Memphis may be a far cry from the islands, but Evelyn & Olive offers a little taste of Jamaica. This quaint little eatery and wine bar has been open for awhile, and I knew they had vegan options. But for some reason, I'd put off trying them out. Evelyn & Olive is tucked away in a Madison Avenue storefront that I rarely drive past, so I guess it just slipped my mind.
But now I wish I'd stopped in sooner because this place is AMAZING with a capital "A" (and as you can see, a capital "MAZING" too). It's that good. My friend Leslie and I had lunch there a few weeks back. She started with a glass of Jamaican Sorrel, a drink made from hibiscus:
I'd never heard of sorrel, and I assumed it'd be some hot tea drink. And I'm not a huge fan of fruity, herbal hot teas, so I passed. But when this frosty glass arrived at the table, I was pretty jealous. I tasted it, and it had a remarkably tangy flavor that was kind of awesome. I'm ordering this next time.
We had Fried Plantains for an appetizer:
These were yummy, but they were a little sweet for my tastes. I prefer to eat plantains when they're not fully ripe so they're less sweet. But we added salt and they tasted much better.
The real treat came when my entree arrived. These are the Black Bean Tacos with Rice & Peas:
Now, black bean tacos may not sound that interesting. But y'all, they put magic in these tacos. Black beans, seasoned tofu, homemade slaw, and kiwi salsa are stuffed into crunchy shells. Wow. I could eat these every day and be happy. I don't know what they use to season the tofu, but I'm pretty sure that's the special ingredient because it has an amazing flavor. The tender rice with pigeon peas was a perfect and filling side.
Leslie ordered the Marley Meal — Kingston Cabbage, Rice & Peas, and a Cucumber & Tomato Salad:
I didn't try her cabbage, but I've been hearing nothing but good things about their cabbage sauteed with sweet peppers and Caribbean spices since the day this place opened. It's legendary. I'll have to try that next time if I can pry myself away from those tacos.
Other veg menu options at Evelyn & Olive include a black bean veggie wrap with mango BBQ sauce (ask for no cheese) and a chipotle black bean burger (I don't know if this is vegan). Plus, there are a couple more vegetarian options for all y'all cheese-eaters out there.
Evelyn & Olive is located at 630 Madison. Call 901-748-5422.