153 Beale Street
Memphis, TN 38103
When you think Beale Street, most people think Blues. BB King. Smoky dive bars, neon lights. In actual fact, it is crowded with tourist bars, clubs, and a lot of tourists. Except for the Black Diamond.
We didn’t plan on coming here. Our plan was to go to Dyer’s for some fried burgers. But they were closed. And an impromptu torrential downpour meant we had to seek shelter, especially when caught without an umbrella – a bad decision in Memphis in general. We found a place that was close, and not overly crowded. “Black Diamond” written in neon. Sure, why not.
Plastic chairs and dirty tables. Locals who didn’t appreciate their space being invaded. Smoking indoors (ack!). There were no blues, but there was football. And beer. Cold beer.
People would expect places like the Black Diamond to have bad service – well surprisingly enough, it was quite good. The server was friendly, and efficient. And he brought beer, menus, and took our orders. No complaints.
We were all starving. He suggested the Pizza was actually quite good. The way he said “quite good” with a tone of surprise implied that other things might not be as good. We ordered the pizza. $16 bucks for 3 toppings on a 16″. Not bad.
The pizza that came was surprisingly decent. I’m not sure if it was extreme hunger, but we polished it off, fast. The crust was a touch “bready”, but it was decent, and i’ve had much worse. The toppings were ample, and well proportioned. The cheese had a touch of that waxy texture to it, which i really dislike, but with a decent sauce, i have to say all told, it was decent pizza. We’re not talking Napoletana style here. But for bar food, this was good.
I, being a huge fan of chicken fingers, had to order some as well. Mostly because i was still hungry, but i hate to pass up chicken fingers! Well breaded, crisp, and moist on the inside, these were amply sized (southern sized for sure), reasonably seasoned but a bit salty, and great value at $7. The fries were distinctly average, but hey, two out of three isnt bad.
All told, Black Diamond is not gourmet, it is not the best of Memphis, and it isn’t going to rock anyone’s world. But in the heart of a tourist strip, where prices are ridiculous and the food fails to match, Black Diamond is a pretty reasonable place. Reasonable prices for reasonable food, cold beer, and some interesting conversation. That works for me, rain or no rain.