Southern people are big fans of the meal known as the “meat and three”. A typical meat and three includes some kind of meat (think fried chicken or catfish, maybe turkey and dressing) and three vegetables of your choice on the side. Usually, the vegetables are distinctly Southern – fried okra, slaw, green beans seasoned with salt pork, and fried green tomatoes are usually on the list.
But in Memphis, there seem to be a few items on the vegetable list that aren’t quite like the others. Mostly, I’m talking about macaroni and cheese.
You see that? It’s my meat (fried catfish) and two vegetables from Alcenia’s on North Main. Yes, one of those vegetables is macaroni and cheese. Yum!
Alcenia’s is a tiny, colorful soul food joint that serves a daily rotation of home-cooked meats and vegetables. They’ve got brunch on Sunday, too. Alcenia’s also serves a beverage called Ghetto Aid that’s a super sweet mashup of three different Kool-Aid flavors that makes Ching’s Orange Mound Punch seem logically sweetened.
The food at Alcenia’s is incredible – the green beans were perfectly seasoned, the macaroni was gloriously cheesy, and the catfish was very lightly breaded. The service was insanely affectionate – at one point, the owner, B.J. Chester-Tomayo, came over and gave me a big hug and a kiss on the head. Aww!
You can get your Alcenia’s fix daily at their downtown restaurant, or during the summer at the downtown farmer’s market.