Thursday, July 11, 2013

Memphis Nosh: Dishcrawl Memphis (North of Beale Downtown)

Last night I went downtown with Kirby and her aunt to Dishcrawl.

I actually wasn't going to go to this one. I thought I might be out of town, and then just procrastinated until the tickets were gone. Then one of Kirby's friends couldn't go, and offered me her ticket, so I got to go after all! (And hope you feel better Amanda!)

So the last one I did was Overton Square, which I loved. We hit Chiwawa, Boscos, Le Chardonnay, and Local on the Square, and it was a great experience. Basically you pay $40-$45 and that covers small plates at 4 restaurants. Drinks are extra at each place, but many places have Dishcrawler drink specials, and last night I just had water since it was a billion degrees out, so that's even cheaper.

Dishcrawl is a nationwide thing, but Memphis is a little unique in that we have a full-time person, Kim (who is one of the nicest people I've ever met - hi Kim!) so we have a ton more events. Coming up there's a Cooper-Young Chef's Choice (sold out) and the Downtown "Neighborfood" which benefits House of Mews. Kitties! Snuggles! Food! KITTIES!


One of the most interesting things about Dishcrawl is that you have no idea where you're going. You get an email that day that tells you where to meet, so you know the first restaurant, but that's it. Then you walk to the other places.

I'm not a picky eater, but I do have definite food aversions (beans...ugh...vomit - I have some pretty severe texture issues with food) and dislikes (citrus flavored desserts, which everyone but me and Kirby seem to absolutely love), so I was a little nervous. I can honestly say, though, that I have yet to go someplace that I couldn't eat anything. I've not liked things, or, in the case of a particular olive tapanade, just not been able to bring myself to eat something with that texture, but there are always other things on the plate I like.

So where did we go?

We started at Automatic Slim's. I had never been before, although I've been to the Downtown Huey's and Kooky Canuck on either side of it. I just parked in the Peabody Tower (my favorite parking garage downtown - so cheap!) and walked over.


Automatic Slim's is kind of Cuban/Latin-American* themed bar and restaurant, and the inside is pretty cool. We sat upstairs and got this for our small plate:

There's Summer Ceviche, Smoked Lamb Pastrami on Crostini with Kudzu Mint Jam and Bacon Wrapped Bananas with Tangy Hone Glaze.

Overall, I was honestly kind of underwhelmed with the food. Maybe it was that the chef didn't seem very knowledgeable about the food, or maybe it was that it was just kind of thrown together seeming. I feel like restaurants get a huge amount of press from these, and it's just such a great way to introduce people to new places, they should know about their own food and be able to tell people about it clearly.

The ceviche wasn't bad, although it was super lime-y. I liked the crostini, despite my dislike of jam, but the lamb just tasted smoky, not really like lamb. And the bacon wrapped banana was one of the weirdest things I've ever eaten. I didn't dislike it. I like the idea of banana and bacon together.


Maybe I just really like bacon.

But the bacon and banana weren't bad. The problem was that the bacon was room temperature and the banana was cold, and it was obviously supposed to served warm. And the banana was cooked too much. The sauce was great, almost like the hot honey bacon dressing at Huey's, but the whole thing was just odd.

I don't know that I'd go back to Automatic Slim's but I'm glad I tried it.

Next we walked up the street to Main and went to Aldo's Pizza Pies. I had actually walked into Aldo's one time but the wait was super long, so we left. I still remembered the heavenly smell though. And I love the owner's other restaurant, Slider Inn (he also owns Bardog but I haven't ever been), so I was excited.


At Aldo's we had this:

Italian Shrimp and Grits, Bruschetta with Olive Tapenade, and Goat-Cheese Stuffed Peppers.

I absolutely LOVED the shrimp and grits. I rarely eat polenta, because I'm lazy and just don't make it often, but I may have to start. The people across from us thought it was super spicy - it had a kick, but I get the feeling maybe they don't eat spicy food often. But it did have good flavor.

I don't eat olive spreads because of the texture, but Kirby said it was super salty. Not bad, just way too salty. The crostinis were grilled really well, and with the goat cheese pepper, were great. I don't even really like pesto and the the pepper was amazing.

And it all smelled so good.

I wonder if I could get perfume that smells like the inside of a pizza place.

I have perfume that smells like chocolate.

And one that smells like peppermint.

And a body wash that smells like iced tea.

Why not one that smells like pepperoni and garlic?

Men love pizza. I love pizza.

But Petunia and Oliver both also love pizza, so this could lead to me being raptored by them earlier than anticipated.


Next we walked across to one of my favorite places, Local.


I eat at Local in Overton Square quite a bit, as we all know, but I've only been to the downtown one once before.

The restaurant has a ground level and a downstairs basement, and that's where we went, which is nice because upstairs there was a heated argument going on about what the standards for joining a fraternity were ("You can't get in if you don't drink enough beer!" was actually said).

When we got downstairs, Kirby and I decided we would finally get a picture of the two of us:

*yes, I am really that much shorter than everyone else.

And then we saw our menus:

And got really excited. And then we got this:

*the lighting made my skin look awesome. the food not so much. but I promise it was amazing!

Watermelon & Prosciutto Salad, Pork Belly Slider, and Philly Egg Roll.

So the salad. Loved it. I love prosciutto, but don't eat watermelon that often because it just doesn't have much taste to me. The balsamic vinegar and blue cheese really brought out the flavor though, and it was delicious. I didn't really need a billion whole mint leaves, but it was really pretty.

The slider was good, although, again, I hate jam. Once I got all that scraped off, it was tasty, but the plating was a little weird, since the watermelon had seeped into the bottom bun, making it really soggy.

The egg roll was probably my favorite thing I ate all night. It's like a philly cheese steak, spray cheez and all, in an egg roll and deep fried.  That can't possibly go wrong. It said on the menu that it was with a beer cheese fondue, but it was definitely yellow mustard. And yellow mustard is alright with me. :) Seriously though, I don't know that I would have ever ordered this, but I'm so glad I tried it and can order it now.

After we left Local, I was really unsure of where we were going. Usually the last stop is for dessert, and there weren't any places around there that I knew had great desserts, or seemed the right size for all of us.

(Also, I HATE when business owners ask you where you liked better at things like this - it seems to defeat the whole spirit of friendly competition and community. So when the Aldo's owner or maybe manager sat outside his restaurant as we were leaving, and asked us all which one we liked better, since they're right across the street, I absolutely said Local. It was true, but also, that's just not cool. Maybe it was meant to be friendly, but I'm not a fan.)

I couldn't have been more (happily!) surprised by where we went:

*via twitter

*outside the front door

I sort of have a celebrity crush on Taylor Berger. He runs Yolo, which is amazing and gets far too much of my money, and Chiwawa, a place I am at constantly and tell everyone about, and he heads up the Food Truckers Alliance. Pretty much anything the man does, I'm in. 

"I'm going to open an affordable, funky, self-serve yogurt place - and then add gelato and food and a bakery!"


"I'm going to open a faux-Mexican place...and serve hot dogs! In a dilapidated old building!"


"I'm going to open an artisnal coffee and local brewery beer place downtown, and be punny about it!"


I love coffee.

I love beer. 

It's right next to aforementioned favorite parking lot. 


Tamp & Tap just opened Monday, and the name is a play on beer taps, of course, and espresso being tamped for compression, and I love it. 

This is the inside:

*basically the prettiest wall I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of walls. 

We had a carrot cake pastry with lemon icing and an espresso sauce and raspberry compote, and Vietnamese iced coffee. 

I don't like carrot cake or lemon icing, but that thing was super good. Incredibly sweet, and I didn't want anymore, but that's the sign of a good pastry to me - I'm satisfied when I'm done. 

The coffee was amazing. I love iced coffee (I use The Pioneer Woman's recipe...and I buy the International Delight kind when I'm lazy...and I drink almost as many iced coffees from Starbucks in the summer as I drink fountain drinks from Sonic, which is a lot). I will absolutely be back. Plus everyone was so nice and it's such a great space. Even if it is downtown, where I really don't go very often. I might just go for the coffee.

So overall, it was a great experience. I love the atmosphere at Dishcrawl, and most everyone is super nice and you get to meet a ton of new people and try some great new food. And I've definitely found some places I'll absolutely go back to. Also, make sure to follow them on Twitter: @dishcrawlmem. 

*So my roommate and I were talking about soccer the other day, and he said that the Gold Cup (?) was coming up, and that it was a tournament of all the North American teams. I was just kind of like, well, that's boring. I mean, it's only 3 teams. He looked at me like I was an idiot and said that, no, it was Canada, the US, Mexico, Cuba, all the Caribbean islands that have teams, and Central America. I honestly always thought that Central America (south of Mexico) was part of South America. Apparently, North America goes all the way down. That's 23 countries! I feel stupid now. And maybe like they shouldn't give me a PhD. :(

Here is North America: 


I'm bad at things sometimes. 


  1. I'm looking into that pepperoni and garlic perfume... thanks Amber ;-)

  2. Haha, I think it would be a great idea! I mean, who doesn't love the smell of pizza?

    Here's one that smells like waffles (they also have funeral home and "riding crop" - must investigate all of this further!):