Brooklyn Bridge Italian Restaurant

Brooklyn Bridge Italian Restaurant – If you and your spouse have a rare break for a date night and are looking for a quiet place to catch up with each other away from the hustle and bustle of life, then…

This. Is. Your. Place.
Get an appetizer like the Parmesan spinach artichoke dip. Get a glass of Italian wine or a Birra Moretti and enjoy time unwinding and reconnecting. Split an entree like the Chicken Parmesan or the Lasagna and save room for tiramisu or caramel pie.
Of all the places I’ve dined in Memphis, this has some of the best food, most pleasant atmosphere and is low profile enough that you can be comfortable and relax.
Local’s choice: anything + caramel pie

The Ugly Mug

The Ugly Mug is the original local Memphis coffee shop and coffee roasters.  If you’re a Memphian and you like coffee, this is where you get your coffee.  If you’re looking for a great local alternative to the Green Mermaid from Seattle, then swing by the Ugly Mug Coffee shop at Poplar and Perkins to get a latte or a bag of high quality locally roasted coffee.

  The original Ugly Mug was a cavernous hangout near the University of Memphis campus full of used couches.  The new location is a former drive through Fox Photo film developing kiosk.  Its compact with a couple of bistro tables and a bar, but the legacy of great local coffee lives

Pyro’s Fire Fresh Pizza

Pyro’s Fire Fresh Pizza – If Henry Ford had a pizza joint, it would look like Pyro’s.  Their sweet spot is made to order, personal sized, thin-crust pizzas.  All the ingredients are fresh and they build your pie in front of your eyes.  Its like a burrito bar or sub shop, they start with you crust, and give you a choice of sauces, cheeses, meats, followed by a Farmer’s Market worth of fresh vegetables.  Each station has its own attendant, and your pizza comes together in about 2 minutes while you wait in line.  You pay then sit, while they fire your pizza in an oven the size of an industrial kiln.

Typically, I’m not a thin crust guy. I was skeptical that I was going to need to double down since most thin crust pizzas are like a pita chip with sauce and cheese. However, the BBQ Pizza was loaded with enough pulled pork and bacon to carry its own man card.

Oh, by the way, they serve beer too, and they have a few TV’s to keep you in the loop on SEC football developments.

Local’s Choice: BBQ Pizza + the seasonal Wiseacre Beer on Tap

Gibson’s Donuts

Gibson’s is Memphis for donut.  To the Memphian, Dunkin, Krispy Kreme, and all other challengers are second best.  Gibson’s is open 24/7 and in prom season you can find lots of tuxedos and sequins late into the evening as the kids come here for a donut nightcap. 
Special Advisory: If you are from out of town and tasked with bringing donuts for church, work or school, this is the expectation.  All other stores will win you the social equivalent of the participation ribbon. Consider yourself warned. 
Gibson’s offers an excellent variety ranging from standard glazed, chocolate and blueberry to more extravagant red velvet cake and maple bacon.  Yes, I said bacon donut. 
Its real bacon. Its real good.

Local’s tip: After 11, donuts go to 6 for $1.25.  

Local’s choice: Maple Bacon and Red Velvet cake (below)

One and Only BBQ



#1 One and Only BBQ – MLL’s favorite place and a Memphis best kept secret.  It has two locations, and its a relative unknown on the Memphis BBQ Scene.  Everything is good.  Its not a hit on Trip Advisor or Food Network, but when this local wants Memphis BBQ, its where I go.  I’m not a rib guy, but these are the best I’ve ever had.  My wife loves the pulled chicken.  Sweet potato fries, baked potato salad, Memphis Style Brunswick Stew, etc.  The Banana Pudding may be the best in Memphis that wasn’t made by someone’s grandmother.

Brother Juniper’s

Brother Juniper’s – There’s a small, dated home on the south side of the University of Memphis which clings to vestiges of a bygone era when this area was quaint neighborhood instead of the bustling university district. From this modest home, the Koplin family serves breakfast to college students and Memphis power players alike.  The coffee mugs are a mixed bag and the sodas come in a can, but the meals they produce are outstanding.  Everything from breakfast standards to open faced omelets to black bean burritos.  The food here is hearty and excellent.

Local’s Choice: Black bean burrito with hash browns