Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ride Your Bike to Pancho's

Ride Your Bike to Pancho's
Published June 13, 2017 on the I Love Memphis Blog

Ed. Note: The number one thing I hear when we talk about the Big River Crossing is not the stunning views of the Mississippi. It’s not the awesome architecture. The most popular comment on the topic is always something to do with Pancho’s Tex-Mex restaurant in West Memphis, Arkansas.

I don’t know if it’s because Pancho’s is the first thing Memphians think of when they think of West Memphis, or if we just are obsessed with the cheese dip that much, but it’s true. “Can you ride your bike to Pancho’s?” I hear every time I mention the bike/ped bridge.

Yes, Memphis, you can. And contributor Stacey did it (twice) to prove it. Here’s her take on this great way to enjoy the BRC and our neighbors to the west.

Riding a bike to Pancho’s in West Memphis has basically become a bucket list kind of thing, and I’m here to tell you how to do it.

On my first excursion, I left from my Cooper Young abode, and it ended up being a 20+ mile ride. On my second, smarter ride, my friend, Ashley (who has a bike rack), and I parked over by Loflin Yard. This made the round trip closer to 11 miles.

From Loflin Yard to Pancho’s, I’d say it’s about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your speed and how often you stop to take it all in. Pancho’s doesn’t open until 11 a.m., so there ain’t no use in leaving too early.

Both times I rode my road bike. I think it can be done on a cruiser or any kind of bike, but if you have a choice, I’d take a hybrid or a road bike. Also, don’t forget to take a bike lock for when you get there. And before you leave your house, look in the mirror—are you going to want to walk into a restaurant in your current outfit?

It is definitely not uncommon to see folks in bike shorts and tank tops at the West Memphis Pancho’s; some of them even rode their bikes there. If you want to be fancy, throw a clean t-shirt in your pack.

And lastly, a quick word on the rules of the road for bikers. Ride with traffic and obey all stop signs, red lights, etc. On the bridge, if you are passing pedestrians or other bikers, do so on the left and holler a kindly and clear, “On your left” a moment or two before you do it.

Ok, let’s go!

From Loflin Yard, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump over Riverside Drive to the entrance of the Big River Crossing. The ride over the bridge is glorious. Depending on the time of day and what day it is, there could be a lot of adults, children and their pets enjoying the view, so don’t be in a hurry.

The bridge itself is about a mile in length. On the West Memphis side there is a nice plaza where you can rest, enjoy the view, and wonder about the decision makers who sold a very prominent billboard to Coyote Ugly. There are also porta-potties.

To continue to the Big River Crossing (BRC) trail, you just head down the winding path. I’ll admit that on my first trip, this winding path seemed a little steep and I wondered if I’d ever get back up it.

I did, and you will too. The path takes you down to the parking lot and then to a lovely protected pathway. Just follow the signs.

After a half mile or so, the path ends, you’ll see another billboard—this one for Lawler’s Fireworks, and then you’ll be on a regular road for about a mile. I’ve never once seen a car on the road, so don’t panic. It’s lightly, if at all, trafficked.

The road has some lovely vistas mixed with some weird unkempt areas. There are fields with flowers (buttercups, primrose, red clover, etc.), water features, turtles, and weird things like one of Pee Wee Herman’s old shoes.

Watch for the signs, and make your way back onto the BRC trail that follows along the Interstate. Once here, you don’t have to do much thinking as it will take you all the way. At some point you go under the expressway, and then you’ll see a lovely solar powered covering.

The last little bit, a mile or two, goes along Broadway, which is a pretty heavily traveled road in West Memphis. The path, which is about the width of the Shelby Farms Greenline, is separate and still feels safe. There are several businesses along here, including a couple of motels, should you decide to extend your stay in West Memphis.

The BRC ends with another lovely plaza and official gateway, which just happens to be directly across the street from Pancho’s. Crossing Broadway is probably the most treacherous part of the ride, depending on traffic.

If you’ve never been to the Pancho’s in West Memphis, you are in for a real treat. They have plenty of bike parking, and it’s large enough that you could bring your 100 closest friends. I love the murals, brickwork, decorations, and especially the alcove seating.

The service is quite friendly, the cheese dip is addictive, and the margaritas are strong. Pancho’s is not known for its high-quality cuisine, but the menu is extensive and you are sure to find something you like. Ashley and I went with a light snack of cheese dip, salsa, one-eyed guacamole, chips, and margaritas. That set us back $20 plus tip.

When you’ve had enough fun, just head outside and retrace your steps back to Memphis.

Riding a bike to the Pancho’s in West Memphis is super fun. Riding home, not as much. There’s more of an incline, and you’ve likely got a belly full of cheese dip. Be strong.

Or get a room at the Budget Inn, and check out the West Memphis nightlife before heading back home.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Six Bartenders You Need to Know

Six Bartenders You Need to Know
Published June 6, 2017 on the I Love Memphis Blog

Ed. Note: I Love Memphis has always tried to go beyond the usual suspects for food and drink options around town…to give you more than just the places that show up in a) every tourism article or b) every new hotspot. Stacey does just that in this post about her favorite bartenders around town.

I have a (bad) joke I tell about how my favorite bartender, Adam, will probably be the first to know when I’m dead. I’ve been sitting at his bar every Tuesday for the past decade. He knows what I like to drink, sure, but more importantly, he has my number, and he checks in if I don’t show up. It’s kind of nice.

So, get out there and find yourself a favorite bartender. I’ve got some suggestions (in no particular order).

1 & 2. Sam and Aniece at the Big “S” Lounge (1179 Dunnavant St)

Sam & Aneice at The Big S. Photo by Chip Chockley. Used with permission.

This little juke joint is just down the tracks from Stax. It’s unassuming from the outside, but the inside is full on red glow. Sam, now 92, purchased it in the sixties when he retired from MLGW (after 35 years, 3 months and 11 days).

You can find him dressed to the nines most nights at the end of the bar. His daughter, Aniece, can be found behind it. (If you’re sweet, you’ll probably get a hug from her on your way out.) She says, “As long as Daddy’s alive, he’s gonna be up here.” Therefore, she is too.

Five dollar forties are served with chilled glasses and set-ups come with an ice bucket and tongs. Open Friday to Sunday, plus Tuesday, DJ Quick is usually there spinning records. If not, the jukebox is full of killer sounds. My personal favorite is “I Wish it Would Rain” by the Temptations. It’s guaranteed to get everyone crooning and swaying, including Aniece.

3 & 4. Cliff and Joan at Coletta’s (1063 South Parkway)

Ciff’s signature margarita at Coletta’s.

The bar at Coletta’s is amazing. It actually constitutes what used to be the entire restaurant way back in 1923. It’s small and cozy, and lively AF on the weekends. But don’t worry, even when it’s packed full, they’ll find a place for you to sit.

There’s usually a big game on the TV, and if you time it right, Mr. Coletta will send out big bags of popcorn. I like to sit at the bar, eat pizza, drink margaritas, and make eyes at Cliff. He has a small stature, a big heart, and takes no sh*t.

Cliff at Coletta’s

A retired adjunct Sociology professor at the University of Memphis and LeMoyne Owen, I regret never having taken one of his classes. He’s been manning the Coletta’s bar for twenty plus years, every night except Tuesdays and Thursdays.

When asked what the secret to his margaritas is, he replied, “Tequila – focus on that.” He’s most proud of his version of Sex on the Beach which features vodka, peach Schnapps, orange juice, cranberry juice and grenadine. But, according to Cliff, the most popular drink at his bar is the Long Island Iced Tea. “That’s what I’d drink if I was at the bar,” he says.

Joan at Coletta’s

When Cliff isn’t working, Joan takes the reigns. She’s a little slow to warm up, but she’s always looking out for her customers and she’ll tell it to you straight.

For instance, if it looks like you aren’t in a hurry, she’ll serve you a half pitcher of beer at a time so it doesn’t get all warm on ya. If you really want to get on her good side, ask her about her empowerment crystals.

5. Keith at Blues City Cafe (138 Beale Street)

Keith’s Tropical Ecstacy at Blues City Cafe

After avoiding Beale Street for the last decade under the guise of it being too touristy, I have learned the error of my ways. There are some really cool bars, and the quality of the live music on any given day is mind-blowing.

Blues City brings in its fair share of tourists, thanks to the food and tunes, but Keith is the guy bringing in the locals. He’s a trip. He can whistle louder than a freight train, he’ll call you babydoll and you’ll like it, and he plays a mean air guitar.

November will mark four years for him, and many may remember him from TJ Mulligan’s. Once I asked him about the Fried Chicken Chopped Salad, and he said, “The salads here have a lot of lettuce,” as though it was a bad thing and expertly steered me to the gumbo fries.

Keith at Blues City Cafe

When it comes to drinks, he’s typically slinging beers, but he can make whatever you want. His signature cocktail is called Tropical Ecstasy. “I made it up for women who don’t know what they like to drink,” he said. “It’s fruity and tropical tasting.”

The base is Absolute Mandarin and does indeed taste fruity and tropical. It’s also super strong, but best of all, you can even it get it to go like you’re in New Orleans.

6. Mark at Mortimer’s (590 N. Perkins)

Mark at Mortimer’s

Mortimer’s is known as the Berclair Country Club, and has quite a few regular “members.” The bar is a horseshoe, and narrow enough that you can talk to the people on the other side. Mark has been behind the bar since the nineties, and he’s about a nice as they come.

Exhibit A: He brings a big bag of Peanut M&Ms Monday through Friday and divvies them up in shot glasses for his customers.

Exhibit B: He takes pictures of the smiling faces he sees each night and puts them up on a humongous bulletin board lining the North wall of his bar.

Exhibit C is the kicker. One of his regulars, a retired Marine who is now 82, used to come in every day between 3-5pm. About nine years ago, it got too hard for him to walk home, so Mark started picking him up on his way in, and someone else gives him a ride home.

A few years later, the retired Marine got sick and quit drinking, but Mark still brings him up to the bar to see his friends. (Mark also takes him grocery shopping twice a week, and even to doctor’s appointments.)

What are your favorite bars and bartenders around town, and why? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Full Circle Sunday

Published in the Spring 2017 issue of Edible Memphis

I love a good brunch, but I’ve discovered that Sunday in Memphis sometimes requires a cool adventure to go along with something great to eat.

First up, church — but not just any church — Al Green’s church. Founded in 1976, The Full Gospel Tabernacle is about a fifteen-minute drive from Midtown, just a bit further down the road from Graceland. The congregation is more than welcoming, as tourists and music loving locals are frequent visitors to the Sunday service. Bible study/Sunday School starts at 9:45 am in the chapel, and the morning worship begins at 11:30 am. Reverend Green usually arrives at noon.

Sometimes Rev. Green is in a colorful robe and sometimes he’s in a suit and sunglasses, but don’t expect him to bust out any of his top 40 hits — it’s not a concert. Don’t worry, he will most assuredly break into song with a seven-piece band (drums, piano, guitar, bass, keyboard, bongos, maracas) and colored-coordinated choir ready to join in and back him up.

There are no bibles (I’m guessing they’d get snagged under the guise of souvenirs), but each week there’s a lovely program with the day’s events. Last year, I visited the church for the Reverend’s birthday celebration as well as the 40-year anniversary of the church’s founding. Though it seems there is always something to celebrate, the Reverend takes his job very seriously. One week he told us that President Obama invited him to come to the White House to sing “Love & Happiness,” but he had to decline since the event fell on a Sunday.

Depending on his mood, the Reverend may preach from one to two hours. He typically has an inspiring message, with a few tales from his childhood. (As to the election, he said, “Let God lead the way.”) There’s some praying, a little dancing in the aisles, and a plenty of “amens.” It isn’t uncommon to see people leave before the service is over, but be sure to stay for the collection. Everyone tithes, and that should include you.

Once you nourish your soul, go ahead and nourish your belly. On the way, do a little drive-by to see where Al Green recorded many of his hits. Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios is one of the oldest, continuously operating, recording studios in the world, and is home to the famed Hi Records. Across the street is Hattie’s Grocery where tamales are made fresh every day. Made from beef and wrapped in paper, the Delta-style tamales are meant to be eaten like popsicles (or yogurt tubes). Get a dozen to go — half mild and half hot — for later.

Stop at The Gay Hawk Restaurant for the lunch buffet (11 am–5 pm) — it features soul food favorites like fried chicken, greens, yams, and peach cobbler. Owned by Louis Bobo, his daughter, Terica, is the woman running the show both inside and outside the kitchen.

Now a sit down restaurant, The Gay Hawk used to have an awning out front. Cars would park and waitresses would come out. Charlie Pride met his wife here and Ike Turner was once a regular. Today the focus is on making good food and treating customers like family.

Terica says when she cooks, she “puts a big toe in it,” meaning she gives it her all and uses a lot of love. The food is authentic and made from scratch. “We don’t just open a can,” she says. Sometimes when the food is gone, she locks the door and lets the customers stay until she’s ready to go home. “The customers make me feel like I’m at the house. They sit all day,” she says with a smile.

Sit and visit awhile, then make time for a nap. Once it’s dark, it’s time to hit the Big S Lounge and start sinning and cutting up again.

This little juke joint is down the tracks from Stax. It’s small, dark, and sparkly thanks to the red twinkle lights. Sam Price, now 92, purchased it in the ’60s when he retired from the Post Office. You can find him most nights dressed to the nines, at the end of the bar. His daughter, Aniece, can be found behind the bar (chances are, she’ll give you a hug). Forties are served with chilled glasses and set-ups come with your very own ice bucket and tongs.

The Big S doesn’t serve food, but they don’t mind if you bring some in. (This is where the tamales come in.) Don’t worry about a thing, not even your car. Dave Brown (not the weatherman) will watch it for you. Bring cash and tip big. And as Mr. Brown told me, “When you watch the news and they talk about South Memphis, remember there’s good people here too.”

More often than not, DJ Quick is here on Sundays and he’s sure to get you onto the dance floor, most likely by way of Al Green’s music. (In his absence, play it on the jukebox.) When you are out there swaying to “Let’s Stay Together,” you’ll know you’ve come full circle.

If You Go:

Full Gospel Tabernacle
787 Hale Road

Royal Studios
1320 Willie Mitchell Boulevard (at Lauderdale)

Hatties Tamales
1293 Willie Mitchell Boulevard
3576 Kirby Parkway

The Gay Hawk Restaurant
685 S. Danny Thomas Boulevard

Big S Grill
1179 Dunnavant Street

Meet the Maker: Tad Pierson

Published in the Spring 2017 issue of Edible Memphis

Tad Pierson’s imagination has always been inspired by the Highway. From early road trips with his grandfather in a 1950 Buick Roadmaster, to countless desert expeditions in pickup trucks, all the way through to his current occupation as a tour guide driving a 1955 Cadillac around Memphis and Mississippi, Tad appreciates the curve and the chrome of vintage Americana. The Road and all the objects strewn along its path are his source of inspiration. It was no great leap to move artistically into the realm of tire painting.

What inspires your work?

I’ve always appreciated the work of Howard Finster in Georgia, Simon Rodia and his Watts Towers, Dr. Bob in New Orleans, Jimmy Descant and his rocket ships — people who take the detritus and casual remains of our existence and turn them into beauty. The raw material for an artist to work with in the 21st century is the material that is most abundant — the discarded and the abandoned. I suppose some of it started with Red Grooms, Jaspar Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg. Warhol had a lot to do with it. But also the unnamed rural artist selling homemade weather vanes at the county fair has left a fingerprint on my psyche. I’ve been inspired by all of that.

Favorite thing about being a maker?

To be surprised by my own creations. It’s often the case I will begin a piece with a solid image in mind of what I want the outcome to be. In some ways I feel I have very little control over the final look of the tire. Once the paint starts to go on and the tread formation and distressed nature of the tire emerges, then the piece takes on a life of its own. Whatever theme might develop is often inspired by the work itself. That’s my chance to encounter the mysterious as I move along my path.

How does being a maker help you look at other artisan products?

I consider myself first and foremost a craftsman, a blue collar artist with a work ethic. I like to work with my hands. I believe any artist at the base of their work has to be good with their chosen tools. When I observe other artists’ work, I look at the skill that went into the construction of the piece. I might like the statement the piece may make, but for me, the quality of the craft is important. I know there are long hours of solitary work and concentration in an under-heated studio where hope is often at a minimum. If executed well, that struggle and overcoming and accomplishment will become a part of the piece. And it will show.

Outside of your work, do you “make” anything else?

I’m an entrepreneur. I’m an inspired inventor. I don’t have a normal “home” life. I live in a large warehouse of a building that is my studio, my indoor trailer park where I sleep, and my garage for my tour vehicles. So there really isn’t a life “outside of my work.” When I hit the floor in the morning with a cup of coffee, I’m in my space — an architect of one’s own life. There’s plenty of room for my imagination to move around. I have ideas, I experiment, and I follow through. I’ve created and marketed a bloody mary mix called Memphis Mary. I’ve created souvenir ideas such as the King’s Collar — a paper replica of Elvis’s 70s collars. You could say I’m always on the make.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned?

Stay true to your Muse.

What was the first thing you made?

In regards to my efforts in tire painting, my first piece was a simple white lettering of misspellings that created a pun — “NO FISHING ALOUD” — a bit of rural humor if you will. After that I immersed myself quickly and fanatically in the construction of fairly large scale assemblages of shredded tires and tire shards that I would find along highways while out “tire hunting.” In keeping with my appreciation for craft and skill I began to design and create more usable and practical pieces that were functional yet artistic — tire chairs, tire trash cans, large lobby settees, and garden planters. I do graffiti tires with slogans that hang from chain link fences. I have a new line of tire ties and fashion (trashion) accessories. And of course each holiday season lends itself to the decorative arts: Christmas wreaths and trees, Fall cornucopia displays, St. Valentine Tires of Love, anywhere a splash of contradictory color can add to the scene.

What are you regularly making?

I take orders. I like commissions. But on a regular basis I am in my studio thinking of and working on prototypes.

Top sellers?

My two top selling items are my Tire Chairs, of which I have several designs. And my Tossit Tire Trash Cans.

New products?

In addition to my standard line of orders and commissions, I am constantly imagining and making prototypes that often emerge as great hits. A recent example is the Tire Tie. Made from bicycle tires, it is fast becoming a local fashion craze.

Where can we see your work around town?

My designs are currently sold exclusively through my own studio and gallery, Tire Art Design. Many of my Tire Chair designs can be seen in private homes and personal collections. The ubiquitous Tossit Trash Can can be seen in places of business in the Edge District, bars such as the Dirty Crow, and on display at numerous BBQ events around town.

Tire Art Design



Art is available for sale through the artist’s studio.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Eat This: Le Delights Banh Mi and Pho aka The Return of Saigon Le’s Veggie Spring Rolls

Eat This: Le Delights Banh Mi and Pho aka The Return of Saigon Le’s Veggie Spring Rolls
Published April 5, 2017 on the I Love Memphis Blog

Ed. Note: I’m happy to bring you this blog post from ILM contributor and Memphis foodie Stacey Greenberg.

Look who I found! Tuyen Le, the amazing woman who worked at Saigon Le in the Crosstown neighborhood, is now at Le Delights Banh Mi and Pho in Cordova. For those of us who have been in mourning since Saigon Le burned down in 2016, this is excellent news.

I’ve been twice now, once with friends and once with my monkeys & my mom. I’m here to inform you that if you live near Le Delights, you’re lucky, and you don’t live nearby – you have a very good reason to drive to Cordova.

Le Delights is located in the old Osaka space, and has the same owners. Despite being in a strip mall, the inside feels airy and bright. Everything seems nice and new, and the layout and decorations are lovely. You’ll find it on Macon Road at Germantown Parkway, near the Cordova Malco.

They don’t serve alcohol, but they do allow you to bring in your own. As far as drinks go, they offer energy drinks with chia, tea, coffee, and smoothies. They also have my favorite, salted lemonade, which is made with fermented lemons.

Tuyen isn’t officially cooking at Le Delights, but her famous Saigon Le vegetarian egg rolls are on the menu, listed as Le Delights Vegetarian Roll. Made with tofu and vegan ham, they are just like you remember. They come served with a plate of greens for wrapping (cilantro, basil, etc.) and tangy dipping sauce. (I don’t exactly know what vegan ham is, but I dare say it tastes like meat.)

The appetizer section also features an amazing selection of specialty wraps and rolls. We couldn’t resist the beef jerky roll with shredded green papaya, shredded mango, and shredded beef jerky. Yes, beef jerky. But it wasn’t tough at all. Wrapped in rice paper with rice noodles and peanuts, it was tangy and delightful.

As the name suggests, Le Delights specializes in banh mi and pho. Let’s talk about the banh mi first, which is basically the Vietnamese version of a po boy. Served on French bread, it comes dressed with cucumber, green onion, and (deseeded) jalapeno peppers. There’s a salad of pickled carrots and daikon, fresh cilantro, celery, and two sauces on the side for fancying it up.

There are two pages of banh mi to choose from on the menu, including the original (steamed pork, pork sausage, ham & pork pate), spicy stone grilled short ribs, filet mignon, chargrilled lemongrass chicken, pan seared fish patties, and a vegan option with taro root and tofu.

I’m going to be honest, sometimes the pork pate on the original banh mi weirds me out, so I was happy we tried the more palate-friendly chargrilled lemongrass chicken. Oh my, yum. I may have found the world’s most perfect sandwich.

Hiding on the bottom of the banh mi section is Le Delights Bao Tacos. That’s right, tacos made with steamed buns (bao). They come in threes and you can mix and match meats–honey glazed pork, grilled beef short ribs, lemongrass chicken, roasted pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, and vegan ham. The tacos are massive and would be enough on their own to get anyone full. They do not come dressed, but the same sauces and sides that accompanying the banh mi are there for the taking.

Ok, now for their other specialty, pho. I am not a pho fan, but my oldest monkey is. He begged me to let him get the Kobe beef pho (at market price), but I talked him down to the filet mignon. It came in a huge bowl with all the fun fixings on the side and was spot on. He, and soon his brother, made sure there wasn’t a drop left. If you are craving pho, Le Delights is an excellent place to get your fix. They have vermicelli bowls too.

Over my two visits I also got a chance to try a few of the stir fries–the tofu, the chicken and the lemongrass shrimp. They were all colorful thanks to an abundance of veggies–bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, onion and bok choy. The sauces were not overpowering and they seem like hearty, healthy options.

And finally, there’s dessert. They have a number of sundaes and my crazy friend ordered one with durian because she once had a durian popsicle she liked. Let’s just say that durian is not for everyone. This fruit is known for its super stinky smell and even stinkier taste, but in its defense, it is considered a delicacy in many Asian countries.

Tuyen made sure we really wanted the durian and offered to take it out, but my crazy friend persisted. It was…how shall I say it? Yuck. My other friend said it tasted like the ear medicine her mother gave her as a child. But! We were able to eat around the durian and enjoy the coconut ice cream, avocado, whipped cream and whatnot.

If durian IS your thing, please note that there is also a durian smoothie on the menu. Personally, I would recommend the avocado smoothie which is the big seller, and actually delicious.

After the durian disaster, Tuyen brought us a big plate of fresh fruit to cleanse our palates because she’s a sweetie. The pineapple, blood orange and papaya were a welcome treat. (On my second visit, Tuyen brought us a treat of tasty fried wontons.)

She really wants to open her own restaurant in Midtown, but until then, Tuyen is enjoying seeing her midtown customers at Le Delights. She says if you catch her when it’s not busy, she’ll cook up whatever you like. She works Thursday to Sunday, but any day is a good day to eat at Le Delights as they are open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (and 10 p.m. on weekends).

There are plenty of vegetarian and some vegan options.

Go There:

Le Delights Banh Mi and Pho
8095 Macon Road
Cordova, Tennessee 38018



Saturday, February 11, 2017

Meet Dave the Bagel Guy

Published on the I Love Memphis Blog
February 11, 2017

Meet Dave The Bagel Guy

Ed. Note: Bagel lovers, search no more for your Memphis fix. Contributor and Memphis food expert Stacey Greenberg has the scoop.You’ve probably been seeing some fresh faces on the I Love Memphis Blog. Be on the lookout for even more this month. – Holly

Apparently Memphians have been jonesing for a really good bagel.

David Scott, 26, moved to Memphis from Portland, Oregon in October of last year. He started “Dave’s Bagels” shortly after and has basically been making bagels (by hand!) around the clock ever since.

“Honestly, bagels were always my favorite breakfast food,” says Dave, who was born in New Jersey. He spent a few years backpacking across the country and had trouble finding the bagels he was used to growing up. “I couldn’t find anything good past sourdough on the West Coast,” he says.

Dave decided to try making bagels himself, thinking ‘How hard could it be?” Well, it turns out it was a lot harder than he thought. “I’ve been tweaking my recipe for three years,” he says. “In Portland, I had a Jewish friend from Brooklyn who was my official taster. One day, she told me I had something good and that I should sell them.”

But in Portland, bagels were just a hobby, since it’s an expensive place to live and Dave was busy making ends meet. But once he got to Memphis, he says he didn’t want to do anything else.

“I made a home batch of 50 bagels and went around town to grocery stores and bakeries and passed them out,” he says. “I had my number on the bag.”

His last stop was the Curb Market. “Pamela [the manager] is gluten free, but her staff loved them. She told me to get a business license and come back,” says Dave.

What makes Dave’s bagels so special? Well, he’s got trade secrets he can’t divulge, but says the overnight fermentation is key. “There are some chemical reactions that happen in there to create great natural flavors,” he says.

Dave has seven varieties of bagels (plain, everything, sesame, poppy, cinnamon raisin, cinnamon apple, and chocolate chip), and the “everything” is the most popular. He started selling them at the Curb Market on Sunday, November 6th. He sold them every Sunday through December, and thanks to growing demand, began selling them on both Saturdays and Sundays in January.

Making 200-400 bagels by hand each week is no easy feat. (His goal is 500-1000.) Dave works out of a commercial kitchen near the Trolley Stop Market and puts in 8-10 hour days. He keeps a steady pace dividing, weighing, and forming the dough, repeating that cycle for hours and hours. “I can do two dozen an hour by hand. I love doing it. I put my head down and go. Time flies,” he says.

Dave has also inadvertently gotten into the pretzel business, sort of. “Davin from Wiseacre contacted me and asked if I ever experimented with pretzels. I said no. He said he had and it wasn’t too different from making bagels. So, I got some spent grains and played around,” he explains.

Davin loved what he had made, and now Dave will be serving fresh hot pretzels at Wiseacre’s Febtoberfest on Saturday (that’s today folks – Feb. 11!) when he’s done at the Curb Market.

Depending on how they sell, or if they attract buzz, Dave may consider devoting some time to regularly making pretzels. As business booms, he’s deciding whether to hire an employee and hoping to someday be able to invest in a $4300 bagel former. “I had no idea it would happen this quickly. Apparently Memphians love bagels. I guess it’s a thing. I owe Memphis a lot,” he says.

The Curb Market is temporarily closing, so Saturday, February 11, will be his last day there until they reopen in Crosstown in May. Then he will sell his bagels every day. In the meantime, he will be selling them at Otherlands, and hopefully a few other coffee shops in town. Come summer, he will be at the Memphis Farmer’s Market.

Find Dave this Saturday, February 11th:

Curb Market (596 Cooper St.), 10:30am-noon.
Wiseacre Brewing Company’s (2783 Broad Avenue) Febtoberfest 1:00-10:00pm


P.S. Dave says his bagels paired with Tom’s Tiny Kitchen pimento cheese is pretty magical.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Memphis Late Night Guide

Published on MemphisTravel.com
February 2017

Memphis Late Night Guide

You’re on vacation. You don’t have to go to bed at 10:00pm. Why would you when there’s still so much to do? Here are our picks for the best late night fun in Midtown and Downtown.


Most of Beale Street stays up way later than the rest of the city and has the added bonus of allowing you to walk from place to place with a drink in hand (the only place in Tennessee to allow this). Take a stroll from one end to the other and see which places are hoppin, as it varies from night to night.

The Blew Note, across from The New Daisy, is closest thing there is to a real deal juke joint on Beale. Handy’s Blues Hall also feels authentic and original. (Check out the McDaniel band on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.)

The Tap Room is a down and dirty saloon if you wish to imbibe. People’s has the nicest, biggest pool tables in town. Rent one by the hour or pay as you go on a regular size table. (They also have a vending machine full of chips, candy, cigarettes, aspirin and dice, among other things.)

Live music and eats can also be found in other parts of downtown, too. Heading south from Beale, the legendary Earnestine & Hazel’s is known for its soul burgers, jukebox, and ghost stories. (Depending on the night, there is live music and/or free pool.)

The newish Loflin Yard is the place to be, especially when the weather is nice. It’s like a park that serves pitchers of beer, handcrafted cocktails and wine by the bottle. Their coach house often has live music and the upscale menu features mostly grilled items. The Dirty Crow is downtown’s newest dive bar. It features a great patio, crowd-pleasing chicken wings, and live music on weekends.

Downtown central has a couple of great neighborhood bars with great food—Bardog (a smoking bar) and the newly opened speakeasy-like Belle Tavern. For dancing, Paula & Raiford’s Disco is a revered Memphis institution which really doesn’t get going until 11:00pm. Don’t let the line down the street deter you. It moves fast and the party inside is worth it - think fog machines, twinkle lights, white leather couches, and a live DJ. (Also, if it’s crowded, paying a bit extra for the VIP area is suggested.)

For more soulful sounds and slower dance moves, head to Memphis Sounds Lounge in the basement of the Econo Lodge. Known for cool jazz and hot blues, it’s a fun, intimate spot for live music.

In Victorian Village, Mollie Fontaine’s is the go to. Official hours are “5:00pm til the spirits go to sleep,” Wednesday through Saturday. The entire house is beautifully decorated, dark, and cozy. The downstairs features a piano and a large bar. Upstairs is a series of smaller rooms and a small bar (that allows smoking) with adjacent livingroom-like seating. Things can (and do) get a little wild.


Overton Square entertainment district is one Midtown option for the after party. It doesn’t go nearly as late as Beale Street, but there are a few late night gems to try. Dodici, located inside and above Bari Ristorante, is a super snug and exclusive bar that only seats twelve. The bartender, Vincent Hale, has been given free reign to make the fanciest, most complicated cocktails in town. He’ll stay as long as people are ordering drinks. Robata serves ramen and other Japanese delights until midnight Monday-Saturday and Local’s kitchen doesn’t close until 3am, seven days a week.

Just south of Overton Square is the Cooper-Young neighborhood, filled with an eclectic mix of restaurants and bars. Slider Inn (a smoking bar) has your patio needs covered, year round. They serve sliders, fries, nachos, lobster rolls and the like until 3am. Bar DKDC has live music almost every night and is a solid bet for late night fun. It’s not the biggest bar in town, but it definitely provides a bang. Around the corner, the much roomier Young Avenue Deli features live music, pool tables, and full service late night dining and drinks.

In Crosstown, the Hi Tone is the go-to, especially if you want to rock. They have live music nearly every night, usually starting at 10pm. There’s a separate smoking bar and a smaller room in back for intimate affairs. Food depends on who sets up outside, but is typically some kind of barbeque.

In VECA, Wild Bill’s is a must for the juke joint experience. Locals and tourists alike fill the communal tables. Beer is served in 40s with extra cups or you can BYOB and get a set up. The house band, led by Ms. Nikki, plays from 11pm-3am on weekends. Bring cash and plan to chat--and dance--with all of your new friends.
Down the road, Alex’s Tavern (a smoking bar) is known for its Greek seasoned burgers, jukebox, and extra late hours. If you wanna keep the party going all night, this is the place.
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