Text by Claire Peeler | Photos courtesy of Justin Fox Burk
Memphis is not lacking in exceptional restaurants and gathering spots for both the younger crowd and families to enjoy, but when Railgarten opened its doors in April, visitors were amazed at what the new business had to offer. The Cooper Young complex seems never ending with inventive activities to experience in every building and outdoor space. It provides the perfect atmosphere both for families who want a place to bring their kids to play and young adults looking to enjoy a cocktail. From a ping pong bar, a diner and an ice cream parlor to a massive outdoor area equipped with a stage, tiki bar, playground, and much more, the range of offerings at Railgarten truly makes this place one of a kind.
Railgarten takes its name from its location on Midtown’s old railroad substation. The complex incorporates its unique history into its décor through the use of repurposed railroad equipment. In the outdoor area, also known as the yard, the stage and bar are both made from old train cars. Above the stage visitors will find the familiar “Roller Skate for Health” sign that once topped the Skateland roller rink on Summer Avenue.
Picnic tables scattered throughout the open-air space are the perfect place to enjoy a tropical drink from the tiki bar and chat with friends. The menu ranges from appetizers to share to more substantial entrees like the Korean Crispy Chicken Sandwich served with fries. After food comes fun on the sand volleyball court, kickball field, tire swings or Memphis’s first ping pong bar, with free play weekdays until 6 p.m. The fee for ping pong on weeknights and weekends is $10. For a more laid-back experience, hammocks beckon those who’d rather relax and sip a cocktail.
The diner, with head chef Aaron Gardner at the helm, operates under the philosophy that the Railgarten’s food should be as much fun as its atmosphere. The menu includes breakfast items available all day, along with a variety of interesting appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrees. The Bibimbap Salad, for example, features egg noodles, kale kimchi, arugula, avocado, toasted cashews, apricot chili glaze and sweet ginger aioli, and is topped with an egg. Traditional local fare isn’t left out, however. Food can’t get more “Memphis” than Railgarten’s pork and slaw sandwich.
Be sure to save room for something sweet from the ice cream parlor, where craft products from High Road Ice Cream in Atlanta are served. Whether you opt for a familiar favorite like vanilla, cookies and cream, or mint chocolate chip or go out on a limb with flavors like Thai Street Coffee and Bourbon Burnt Sugar, the ice cream parlor is the perfect place to cool down and cap off a visit to Railgarten.
For more information about Railgarten, visit www.railgarten.com.