Memphis is full of ghosts. Elvis aside, I swear I could sense apparitions in the city’s hottest restaurants. Chef-owner John Bragg wants to evoke the swank of early-20th-century Paris with his restaurant, Circa, where he pairs contemporary Southern dishes like crawfish beignets with a choice of 50 eclectic wines by the glass. In the dark, sleek dining room at the Spindini, chef Judd Grisanti conjures the spirit of his late Italian grandmother with dishes like the wood-fired Tuscan steak and toasted ravioli—a meatball encased in a crispy fried-pasta shell. And at Brushmark in the Brooks Museum of Art, chef Wally Joe updates old Memphis favorites, such as a dessert so gluttonous—fried peanut butter sandwiches in a chunky banana sauce—that it could bring back the King himself.
Updated August 2009