The Daily Memphian Posted “The Memphis vegetable plate: As Southern as sweet tea” which features Caritas Village.
It’s not the first time we’ve teamed up to do the hard work for you, and this time we thought we’d eat a few good vegetable plates and turn out a quick little story for you.
One month, 17 restaurants, and about 100 servings of vegetables later, we said enough already. Stop. We could’ve gone on endlessly as we had only two rules.
One was that the restaurant had to be open for lunch. Sure, you can eat ’em for dinner, but lunch is where it’s at when it comes to the vegetable plate. And there had to be enough choices. Plenty of restaurants will let you order vegetables, but we didn’t want a choice of just two or three daily selections for our meal. It was OK if the selection changed daily, but there had to be variety.
Of the 17 places we ate, we each picked the same Top 10, so we can present a unanimous front on this list. When it came to the top three, we picked two of the same and couldn’t get together on the third, so we have two favorites and eight places for Very Good Veggies, listed alphabetically. We’ve noted the favorite at each place; if we agree, there’s just one. If we picked different items, we’ve listed both of them.
Chris’ Ideal Memphis Vegetable Plate
OK, look, I like greens, and there were many good greens sampled on this journey, from discernibly leafy fancy-pants variations at Char and Caritas Village to more typical slow-cooked-into-submission varieties at places like Fox Ridge Pizza and Peggy’s Healthy Home Cooking. But my confession is that I never get to the bottom of my portion of greens when I order them, and I noticed that we rarely did in this exercise either. If the fried okra or mac and cheese is good, it’s gone.
The Best, our dynamic duo
Caritas Village (2509 Harvard Ave., 901-327-5246): When veteran restaurateur Mac Edwards became the executive director at Caritas last year, the food was better than it was before it closed for its remodel. When Spencer McMillin came on as chef after L’Ecole Culinaire abruptly closed late last year, we were given a gift. McMillin has been in numerous kitchens around town and has always done a fine job. But his daily specials at Caritas are just tops, and one of those specials is a vegetable plate. Anything he can get locally, he does, and right now, that’s just about everything. Is polenta a vegetable? As much as mac and cheese is, so go with it. McMillin turns out tender spinach with a light lemon sauce; Mac’s spicy, sweet and fancy (meaning not overcooked) collard greens; cauliflower with Indian spices that is insanely good, excellent smoked mashed potatoes and plenty more, like the roasted turnips and spaghetti squash we ate recently. The selection changes daily and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Favorite thing: Acorn squash carbonara (Jennifer); roasted scarlet queen turnips with smoked vinegar (Chris).