This blog is devoted to highlighting restaurants of Memphis, Tennessee.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wet Willie's

More Than Daiquiris

Recently, I visited Wet Willie's during lunch breaks from my job at the FedExForum. It wasn't something planned, at least not initially. When I go out on foot for lunch, I usually go to the Flying Saucer, Aldo's Pizza Pies or Bardog Tavern because they are among my favorite places to go to. Sometimes I'll deviate from those three, but not often. For the most part, I avoid Beale Street because it's a little more expensive than average. However, it is convenient if I need quick take-out during busy days at the arena or if I don't feel like walking. My first food-only visit to Wet Willie's fell into the latter category not only for its location but also to satisfy my curiosity. With all the drinks that I've had there previously, I wanted to know if the food could hang with the alcohol. I didn't go to Wet Willie's expecting much, for I'm probably one of the few who goes there to grub.


After looking over the menu, I went with the Too Hot to Handle Burger (called “Burn Baby Burn” on Wet Willie’s website). I anticipated a very delicious burger, for the menu described it as “blackened and topped with Louisiana Hot Sauce, sautéed pickled jalapeños and pepper jack cheese.” However, despite the menu description of “blackened” beef, the meat's appearance and taste had no evidence of spices or seasoning that is associated with that style of cooking. In all likelihood, the daiquiri bar grills the beef in a manner that's common for most restaurants. As for it being “too hot to handle,” the burger barely stirred my senses. Although it had some spiciness, it didn’t force me to drink enormous amounts of water. I’m not saying that it wasn’t a good burger, but its spiciness and flavor doesn’t come close to great ones like Kooky Canuck’s Holy Smoke! Burger. This is just an ordinary cheeseburger with spicy components that many restaurants offer.


Several weeks later, I went to Wet Willie's again for another quick lunch. Initially, I wanted to get something along the lines of "bar food" like hot wings or chicken tenders, but I changed my mind when I saw a familiar sandwich on the menu. Among those listed is Wet Willie's version of the Drunken Chicken Sandwich. When I saw it, my first thought was "how does it compare to Johnny G's 'drunken' sandwich?" I really like "G's" version because it's very spicy and flavorful. Unfortunately, Wet Willie's version is nothing more than a grilled chicken sandwich with a mildly spicy sauce (in the form of its Famous Tequila Sauce) that didn't have the pizzazz of its Beale Street counterpart. Without the sauce, Wet Willie's sandwich is something that anyone can make including novice cooks like me. The chicken (breast) lacks seasoning and depends on sauce for most of its flavor. Like the burger I had earlier, Wet Willie's Drunken Chicken Sandwich is a decent, unexciting sandwich that I wouldn't go out of the way for (even when I'm working near Beale Street).
Suffice it to say, Wet Willie's isn't the bastion of fine cuisine. As most people know, the restaurant/bar is famous for its frozen daiquiris. Although I'm not much into the frozen drinks, I usually get the crowd favorite "Call A Cab" that's loaded with 190 proof grain alcohol and Bacardi rum. The drink is so strong that it only takes two to overwhelm me to the point where I need to, well, call a cab (unless its New Year's Eve, in which case I'll use the smartphone app Taxi Magic). The "Call A Cab" is a very good drink but not for the weak.
After a few food-related visits to Wet Willie's, I can't say that it impressed me. Based on the entrées that I had, the food is mediocre at best. However, I don't believe that the bar/restaurant's owners worry about that, so long as the daiquiris remain strong with people yearning for them. Wet Willie's is definitely more of nightspot to party at than a restaurant, so I wouldn't recommend it as a family-friendly place. But for whose who like to get after it while listening to live music, Wet Willie's is a nice option among many on Beale Street. For those who get food, a couple of "Call A Cabs" should put them in a good enough mood to like whatever they're eating. As long as they don't throw up.


Hitting The Streets

If you're heading south down Danny Thomas Blvd. between Beale Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Ave., beware of the black ice stemming from a busted water main near a high-rise public housing project. I'm not sure if the water is coming from underground or a fire hydrant (a lot of ice surrounds it), but it has been ongoing for the past several months. Most of the time, this is a nuisance that most can ignore but not during freezing temperatures. Especially at night and during morning hours, the ice poses a dangerous road hazard. As it relates to Beale Street nightclubs like Wet Willie's, a slick street can worsen the situation of an intoxicated person who shouldn't be driving in the first place. I believe it's time for the City of Memphis to fix this, for the water leak is costing taxpayers money as well as endangering their safety. Also, it puts the city at risk from a liability standpoint if some Corey B. Trotz wannabe wants to sue on behalf of an accident victim. I hope city officials take notice (including those in Mayor A.C. Wharton's office who follow this blog on Twitter), for this is a problem that needs immediate attention. Anyway, that's my two cents on another non-food topic.

Wet Willie's on Urbanspoon

Website: www.wetwillies.com

Labels: Appetizers/Bar Food, Beale Street, Burgers, Chain Restaurants, Commentary, Downtown, Sandwiches



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