Let me preface this review with a confession: I am a creature of habit. When I sing the praises of a dining spot, what that really means is I am singing the praises of a particular dish at said dining spot. Buffets notwithstanding, there are only two exceptions to this rule. RP Tracks is one of them. Over the years I’ve eaten no fewer than a dozen dishes and loved them all. Granted, I have my favorite….but the fact that there are multiple menu items that I’ve ordered more than once speaks volumes about my adoration of all things Tracks.
Virtually every local I asked immediately recalled the discounted shots when the train passes. Who doesn’t love drink specials? In fact, I have some hazy recollections of adventures there during my University of Memphis days. 😉
However, do not make the mistake of dismissing RP Tracks as a college bar.
RP Tracks is a restaurant with a bar, and the food is spectacular. It’s certainly popular with the coeds, especially given its close proximity to campus, but it is truly a restaurant for all ages. Solo students perched on a barstool watching the game, couples whispering in a corner booth, families with children—all spotted during my most recent visit.
Owned by Peter Moon and Rick Johns, RP Tracks has served the Memphis community for 25 years. It is one of the few restaurants still owned and operated by the original owners—and the two do not take this responsibility lightly. Moon speaks passionately about his vision for the restaurant, which includes plans for an outdoor patio area, and a commitment to affordable prices. Along with manager Jeff Potter, the enthusiasm is contagious, and it comes as no surprise that business is booming.
A massive overhaul of Walker Avenue promises to enhance the establishment and further solidify its status as a Memphis landmark. Yet within the cozy interior it’s the new weekend brunch that’s making waves. Served on Saturday and Sunday from 11-3, I jumped at the opportunity to accompany my aunt to a leisurely post-church meal.
No better partner in culinary crime exists than my fellow bon vivant, Aunt Sarah. I must give credit where it is due—she’s never met a stranger—and our mutual passion for vino only enhances the dining experience. To commence our meal at RP Tracks we opted to honor brunch tradition with a round of Bloody Marys, a beverage that warrants its own paragraph about my rating system.
Despite my frequent consumption of the spicy tomato elixir of the gods, I feel woefully inadequate with my descriptive abilities. Here’s the simple breakdown of my criteria:
1) How does the mixer taste?
2) When it comes to alcohol and spice—too much or not enough? I’m not ordering vodka shots with Zing Zang, I want a Bloody Mary. And if it’s too spicy for me I guarantee the average citizen is probably in tears.
3) And what about the extras? Garnish and other special touches make my heart happy;
Mary would be proud. Tracks does her eponymous drink justice. Bonus points for the three jumbo olives and completely submerged pickle.
If a Bloody or Mimosa isn’t your cup of spiked punch, wine starts at $5 and there’s a good selection of beer.
Since Aunt Sarah and I diligently count calories we gave our math skills a workout by selecting two entrees apiece. She ordered the Brunch Burger and a waffle while I chose the Marvelous Chicken and Quatro Queso quesadilla.
The Brunch Burger includes two 4 oz. Angus beef patties with apple wood bacon, sautéed onions, and pepper jack cheese served on an English muffin. Aunt Sarah requested her hollandaise sauce on the side. She praised the patty and dunked liberally into the hollandaise. With the exception of my yearly filet at Ruth’s Chris I’m not too keen on red meat—so I only took a bite. Yet that carnivorous nibble pleasantly surprised me as it had the taste of something I’d get at Ruth’s Chris as opposed to the typical hamburger.
Sampling Aunt Sarah’s waffle introduced me to the glory that is RP Tracks’ homemade maple infused whipped cream. Delectable. Scrumptious. Perfection. You know the diner scene from When Harry Met Sally? That’s exactly how I felt after the maple infused whipped cream. My manners flew out the window as I stuck my fingers in the cream and licked them clean. RP Tracks’ tragic flaw is that they do not offer mason jars filled with this divinity.
My absolute favorite dish at Tracks is the Quatro Queso. I’ve been eating it for years. Smoked gouda, feta, and cheddar jack cheeses ooze out of a tomato basil tortilla. Aunt Sarah says it’s comfort food but I view it as a 24/7 food. As soon as I pass through the pearly gates I hope I’m handed a Quatro Queso with a mason jar of maple infused whipped cream so that my palate is satisfied for all eternity.
Marinated chicken breast, thick cut apple wood smoked bacon, and Swiss cheese comprise the Marvelous Chicken. However, my penchant for maple infused whipped cream and my other entrée forced me to box the sandwich in its entirety. Upon waking from my food coma I consumed the sandwich cold and it was the perfect late night snack.
All the money in the world couldn’t convince me to eat anything that derives from a coconut—so when Aunt Sarah insisted I try the coconut praline icebox pie I decided it would be a delightful treat for my mother. Suffice it to say she has a new favorite dessert.
Only as I tucked my leftovers into the fridge did I notice the conspicuous absence of Styrofoam. A quick virtual search confirmed that RP Tracks is indeed certified by Project Green Fork, an initiative that ‘contributes to a sustainable Mid-South by helping reduce environmental impacts, with a focus on strengthening homegrown restaurants.’ Read more about Project Green Fork and their rigorous six step certification process here.
Perhaps if you’re a Memphian you’ve made the correlation between RP Tracks and RP Billiards. Located a stone’s throw from Tracks, Billiards calls the Highland Strip home, and offers multiple pool tables along with a kitchen and a bar. Patrons entering RP Billiards certainly can’t miss bartender Scotty James and signature top hat.
Here’s what Scotty told me about the job he adores: “It doesn’t matter how many people come to your bar…it’s how many come back!! Making people feel at home is very important. Serving a quality product consistently provides people with comfort. You have to convince customers that you truly care about them—and do it every day.”
And care he does. Scotty’s charismatic personality gives him an easy rapport with those who come to his bar and he consistently goes above and beyond to accommodate customers. Multiple postings on Scotty’s Facebook confirm he was sorely missed by yours truly.
Just as Scotty James boasts a loyal following, servers and bartenders at RP Tracks offer an impeccable customer service experience. Prompt and attentive service combined with friendly, personable employees creates a welcoming atmosphere for regulars and newcomers alike—which is no easy feat considering the steady crowd. Oh yeah, and did I mention the delectable food?!
Whether you’re seeking a few rounds of pool, weekend brunch, a satisfying dinner, or reasonably priced drinks—find it all at RP Tracks.
3547 Walker Avenue / Memphis