The birthplace of rock and roll, home of the blues, a bastion of BBQ. Memphis is a lot of things, and the city's quickly making its mark as the next frontier for foodies.
Kelly English opened Restaurant Iris in Midtown back in 2008. Since then the chef has received accolades nationally and here at home.
"The good thing about Memphis is it's almost like a sucker punch. You know you don't see it coming, and when you come here it's such a great place," English said. "It's such a great place to eat. It's such a great place to spend a day or spend your life. It's tasty."
Southern Living Magazine says Chef English's French-Creole cooking helped put Memphis on the national map. The magazine has named the Bluff City one of its "tastiest towns in the South."
Now Memphis is in an online competition to be named the South's top food destination. The Bluff City is being recognized for up and coming chefs creating great local foods and the institutions that serve as the backbone of the town's food scene.
"Without BBQ I don't think that some of these fancy restaurants get any of the recognition they get in town," Chef English said. "When people hear about Memphis they start thinking about food immediately."
VOTE HERE: www.southernliving.com/travel/souths-tastiest-towns-memphis-00417000081030/
The fragrant smoke wafting from the stack beckons visitors to Cozy Corner Restaurant. They've been smoking Memphis ribs and BBQ here since 1977 when Desiree Robinson and her late husband Raymond opened the place.
"Everything that we sell here has at one time been prepared in our home and if our family liked it, our friends liked it, we felt our customers would like it so here we are," she said.
Three generations are carrying on the culinary tradition at Cozy Corner. Mrs. Robinson is there every day greeting guests from up the street and around the world. "This is what we're all about in the South. We love people, we love friends, people coming in to eat with us, I said, and when you put the two together we just go crazy."
The line stretches to the door at Muddy's Bakeshop. Hungry Memphians looking for a sugar fix. Many are self-medicating on the Prozac cupcakes - the chocolate on chocolate bestseller.
"We use organic milk, free range eggs and a whole lot of grit grind," said Kat Gordon.
Southern Living Magazine called out Gordon's cupcakes. The five-year-old bakery has become a must-stop destination for sweet treats.
"Memphis is hugely diverse that is a huge advantage that we have, we have casual dining, fine dining and everybody brings this passion to it," she said. "I mean the South is known for feeding people right and I think in Memphis you take that hospitality and put our own spin on it."
Gordon says her colleagues in the hospitality business support each other rather than compete against one another.
Back at Restaurant Iris, Chef English agrees and says it's all about passion.
"The great thing about Memphis and the restaurant scene is that there is this sense of community and there is not as much the sense of jealousy," the chef said. "You know, we can really celebrate each other's food. It's so different. You go to one restaurant it's so different from a different restaurant. We know it's going to take all of us working together to really solidify the reputation we earn as a town."