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Little Tea Shop

69 Monroe, Memphis, TN - (901) 525-6000
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/5/2005 4:20:00 AM
We love the do-it-yourself ordering process at the Little Tea Shop. Every customer gets a one-page printed menu of the day – there is a different menu for each day of the week – with a little box next to each item. Like voting with an old-fashioned ballot, you put a check mark in the box next to each dish you want to elect for your lunch.

We cannot help but vote for the everyday Tea Shop special of turnip greens. These are very serious greens, whole-leaf heaps of heavy vegetable goodness, soft and dark green, with a commanding tonic flavor. They are served with corn sticks on the side; a common custom is to crumble the corn into the greens as one eats.

Many of the downtown crowd who have made the Little Tea Shop their mid-day home for decades come to eat nothing more than a chicken salad sandwich, but if you are looking for a (non-barbecue) taste of Memphis, look to the top of the menu for such once-a-week treats as fried chicken on Tuesday, chicken and dressing Wednesday, and fried catfish Friday. Good as such entrees are, it’s the vegetables on the side that send our tastebuds into orbit: creamed potatoes or sliced candied yams, fried corn, baked squash, black-eyed peas, or scalloped tomatoes … plus, of course, those lovely little corn sticks to munch alongside.

The dessert list is short and wonderful: apple cobbler, cobbler with ice cream or – our choice – a frozen pecan ball with hot fudge. The latter is all of $2.95; even with it, you’ll have a hard time spending more than $10 for lunch at the Little Tea Shop.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Turnip Greens
Lacey Special
corn sticks
Pecan Ball
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Here's a meal to make you feel strong as Popeye. The intense vegetable flavor of the greens and their likker is brilliantly haloed by the sharp taste of onion and the sweetness of the tomato on top. Several years ago, proprietor Suhair Lauck eliminated pork from the recipe (and from the Little Tea Shop kitchen), but the taste of these greens is, if anything, even more luxurious than before.
"Here's a meal to make you feel strong as Popeye. The intense vegetable flavor of the greens and their likker is brilliantly haloed by the sharp taste of onion and the sweetness of the tomato on top. Several years ago, proprietor Suhair Lauck eliminated pork from the recipe (and from the Little Tea Shop kitchen), but the taste of these greens is, if anything, even more luxurious than before."
Michael Stern





The immemorial Lacey Special: chicken and dressing topped with corn sticks and gravy. At the top: clove-scented sweet potato; bottom: a timbale of rice.
"The immemorial Lacey Special: chicken and dressing topped with corn sticks and gravy. At the top: clove-scented sweet potato; bottom: a timbale of rice."
Michael Stern


Corn sticks come with every meal. They are warm, crunchy, and earthy-flavored.
"Corn sticks come with every meal. They are warm, crunchy, and earthy-flavored."
Michael Stern


In the old tea-room tradition, the Little Tea Shop has order pads that customers fill out themselves.
"In the old tea-room tradition, the Little Tea Shop has order pads that customers fill out themselves."
Michael Stern


The must-eat dessert on Memphis's Cotton Row: a Little Tea Shop ice cream pecan ball shrouded in chocolate.
"The must-eat dessert on Memphis's Cotton Row: a Little Tea Shop ice cream pecan ball shrouded in chocolate."
Michael Stern


The oldest restaurant in Memphis (since 1918), the Little Tea Shop is a bastion of regional foodways, but to its regular customers, it is simply a nice place to go for lunch five days a week. Once located in a basement, it moved to this location in 1935.
"The oldest restaurant in Memphis (since 1918), the Little Tea Shop is a bastion of regional foodways, but to its regular customers, it is simply a nice place to go for lunch five days a week. Once located in a basement, it moved to this location in 1935."
Michael Stern


October, 2013: Jane Stern, Little Tea Shop proprietor Suhair Lauck, Michael Stern
"October, 2013: Jane Stern, Little Tea Shop proprietor Suhair Lauck, Michael Stern"
Michael Stern



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