Late last week a string of burger tweets came flying into my stream, all directed at me. That’s not entirely uncommon these days, especially with the article that just ran in the Commercial Appeal and the Best Memphis Burger Fest approaching rapidly. These particular Tweets were from Ken Rogers (no relation to the Gambler), a friend who writes the Ken’s Food Find blog. Ken’s really done a fine job covering local restaurants and eateries across all genres. In fact, it was Ken who first suggested to me that Sweden Kream’s burger played second to none.
So this particular night, Ken had found his way to a small, hole-in-the-wall neighborhood plate lunch restaurant called Cave’s Soulfood & More. Cave’s is located on the southwest corner of Jackson Ave. and Evergreen. If you aren’t looking for it, chances are you’ll miss it. I’m not completely sure about the circumstances, but it had something to do with his catching a bus and trying to be somewhere at a specific time. The just of the story is, Ken goes in, grabs a burger to go, tells me it’s the best he’s ever eaten, shoots me some pics, and then says if I don’t give it at least four stars, he’ll buy it for me.
If Ken buys me a burger, I’m buying him a camera. The picture he sent me did this burger no justice whatsoever. At best, it reminded me of a messy Sweden Kream burger, but bigger. I hope Ken knows I was just teasing about his picture. I really am flattered that he thought of me when he found a burger that he really enjoyed and engaged me to also give it a review. Within a week, and before I could get there, he had a review of Cave’s Soulfood up on his site. In it he again challenged me, saying that if I gave Cave’s burger less than 4 Stars, he’d buy it for me. The money didn’t bait me though. What did ruffle my knickers was when he said, “Cave’s cheeseburger is, in my opinion, the best in Midtown Memphis’ Vollintine-Evergreen neighborhood. This includes notable burgers from places such as Alex’s Tavern and Cafe Eclectic.”
I printed out Ken’s post and brought it down to my buddy, Big Tim’s office. I said, “would you look at this bullshit! Let’s go, now.”
Literally, we dropped everything right then and there and raced over to Cave’s Soulfood for the burger that Ken called, the best in Midtown Memphis.
Tim and I showed up close to 1:00 and the place was pretty empty. We made some small talk with one of the owners, telling her we heard she had some great burgers. We told her that guy, Ken who writes the food blog recommended we come get one and she smiled. After a little more chat about burgers and food in general, she took our orders, shared them her husband (Cave) in the back doing the cooking and we went and found a table. About 10 minutes later, Cave brought out our drinks and burgers all wrapped up in to-go boxes. I hate to-go boxes for two reason. I find the heat from the food creates a steam the makes things soggy very fast. Fried hotwings especially do not do well in to-go boxes. The other reason I don’t like them is they make it hard to take a good picture of the food. Since there are plenty of tables inside Cave’s, I’d suggest they ask patrons if they’re dining in or taking food to-go.
Ken’s Burger was obviously the victim of being steamed inside a box too long. Mine didn’t look a thing like the burger his review shows. Our’s were much less flattened. In fact, they were pretty big burgers. Easily a 1/2 lb each and sided with big steak fries. If I had to guess. I’d say they were the same Sysco fries that Huey’s and the Arcade serve.
I took a couple of moments to get the burger unwrapped from the foil it was boxed with and position it for photos. I admit I was a little worried. It looked really cooked. I didn’t request this particular burger to be cooked medium. I’ve come to learn that in neighborhood places like Roxie’s, Ms. Dee’s and Cave’s, there is only one temperature for burgers, Done. Even with that being said, this burger looked done, and then some. Oh well, I thought. Once my pictures were done I picked up the burger and bit in deep without any reservation.
Wow, I thought. Talk about some flavor. It wasn’t at all juicy as Ken mentioned. Burgers cooked that long don’t stay juicy. However, what I think he was trying to describe was the burger’s tenderness. If that’s the case he was right. It was a very tender burger patty loaded with a seasoning that I still can’t identify. The owner, Cave’s wife, refused to tell us what it was. If I have to guess, now that I’ve been thinking about it for a few days, I’d say it was a sausage seasoning. It had all the red pepper flakes and pieces of fennel seed that you’d find in sausage. Whatever it was, it was completely different than any other burger I’ve had thus far. I liked it, a lot.
In addition to the mystery seasoning, the burgers also had sauteed onion and pickle on them. Mine was dressed with a little ketchup, mayo and mustard. When all was said and done, we enjoyed two big tender burgers, loaded with a unique and tasty seasoning and complimented perfectly by toppings, condiments, and a regular wonder bun that didn’t take anything away from the burgers. For what it was, it really was great.
I take my hat off to the Cave’s Soulfood cheeseburger and give it the 4 out 5 stars it rightfully deserves. For the $7.10 price, it’s a delicious meal that you won’t soon forget.
Is it better than Alex’s or Eclectic? It wasn’t for me. Not even close. But like any burger, you have to go make up your own mind.
Cave’s Soulfood & More
1689 Jackson Ave.
Memphis, TN 38107
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