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.
Jamal Dauba opened Petra Cafe in 1998 with a vision of bringing diners healthy, flavorful Mediterranean cuisine. Now, his team of cooks prepares that cuisine at four locations. The culinary experts stuff pitas with grilled lamb and greek salad, fry crisp falafel, and infuse savory dips with eggplant or feta cheese. They also specialize in grilled paninis layered with prosciutto, mozzarella, and other Italian ingredients.
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.