Chef Ray Gage stands behind his restaurant’s white-tiled counter, clutching his CB radio microphone like some barbecue chefs might clutch their tongs. The radio is just as crucial to his roadside barbecue business as the slabs of meat roasting in the smoker out back. That’s because Ray advertises to passing truckers via CB channel 16, jotting down orders and delivering them to surrounding truck stops or demolition derbies.
Rays knows his meals must be hearty enough to fuel the bellies of truckers barreling down I-55. To that end, he smokes thick slabs of beef and pork on beds of hickory in the small shack behind his restaurant, and slathers them in sweet, tangy sauce. He then serves hunks of meat with dollops of traditional southern sides, such as baked beans and potato salad.
So far, Dr. Bretta King and her sister Belinda have managed to dodge all of their family's hereditary illnesses. They don't consider this luck—according to the sisters, they have a raw vegan diet to thank for their health. They pay tribute to this lifestyle at Two Vegan Sistas, where they introduce people of all dietary persuasions to the art of vegan cuisine. Eschewing soy, sugars, and genetically modified foods, they've created an 80% raw menu focused on dishes cooked at below 105 degrees. They blend walnuts and almonds with vegetables and spices to make their vegan meats, top sandwiches in vegan barbecue sauce and mayo, and craft entrees such as mediterranean couscous and stir-fried quinoa with vegetables. To further a mission of environmental preservation, they also deliver their food to Memphis-area homes.
Nestled alongside Memphis's famous trolley line, Alannah's Breakfast Kafé serves up a selection of Southern-style eats during breakfast and lunch. Amid casual checkered tablecloths, customers order up plates of chicken over fluffy waffles, catfish and creamy grits, and southern pork chops and eggs with fresh biscuits. As an extension of the family that owns Alannah's, the restaurant hosts family game nights every Friday night, with food specials and door prizes.
Using family recipes that emigrated from Marigliano, Italy, to the United States in 1901, Pa Pa Pia’s fills bellies with flavorful heaps of Italian favorites. Give the brown paper bag a day off and make a midday meal of the meatball sandwich, served on italian bread and topped with provolone cheese ($8–$9), or gently shove a sharp utensil into a small portion of formaggio manicotti, stuffed fat with asiago, parmesan, mozzarella, and provolone cheeses ($6.50–$7). Because teleporters have yet to be approved for civilian use, Pa Pa Pia's uses its pizza, which is grilled over an open flame in traditional Italian style, to transport taste buds across the Atlantic ($8.50–$29). After a dinner of spagettini bolognese ($9–$10) or a sovereign meal of chicken saltimbocca ($14.95–$15), patrons should demand the dessert tray, lay claim to the chocolate-covered ricotta cheesecake ($6), and scan the wine list for illegal words. Though as much produce is sourced locally or grown in the restaurant’s own garden as possible, Pa Pa Pia’s imports its atmosphere straight from Italy, complete with rich yellow walls, rustic booths, and a patio for devouring innocent pastas outside.
Havana's Pilon is named for a Latin American expression that refers to a mortar and pestle, according to the Memphis Flyer. That makes sense, since the eatery's cozy interior is decorated with several mortars and pestles, and they are frequently used in the kitchen, where cooks mash green plantains with olive oil and garlic for shrimp mofongo. Other specialties include Cuban-style rotisserie chicken, tender ropa vieja, and a fried-rice recipe traditionally served in Havana's Chinatown. Owner Marialys Gonzalez and her team also blend tropical-fruit smoothies and sweeten potent Cuban-style espresso with natural demerara sugar.