The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis
What’s to eat (and drink) at Memphis airport’s new concourse?
The other day I had the tastiest Barbecue Nachos. The tender pulled pork was tossed in a barbecue sauce made with Memphis Made Fireside beer and slathered with a tangy beer-infused queso made with Memphis Made's Cat Nap brew. And, if you couldn't guess, I washed it all down with a Memphis Made Junt cream ale.
Bet you will never guess where I enjoyed this tasty snack. (Hint, it wasn't at Memphis Made's Cooper-young tap room.)
It was at Memphis International Airport.
With the opening of the new concourse in February, the Memphis airport has not only upgraded the facilities, but also the food offerings.
“We wanted to be sure we represented Memphis in the food offerings,” said Glen Thomas, Memphis airport's director of Strategic Marketing and Communications.
Based on my recent visit, I would say (probably for the first time ever!) — go to the airport hungry and plan to enjoy a meal or a snack while waiting for your flight.
Here's what to expect.
RESTAURANTS Memphis Made Brewing Co.
Memphis Made Brewing Co. has opened a 2,769-square-foot restaurant featuring 10 taps pouring the brewery's lineup of craft beers including a rotation of two seasonal brews. To complement the beers, travelers can enjoy a locally inspired menu of salads, appetizers, barbecue, sandwiches and burgers, along with a full breakfast menu.
"We like helping to bring Memphis flavor to the rest of the world. Memphis has a strong beer scene, and we look forward to letting people know that,” said
Andy Ashby, Memphis Made co-founder and sales manager.
Ashby and his partner Drew Barton worked closely with HMS Host, the food service company that handles Memphis International Airport's restaurants, to develop the menu and recipes.
“We had input into the menu and several of our beers are featured into the food — items like the Cat Nap queso, the Fireside BBQ sauce and chicken brined in our Junt cream ale,” Ashby said. “We have MEM Pulled Pork Nachos which I think will be popular, especially among visitors.”
The open concept restaurant and bar features Memphis Made beers, as well as other local brews like Beale St. Brewing Co. and Meddlesome Brewing Company, and a full bar. The design includes a mural wall. “It's like the ‘I Love Memphis' mural at our brewery,” Barton said.
Memphis Made is located between gates 3 and 5.
Experience the spirit of the Grind City's beloved NBA Memphis Grizzlies with a visit to Grizz Grill.
This 1,538-square-foot restaurant boasts a ton of TVS to catch the latest sports and a full menu of game-time favorites such as local Memphis craft beers, classic cocktails, buffalo wings, barbecue, burgers, fresh salads and sandwiches.
The Loaded Sweet Fries has quickly become a popular order. Crispy sweet potato fries are topped with slow cooked pork, blue cheese, Memphisstyle barbecue sauce and dry rub and a roasted jalapeno aioli.
The Crispy Chicken Sandwich is another standout. The chicken is brined in buttermilk and tossed in a breading that is flavored with barbecue dry rub before being fried until crispy. It's served on a brioche bun with iceberg lettuce, pickles and mustard aioli.
The Grizz is the restaurant's signature burger. This decadent burger features an Angus beef patty topped with barbecue pork and smothered with chipotle queso and caramelized onions.
The Grizz Grill is located between gates 14 and 16.
Lenny’s Grill & Subs
Memphis-based brand Lenny's Grill and Subs was a popular spot in the old terminal, and the airport expects it to be just as busy in the new concourse.
The 400-square-foot deli offers flavorful sandwiches made on craft breads baked fresh daily, premium meats sliced to order, and freshly prepared toppings.
The “World Class Philly Cheesesteak”, the awesome meatball sub and the unique grilled sandwiches are all available. Lenny's also offers breakfast sandwiches as well as salads, cookies and soft drinks to round out the menu.
The airport Lenny's, as well as new concept Stage Left Pizza, Bar & Grille, is run by Memphians Edith Kelly-green, James Cook, James Kelly and Jayna Kelly-pearson.
"Lenny's Grill & Subs has operated in the Memphis International Airport since 2005,” said Cook, who serves as general manager of Lenny's. “One of the most rewarding things about operating in the airport is being able to provide employment for the citizens of the city. Additionally, you never know who you may see in the airport, and usually, if someone famous is flying, they make a stop at airport concessions.”
Lenny’s new location is near the rotunda area, near gate 10.
Stage Left Pizza, Bar & Grille
This 1,500-square-foot space features a new take on the pizza pub. Enjoy craft drinks and unique local beers on tap while choosing from an array of different personal pizzas loaded to the edge with premium toppings.
“Our latest concept 'Stage Left,' specializes in 7-inch pizzas made to order,” said Cook, who also serves as general manager for Stage Left. “Our guests can choose one of our favorites: cheese or pepperoni, or if they want to spice it up a bit, we offer a buffalo chicken pizza along with several other meat and veggie toppings if they just want to 'build their own.' Local beer selections on tap complement our popular pizzas. And, a friendly welcoming atmosphere is always on the menu.”
Stage Left not only features pizza, but also hot wings, “old school style”
burgers and chicken breast sandwiches.
Stage Left is located adjacent to Lenny’s between the rotunda and gate 10.
The Starbucks coffee shop in the rotunda has been renovated as well. One new feature is that guests can place advance mobile orders for pickup.
Starbucks is located in the rotunda.
FOOD RETAIL The Distillery District
The Distillery District features locally made Tennessee spirits such as Jack Daniels, Ole Smoky Moonshine and, of course, Memphis' Old Dominick Distillery.
“Old Dominick was so excited to see such an emphasis on all things Memphis in the new airport terminal, and as a brand that likes to think of itself as 'Pure Memphis,' we couldn't pass up the chance to represent our hometown to the thousands of travelers flying in and out of the airport,” said Alex Castle, Old Dominick master distiller and senior vice president.
In addition to spirits, the shop features barbecue sauces and dry rubs from Memphis barbecue institutions like The Rendezvous and Corky's BBQ.
“It's a chance to showcase Memphisand Tennessee-branded items,” Thomas said. “It's also a chance for people from out-of-town to take the local fare home with them.”
The Distillery District is located in the rotunda.
Grind City Essentials and Market 901
The two retail shops in the new con
course also feature a wide selection of grab-and-go food items, such as sandwiches and salads.
“We realized that demand for graband-go has increased,” Thomas said. “That's why you will see more of it at the restaurants and the retail shops.”
MORE RESTAURANTS TO COME
The airport has several new dining concepts coming later this year.
Look for a Chick-fil-a and a full-service Chili's to open by the end of the year. Both will be located in the rotunda.
A Tripadvisor coffee and doughnut shop is set to open at the entrance to the concourse in late summer.
Hours of operation vary based on daily flight schedules. All restaurants open at 4:30 a.m. daily and close based on the time of the last outgoing flight of the day.