If you ask anyone that has lived in Memphis for a while who has the best barbecue you will probably get the answer: my backyard or my uncle, brother, daddy or cousin etc. There are a lot, I mean a lot of folks in Memphis that can werk a barbecue grill. It’s a Memphis thing mane!
But if for some reason you are like me, not a big barbecue fan but you love good food & Memphis then I have a treat for your palate. It’s called City Tasting Tours. This tour was on my 2019 bucket list and now I can scratch it off.
Started almost 3 years ago, Cristina McCarter has definitely earned her title of culinary guide. She takes you on a guided tour of the South Main Arts District while sampling some of the best LOCAL food that Memphis has to offer.
Our first stop was Pontotoc Lounge. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have driven past this restaurant & never knew it existed. Our first dish was the pot roast. This is not what I expected from this establishment but man oh man was it delicious. Just like grandma use to make. You can add alcohol to your tour, which gets you an alcoholic beverage at every stop. Bottoms up!
As we walk to our next stop, Cristina gives us some local history. Tunnels, ghost & brothels oh my!! And being that this is the arts district there is art all around you. Memphis has it all.
Next up is the 409 S. Main Market Food Hall. This building houses several eateries, a coffee shop and a bar. I can say that I have been to this building but only for events on the 3rd floor, but never just to eat. I have been missing out. We enjoyed tacos from Venga and a turkey sandwich from City Block Salumeria. Y’all so darn good. The bacon on the turkey sandwich was thick and crispy and the bun was so soft. At this point I’m starting to feel a little full but we have 2 more stops to make.
As we are walking down South Main St. we pass several local shops that I have heard about but never knew where to find them. We saw all of the new construction that is taking place, hotels, movie theater and yes another restaurant and of course the history that comes with the National Civil Rights Museum. We stop at The Vault, which use to be a, you guessed it….a bank. There we have a trio of fried catfish with a dill tartar sauce, a beet salad with goat cheese & candied pecans and a crab cake with remoulade sauce. My taste buds where in heaven I tell ya. But we STILL had one more stop.
You can’t have all of this food without dessert. It’s Memphis mane! So of course we went to Makedas for Lemon Icebox pie made with Makedas famous butter cookies. OH..EM…GEE!! This pie was so good. Not to tart but with just the right amount of sweetness. I really, really wanted to purchase a whole pie but I bought some cookies for my sons. They have a variety of other cookie flavors. I think the iced oatmeal is my favorite, or maybe the chocolate pecan. Either way no one in my house was disappointed.
After the tour I had a chance to sit with Cristina to get a little more background. Cristina wanted to start the tours years ago after having participated in ones in other cities but the restaurant options were just not available. But as downtown & especially South Main began to grow thankfully she acted on her vision and City Tasting Tours was born. Ironically she gets more locals than tourists, which is not a bad thing because this local learned so much about her city & found new places to enjoy on the regular.
Be on the lookout for the Craft Food & Wine Festival at The Columns June 23rd hosted by Cristina. Early bird tickets are on sale here. I can’t wait to support her and her vision and eat. Also she has a Soul Food tour coming and you know you don’t want to miss that.
Thank you Erica for the invite and thank you Cristina for a wonderful experience and for teaching me about my city. Head over the City Tasting Tours website to book your tour NOW!
Beewisdom- Good Food, Good Mood