Here's your chance to dine at more than 50 Downtown Memphis restaurants for $20.18

This is the week diners in the know look forward to every year.

It’s the one time of year you can enjoy a three-course meal at some of Memphis’ top restaurants for as little as $20.18.

From Nov. 5 to 11, more than 50 Downtown restaurants are offering special menus for both dinner and lunch. Many of the offerings are at a discount, designed to show new diners the best of what they have to offer.

Downtown resident Melissa Petersen eagerly anticipates Downtown Dining Week.

“The restaurants all put out such great plates for Downtown Dining Week," she said. "I love when they are showcasing something new or when my favorite dishes are part of the special menu.”

Downtown Dining Week: Our top 5 picks for dinner and lunch

Downtown Dining Week is a unique opportunity to enjoy a 3-course meal at restaurants like McEwen's for only $20.18. (Photo: Downtown Dining Week)

The event is designed for neighborhood residents to try new places just down the street as well to bring Memphians from other parts of town Downtown to try something new.

“I am a fan," said Nevada Presley, another Downtown resident who takes advantage of the tasty offerings her neighborhood restaurants serve during the week. "It always seems to inspire me to try places I don’t usually go. Plus the special menus give restaurants an opportunity to really highlight their best dishes.”

The price is based on the year.  This year, the three course-dinners and special menus being offered are $20.18 — up 1 cent from $20.17 in 2017.

Two-for-one lunches and special lunch menus are being offered for $10.18.

“It’s the best opportunity to eat at several restaurants at a great price, especially the ones that you may not normally eat at because of the cost,” said Michael Patrick, chef and owner of Rizzo’s. “I am actually jealous because I would love to be dining out every night this week, too.”

Patrick said he starts getting reservations for Downtown Dining Week as early as September.

Lobster Pronto Pups are one of the items on the Downtown Dining Week menu at Rizzo's Diner. Big lobster pieces are battered in a flour mix (similar to what is used in tempura recipe) and skewered on sticks. These pups from Rizzo's Diner sit atop a bed of greens and are garnished with Dijon mustard aioli. They definitely live up to the hype! (Photo: Justin Fox Burks)

Some customers take full advantage of the deals and plan their whole week in advance, eating out at a different restaurant every night.

Downtown Dining Week is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The first year, the event had 18 participating restaurants. This year, 52 are taking part.

Restaurants run the gamut from fine dining establishments like Felicia Suzanne’s and 117 Primeto casual spots like Grecian Gourmet Taverna and Aldo’s Pizza Pies

Downtown Dining Week is the perfect time to try out new restaurants like Grecian Gourmet. Gyros are on of the items on their featured menu. (Photo: Grecian Gourmet)

“We started Downtown Dining Week to bring awareness to the fact that were so many great restaurants Downtown,” said Bert Smythe, co-owner of McEwen’s.

Smythe was part of a small band of Downtown restaurateurs who had the vision of what such an event could do for their neighborhood dining scene.

Felicia Willett of Felicia Suzanne’s Restaurant is who originally thought of the idea for this week-long dining event.

“Felicia came up to us at the Memphis Farmers Market one day and told us about a friend that had started a Downtown Dining Week in another city. Both Patrick and I thought it was a great idea,” recalled Deni Reilly, who owns The Majestic Grille with her husband.

The Reillys jumped on board, as did Smythe and John Littlefield, co-owners of McEwen’s, and Ben Brock, who owned Sole in the Westin Hotel at the time. The “committee” decided to enlist the help of the Downtown Memphis Commission, which is still a partner today.

“The reason the Downtown Memphis Commission originally chose to support this idea was to share the news about what great restaurants we have in Downtown Memphis,” said Penelope Huston, Downtown Memphis Commission vice president of marketing, communication and events. “As the years go on, that reason hasn’t changed.”

The Vault is offering their Steak Frites on their $20.18 Downtown Dining Week menu. A NY Strip steak is cooked sous vide then grilled, topped with compound butter, and served with shoestring fries. (Photo: The Vault Memphis)

As Downtown Dining Week has grown, so has the number of restaurants in Downtown Memphis.

“Downtown Dining Week brought great traffic and I loved that people would always say, ‘We love Downtown and should come more often,’’’ said Brock, who now owns both Char and Amerigo in East Memphis. “I’d like to think that Downtown Dining Week certainly helped make Downtown the hot spot it is now.” 

The week is not only fun for diners, but also makes a big impact on the participating restaurants.

“It’s Rizzo’s biggest week of the year,” Patrick said. “This week gives us exposure to new customers who come back again as regulars.”

If you go

Downtown Dining Week

When: Nov. 5-11

Location: More than 50 restaurants across Downtown Memphis

Price: $20.18 for dinner menus and $10.18 for lunch menus

Reservations: Reservations recommended; call each restaurant directly.

Parking: $1 parking passes available online

More information, including a list of restaurants:downtowndiningweek.com

Commercial Appeal
by Jennifer Chandler
Here's your chance to dine at more than 50 Downtown Memphis restaurants for $20.18

Downtown Dining Week: Our top 5 picks for dinner and lunch

I really wish Downtown Dining Week was a whole month.

I had so much fun reading through the Downtown Dining Week special menus at downtowndiningweek.com. Some menus feature the most popular dishes from an establishment. Others are specials created just for the week. They all sound so good. It’s hard to choose where to make a reservation when you have more than 50 great options from which to choose.

Downtown Dining Week: Here's your chance to dine at more than 50 Downtown Memphis restaurants for $20.18

Speaking of reservations, if you are considering taking advantage of these Downtown dining deals, make your reservation today. Most of restaurants Downtown have small dining rooms, and they will fill up fast.

If I had to narrow it down to five to try for lunch and five to try for dinner, these are my picks.

Top $20.18 Dinner Picks

The patio at Felicia Suzanne's Restaurant in downtown Memphis. (Photo: Felicia Suzanne's Restaurant)

Felicia Suzanne’s

80 Monroe Ave., (901) 523-0877

Felicia Suzanne’s is offering a three-course menu that lets you choose from some of their most popular dishes. Choices for the first course include their BLFGT Salad and Crispy BBQ Oysters over stone-ground grits. For the second course, chef Felicia Willett’s famous Sunday Sugo Italian gravy over risotto and her Pecan-encrusted Gulf Fish over Hopp’in John are two of the options. All four of those dishes are some of my favorites she serves.

McEwen’s

120 Monroe Ave., (901) 527-7085

McEwen’s is serving a three-course dinner menu that represents its modern Southern fare. For the entree course, diners can choose between Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon-Thyme Au Jus or BBQ Braised Pork Shoulder with Southern-style Jalapeno Slaw. Both are dishes they created just for Downtown Dining Week.

Paulette’s

50 Harbor Town Square, (901) 260-3333

Even though you may have to cross a bridge to get there, Paulette’s in Harbor Town is considered part of the Downtown dining scene and is participating again this year. Fans of this Memphis institution will be able to enjoy dishes like Crabmeat Stuffed Sole or Beef Bourguignon as part of the three-course menu. Make sure to save room for dessert. The apple strudel with French vanilla ice cream on the dessert menu sounds like the perfect ending to a meal.

Over 50 restaurants throughout downtown will be participating in the 10th annual Downtown Dining Week. (Photo: Downtown Dining Week)

Rizzo’s

492 S. Main St., (901) 304-6985

Chef Michael Patrick at Rizzo’s is offering a three-course menu plus dessert as an extra fourth course. His famous Lobster Pronto Pup, tempura-fried lobster with a Creole mustard aioli, is one of the options for the second course. It’s such a fun dish that you have to try it. Patrick’s Cheeseburger Soup is also one of the appetizer options you can choose. With four courses for $20.18, Rizzo’s special dinner menu is a great deal.

The Vault is offering their Steak Frites on their $20.18 Downtown Dining Week menu. A NY Strip steak is cooked sous vide then grilled, topped with compound butter, and served with shoestring fries. (Photo: The Vault Memphis)

The Vault

124 G.E. Patterson, (901) 591-8000

The Vault will serve several customer favorites on its Downtown Dining Week three-course menu. For the entree course, you can choose between six items. Crawfish Mac & Cheese and Steak and Pommes Frites are two of the options. Chef Aaron Winters is also offering some drink specials, including a $5 Tito’s Moscow Mule.

Top $10.18 Lunch Picks

Arcade

540 S. Main St., (901) 526-5757

If you love breakfast any time of day, plan to go to the Arcade for its Downtown Dining Week Breakfast Sampler lunch special. Included on this over-the-top special plate will be sweet potato pancakes, French toast, eggs, bacon and sausage. Order a $5 Old Dominick Bloody Mary to make your “breakfast at lunchtime” complete.

Carolina Watershed

141 E. Carolina Ave., (901) 321-5553

If the weather is nice, head over to Carolina Watershed for lunch to dine al fresco in its backyard. Carolina Watershed is offering a Smoked Cornish Game Hen with Citrus Glaze for its Downtown Dining Week lunch special. It comes with collard greens and Delta grits on the side. To wash it all down, take advantage of the $1 off local drafts discount.

Front Street Deli will be serving both breakfast and lunch specials during Downtown Dining Week. (Photo: Downtown Memphis Commission)

Front Street Deli

77 S Front St., (901) 522-4824

Front Street Deli has some of the best deli sandwiches in town. The lunch special includes any of their signature sandwiches (all named after Tom Cruise movies by the way), a deli side and a soda. I’ll be ordering a Tropic Thunder, an Italian sub with Genoa salami, ham, capicola, provolone and olive salad, with a side of their Bacon Ranch Broccoli Salad. And if you are up early, they are also offering a breakfast special for a mere $5.18. It includes their Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit and a cup of coffee.

Downtown Dining Week is the perfect time to try out new restaurants like Grecian Gourmet. Gyros are on of the items on their featured menu. (Photo: Grecian Gourmet)

The Grecian Gourmet Taverna

412 S. Main St., (901) 249-6626

New to the Downtown dining scene, this will be The Grecian Gourmet Taverna’s first time to participate in Downtown Dining Week, offering both a dinner and lunch menu for the event. For its special lunch menu, Grecian Gourmet is offering your choice of entree plus one side for $10.18. For the entree, choose between such Greek specialties as Lamb or Beef Gyro, Spanakopita, Pastitso or Lamb Sliders. This fast-causal restaurant serves up authentic Greek cuisine that makes a yummy, and out-of-the-norm, lunch.

Westy’s

346 N. Main St., (901) 543-3278

Grab a friend and take them to eat with you at Westy’s, a Pinch District favorite since the 1980s. Their lunch special is a two-for-one offering. For lunch, choose between their Catfish Basket, Patty Melt or famous Marinated Chicken Sandwich. Each comes with your choice of fries or tater tots. And if you split the bill? What a bargain!  And since you got such a deal, splurge on the Hot Fudge Pie for dessert.

Commercial Appeal
Downtown Dining Week: Our top 5 picks for dinner and lunch
by Jennifer Chandler
October 31, 2018

Late Night Eats Watch Party

Join us on Thursday, October 25, 2018 at The Vault on GE Patterson for our Late Night Eats Watch Party. The show will air at 9PM, but we will be serving happy hour drinks and food specials from 8PM-10PM in addition to our regular menu. We will be raffling The Vault’s logo merchandise and restaurant gift cards. The restaurant will be open regular business hours (11AM until 11PM) that day. Stop in and stay a while!

The Vault Appearing on Late Night Eats

Get ready Memphis! Late Night Eats is coming to The Vault of GE Patterson along with Atomic Tiki and South of Beale. The Memphis episode will Air October 25, 2018 at at 9PM CST on Cooking Channel. The show will re-air October 26th at 1AM, November 4th at 10AM, November 15th at 9:30PM and November 16th at 1:30AM. Tune in LIVE or set your DVR now!

Details: Jordan Andino is in Memphis -- a city known for barbecue and the blues -- to check out the late-night food scene. He's firing up the evening with some Southern-style Polynesian fare at Atomic Tiki -- a hidden oasis in Overton Park -- to try their pork belly steamed buns and Polynesian meatballs. Next, it's off to South Main for a taste of share plates from around the world including Duck Confit Fried Rice topped with a perfect, yolky egg at South of Beale. His last stop is just a trolley ride away at The Vault -- a late-night hot spot built in a former bank building serving up cool beers and delicious comfort foods with true Southern hospitality. He gets a look at their famous dinner-style Smash Burger before trying the most mind-blowing bread pudding of his life made with their award-winning biscuits.

Get more details here.

48 Hours in Memphis:

Friday

I recommend staying in Downtown Memphis as there is so much history there and a ton to do. One of my favorite hotels is the Madison Hotel. It is an example of the vision that Memphis leaders had to preserve and renovate downtown properties. The stylish Art Deco-inspired Madison Hotel was built in 1905 and is known for its rooftop bar. The views of the Mississippi River are breathtaking, and live music is part of the mix.

Once you are checked in, head to Patterson Street for a quick cocktail at Vault Memphis, the first frost rail bar in the city. If you aren’t in the know, a frost rail creates a crisp, dry frost on the bartop to keep your beverages chilled. Vault Memphis has gorgeous interiors with lots of luscious wood and exposed brick.

Read Elizabeth’s full blog post here: 48 Hours in Memphis
Styleblueprint Southern Edition
Elizabeth Fox
September 19, 2017

Key To The Vault in downtown Memphis: Just Eat

I had no idea what a frost rail bar was and when I read that The Vault had one, I’d already been there once and hadn’t even noticed it. So I made a point of heading straight for the bar on my second visit, to be sure I didn’t miss what Google had shown me was a genius invention: An approximately 4-inch wide rail of frost-topped ice extending the length of the bar.

“No more warm beer,” I told my co-workers. “What’s warm beer?” they asked me before launching into a discussion of how there should be such rails at Grizzlies’ games, where the beers are so large they could get warm.

Not gonna happen, but you can belly up to the bar here, keep your drinks cold and play in the snow a bit.

“People make snowmen and do all kinds of things,” said chef Aaron Winters. “I’ve seen frost rails where they have little Tonka truck snow plows on them.”

Novelty or necessity—you decide. I like it, and I also like The Vault.

Read the full story here: Key To The Vault in downtown Memphis: Just Eat

Jennifer Biggs
Commercial Appeal
July 20, 2017