‘Redneck gourmet’ cuisine tempts patrons at Memphis Mojo Café

Chef Steph Cook at Memphis Mojo Cafe

Chef Steph Cook of Memphis Mojo Cafe
Photos by Tyrone Randall

The Memphis Mojo Café in Bartlett offers “funky, soulicious” food in keeping with the vibe of Memphis, said Chef Steph Cook. Many of his customers say his restaurant has a midtown feel.

“I believe in food and that the concept of Memphis is marketable,” Cook said. “With Memphis Mojo Café, you can get that midtown aura in Bartlett without having to fight the traffic and crowds.”

Cook characterizes his culinary style and cuisine as “redneck gourmet,” primarily serving fresh-ground, hand-formed Angus beef burgers. Everything is fresh and made from scratch, as well as locally grown and sourced whenever possible. His sliders and burgers are the restaurant’s bestsellers, as well as the candied bacon and Mojo signature fries served with chorizo gravy. The sweet potato grits also are a crowd favorite. Originally conceived with a friend as fare for a food truck, the menu is moderately priced with burgers and sandwiches ranging from $7 to $10.

A self-taught chef, Cook has worked with some of the top executive chefs across the country, from Florida to Las Vegas. Locally, he has been an executive sous chef at the Madison Hotel and has previously worked at Hog & Hominy and the Ridgeway Country Club.

The café’s location has been the site of a few short-lived wing restaurants in the recent past, but Cook isn’t fazed. “We’ve probably done more business in just the three months that we’ve been here than both of those wing restaurants combined. Good food sells.”

Reviewers on websites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor and the restaurant’s Facebook page agree. Mary Ann Gross said, “Sliders are awesome. The Mojo fries will perk up your taste buds. They are so unique.”

Russ A. said, “This place is the bomb! You don’t expect to find a cool midtown-esque little café serving an awesomely original and delicious menu in Bartlett, but this is exactly what you get at the Memphis Mojo Café.”

The restaurant features paintings by Bartlett native Kevin Bowers. All of the paintings are for sale, and several have already been sold. Cook welcomes partnerships with local artists who may wish to showcase their art at Memphis Mojo Café. He said it helps the restaurant as well as the artist. While the restaurant space is somewhat small, Cook has hopes for expansion in the future.

A former drug addict and convicted felon who served a prison sentence after blacking out from partying and crashing his car into patrol officers, Cook often speaks to youth, sharing his story of how he turned his life around. With Memphis Mojo Café he says, “I’m having the best time of my life.”

The Memphis Mojo Café is at 7124 U.S. 64, #101, Bartlett. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday. For more information, go to the website at www.memphismojocafe.com or the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MemphisMojoCafe, or call the restaurant at (901) 207-6041.

Written by Linda Cooper, special to the Express.

Artwork by Kevin Bowers of Bartlett, displayed at Memphis Mojo Cafe

Paintings for sale by Bartlett artist Kevin Bowers adorn the walls at Memphis Mojo Cafe. Chef Steph Cook said he welcomes partnerships with additional local artists, as well.