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Go Eat: 10 New Must-Eat Memphis Foods

The Commercial Appeal

If you're in Memphis as a tourist, you probably just want to know where to find the best barbecue.

But if you're here for keeps, you'll want to check out this new menu of top local foods compiled by the Commercial Appeal's food writer Jennifer Biggs, along with reporter Michael Donahue. 

The full story, available online today (for the paper's subscribers) or in print tomorrow (Sept. 20) is called "100 More Things to Eat in Memphis Before You Die."  It's the second year Biggs has compiled the list, and this year's items are entirely different than the previous 100. 

So if all the usual suspects have been disqualified from the contest -- say, the Earnestine & Hazel Soulburger, the Tsunami sea bass, and Gus's fried chicken -- what, exactly is left?

Click the audio above to hear Biggs talk about what it took to make this list... and keep scrolling to feed your eyeballs with 10 of her favorites.

10. Cheeseburger at Jack Pirtle’s, multiple locations. Biggs calls this greasy, salty handful of meat one of the "best kept secrets in town," thanks to Jack Pirtle's being known primarily as a chicken joint. Plus, "at Jack Pirtle's you get crinkle cut fries and gravy to dip your fries in."

Credit Christopher Blank

9. Labnah at Mediterranean Pita Sandwich & Grill, 4514 Summer, 901-552-5296. Like hummus, this yogurt cheese is served on a plate, topped with olive oil and served with pita. Biggs says it makes a great dip for a night of Middle-eastern cuisine.

Credit The Commercial Appeal

8. Huitlacoche at El Palmar, 4069 Summer, 901-323-0363. It's pronounced Wheet-la-co-chay, and it's made of a blue fungus that grows on corn called corn smut. The huitlacoche is sautéed with corn and onions, topped with cheese and grilled as a quesadilla.

Credit The Commercial Appeal


7. Cheeseburger at River Oaks, 5871 Poplar, 901-683-9305. Chef Jose Gutierrez grinds his own meat and put the bacon inside the burger. "So much better than bacon on top of the burger," Biggs says.

Credit River Oaks

6.  Fuul at Derae, 923 South Highland, 901-552-3992. This dish, found at at the small Ethiopian restaurant on Highland, is made with Fava beans cooked with garlic, onion and peppers and topped with powdered chili, onions, sour cream and an egg.

Credit The Commercial Appeal

5. Sweet Magnolia ice cream at High Point Grocery, Miss Cordelia’s, Oak Hall and other local stores. Biggs says this ice cream, which goes for $8 a pint, is entirely worth it. "When we tasted this ice cream," she says, "we decided to expand our list to include a few things if they are locally made that could be purchased in a local grocery store." A family in Clarksdale makes this handmade ice cream.

Credit The Commercial Appeal

4. Molcajete at Bucanas, 4522 Summer, 901-249-8603. Served in a big stone bowl, this dish includes shrimp, chorizo, chicken, beef, nopales (sliced cactus leaves), grilled onions and peppers, and topped with cheese sauce.

Credit The Commercial Appeal

3. Barbecue shrimp at Restaurant Iris, 2146 Monroe, 901-590-2828. "It's not on the menu, so you might not have known you can get fantastic shrimp, and you can get it anytime you want it," Biggs says of this appetizer by chef Kelly English, slathered in Cajun spice.

Credit The Commercial Appeal

2. Steelhead trout fish tacos at Elwood’s Smoke Shack, 4523 Summer, 901-761-9898. These are "completely unlike any other fish taco you have ever tasted," Biggs says. The prime ingredient is smooked steelhead which Biggs says is more akin to salmon in taste. It's served in a flour tortilla with melted cheese, creamy horseradish, and fresh salad greens and tomatoes.

Credit The Commercial Appeal

1. The Missoura, or pork belly sandwich, at Hog & Hominy, 707 West Brookhaven Circle, 901-207-7396. Fried crisp and topped with arugula, sliced fennel and salsa verde, Biggs says this "might be the best sandwich in town at present." 

Credit The Commercial Appeal

Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher has covered Memphis news, arts, culture and politics for more than 20 years in print and on the radio. He is currently WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.