2006 Readers Restaurant Poll Winners

Best Pizza

Gold -- Memphis Pizza Café

Silver -- Old Venice

Bronze -- (tie) Boscos, Fire-n-Stone Pizzeria, and Pete & Sam's

*No contest with the foodies, either. Memphis Pizza Cafe wins easily, though we got several votes for Garibaldi's from our gourmand group. A first for the locally owned gang.

Best Mexican/Tex-Mex

Gold -- El Mezcal

Silver -- (tie) El Porton, Salsa

Bronze -- Taqueria la Guadalapana

*The buzz is great about Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana. Those who've been say the ingredients are the freshest in town, and that the Mexico City Pork Shoulder is not-to-be-missed.

Best Italian

Gold -- Ronnie Grisanti & Sons

Silver -- Ciao Bella

Bronze -- (tie) Bari, Café Toscana

*Ronnie Grisanti wins gold from both sets of voters.

Best Chinese

Gold -- P. F. Chang's

Silver -- (tie) Asian Palace Express, Formosa

Bronze -- A-Tan

*Lobster King easily took this category. The Cleveland Avenue restaurant has won the hearts of our panel, but not yet those of the readers.

Best Japanese

Gold -- Sekisui

Silver -- Benihana

Bronze -- Pacific Rim

*Votes scattered to the four winds for this category. Top mentions are Pacific Rim, Osaka, Sekisui, and Edo.

Best Indian

Gold -- India Palace

Silver -- Mayuri Indian Cuisine

Bronze -- Bombay House

*Everyone agrees: India Palace is the best.

Best Vietnamese

Gold -- Saigon Le

Silver -- Lotus

Bronze -- Pho Saigon

*What takes bronze from the readers gets gold from the panel, as Pho Saigon runs away with this one.

Best Thai

Gold -- (tie) Bangkok Alley, Sawaddii

Silver -- Bhan Thai

Bronze -- Jasmine

*Again, bronze with readers, gold with the panel, as Jasmine wins easily.

Best Home cooking

Gold -- (tie) Blue Plate, Cupboard

Silver -- Patrick's

Bronze -- Dixie Café

*Must be those fried green tomatoes. The Cupboard is a favorite with everyone.

Best French/Continental

Gold -- Paulette's

Silver -- La Tourelle

Bronze -- Café Society

*Erling Jensen The Restaurant was the clear choice from our panel, with River Oaks bringing in a good many votes as well.

Best Burger

Gold -- Huey's

Silver -- Belmont

Bronze -- Earnestine and Hazel's

*The people have spoken. You can't beat Huey's, an easy win in both polls.

Best Steak

Gold -- Folk's Folly

Silver -- Buckley's

Bronze -- Ruth's Chris

*Our panel was torn between Flemings, Ruth's Chris, and Folk's Folly, while readers had no problem ranking our local steakhouses.

Best Seafood

Gold -- The Half Shell

Silver -- Tsunami

Bronze -- Blue Fish

*The Blue Fish reeled in our panel, though Tsunami has a loyal following as well. Guess Cooper-Young's the real winner here.

Best Barbecue Sandwich

Gold -- Corky's

Silver -- The Bar-B-Q Shop

Bronze -- Central BBQ

*Head on over to Central BBQ for the panel's favorite Bluff City staple.

Best BBQ Ribs

Gold -- Corky's

Silver -- Rendezvous

Bronze -- Central BBQ

*The Rendezvous wins this one with a scant few dissenters.

Best Service

Gold -- Corky's

Silver -- Houston's

Bronze -- Rendezvous

*Erling Jensen scores an easy victory in this critical category. What's great food without great service?

Best People-Watching

Gold -- Houston's

Silver -- (tie) The Flying Saucer, Peabody Hotel & Lobby

Bronze -- Grove Grill

*The historic charm of the Peabody Lobby (along with a chance to spot a celebrity or even your mayor in boxing shorts) proves too formidable a foe for the other spots in town.

Best Salads

Gold -- Houston's

Silver -- Café 1912

Bronze -- (tie) Amerigo, Boscos

*Must be those house-made dressings and the accompanying cheese toast -- Houston's is an all-around fave.

Best Latenight (after 10 p.m.)

Gold -- Belmont Grill

Silver -- Huey's

Bronze -- Swig

*Boscos is the panel's latenight spot of choice. Must be the Flaming Stone beer and pizza combination. Perfection.

Best Fries (non-chain)

Gold -- (tie) Huey's, Young Avenue Deli

Silver -- Houston's

Bronze -- Belmont Grill

*A different vote from almost everyone, with favorites ranging from Encore to the Young Avenue Deli. Fries are a deeply personal choice, we know.

Best Outdoor Dining

Gold -- Boscos

Silver -- Café Ole

Bronze -- Stella

*The stately Inn at Hunt Phelan garnered an impressive number of votes. The grounds and historic home-turned-restaurant and B&B are a magnificent setting, we agree.

Best Brunch

Gold -- Owen Brennan's

Silver -- The Peabody

Bronze -- Paulette's

*La Tourelle is the go-to eatery for mimosas and other fancy brunch fare.

Best Breakfast

Gold -- (tie) Blue Plate, Brother Juniper's

Silver -- Perkins

Bronze -- Barksdale

*Brother Juniper ekes out a win by a handful of votes over the Blue Plate.

Best Deli

Gold -- (tie) Bogie's, Fino's

Silver -- Lenny's

Bronze -- Young Avenue Deli

*Bogie's is a clear fave, with no other deli getting more than one vote.

Best Place to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Gold -- La Baguette

Silver -- Paulette's

Bronze -- Dinstuhl's

*Where don't they like to have dessert? Votes all over the map, from downtown's Cheesecake Corner to East Memphis' Lulu Grille. Can you really go wrong with sweets anywhere?

Most Underrated

Gold -- (tie) Half Shell, Mortimer's

Silver -- Jarrett's

Bronze -- (tie) Café Society, Café Toscana

*Jarrett's took the easy lead for our panel.

Best Place to Close the Deal

Gold -- Folk's Folly

Silver -- Houston's

Bronze -- Stella

*Erling Jensen seems to be the favorite handshake and contract spot, with River Oaks a close second.

Worth the Drive

Gold -- Timbeaux's -- Hernando, MS

Silver -- (tie) City Grocery -- Oxford, MS, Madidi -- Clarksdale, MS

Bronze -- (tie) Bonne Terre -- Nesbit, MS, KC's -- Cleveland, MS

*An almost identical restaurant selection from both sets of voters, with the exception of a few votes for Bozo's Barbecue in Mason, Tennessee. One voter suggested Ground Zero in Clarksdale, Mississippi, with the instructions "drive real fast," which we do not recommend. Ever met a Mississippi state trooper?

Restaurant We Miss the Most

Gold -- Justine's

Silver -- Anderton's

Bronze -- Café Samovar

*Justine's will forever be the lost darling of the Memphis restaurant scene, as both groups agreed on the first-place winner. We got one vote for Wally Joe -- so someone had the inside scoop on that in November.

Best Category We Left Out

Gold -- Best Sushi

Silver -- Best Fried Chicken

Bronze -- Best Hot Wings

*No surprise, our food and wine groups want a best Bring Your Own Bottle category, highlighting restaurants that allow outside wine to be brought in for a small corkage fee. We doubt that it's a concern for too many others, though. However, the number of readers clamoring for Best Fried Chicken has been high for the last two years. Look for that category in next year's poll.

Best Upscale Chain Dining

Gold -- Bonefish

Silver -- Ruth's Chris

Bronze -- P.F. Chang's

*We love our red meat around here (heck, any meat, for that matter), and Ruth's Chris took the gold from our panel.

Best Memphis Chef

Gold -- Rick Farmer -- Jarrett's

Silver -- Erling Jensen -- Erling Jensen The Restaurant

Bronze -- José Gutierrez -- Encore

*Erling Jensen nabs the gold , with Wally Joe and Ben Vaughn (River Oaks) getting an equal number of votes for silver.

Best New Restaurant

Gold -- Meditrina

Silver -- Encore

Bronze -- River Oaks

*No contest, as River Oaks wins easily, with no other restaurant getting more than a vote or two.

Best Restaurant

Gold -- Jarrett's

Silver -- Jim's Place East

Bronze -- Paulette's

*And finally, the one we've all been waiting for. And our experts say the winner is . . . River Oaks. They must be doing something right there, as this newly opened fine dining establishment has won the hearts of foodies across the city. Congratulations.

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