We love the do-it-yourself ordering process at the Little Tea Shop. Every customer gets a one-page printed menu of the day – there is a different menu for each day of the week – with a little box next to each item. Like voting with an old-fashioned ballot, you put a check mark in the box next to each dish you want to elect for your lunch.
We vote for the everyday Tea Shop special of turnip greens. These are big-time greens, whole-leaf heaps of heavy vegetable goodness, soft and dark, with a commanding tonic flavor. They are served with corn sticks on the side; a common custom is to crumble the corn into the greens as one eats.
Many of the downtown crowd who have made the Little Tea Shop their mid-day home for decades come to eat nothing more than a chicken salad sandwich, but if you are looking for a (non-barbecue) taste of Memphis, look to the top of the menu for such once-a-week treats as fried chicken on Tuesday, chicken and dressing Wednesday, and fried catfish Friday. Good as such entrees are, this kitchen’s vegetables are their equal: creamed potatoes or sliced candied yams, fried corn, baked squash, black-eyed peas, or scalloped tomatoes … plus, of course, those lovely little corn sticks to munch alongside.
The dessert list is short and wonderful: apple cobbler, cobbler with ice cream or – our choice – a frozen pecan ball with hot fudge.