Photos by Justin Fox Burks
“You had to come back! You just had to come back for those Ultimate Hash Browns,” the lively lady called out to us from behind the griddle. We immediately felt like regulars even though we had never been to E’s 24 Hour Cafe before. We smiled and nodded in agreement, and she began to quickly set up our order.
So, how did we land at E’s on a warm spring evening? We’d recently started wondering why we had never been to the restaurant that’s closest to our house. We set off on foot with a plan to have breakfast for dinner at E’s on Park Avenue in East Memphis. (E’s also has three other locations across town on Union, Poplar, and Summer.)
It’s almost impossible to go into E’s, look at the menu, and not immediately think back to CK’s Coffee Shop because a sizeable chunk of our generation’s teenage years were spent at the booths at the back of CK’s: early morning before school to drink coffee with friends; late nights spent dropping quarters into the jukebox before we were old enough to get into bars; and anytime we needed an evocative place to write forlorn poetry in a tattered journal. We were fueled by the hash browns, cheese omelettes, buttered toast, and caffeine.
When it was time to order, we took the cook’s advice and went with the Ultimate Hash Browns topped with scrambled eggs and bracketed with a side of heavily buttered toast. If someone’s going through the trouble and risk of deeming something “ultimate,” then we know we’ve got to try it. The potatoes come with peppers, onions, tomatoes, and ham mixed into shredded potatoes and cooked on the flat-top grill. The whole mess is drowned in cheddar. It was comforting and delicious.
For old time’s sake, we had to try a cup of coffee and the cheese omelette stuffed with jalapeños and onions. This was a well-executed, no-frills plate full of food that was seriously satisfying. The standout, however, was the thin, crispy, egg-y waffle that was the size of a dinner plate. It seems as though E’s philosophy on food is to give you plenty of good stuff — and then add on just a little more.
There’s no sommelier, no maitre d’, and no white tablecloths at E’s, and there are no pesky reservations to make. Instead, it’s plenty of hearty food and the full diner experience to go along with it.
Since eating at E’s, we’ve mentioned to a couple of people that we tried the restaurant. We’ve gotten two reactions: either a knowing look and an “Of course, I’ve been there!” or piqued curiosity and an “I’ve got to finally try that place!” So go ahead and stop by soon, and you just might find yourself making plans to go back for those Ultimate Hash Browns, too.
E’s 24 Hour Cafe, 4969 Park Avenue (901-683-4388)
Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence