Have a Shot at Lisa’s Lunchbox on Poplar Avenue

Baristas Ashley Howell and Mitch Penninger toast a customer with a 1-ounce shot of ginger at the second location of Lisa’s Lunchbox, open since April.

Pamela Denney

I normally don’t drink shots in the middle of the day, but the charming baristas at the new Lisa’s Lunchbox on Poplar were very persuasive.

“Have you tried a shot of ginger?” asked Ashley Howell, holding up a five-inch piece of ginger root and listing its many benefits. “Ginger is a natural energizer, it helps heartburn and digestion, it really does everything,” she enthused. “It’s like taking an adventure with a root.”

Then she ran the ginger through the juicer, filled three plastic iridescent shot glasses, and passed one to me and her co-barista Mitch Penninger. “Cheers,” we said, tossing back our juice in big, single swallows.

So how did I feel after the unconventional drink? Tingly in my fingertips, a little flushed, and definitely more perky, much like a shot of good bourbon without the alcohol buzz.

For the less adventuresome, the second location for Lisa’s Lunchbox offers plenty of other choices for casual fare, all fresh and homemade. Open since April, the restaurant serves a menu similar to its location on Ridgeway Center Parkway, except for breakfast items: soup, paninis, wraps, salads (don’t miss the Baby Blues Spinach Salad with strawberries, Mandarin oranges, grilled chicken, savory pecans, and crumbled blue cheese), and classic lunchtime sandwiches such as pimento cheese, egg and olive, tuna salad, Hawaiian chicken salad, and B.L.T.’s. The menu tops out at $7.50 and also includes specials with sandwiches and sides.

The Poplar location’s impressive selection of juices and smoothies owes thanks to the equipment from the former Love Shack on Walnut Grove Road and the expertise of Penninger, who developed many of his smoothie recipes while working at the Love Shack’s bar.

Owner Lisa Clay, who has operated her original restaurant and catering business since 2007, didn’t know much about juicing beforehand. “But it seemed like a perfect marriage for this location,” she said.

Smoothies are indeed popular, especially the Red Velvet (strawberries, almond milk, cocoa, cashews, banana, molasses, beet juice, and vanilla) and the Almond Joyus (almonds, almond milk, cocoa, banana, coconut, and vanilla). The addition of raw cashews and almonds makes the smoothies thicker, Penninger said.

“The biggest problem people make is that they try to put in too many things in one smoothie,” he explained. “Instead, you’ve got to make a decision and go with it.”

Lisa’s Lunchbox, 5030 Poplar Avenue (901-761-4044) and 5885 Ridgeway Center Parkway (901-767-6465)


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