Chef Geroy Rachel honed his skills at L'École culinaire in Memphis before opening Royal Flavors, a food truck specializing in smoky barbecued meats. Inside the mobile kitchen, he wraps bacon around chicken legs, flavors pork riblets with a dry rub, and smokes beef burgers to serve on butter buns with provolone cheese and pickles. Smoked cabbage salad or turnip greens with smoked pork round out meals, and slices of caramel cake or strawberry shortcake provide a sweet finish. Diners can take their food to go or eat beside the food truck, where picnic chairs surround a flat screen television.
Situated inside Palladio Antiques & Art, Cafe Palladio satiates guests with a modest lunch menu of casual café fare, including 10 types of sandwiches, fresh salads, homemade soups, and its self-proclaimed “famous peach tea.” Surrounded by antiques, artworks, and decorative furnishings, diners dig into Dixie Delight with vegetables or slabs of moist coconut cake served upside-down or right-side-up at the customer’s request. Free WiFi is also available for lunchtime web surfing.
Offering diners a varying selection of Southern classics and 14 protein-and fruit-packed smoothies, the chefs at Scales Café whip up healthy snacks and filling dishes anchored around farm-raised catfish. A dusting of seasoned cornmeal prepares their signature catfish fillets to swim laps in the deep fryer before emerging triumphantly with either a crispy golden coat or a gold medal. Cajun or ranch spice blends can flavor the fresh fish, or diners can forgo the crispy crust in favor of a grilled or skillet-blackened fillet. Although house-made hush puppies, french fries, and coleslaw accompany most entrees to the table, eight other side options, including velvety mac 'n' cheese and sweet-potato fries, can smother hunger like a mother who cleans her son’s dorm room. Straws plumb the creamy depths of Scales Café's smoothies, which are made from fresh fruits, crushed fruit concentrates, and protein boosts. Each sippable meal is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but steers clear of fat, lactose, and artificial flavors.
Roasted and brewed in-house, Republic Coffee’s global-savvy coffee drinks roll out a steamy rug for sandwiches stacked with smoked meats and soups made from scratch daily. Leafy greens and veggies burst from salads drizzled with just the right amount of dressing, and crostini dive into creamy baths of garlic hummus. The cozy coffeehouse’s doors open as the sun rises to greet diners with fluffy eggs, breakfast sandwiches, and malted belgian waffles. Sleek black chairs and leather booths scattered throughout the interior keep night owls comfy until closing time at midnight, when the overcaffeinated crowd works off excess steam by bouncing against exposed-brick walls.
Though the entrees at The Dixie Cafe make the biggest splash across its menu marquee, they're threatened with gastronomical upstaging by the southern-style eatery's 19 sides and scratch-made gravies. The chicken-fried steak, for example, is a tender, hand-breaded fillet that fully blossoms with flavor only after chefs smother it with cream gravy and cheddar cheese. And the Cajun grilled catfish's down-home taste isn't fully developed until it is paired up with bites of turnip greens, fried okra, or a homemade roll. The classic platter meals take advantage of this by pairing an entree with two sides, rolls, and jalapeño cornbread and can be ordered "light" for a portion that's smaller than the regular size and easier to toss in the air and catch in your mouth.
The Cosmic Coconut indulges cravings with a full menu of specialty vegan smoothies, juices and snacks as well as fair-trade, organic coffee drinks. Futuristic light fixtures and repurposed furniture unite beneath hues of blue and lime green and surround a counter of bowls of fresh fruit, which transform into charming princes or specialty drinks such as the Chimps in Space smoothie with bananas, coconut milk, vanilla, nutmeg, and stevia ($3.50+) or the Grass Roots juice with wheatgrass, carrots, ginger, beets, apples, and chard leaf ($5.50). Embark on digital excursions in the café with WiFi access and a boost of energy courtesy of a café latte ($2.85+) or a Blood Transfusion juice shot, crafted from fresh-pressed wheatgrass and young coconut ($6.50). In addition to straw-centric refreshments, The Cosmic Coconut serves items such as fresh guacamole ($3.99) and apples with almond butter ($4.50) to keep molars from feeling left out.