Robert Hunter wrote, ” Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” For some reason that Scarlet Begonias lyric came to mind this past Friday afternoon when I stepped out of Alex’s Tavern having just enjoyed their amazing Greek Burger. I suppose it was because Alex’s was the last place in Memphis I thought a Grail burger would be served. Alex’s, located just east of Jackson Avenue and North Watkins, is owned by Rocky Kasaftes. Rocky’s father, Alex, opened Alex’s in 1953 and it remains the oldest family owned tavern in Memphis.
Alex’s Tavern is a bar that stays open until 3 am, only serves beer and is argued to have the very best jukebox in the city. Alex’s is also known for their Greek Burger. I challenge you to google Alex’s Tavern and find an Urbanspoon, Yelp or any Commercial Appeal post that doesn’t mention their burger as one of Memphis’ best. And that’s what I came for. Rumor has it that their chicken drummies and ribs are also second to none. There’s a comforting atmosphere and nostalgic personality at Alex’s. Whether it’s your first time there or your 100th time, you feel right at home when you sit down.
We arrived at Alex’s shortly after they opened around noon and settled into a barstool. Their menu is etched into a big beer poster hanging over the bar. Classic! Over time, price changes have been taped over the original print. My friend Dylan knew the bartender, Andy, who also cooked our lunch. We started making some small talk and then Dylan blew my cover. He told Andy about my search for the Best Memphis Burger and the blog site. “Well, hell! You might as well call off the search”, Andy said. I laughed and ordered a burger anyway. Andy smiled a “just you wait” grin and disappeared into the kitchen. While we waited for our food, I had a few minutes to look around Alex’s. There are signed pictures of several celebrity patrons hanging around the bar, some very interesting graffiti in the rest room and a couple very sentimental photos of Rocky and his father and Rocky and the late John “Bad Dog” McCormack, Rocky’s life long best friend.
After about 15 minutes, Andy reappeared from the kitchen with our burgers. I almost laughed aloud when I saw my burger heading towards me on one of those Styrofoam three-sectioned plates. The small partition was filled with ketchup, the large partition was loaded with seasoned fries and the other held my burger. Alex’s isn’t going to win any awards for presentation. However, what they may lack in presentation, they make up for in taste. Alex’s Greek Burger is by far one of the best I’ve had so far. Sorry Uncle Lou! Time to move over a little bit. You finally have some competition in this burger quest. And what a burger it is!
I was served a good 1/3 – 1/2 lb., hand formed patty, seasoned generously with Cavendars Greek Seasoning and some special black pepper which Rocky keeps a secret. It was thick like the one I was served at the Belmont Grill. That’s the only similarity in the two burgers. Alex’s Greek Burger was cooked to perfection. It was served medium, just how I like it. It was crisp on the outside and hot and pink inside. Each bite was mouthwateringly juicy and loaded with that peppery Greek flavor. The bun wasn’t anything special, other than it held the burger together up until the very last bite. It was served with mustard, pickles, onion and a slice of tomato. It was so good that I found myself eating slower than usual just to savor each bite.
Alex’s fries were quite tasty too. I’m pretty sure they’re the same fries you get at Huey’s. These however were nice and crisp and also generously seasoned with Cavendars. They weren’t greasy at all and complimented the burger nicely.
On our way out, Dylan and I paid a visit to Rocky’s office. We found him sitting at a small desk on the side of the kitchen filing some paperwork. He sounded pretty excited about my thoughts on his burger and offered to personally make me an even better one the next time I came by. If that burger can be done better, I’ll be back real soon.
I give Alex’s Tavern Greek Burger 4.5 out of 5 stars. As of this posting, it’s one of the top two burgers I’ve ever had. Absolutely a must have!
1445 Jackson Ave
Memphis, TN 38107
If you have a favorite burger that you think is Memphis’ best or that I need to try and review, please drop a note in my suggestion box.