T he culinary concept behind Heritage Tavern — familiar food from across the country — has a simple start. Owner Mike Miller is a proud American. “I’m a patriot,” he says. “I wanted to celebrate our culinary heritage with food that people remember from traveling and from growing up.”
An ambitious undertaking, Miller pulled from research, staff suggestions, and his own restaurant chops (he also owns Patrick’s on Park Avenue) to develop a regional menu that lets customers eat their way from Maine to California with appetizers, soups, sandwiches, and entrees. Some dishes fit firmly in place, like the top-selling carnitas tamales that anchor the menu’s southwest corner. The dish starts as pork shoulder, rubbed with dried chili puree and smoked over hickory for half a day. Hand-rolled and steamed, the tamales build a happy plate with pico de gallo, garlic ranchero sauce, and sour cream.
The regionalization of other dishes is more inspirational than geographic. Skewered Frisco shrimp is sourced from the Gulf of Mexico, but its West Coast orientation, brushed on before grilling, is Green Goddess dressing, a creamy invention created in 1923 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
Open since early August in the Regalia Shopping Center, Heritage combines good value, scratch cooking, premium well drinks, and Friday night fried chicken specials in an East Memphis neighborhood populated by pricier restaurants. Plus, customers can play the menu game to authenticate their culinary roots. A New Yorker, my husband headed for New England clam chowder on our first visit. I ordered pork chops with cinnamon apples and a side of onion slaw, predictable behavior for a Maryland native who adopted Tennessee.
6150 Poplar Ave., Suite 122 (901-761-8855) $$. Open for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch.
Grinders stuffed with marinara and Italian sausage or meatballs
Trio of premium well drinks and wine.
Strawberry shortcake with creme Anglaise
Baskets with house-made muffins and cornbread.