Cheap bites in Memphis – Memphis magazine


Of the many cities in the country where I have had the pleasure of living, Memphis might just boast of having the best assortment of restaurants. From soul food to fine dining, local chefs and cooks have created dining experiences that turn simple meals into long-standing memories. It’s so tempting, and before you know it, last week’s paycheck went to take away. With the rising costs of the supply chain and the shortage of certain ingredients, all restaurants have been forced to raise prices. But luckily for hungry Memphians, many of our fine establishments continue to offer high quality cuisine without asking you to break the bank. Here are some of our favorite restaurant “budget bites” that help diners save money while leaving the table happy.

There are so many great barbecues to do in Memphis, and each place has its own unique styles and flavors to match the Bluff City hype. But when all you’ve got is a $ 10 bill and some change, a barbecue dish is the way to go. Central BBQ nachos have been a staple for this writer since arriving in Memphis in 2011 with barely a dime under his belt. The half-order of Pork BBQ Nachos, which admittedly saw its price increase to $ 8, remains a full meal in its own right, stacking slowly marinated and smoked pork on a bed of fries, cheese sauce, grated cheese and jalapeños. It’s messy, it’s delicious, and you’ll have your hands covered in sauce before the board is empty. Substitute chicken for pork or add a dollar or two more for turkey and beef, respectively. And for an even more bank account-friendly option, a full order of meatless nachos will cost just $ 6. Central can also swap crisps for fries, but this comes at an additional cost, which is not in the spirit of this guide. (And I mean, come on, these are nachos. Eat them with fries.)

Pop’s Hot Tamales

There’s only one thing on the menu at Pop’s Hot Tamales, but don’t worry – they’re great tamales. A hidden Memphis gem on Park Avenue in Orange Mound, owner Lee “Pops” Crumb sticks to the old adage: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. A small operation, the customers come in and step up to the window. On my first visit, I felt like I was walking through a shimmering veil of heavy seasoning and magnificent spices, with the tamale aroma of a large pot welcoming the diners. These tamales, at the meeting of traditional Latin American cuisine and soul food influences, come in two varieties, hot and sweet (I would prefer the spicy), and are made from beef. It’s only cash, so slip a few bills under the window and Pops will give you a rolled up box of goodness. Unwrapping each tamale releases the heady mix of spices and whips you into Pop’s kitchen, and the corn and ground beef blend into a soft end product that’s far too easy to slice at the same time. The best part? Each tamale costs only $ 2. So, keep it cheap with a few for lunch or stock up for the long haul; if leftovers for days are the long game, Pop’s can sell up to 30 at a time to customers.

Those who live in and around the Memphis food scene are certainly familiar with the name Fabiola Francis, who has served Memphis for over two decades with her restaurant business, Simply Fabulous. With the help of an EDGE Small Business grant last year, she expanded her Jackson Avenue space into Fabiola’s Kitchen, serving breakfast and lunch during the week. Those looking to dine on a budget will be delighted; a quick scan of the full menu reveals a plethora of tasty treats hovering around $ 5. Everything from a BLT to a classic burger to a giant smoked Polish sausage will cost just five cents. A full breakfast combo – two pancakes, two eggs, and two sausages – balances out at $ 6. Meanwhile, a burger combo, turkey or meat combo, and two daily specials will only cost a maximum of $ 8. The beauty of the prices at Fabiola’s Kitchen is the opportunity to personalize meals. Undecided? The possibilities for mixing and pairing extend across the sprawling menu. No need to differentiate between breakfast and lunch if both seem appealing; just order tacos and a cinnamon bun. Heck, invite an extra egg, sausage, or bacon cookie to join in on the fun, while keeping the bill under $ 10.

Antonio Martinez’s version of authentic Mexican food has garnered many compliments since he first opened in Park. After all, the restaurant puts its own stamp on some of the things we love about Mexican cuisine: the chunky pieces of avocado mashed with just enough jalapeño and cilantro in Las Delicias’ famous guacamole; finely diced fish cooked in lime juice to create a sour ceviche mixture; or simmered charro bean soup with chorizo, bacon, ham. Despite all the taste, flavor, and quality of the menu, no matter how fishy you are, it’s impossible to find food over $ 10. Each of Las Delicias’ street tacos is priced at $ 2, which means it’s easy to load up five of pastor’s irresistible tacos, marinated pork sliced ​​with just the right level of spice and featuring a garnish of cilantro, onions and a sweet counterbalance piece of pineapple. On the other hand, just grab a pork chop, chicken, chorizo ​​and gringa tacos. Or limit it to two tacos and grab one of Las D’s burritos or tortas for a more substantial bite, all while escaping with a low bill. Looking to lose the best price? The maximum you’ll shell out is $ 9.15 for three soft-shell corn tortilla enchiladas. I would say that certainly leaves enough room in the budget for a margarita.

The tastes and dishes of Africa are found without even leaving Memphis. Bala Tounkara, who grew up in West Africa before moving here in 2002, opened Bala’s Bistro in Whitehaven a few years ago. The chef learned from the best while cooking in Memphis and received accolades from former boss Kelly English. The restaurant offers a wide variety, with a menu featuring both African dishes and more traditional American cuisine. And if you’re dining on a budget, the Bistro Favorites Combo menu is the place to look. Almost any Tounkara combo dish can be enjoyed for $ 9, with staples like a chicken sandwich, chicken quesadilla, or party wings, alongside classic burgers and philly cheese steaks. And there are plenty of meatless varieties, too: The Bistro’s vegan menu cooks up a medium kimchi wrap, bundling caramelized onions, vegan gouda, cabbage, and Tounkara’s Boom Boom sauce in a spinach tortilla. Each plate is completed with a side dish of fried plantains, homemade fries, sweet potato fries or whole fried okra. If the budget combo options are just the first taste in attracting diners, there’s no harm in coming back to try the (slightly more expensive) West African fusion dishes like Maafe or Peppered Curry Stew. .

The appeal of the Mosa Asian Bistro’s small plate menu has attracted many Memphiens, most notably this magazine’s own Michael Donahue, who featured the restaurant in the Classic Dining column for March 2021. And plenty of dishes appeal to frugal dining. The Pao family, who own and operate the restaurant, have perfected a collection of excellent appetizers using their skills and customer feedback. For a quick and easy meal, pair two of the restaurant’s best sweet and sour creations. “This is the best sweet and sour soup in town,” exclaims Donahue. “I can have a bowl of it and their wontons, and it’s a full meal.” The larger sweet and sour soup bowl option is large enough and uses a secret family recipe from owner Eddie Pao’s mother that balances sugar, black pepper, vinegar, and chili. Steamed sweet and sour wontons mix chicken and vegetables marinated with sesame oil, black pepper, and soy sauce, before being wrapped and tossed in a garlic sauce. That’s a lot of bittersweet for everyone, but the two dishes together won’t break the bank. This “full meal” will only cost $ 12.

While the main stretch of Overton Square has become an upscale hotspot, the modest Kwik Chek, half convenience store and half food counter, is billed as the bastion of affordable and affordable Korean and Mediterranean cuisine. The bibimbap burger is undoubtedly the star of the show. The thin teriyaki beef patty itself plays a supporting role as the traditional bibimbap mix of carrots, cucumber, sprouts, spicy sauce and a fried egg dances happily. But there is a lot to love beyond that. Kwik Chek’s other sandwiches are still delivered, and none are over $ 8. The ninja hoagie is a favorite, the turkey and roast beef dressed in teriyaki sauce and served with a spicy mix of peppers, onions, mushrooms, Swiss cheese. The dragon wrap lives up to its fire-breathing namesake, its tri-fold protein base of turkey, bacon, and ham backed by a spicy habanero sauce. I usually add a container of dolma to complete my order, but don’t sleep on homemade desserts, especially a thick slice of cheesecake or baklava.

Loyalists at this East Memphis lunch spot were dismayed when the restaurant closed during the pandemic. But when Shamira and Brad Wilbanks reopened Sam’s Deli at 643 S. Highland, lunch diners rejoiced. The grocery store is known for offering standard American sandwiches alongside traditional Korean and Indian dishes. Sam’s has its own claim to an exceptional bibimbap bowl, with many iterations set for a price of $ 10.50. Diners can choose from three chicken options, including the Indian-inspired Spicy Fried Spicy “Chicken 65”; other tastes include a base of roast pork or barbecue roast. On the sandwich side of the menu, a gyro pita wraps spicy lamb and beef with lettuce, onions, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce. You can’t miss the $ 8 half-and-half special: half a sandwich with a side of fries or crisps.


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