Saturday update

Yesterday I got my Blind Bear T-shirt for Wine Race this Sunday. They always theme their shirts on whatever the honored place is for Memphis in May. This year the theme is Memphis, so they went with a take on the Memphis city seal:

LOVE IT. If there were a “Best T-shirt” competition at Wine Race I bet this shirt would win.

Yesterday around 6 I was starting to get hungry, and my own blog helped me out. I remembered that I had posted that a new Mexican restaurant had opened up in the 409 South Main food hall, and I decided to walk down there and check it out. It’s called Venga and it’s in the upstairs part of the food hall, next to City Block Salumeria which operates the pop-up restaurant.

I looked at the specials:

Those molotes sounded interesting, so I got an order of them. I got a carne asada tostada too.

The molotes are available all weekend, I believe, and if you don’t have dinner plans yet for today, I would recommend getting down to Venga and trying these. The spiciness of the chorizo worked perfectly with the masa, and the cheese offset the spice just the perfect amount. It’s a treat to go to a Mexican restaurant and try a dish I hadn’t before.

As for the carne asada tostada, it was delicious too. It came loaded with beef and beans and toppings for a symphony of flavor.

There are some neat businesses in South Main Market, the place I often refer to on here as the 409 S. Main food hall. In addition to Mexican food at Venga and fresh butcher-cut meats at City Block Salumeria, there is Chinese-American restaurant Wok’n in Memphis and the Downtown location of coffee shop Java Cabana. Downstairs is Bar 409, the larger successor to previous bar The Civil Pour. There is plenty of space for two or three more restaurant concepts to open.

It wasn’t busy when I went in there during the dinner hour Friday, and it made me wonder if Memphians have yet to fully appreciate what an asset they have in a food hall. In other cities I’ve visited or lived, the food halls tend to be right in the heart of their downtown district, whereas South Main Market is tucked away slightly off the beaten path. Now that the movie theater is open, I suspect there will be more foot traffic between the core and South Main, and the food hall will be more easily discovered.

The food hall is a place where food entrepreneurs can begin living their dream without the full commitment of maintaining a stand-alone brick-and-mortar location. It has given existing restaurant operators a satellite space to operate, as it allowed Michael Patrick a place to feed his customers and pay his employees for a month when Rizzo’s had to go under construction. It’s a fantastic event space too.

Walking back from South Main Market, I discovered that another Mexican restaurant is getting close to opening too. Swanky’s now has its sign up on the Chisca location.

Kale, Yeah! is the theme at the Memphis Farmers Market this morning. In addition to the produce vendors, the Fuel, Grub, and Mama D’s Oasis food trucks will be on site, and don’t forget about that Maryland seafood vendor selling the yummy crab cake sandwiches. There will be a Farm Fun crafts area for the kids, and live music by Katrina Burgoyne, K. Johns, and Anna Benson. The Market runs every Saturday under the pavilion at Front and G.E. Patterson, 8 AM to 1 PM.

Did you know there’s a cafe in River Garden, the park at 51 N. Riverside next to the Tennessee Welcome Center? It’s open seven days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM.

You just can’t make this stuff up: A coyote got stuck in a wall in the Cook Convention Center this week. Workers freed the coyote and released it into the wild.

If you’re looking for an outdoor event Downtown tomorrow more tame and less debaucherous than Beale Street Wine Race, there will be sunset jazz in Court Square 6-8.

A drawing yesterday put the Grizzlies in 8th place yesterday in terms of their odds for the NBA draft lottery.

I have a BBQ team Meat & Greet on the south end of Downtown at 3, and I’m going to head to the south side early and make a day of it. The Farmers Market, Max’s Sports Bar, possibly Earnestine & Hazel’s, and Loflin Yard will be by pre-party plan. Back tomorrow with more news and possibly some pictures.