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.
Back Yard Burgers serves up North American Black Angus burgers hash-marked to order on genuine flame-licked grills. Third-pound patties dress for dinner with lettuce, vine-ripened tomatoes, red onions, dill pickles, and a condimental trio of ketchup, mustard, and mayo ($3.59). Or gussy up for patty prom with premium add-ons such as coleslaw, chili, sautéed mushrooms, bacon, and more ($0.35–$0.60 per topping). The grill masters also flip the first white meat, prepping Hawaiian chicken sandwiches with grilled pineapple, mustard, mayo, and lettuce ($4.09). Away from the flames, feel free to enjoy a loaded baked potato ($2.79) and a wide range of pairable plates such as chili cheese fries ($2.59 for regular size), garden salads ($2.19), and sweetly baked fruit cobblers ($1.99).
Nestled amid the hallowed tomes and thrilling new works at Booksellers at Laurelwood, the team of Booksellers Bistro feeds stomachs alongside the aisles where they feed minds. Diners can try a variety of light, healthy meals including homemade quiche, bacon-wrapped meatloaf, or the braised rib sliders, while early-risers treat themselves to spinach, tomato, and feta omelettes, including a variety of gluten-free options. The Project Green Fork-certified kitchen also follows sustainable and environmentally conscientious practices to keep waste down and conserve energy.
Grawemeyer's in downtown Memphis offers an authentic taste of Germany by way of its loaded menu, lined with traditional favorites. Start off with a giant bavarian pretzel before choosing between the sauerbraten sandwich, made with pot roast and mashed potatoes on toasted german rye, or the gruy?re spaetzle casserole. There?s also a deli counter in the back for fresh cuts of meats and cheeses. The restaurant?s custom-built bar has an extensive collection of wines and imported German beers to complement the menu. And on select evenings, piano music and trivia night spice up meals.
Chef David Johnson and his culinary team create southern comfort fare with a Cajun zing. The menu rotates daily, offering special items such as beef tips with garlic mashed potatoes on Tuesdays and bourbon-glazed peach pork loin paired with mississippi grits on Thursdays. Along with preparing food for dine in, take out, or delivery, the staff also caters corporate events such as employee-appreciation lunches and executive-level food fights.
Much like the musicians that play jazz and soul at B.B. King's Blues Club two floors below, the chefs at Itta Bena Restaurant draw their inspiration from their roots. Using fresh, seasonal ingredients with a focus on seafood and grilled meats, they spin their own contemporary interpretations of classic Southern dishes, especially those of the Delta region. They fill plates with colorful tableaus of chargrilled shrimp over stone-ground grits, bone-in herb-roasted chicken, Maple Leaf Farms duck confit with wild rice waffles, and blackened Gulf red snapper.
The sweet and spicy aromas from the kitchen blend with the decor to create an intimate atmosphere—which Southern Living describes as “speakeasy-inspired”—and a calming center above the Beale Street commotion. Exposed rafters and simple, wheel-shaped chandeliers hang over the closely packed tables. Views of the street are interrupted only by the towering blue neon sign of the venue below. The entire space is cast in a soothing blue light, the result of a subtle window tinting designed to cultivate a laid-back vibe while reminding diners of Eiffel 65, the greatest blues band ever. Though above a music club, the space also hosts its own regular live entertainment from vocalists and guitarists who play jazz, blues, rock, and soul.