Chow on po'boys at chef Kelly English's laid-back new spot, the Second Line. Housed inside a small early-20th-century home, the restaurant shares a kitchen with English’s more formal (and impossible to get into) Restaurant Iris. But rustic, authentic New Orleans fare is the focus here, from the plump, frittered Gulf oysters and catfish on fresh Leidenheimer Baking Company baguettes ($12-$15) to the real-deal roast beef po’boy, with juice trickling out the side ($13). Save room for English’s gooey, south of the Mason-Dixon take on disco fries, topped with pimiento cheese, Andouille sausage, and chunks of crawfish ($12).
Hopscotch between Dixie and Il Bel Paese at Hog & Hominy, where frizzled-on-the-spot pork rinds ($2) share table space with guanciale-laced meatballs ($12) on the made-to-share menu. Dining in the converted one-story home feels like a civilized frat party: There’s a bocce court and a galvanized-steel beer tub bar out back, plus good-time Charlie food fests, like Sunday afternoon crawfish boils. But you’ll find no Jell-O shots behind the bar—only well-crafted cocktails, like the Homage to Antoine, a mix of Prichard’s double-barreled bourbon, maurin quina, Pernod, and pine bitters ($12). Dig into buttermilk-biscuit gnocchi in a ham brodo with field peas (or whatever’s seasonal at the farms the owners patronize), and be sure to order a slice of the pilgrimage-worthy peanut-butter-and-banana-pudding pie ($7). Bonus for foodies: Ask your waiter for a printout of the staff’s hand-drawn map of favorite Memphis eats.
Wallow in Low Country goodness at Sweet Grass. Chef Ryan Trimm, a Food & Wine Best Chef nominee in 2011, delivers the bounty of southern farmland through hearty but elegantly composed plates inspired by his Italian grandmother, as in a wintertime pork riff on osso bucco ($28). Have a go at the plate of housemade charcuterie, with kielbasa, pork tongue pâté with dried figs, Cajun ham, and liver loaf ($15), paired with an even-tempered glass of Marchesi di Barolo Maraia Barbera ($9.50). The simple dining room is decorated with rotating works by local artists, but the best seats in the house are on the sidewalk patio.