The Little Tea Shop in downtown Memphis got my attention when it was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Its always nice to find some new good food not so far away that only other hard core crazy food junkies can imagine driving (or flying) that far just to eat.
While I would not put The Little Tea Shop on the places-worth-driving-thousands-of-miles-to list, it is worth finding parking in downtown Memphis to get there. Each patron gets a copy of the paper menu with a pencil. Despite the "tea room" name, this meat-and-three diner has menu of daily choices followed by other classic dishes and deserts. My favorite portion of the meal was the cornbread sticks. I know true cornbread aficionados would cringe that it's not made in the traditional round cast-iron skillet but these are really good. Besides, in stick form you get more of the outside crusty goodness that gets consumed first anyway. The daily special fried catfish was quite good, as well as the chicken breast and the corned beef & cabbage.
From the outside, this isn't a place I'd likely have spotted from the street, much less stopped. The atmosphere is relaxed, and clearly this is the place to see and be seen among the locals, but not in an arrogant sort of way. The few non-regulars that day included myself and my group, plus those brave souls who'd ventured away from their revelry at Graceland during an event known locally as Dead Elvis Week. The service was friendly but the clearly small wait staff struggled to keep up. I've watch just enough of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives to tell when the host Guy Fieri is really into a place, and he seemed to really enjoy this stop. I guess if I ever meet him I owe him a meal for pointing out a few local gems that I might not have found otherwise.