up taste buds before they hit marathon stride over a dish of succulent barbecue. Longing jaws will tear into the tender half slab of grand-champion baby-back ribs, pausing only to take in two sides, such as fried okra or a cup of chili ($17.95). Finger foodies can pair the large pulled-pork sandwich ($6.75) with corn on the cob or french fries, or leave it alone to reflect in a pool of its own palatable juices. A slice of pecan-bourbon or peanut-butter pie helps diners wipe up faces full of sauce before switching seats to start all over again ($3.95).
Situated beneath an arrangement of glowing peach blossoms, couples clink glasses of house sake and white wine together, seated at dark tables that dot the low-lit dining room. At the sushi bar, chefs cut fresh fish into thin slices, draping them over clumps of sticky sushi rice and lining the interior of rolls alongside ingredients such as jalapeño, grilled eel, and spicy mayo. During lunch, diners can enjoy assembled bento boxes stocked with soup and salad, a trio of appetizers, and filet mignon.
At Leelavadee, flickering candles cast a buttery glow on tender morsels of chicken, beef, and shrimp simmering in spicy curries and homemade ginger sauces. Kitchen doors and portals to other dimensions fly open to reveal dedicated servers, their arms lined with plates of crispy duck, salmon steak, and stir-fried noodles. Meals arrive at blonde wood tables surrounded by Thai-style wall art that features elephants and pastoral hunting scenes.
The culinary artisans at Bruster’s Real Ice Cream craft all-American meals and more than 150 varieties of ice cream on-site using fresh, natural ingredients. Dining duos meander into the dairy-scented space to dig into a tubular twosome of Nathan’s hotdogs, which are encased in buns fluffy enough to make cumulus clouds weep with shame. Guests slurp down meaty morsels and fresh french fries with twin sodas before barreling into small cups of artisan ice cream. Frozen desserts tempt chill-receptors with dozens of flavors including sugar-free and fat-free options and seasonal selections such as rum raisin and deep-dish apple pie, a rich concoction of cinnamon vanilla cake crunches and apple swirls suspended in apple ice cream like a flavor-packed lava lamp.
Qdoba Mexican Grill catalyzes culinary creativity through an all-you-can-choose buffet of fresh ingredients ready to be stuffed into tortillas and taco shells by a super-speedy staff of meal wizards. Patrons pick a protein such as grilled chicken, seasoned ground beef, or pulled pork before piling on cilantro-lime rice, slow-cooked black or pinto beans, and a choice of five salsas to yield DIY burritos ($5.99–$7.59) or taco salads piled on a bed of romaine lettuce ($5.29–$7.79). Diners can avoid the stress of decision making or déjà vu of choose-your-own-adventure novels past by taking a pop at one of Qdoba's five signature dishes such as the chicken-crowded ancho-chili barbecue burrito, whose all-natural fowl hog-steps and hoofs it up with mole-inspired barbecue sauce ($6.99). Or sip on the Mexican gumbo, a medley of rice and beans doused in tortilla soup and topped with fresh salsa, cheese, sour cream, and house-made tortilla chips ($6.59–$7.79) that pack in more crunch than an ab workout designed by Snap, Crackle, and Pop.