For our June sandwich of the month, Laura Notarianni brings us The Elvis sandwich from the legendary Arcade Restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee.
Written by Laura Notarianni
Walking into The Arcade diner in Memphis, Tennessee was like traveling through the spacetime continuum. Suddenly I was Marty McFly emerging from the DeLorean into the home of vinyl, vintage 501s, soda-pop and where everything on the menu just tastes better fried.
I was immediately hit with the sights, sounds and smells of the classic Americana dining experience – and whether or not it was possible, I was feeling nostalgic for the 50s and 60s and for a country in which I wasn’t born.
Having just come from an afternoon at Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion, how better to address my hunger pains than to indulge in his infamously favorite sandwich – fried peanut butter and banana on white bread – which The Arcade itself is celebrated for.
The Arcade is an iconic Memphis dining hotspot – for locals and tourists alike, beloved for being it’s oldest restaurant.
On the menu, the sammy is titled simply “The Elvis” – and described as his “original sandwich, Peanut Butter ‘N Banana.” It’s not complicated or fancy. The ingredients are just as its description indicates – made with two slices of white Wonder bread, slathered with a liberal but certainly not excessive amount of crunchy peanut butter and slices of fresh banana, panfried like a grilled cheese sandwich, served with a side of fries, fruit, iceberg or potato salad. But let’s be real here, you’re not ordering this for the sides – you’re ordering this for the experience of the sandwich alone and the story you get to tell after you’ve sat where the King has sat and have tasted one of his favourites. Elvis is known for being a lover of food, but its this particular sandwich that’s knocked out all other of his beloved contenders and earned his namesake. Something so simple and wonderful, you can recreate it in the comfort of your own kitchen. Or your parents’ kitchen. Something tells me it’d just taste better in your childhood home.
In no time my order was sitting in front of me and the anticipation of that first bite was almost too much to take. To say I inhaled it would be an understatement. For a chick who eats a fairly strict high-protein, low-carb diet, that first bite tasted like what I imagine a hit of some highly addictive drug must taste like to a jonesing addict.
So did it live up to the hype? It certainly did. Warm, creamy and smooth, with just the right amount of sticky goodness that only a glass of milk could compliment. The taste of the sandwich was this incredible combination of hearty, filling sweetness perfect for any meal of the day, an indulgent snack – or, my personal preference being to satisfy a late night/early morning craving in a desperate attempt to soak up alcohol.
As an Elvis enthusiast, it’s sad to think the King is no longer with us – however his memory remains – and not just in his music or movies or absurd corral of impersonators – but in the form of an easy to replicate sandwich – one that may be simple in execution, but crazy bold in taste.
A sandwich certainly fit for a King… Or in my case a Queen.
Follow Laura on Twitter: @LoNotarianni