SideStreet Burgers, Olive Branch MS

If I may be allowed to wear my “well, some people in this hobby take me seriously, so I’ll speak seriously once in a while” hat for two paragraphs, I really don’t like it at all when people delete their blogs. Yeah, I understand that long, long-term blogging is uncommon, and many hobbyists lose interest and find new hobbies – or start families, that seems to derail or sideline quite a few bloggers who, upon becoming a daddy or mommy, elect to eat out a lot less – and let their blogs wrap up for a while. That’s disappointing, but understandable.

But when a food writer actually deletes the hard work they’ve done, that really does break my heart. As a historian, I can’t stand that. In our hobby, we’re documenting businesses and experiences with detail that we’d all actually kill to have about retail from the past. I don’t like it at all, but doubly so when the stories that are deleted are from really good writers. So on March 18, I tweeted the following on the subject: “Should you lose interest in blogging about culture, restaurants, real estate, don’t delete it. The work you did is valuable & should be kept around for people to see what these places looked like, what they served, etc. It’s fine to “retire,” but please don’t delete your work.” I really do mean that.

(This concludes the serious portion of this story. The rest is meant to be read with a silly smile, as usual.)

What prompted that? Earlier that morning, in the wee small hours, I had to turn the blog private for a while and delete eleven dead links to Evan Mah’s excellent old blog, The Toothfish, from old entries. Evan, now writing for Atlanta Magazine, had stopped writing his blog quite some time ago, but it was a shame to see all his hard work erased. It was also a tedious aggravation to edit eleven of our posts, but eh, that happens. Dang it.

Four days later, Marie and I spent Sunday morning playing with our three year-old son at CMOM, The Children’s Museum of Memphis, while the girlchild slept late. This place is just super. If you’ve got under-10s and you’re visiting Memphis, definitely take a Baby Mercy Break from barbecue and come here for about three hours. I could’ve played with their air-tunnel structure for about six myself. As many children’s museums as we’ve visited, this one’s in the top three. We enjoyed it on our last visit, but our son was then so small that we stayed in the toddler area, mainly. This time, we did everything and we all had a blast.

I asked Marie to pick a place for lunch once we got finished, and she liked the sound of a small burger joint about fifteen minutes’ drive back south into Mississippi. It’s called SideStreet and it’s in a ramshackle little building in the middle of nowhere on a road full of nothing, next to a Chevron, and it certainly serves up some darn good burgers. And in the most amusing of “small world” coincidences, Marie came back to the table after going back to ask the owner a couple of questions and mentioned to him where we were from. She handed me the owner’s business card and said, “The chef says that his brother’s a food critic in Atlanta.”

Yep, four days after I got a little aggravated with Evan Mah for deleting his blog, we ended up in his brother Jonathan’s restaurant.

Jonathan Mah seems like a very fun fellow, changing his menu as his whimsy takes him. I was initially disappointed with one little change, but boy, it turned out all right. One of his regular sides is – usually – Cincinnati-style chili, which you just can’t get in Atlanta, not since America’s Top Dog closed all those years ago. I forgot the burger all of a sudden, we’d just have a bucket of that. And by we, I mean me, because Marie, madly, does not appreciate Cincinnati chili, which is kind of like not appreciating sunrise, if you ask me.

Sadly, Chef Mah told us that he had a red wine chili today. “I just felt like a change. I do that. But it’s really good.” He wasn’t kidding. Marie and I each enjoyed his really good burgers, which The Life of JWo explains are baked in a convection oven rather than grilled, but this chili was completely wonderful. We enjoyed two more very good restaurants for supper that evening, but the chili was the best thing I had all day.

Now, if Gold Star or Skyline would kindly open a location in Atlanta so I can get Cincinnati chili regularly, that would be lovely.

Anyway, Marie and I each had the standard SideStreet burger, and I dressed mine with lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo as I tend to do. I’ve found that ordering much the same thing at each burger place that we visit gives me a better feel for their “base line,” if you will. You get to dress the burgers yourself from a little topping bar, although many of the restaurant’s fun specials (which, according to their Facebook page, have lately included a bacon pimento melt, chicken cordon bleu, gyros, and the omnipresent Fat Panda, a “Korean-style sirloin” burger dressed with cilantro and Sriracha mayo) come pre-dressed.

Seating is at a premium here, and we arrived just before the church rush, so we couldn’t linger with so many people waiting for tables. Seriously though, on Sundays, come early and come often. The burgers are very good, the chili is terrific, and this place is definitely on our short list to revisit on our next trip to Memphis, because I’d like a Fat Panda and a big ole bowl of whatever chili is available. I’m sure it’ll be great.

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3 thoughts on “SideStreet Burgers, Olive Branch MS

  1. That’s a great story, but could I just say YES PLEASE open a Skyline Chili in Atlanta!!

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