Spend a day on Memphis’s favorite street for international flavor
Calling all foodies, challenge seekers, and Summer Avenue lovers! It’s time to try new foods and experience the world without ever leaving Memphis. It’s the Summer Avenue Challenge!
With classics like Bryant’s Breakfast and Central BBQ, Summer Avenue restaurants have been a staple in Memphians’ diets for many years. But Summer Avenue is also home to cultural dishes and drinks that can take you all around the world and back again.The seven stops in the Summer Avenue Challenge will take you from breakfast through dinner and dessert in a day and are sure to have your taste buds thanking you by the end.
Complete the challenge: Tag @ediblememphis and use #summeravenuechallenge on Instagram along the way. First person to tag them all wins a $100 gift card to the Summer Avenue establishment of their choice!
A taste of Somalia at Luula Halal
Photography by Elly Hazelrig
Mohamed Abubakar and his wife Saido Jama wanted to provide Memphians with Somali flavors, so in 2016 they opened a Somali market. Finding a high demand for Somali food, they added a restaurant component to their store in 2019. Luula Halal is full of fantastic flavors and must-try dinners with enough food to feed two. The best way to start any day is with an easy and filling breakfast, and Luula Halal delivers just that. Try the Beast Breakfast, a flaky pastry dough stuffed with spiced meat, or anjero, its heartier variation made with sourdough pancakes. If you’re looking for something quicker, try canjeelo, a Somali flatbread that’s a perfect grab-and-go option. When you’re done, don’t forget to peruse Luula Halal’s grocery store aisles!
2439 Summer Avenue
Daily 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Pastries at The Great China Food Market
The Great China Food Market is full of both packaged and fresh ingredients and grocery items—but the pastries are the star of the show. The bao buns are made twice a week and available first come, first served. Bao buns are dough buns folded in half, filled with meat, and topped with green onions and sesame seeds. The bun is fluffy, the meat is seasoned perfectly, and the green onions and sesame seeds add just the right crunch. They’re the perfect snack after shopping the aisles of the market. If you’re after something sweeter, the butter cream buns are a fantastic indulgence that won’t leave your stomach feeling heavy afterwards. For both sweet and savory, a red bean paste bun is the way to go. The bean paste is salty and delicious, while the pasty outside has a bit of sugar melted on top for a perfect glazed donut effect.
5137 Summer Avenue
Daily 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Jamaican at Island Paradise Takeout food truck
Serving authentic Caribbean food, Island Paradise Takeout is run by Ricardo Bartley, who moved from Jamaica to Memphis to be with his wife. When she passed, he wanted to honor her memory by bringing her dream of a Caribbean food truck to life. He started Island Paradise Takeout a week before the COVID-19 restrictions began in 2020. Luckily enough, his truck was able to thrive despite the difficulties the restrictions brought. From Jerk Chicken Philly to their signature Oxtail Plate, Island Paradise Takeout satisfies every Caribbean craving. Their motto is “simple, affordable, memorable” and each dish lives up to that standard. The Curry Chicken Plate is full of flavor and filled to the brim, so expect some leftovers. The Jerk Chicken Tacos are a perfect lighter lunch, and they even have a vegetarian option with the Rice Combo Plate. Don’t forget to try out the order ahead feature at their website. Find them in the parking lot near the At Home store.
5280 Summer Avenue
Wednesday – Saturday 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Tamales at Casa Perez
Stock the Fridge
When it’s time to stock the fridge for the week, Casa Perez is the place to go. Casa Perez serves fresh-made Latin food and excellent cuts of meat. So many classic dishes, like tamales and homemade tortillas, are perfect options for freezing for the rest of the week. Casa Perez is also a market and has plenty of essentials for you to choose from while you pick up your tamale order. Grab sides like freshly made rice and beans, as well as a few delicious meat selections, and you’ll have plenty of food for lunches for the whole week. If you can’t wait to try your food, Casa Perez also has seating. Check out Casa Perez’s two other locations too—one further east on Summer in Bartlett and the other on Covington Pike.
4880 Summer Avenue
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday – Sunday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Colombian coffee at El Sabor Latino
Just off Summer Avenue is El Sabor Latino, a cozy Colombian restaurant run by Yuri Guzman, with great food and amazing coffee. Colombian coffee comes from a highly sought after variety of Arabica coffee beans that are grown at a high elevation. Because El Sabor Latino’s coffee is so good, it’s best to keep it simple by trying it either black, with milk, or with cream. For those looking for something without the caffeine, El Sabor Latino also serves a delicious cup of hot chocolate or aguapanela, a brown sugar cane drink that gives sweet tea a run for its money. El Sabor Latino also has plenty of savory and sweet bites that are worth checking out, or even larger plates to enjoy at the restaurant or take home for later.
665 Avon Road
Daily 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Middle Eastern fare at Queen of Sheba
For the last meal in a day full of great food, try out Queen of Sheba, a restaurant that specializes in Yemeni cuisine. Opened by Hefdhallah Al-Ghadry in 2016, the restaurant has become popular for its authentic Middle Eastern cuisine. The national dish of Yemen is saltah—a dish similar to stew, made with meat and vegetables and often served with a spicy pepper sauce on top. Queen of Sheba offers shrimp, ground beef, and vegetable varieties of saltah. Queen of Sheba’s menu is extensive, boasting delectable foods like molokhia (sautéed Egyptian spinach), tabouli salad, and cucumber yogurt. If you have preferences for vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free food, this is a great spot for you with many dishes that will meet your needs.
4792 Summer Avenue
Daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
A sweet treat at La Michoacana
No day of food is complete without a stop at La Michoacana, a favorite stop on Summer. This family-run business was opened by Richard Gonzales and has thrived in Memphis, with its largest of five locations on Summer Avenue. While the ice cream is fantastic—and you can never go wrong with a banana split—La Michoacana is special because of its traditional Mexican desserts, like chamoyada and coctel, both fruit based. Chimoyada is a drink of blended mango and chamoy sauce; coctel is filled with fruits like apples, bananas, peaches ,and papaya with a special sauce on top. These desserts are fresh, tasty, and the perfect end to a day filled with incredible food. Kids—and kids at heart—can enjoy many flavors of popsicles. And if you’re still hungry after everything you’ve already eaten, check out the food menu that includes some very appetizing nachos you can split with family and friends.
4091 Summer Avenue
Daily 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
MacKenna Gordon moved from Portland, Oregon, to attend the University of Memphis and recently went back to the university for a master’s. She loves the Grizzlies and spends weekends seeking out new restaurants in town and kayaking at Shelby Farms. @mackennagordon
Elly Hazelrig, of Haze Photography & Media, is a Memphis-based photographer from Chicago. She aspires to inspire. @haze.photog