Eat At Pepe's

I have a new favorite restaurant in Memphis. I’ve eaten there off and on for a couple years now but recently I’ve tried some new things and I’m telling you, this place is fantastic.

I know ya’ll midtowners think there’s nothing good outside the 240 loop, and I’m pretty sure if you saw this obscure little storefront in a Germantown strip mall with the nondescript “Mexican Deli” above the door, you would never, ever stop there. Your loss. Because what’s behind that suburban door is something you won’t get anywhere else for miles around – authentic Mexican food.

“We don’t serve cheese dip” is the unofficial slogan of Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana. Owner Pepe Magallanes from Mexico City said he waited 24 years for someone to open an authentic Mexican restaurant in Memphis before finally doing it himself. “Texas ruined Mexican food for the United States,” he laughs. “We don’t eat rice and beans out of a can at every meal. There are actually some very upscale restaurants in Mexico.”

Every morning Pepe or his [very handsome] son Johnathan are out shopping for food to serve in their restaurant. Nothing is ordered and delivered. They hand pick fresh fish, fruit, pork, avocados every morning. And you can taste it, too, because the fish tacos taste like you’re sitting at the seaside.

Once I took my husband in, we stretched into the fresh, chunky guacamole with the crispy tortilla chips and I thought I was about as close to heaven as one gets. Then this weekend I popped in for lunch and noticed that practically every table was eating corn on the cob. Corn on the cob? So I asked Pepe, “What’s that corn everyone’s eating?” He pointed to a photo on the wall behind me of a little vendor cart on the street in Mexico. He explained that this was a treat that was common there – steamed corn with butter, cojita cheese, red pepper. Okay, let me try one of those, I say. And…I’m speechless. I don’t even have the words. I’ve never tasted anything like it.

So if you’re out my way, I HIGHLY recommend Pepe’s place. But a couple of warnings: 1) they’re not in it for the money, so the hours are short. They close at like 8 or 9 even on the weekend, so make sure they’re going to be open. 2) Since the food is prepared fresh every day, they often run out of things like the guacamole when

you get closer to closing time. Go early to ensure you get a full selection. 3) Pepe will tell you that Las Tortugas isn’t open to the public. He only serves his friends and guests. So be nice.

Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana, 1215 S. Germantown, 751-1200,

Posted Monday, June 16th, 2008 at 12:00 pm
Filed Under Category: Eat Drink Shop
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