A Day in the Life of a Memphis Foodie

Memphis magazine Staff

Illustrations by Tyler Hildebrand

(page 1 of 10)


It was the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, when I got a most peculiar phone call from my good friend Jim. We’ve known each other for years, and Jim’s done more than okay in life. Based in Malibu, he’s long been one of Hollywood’s leading agents. Smart guy, except for an annoying tendency to never stop talking...

“Listen, Ken, I need a favor. One of my best clients — a good guy; has a couple of Oscars under his belt — has just landed the lead role in this big film, where he plays an aging mobster. Good role, perfect for him.

“Just one problem; he needs to gain 30 pounds in a hurry. Like in one month...

“So he and I are at the Beverly Wilshire the other night — my client and I are splitting the 34-ounce porterhouse — trying to figure out how best to complete this mission, when I have this great idea. 'Jeez,' I tell him, 'Why don't you go on a dining tour? Go to the five or six cities you like most, eat at the best places in town, and pick up a few calories along the way?'”

I finally stop Jim long enough to get in a word edgewise. “Don’t tell me. Your client loves Memphis.” (Although Jim swore me to secrecy, I know his client has been through town a time or two.)

“Howdja know?”

“Just a good guess. Well, it so happens we've got a script here he can follow!”

“You’re gonna feed him?”

“Not exactly. But we're just about to publish the results of our annual Memphis magazine Readers' Restaurant Poll. So with these in hand, we can set your client up with a one-day dining tour of Memphis, from dawn til way, way past dusk, that he’ll never forget. And yes, it most certainly will pile on the calories! I think this will be just what the doctor ordered. Though I’m not sure any doctor would approve.”

“Not our problem! I’ll book the flight. He’ll gain 15 pounds in Memphis alone! Thanks.”

He’d hung up before I had a chance to say goodbye. Busy man, my friend Jim, just like his client will be if he follows our one-day culinary prescription. — Ken Neill


Breakfast: 7:00 am

Brother Juniper’s

— Best Breakfast Winner—

We’ve heard for years, “Never skip breakfast.” And the crowds at this neighborhood institution near the University of Memphis must take that advice to heart. One recent morning, I elbowed my way to a seat at the counter and ordered from the “Create Your Own Omelet” section of the menu. I’m a fool for Portobello mushrooms and figured red peppers and spinach would add spice (and vitamin K) to the delicious tang and texture of the mushroom. Soon I was tucking in to a tasty and colorful concoction wrapped in perfectly fluffed eggs. The menu offers 16 three-egg omelets, as well as a few of the “open-face” variety. But I like the idea of choosing certain goodies to make the dish my own. Whenever possible, I order cheese grits at breakfast (or any meal for that matter), and you can’t go wrong with Brother Juniper’s zesty version of that staple. The same applies to the service at this friendly family diner named after a cook for St. Francis of Assisi. Brother Juniper's has been run since 1999 by Jonathan and Pauline Koplin and their children, Sarah and Patrick. Don’t be put off by the long wait some mornings. The cheerful bustle of servers and the satisfied smiles of diners — not to mention the excellent eats — make it worth your time.   – Marilyn Sadler


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