Young Avenue Deli, located right in the heart of Cooper Young, is a Midtown Memphis staple. They even call themselves, as their unofficial slogan is “We are Midtown”.
That is a grand statement. Yet, it is true. The Deli is one of the first places I wanted to go when I turned 21. It was always cool and mysterious, and I wanted to be a part of it. Three years later, it has become a normal hangout spot for me. Many a conversations have ended with, “I don’t know what to do. You just want to go the The Deli?”
What makes Young Avenue Deli worth more than one trip? It’s the consistently good menu and extensive beer list.
They even have a listed of shooters, in case you cannot figure out exactly HOW you want to inject alcohol into you.
But don’t go for the wine. They really don’t care about wine.
This particular time I was there, Scott and I both had the night off and wanted to enjoy the beautiful patio weather. Memphians know that good patio weather does not last long, so you must take advantage of it when you have the chance. Well, apparently this night, everyone carried our sentiment. The patio was full when we arrived, which was around dinner time. We took a small table inside and wait for a patio table to open up. It doesn’t take long, so we head on out.
After we got our drinks, we even had a new little friend join us. I named him Otis. (He might be hard to find…he’s a little guy.)
Now, one thing you must know about Young Avenue Deli is that not only do they have consistently good food, they also have consistently terrible service. I believe they have been voted in several unofficial polls in the past as “Worst Service in Memphis”. Also, beware that they have been consistently known for adding gratuity to parties and not telling anyone at the table. Check your tabs before you pay!
That being said, most of the time the staff has a good attitude. They are always chill and laid back, and they usually take the time to chit chat with you as well. If you have entire afternoon or evening to kill, this is the place to go. If you are on a time crunch and have some place to be in the next couple of hours, this is not your place.
Our server this night was a cool guy, really he was. He was just very forgetful it seemed. It took about 10 minutes to get our drinks. We ordered an appetizer 15 minutes before our food, and everything came out at once…45 minutes later. Though it took over an hour for food to get to our table, it was nice and hot when it arrived. Our server forgot a few of our dressings, so he said he would be right back with them. He then proceeded to forget the next three times he passed our table. By the time we got honey mustard and ranch, our food was gone. Our beers were long gone. Yet, like I said, he really was a cool guy. He kept apologizing for forgetting, and he was trying.
For the food, I have my staples that I fall back on at The Deli. Their menu is so diverse and interesting, I always like to try new items as well. However, tonight I went with Old Faithful. Scott and I split the Fried Mozzarella Cheese Sticks appetizer, which are the best in the city. For one, they are HUGE. Most importantly, though, they are made from scratch. These babies are hand battered in the restaurant.
We also split our favorite sandwich: The Smokin Turkey. It is really two sandwiches, so it’s perfect to split. It’s two English muffins with turkey, gouda cheese, and barbeque sauce, all grilled together. Yum.
As always, we got sweet potato fries to go along with it. You cannot go to Young Avenue Deli and NOT get sweet potato fries. Other than their extensive beer collection, this is what they are known for. Their fries have won national awards in years past.
Though I have mentioned the great beer selection several times, I do want to make a note. Their beer changes. Just because they have it on the menu, does not mean they have it in stock. I will say I have been disappointed the past few times I have been there, because they always seem to be out of the first five beers I try to order. How can you be out of ALL of my favorites? It does, however, force me into trying new kinds.
There is one other feature of The Deli I must mention, and this one is the most endearing. This place has the best bathroom graffiti I have ever seen. I have to go into the bathroom every time I am there, just to feel inspired by the graffiti. Take some hippies, get them drunk, and turn them free with some sharpies. Below is the outcome:
Despite the pitfalls, Young Avenue Deli is still one of my favorite places to hang out. They are always busy, so they are doing something right.
They also have pool and live music many nights a week to keep you occupied.
For more information on Young Avenue Deli, visit their website, where you can find their food and beer menus and find their events page. Also check out their Twitter and Facebook page. You can also find more reviews on Google Maps, Urbanspoon, and Yelp.