story and photos by Chellie Bowman
The heat is turning up in Memphis. And while we’re known for our barbeque, that isn’t necessarily what I crave on these long, sweaty summer days. Lucky for us we’ve got some great spots around town offering up some rejuvenating and tasty refreshments. Been toiling away outside doing yard work all morning or working up a sweat (and an appetite) by the pool? Here are some great recommendations for quenching that thirst and satisfying your hunger without weighing you down.
Since I just moved back to town after a six-month stint in New York I had yet to try Maciel’s Taco Shop on Highland. Maybe I shouldn’t have stayed away so long! The Baja Taco—with beer- battered fried fish, mango salsa, cilantro, avocado, and chipotle sauce—paired with an ice cold Topo Chico was the perfect lunch. The patio was great, too—large with plenty of coverage and fans to beat the heat. The friendly bartender working the lunch shift told me all about Taco Tuesdays where they grill $4 elote and tacos out back starting at 5:30pm. She was also kind enough to point out that their happy hour (2:00-6:00pm Monday through Friday) overlaps with this briefly. Happy hour highlights include $4 draft beers, $5 glass/$12 carafe sangria, and a $10 taco, pony beer, tequila shot combo which I intend to check out ASAP.
While I’m far from vegetarian (I’ve tried and failed numerous times), it’s also nice to have a satiating and substantial veggie go-to meal, especially on a hot day. And let’s be honest in Memphis that can be a bit hard to come across—which is why I was so excited to find the Cuban platter from The Liquor Store on Broad Ave. The platter consists of yellow rice, black beans, TO DIE FOR fried plantain wedges and a vegetable of the day (which happened to be a yummy mix of cooked fresh carrots, zucchini, and squash the day I brought my camera). It’s one of my new favorite places to go—love the ambience and the back deck.
Enough with all these savory delights! Sometimes you just need a cold beverage or a frozen treat, which brings us to the more indulgent half of the article. After eating those delectable tacos or that heavenly Cuban platter mosey on down to La Michoacana on Summer Avenue to get dessert. La Michoacana has dozens of different flavors of homemade cream and fruit- based paletas (popsicles)— from pine nut to mango chile to mint chocolate. While most locals know about these amazing paletas, I recently had a life-changing experience when branching out from my normal order and deciding to have my strawberry paleta dipped in fudge, and then topped with shaved coconut and strawberry syrup. It was decadent. It was amazing. La Michoacana also offers other toppings such as pecans, chocolate sprinkles, hard-shell chocolate and rainbow sprinkles. I intend to try all combinations possible. I suggest you do the same.
Railgarten has come onto the Memphis scene full force this past year and for good reason. Its large yard with a music stage, beach volleyball courts, corn hole, and ping pong tables act like an adult playground and offer the area something special, especially during the time of year you want to be out enjoying the weather! The outdoor tiki
bar is a charming feature as well with an enticing menu of well-curated and restorative cocktail drinks, including the Blue Hawaiian, Singapore Sling, Mai Tai, and Carnivale Cooler. And while not from the tiki bar, the Frosé—made with frozen rosé, elderflower extract, apricot brandy, lemon juice, and simple syrup—is also a personal favorite of mine if you’re in the mood for something sweet and deliciously ice cold. Have fun, but cool down responsibly.