Photos by Justin Fox Burks
You’ll need two hands to eat the smoked salmon, cream cheese, egg, and capers bagel at Elwood’s Shack, located near Perkins and Summer Avenue.
Bagels in Memphis are a hard sell for someone like me, whose New York in-laws used to stuff their suitcases with the city’s signature food whenever they came to visit. Still, I keep trying, which is why I settled on an everything bagel at Elwood’s Shack, an average bookend made extraordinary by the food layered inside.
The thick salmon slice, smoked for three hours and finished with the trio of lemon, lime, and orange juices, may be the sandwich’s leading lady, but don’t tell that to the bagel’s other co-stars: capers, tomato cream cheese, sliced red onions, and a soft poached egg. Oversized and messy to eat, I took a break every minute or so to make comments to my dinner-mates like, “Oh my gosh, this is so good,” before wolfing down a few more scrumptious bites.
Although Elwood’s has been open for a year and a half, I hadn’t eaten there until enthusiastic reviews from friends prompted me to call in a dinner order on a recent Saturday night. I’d visited the location when it was Pizza Shack, but I noticed a tide change as soon as I pulled up to the red cinderblock building on the north side of the Lowe’s parking lot near Summer and Perkins. Outside, couples, kids, and families filled every picnic table. Inside, a line for both placing and picking up orders snaked from the kitchen counter to the front door.
As I waited (the line moved quickly), I was impressed by the pizzas whizzing by topped with thick and fragrant chunks of pulled pork, smoked in-house like the restaurant’s salmon, beef brisket, and turkey. But for our order, we stuck with sandwiches: an excellent Reuben on rye made New York-style with house-made pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and 1000 Island Dressing; a club so substantial my mom could only eat half; and my outstanding bagel.
The restaurant had sold out of its signature pecan pie, so we opted for a slice of chocolate cake garnished with a fat strawberry and large enough to share. Our bill was $32.
If, like me, you’ve missed trying Elwood’s Shack, move it into your dining rotation. Open for breakfast (7-10:30 a.m.) and lunch/dinner (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.), the menu revolves around expertly prepared meats and offers a number of popular options, including breakfast biscuits ($3.50), Texas beef brisket with pickle, onion, and sauce ($7.50), and Steelehead trout tacos with field greens, avocado, pico de gallo, and creamy horseradish sauce ($11).
4523 Summer Avenue (901-761-9898)