BEST NEW RESTAURANTS
Felicia Suzanne's Emeril Lagasse protégé and occasional TV sidekick Felicia Willett has left the limelight to bring her Southern-accented menu to downtown Memphis. Now, far from a studio audience, she offers crab salad with fried green tomatoes and crispy oysters with New Orleans BBQ sauce over grits to a growing crowd. Can the camera crews be far behind? (Brinkley Plaza Building, 80 Monroe St.; 901-523-0877.)
Equestria Situated in Germantown, the suburb known for its equestrian tradition, this elegant restaurant serves such clubby classics as rack of lamb Dijon and prime beef with herb butter. Inventive entrées like sunflower-crusted salmon and smoked Mandarin duck are for the more adventurous members of the horsey set (3165 Forest HillIrene Rd.; 901-869-2663).
Sekisui Pacific Rim & Sushi Bar This sleek East Memphis restaurant offers a late-night scene and an innovative Pan-Asian menu (citrus-sake-steamed black mussels, seared foie gras with rum-glazed fuji apples). A cousin of the city's Sekisui Japanese restaurants, it has the same extensive sushi choices but is distinguished by its stainless steel industrial decor (4724 Poplar Ave.; 901-767-7770).
Sawaddii Thai Cuisine Locals love this small, hip Thai restaurant for classics like roast duck with red curry and fusion dishes like ginger teriyaki catfish. If you like maximum heat, ask for your food "dancing-man hot" (121 Union Ave.; 901-529-1818).
Christopher's After years of cooking all over town (McEwen's on Monroe and Café Society), Cordon Bleutrained chef Christopher Lee has finally opened his own place. This East Memphis bistro, with its tiny bar, draws well-heeled locals for posh dishes like scallops in Rockefeller sauce and veal with wild mushroom and cognac sauce (712 W. Brook-haven Circle; 901-682-5202).
EJ's Brasserie A welcome contrast to the chain restaurants along Germantown Parkway, EJ's features Danish-born chef Erling Jensen's fabulous cuisine in an atmosphere that's more casual than his name-sake East Memphis original. Diners can admire the knickknacks in the cozy dining room while downing truffled potato egg roll wrapped with bacon or sesame-encrusted tuna with ginger leek beurre blanc (1884 N. Germantown Pkwy.; 901-751-1150).
Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken This renowned Mason, Tennessee, chicken joint has come to downtown Memphis. You won't find much on the menu beyond chicken, coleslaw, beer and sweet potato pie, but with spicy, mahogany-brown fried chicken like this, you won't care (310 S. Front St.; 901-527-4877).
Cozy Corner Restaurant This family-owned barbecue spot just east of downtown has outstanding, meaty ribs as well as other 'cue specialties (barbecued baloney sliced thick on sandwiches, barbecued Cornish hens). Order your food spicy only if you mean it (745 N. Parkway; 901-527-9158).
Memphis International Airport's Jim Neely's Interstate Bar-B-Que Planning to brown bag your in-flight meal? Head to Gate B-14, where you can sample the handiwork of Memphis's godfather of barbecue (901-922-2587).
Neely's Bar-B-Que Restaurant Operated by brothers who trained under their uncle Jim Neely, this restaurant serves it all, from Memphis specialties like pork ribs and barbecue spaghetti to smoked turkey and deli-cut beef brisket. Unlike many local barbecue joints, this one offers the luxury of table service in the cool rustic den of a dining room (670 Jefferson Ave.; 901-521-9798).