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Table Talk: July Fourth menu inspo from Memphis restaurateurs
Napa Café owner Glenda Hastings calls her Frosty Blended Watermelon “summertime in a glass.” (The Daily Memphian file)

Napa Café owner Glenda Hastings calls her Frosty Blended Watermelon “summertime in a glass.” (The Daily Memphian file)

With the Fourth of July this week, all I can think about is what will I be cooking on Thursday for the holiday.

Every year I mix it up a little. But most years, my menu includes watermelon, fresh corn, Ripley tomatoes, ice cream and something on the grill.

Looking for inspiration, I reached out to a few Memphis restaurateurs to find out what their favorite Fourth of July dishes are. 


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Bert Smythe, one of the owners of McEwen’s on Monroe, said it's hard to pick just one dish.

“If I could put deviled eggs, homegrown tomatoes and homemade peach ice cream in front of me on the Fourth, boy, that would bring back some memories,” he said.

Seems Smythe is not the only one who equates summer gatherings with peach ice cream.

Homemade peach ice cream is also a favorite Fourth of July memory for Corky’s BBQ owner Jimmy Stovall. 


 “My granddaddy always cooked barbecue for the entire family each year on the Fourth of July, and I couldn’t wait to have my grandmother’s homemade ice cream. It’s the perfect treat to cool you down in the hot Memphis weather,” he said.

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Jimmy Stovall uses his grandmother’s handwritten recipe card to make homemade peach ice cream. (Courtesy Jimmy Stovall)

To this day, Stovall still uses a recipe card handwritten by his grandmother, now torn and worn by use over the years. 


“I can still picture the wooden ice cream maker on the back patio,” he reminisced.

The Bar-B-Q Shop owner Eric Vernon said his favorite dish on any holiday (from Christmas to the Fourth of July) is made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese.

“The recipe that my family has been cooking for over 60 years is from my mom, Hazel Vernon,” said Eric. “My mom has sworn me to secrecy, so I can’t even give out the recipe to friends. Anyone who’s ever tasted my mom’s recipe for macaroni and cheese has said it’s one of the best that they’ve ever had. It is a very simple macaroni and cheese with a few different flavors of cheese, baked with a crust. Sometimes simplicity is the best.”

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Summer is all about watermelon for Glenda Hastings, the owner of Napa Café.

She likes to use this quintessential summer fruit to make a refreshing watermelon drink.

For her “Frosty Blended Watermelon,” she cuts up a large piece of a juicy, ripe watermelon (including a little bit of the white rind part and the seeds too) and pops it in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

“Don’t allow it to freeze completely. You want it frosty,” she said.

Then she places the frosty watermelon in a blender on high speed for 15 seconds and pours it into a chilled glass.

“July Fourth is always the first day of the year I drink my watermelon,” she said. “I dream about this first sip. It’s summertime in a glass.”

Kat Gordon of Muddy's Bake Shop said that her favorite dish to bring to a backyard barbecue is cold succotash salad. (The Daily Memphian file)

Kat Gordon, the owner of Muddy’s Bake Shop, said that her favorite dish to bring to a backyard barbecue is cold succotash salad.

“This succotash salad is always a big hit,” she said. “It’s really adaptable, too, and can easily accommodate other add-ins and swaps.”

She kindly shared her recipe with me, to pass along to you, too. Click here to see it in its entirety. 

Jennifer Chandler: Recipe Exchange: Cold succotash salad from Muddy’s owner Kat Gordon

I now know what to make for sides and dessert. The hard choice will be whether it's barbecue chicken, ribs or hot dogs on the grill. 

Do you have a favorite dish you make every year for this summer holiday? Feel free to let me know in the comments below. 

The week on Memphis’ restaurant scene

Cocozza owners Patrick and Deni Reilly announced the opening of a second location of their popular Italian eatery in Harbor Town. The new Coccoza will be in East Memphis.

Nashoba, a new gastropub, music venue and sports bar, opened in Collierville at the Shops at Carriage Crossing. It’s the latest concept from the team behind Pyro’s Fire Fresh Pizza, Abner’s Famous Chicken Tenders and Wolf River Brisket Co.

Maciel’s Tortas & Tacos opened its third location in Bartlett, and owner Manuel Martinez shared more on what to expect at his new taqueria opening later this summer. 

Petals of a Peony, Memphis’ first Sichuan restaurant, opened its second location in town. The new restaurant is in Overton Square in the building that once was home to Paulette’s

Just a month before Buckley’s announced last week it was closing, the steakhouse celebrated its 30th anniversary. Buckley’s owners and customers shared three decades of memories at this East Memphis eatery. (Plus one of the owners shared a recipe for their top-selling side dish.)

Greys Fine Cheeses and Entertaining added raclette and fondue to the menu in June. On the Sound Bites podcast, Greys’ owners Jackie Mau and Kurt Mullican talked about those two dishes, plus Mullican’s competition in the “Cheese Olympics” and an upcoming cheese festival in the works.

Wine Spectator recognized eight Memphis restaurants for their wine lists in their annual 2024 Restaurant Awards.

And for last week’s “$10 Deal,” Joshua Carlucci offered a refreshing recommendation: frozen paletas at Paleteria y Nevería Monarca

Thanks for joining me for this week’s Table Talk. Be sure to look for this column weekly for all the latest food news in Memphis.

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