Thursday, February 7, 2013

More Medical District Soul Food - Ellen's

The Medical District in between Midtown and Downtown Memphis stands out as a good place to find quality soul food. I've already been impressed by the cooking at Peggy's Heavenly Home Cooking, which is right down Cleveland from Rudabagas Restaurant and Lounge. Last Thursday I finally got around to trying Ellen's Soul Food just north of the corner of Bellevue and Lamar.

For those of you still confused by the multiple names used for Mid-south streets, Bellevue is the street that becomes Elvis Presley Boulevard as it travels through South Memphis.

The little restaurant is easy to miss. Two small signs next to the street along Bellevue are the only indications it is there. Even when you pull into the narrow entrance to the parking lot there isn't much on the plain brick store front to indicate you have just stumbled across a great source for delicious home cooking.

When I arrived last Thursday the restaurant was closed and I was about to leave when I noticed a man in an apron and an Ellen's shirt taking out the garbage. I asked if the restaurant was about to open and he told me it would in just a few minutes. It was 11:20 and the place opens at 11:30. I was glad I spotted him and chose to wait around for ten minutes. Once the front door was unlocked my biggest problem was deciding what to order from the plentiful menu. I ultimately went with neckbones, turnip greens and pickled beets.

I noticed some complaints about the wait time on Urbanspoon page for Ellen's. It isn't a fast food restaurant. It's much, much better than any fast food restaurant. Everything on my plate was excellent. And everything I saw on other plates coming out of the kitchen looked excellent too. I wish I had photographs of some of the fried chicken, pork chops, broccoli cheese casserole, cabbage and fried okra I saw going to other tables. The star of my own order was the neckbones seasoned with a combination of black and crushed red pepper that added a nice extra spark to the savory dish.

The neckbones were even better when I added some of Ellen's homemade hot sauce to them. Red hot sauce and vinegar sauce are the divine combination of soul food condiments and making them from scratch is the kind of attention to detail that makes a soul food restaurant stand out. Also, in an attempt to keep my barbecue and soul food quest healthy I usually avoid eating any bread with my meals. That ended up being impossible at Ellen's where the steaming fresh hot water cornbread pancakes that came with my meal proved to be truly irresistible. 

Ellen's Soul Food on Urbanspoon

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