Food in Memphis is a definite not-to-be missed experience. In fact, there are so many great places to go that it’s difficult to even know where to start. Are you looking for a specific location? What about a specific kind of taste? Here are our 23 best places to eat in Memphis.
Best Places To Eat in Memphis, TN: By Location
Best Restaurants in Midtown Memphis, TN
Midtown Memphis is a charming place, residential and commercial areas running into and blending with each other. It is the heart of arts and education in Memphis, the neighborhood displaying the institutions side by side.
The Pancake Shop
This is a rare 24-hour all-day-and-night breakfast experience. It is a place to find local food, prepared in the traditional way. Country ham steak is their specialty, pan-fried after soaking for hours. That way it comes to the plate tender enough to bite. The Pancake Shop itself is charming: it has a homey feel and looks like a country-style home.
Chef Kelly English fell in love with Memphis and bought his first restaurant there, now Restaurant Iris. Its specialty is French-Creole cuisine: lobster with tomatoes and tarragon, called a “knuckle sandwich;” seared gulf redfish ponchartrain, accompanied by green onion risotto and crawfish. Restaurant Iris is both homelike and grand, well-lit and welcoming.
Best Restaurants in Downtown Memphis, TN
Downtown Memphis is the central business district, and has a large number of shopping and dining centers in that space. This commercial area can be confusing if you are not sure where to go. Here are our best places to eat in Memphis, Downtown.
Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous
In the busiest district in Memphis, it is always fun to discover places where time has stood still. Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous is one of those places. This 68-year-old restaurant was just a basement under a diner until Charles Vergos cleaned it up and began his famous charcoal ribs. Now his children are running the shop, but the charcoal ribs are as famous as ever.
The Little Tea Shop
For good old-fashioned home cooking in the heart of the the city, find The Little Tea Shop. You can find it easily: it’s the red-brick lunch place on Monroe Ave. Inside are lunch tables and even more memories, tucked into frames on the walls and reflected in the old-fashioned menu. Grab the chicken salad and turnip greens, and enjoy the corn sticks served with every dish.
Best Restaurants on Beale Street, TN
Beale Street, Memphis, has been voted America’s Most Iconic Street, in a USA Today poll. It is a single street in Downtown Memphis, but it became a center for music and the arts. The Beale Street Music Festival kicks off the Memphis in May celebrations every year.
Itta Bena is a place made for fine dining, only open from 5 in the afternoon until 10 in the evening. Tucked away up the fire escape from the BB Kings Blues Club, Itta Bena offers an experience of Southern food at its formal best. The menu is mouth-watering: Chicken Marsala, Jambalaya Pasta, Surf and Turf, and more.
The Tin Roof
For a taste of live indie music over your meal, find The Tin Roof over at Beale Street. This new addition to the scene is not even a year old, but it is becoming a go-to place for music-lovers and food-lovers alike. The food is casual: quesadillas, burgers, nachos. Perfect to hang out with, and not demanding too much attention to manners. Perfect for a day of music.
Best Places To Eat in Memphis, TN: By Culture
Best Italian Restaurants in Memphis, TN
Embedded in Memphis’ history is the presence of large Italian families in the area. In fact, every year, the Holy Rosary Parish puts on the Memphis Italian Festival. It is a celebration of culture and tradition still present in Italian-American communities.
Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen
Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman are lifelong friends, both from large Italian families. After study in Italy, they opened the Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in 2008. They serve pastas with authentic Italian sauces and entrees with each meat only prepared one way. The inside is like a large mansion home, spacious and intimate at the same time.
This Italian-Greek fusion restaurant has been around for more than 10 years. The aroma of freshly-baked pizza is constantly in the room. Ciao Bella serves a wide menu of pizzas to choose from: Fig & Prosciutto Balsamic pizza, Roasted Garlic & Sausage, and more. Their pasta is just as attractive: Beef Brisket Gnocchi, Manicotti–and that’s just the lunch menu.
Best German Restaurant, Memphis, TN
The suburb Germantown borders Memphis, and is over 200 years old. Germantown is a standing monument to the number of German families which have settled in Memphis over the years.
The Schweinehaus is the one best German restaurant of Memphis, and well-deserving of the title. Instead of separate tables, long wooden benches are ranged along the heavy tables. The owners and staff are in traditional German dress, and the beer menu is traditionally long. Hams, bacon, sausages, pork chops, you name it–are all found on this German menu.
Best Asian Restaurants in Memphis, TN
Memphis is undeniably diverse in demographics, and 1.7% of the population is Asian. They brought their unique tastes with them, and have turned the food they love into popular Memphian dishes as well.
Mulan Asian Bistro
The Mulan Asian Bistro in Memphis serves Szechuan food, along with other Chinese dishes. The inside is decorated with Chinese lanterns and traditional patterns and architectural styles. On the menu are foods such as chicken soup with ginseng, hot & sour clear noodle, differently-spiced preparations of meat, and fried rice dishes.
This authentic Thai restaurant is going on 14 years old. With soft lighting and tasteful Thai art hanging on the walls, it is a perfect place for a semi-formal dining experience. You can order Pad Thai (rice noodles with bean sprouts and peanuts), Thai fried rice with your choice of meat, and Northern Thai curry chicken. Watch out: Thai food is good and spicy!
Best Places To Eat in Memphis, TN: By Mealtime
Best Breakfast in Memphis, TN
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so you should not miss it for the world! You just have to know exactly where to go to get the breakfast you are craving so badly. Take your pick:
Brother Juniper’s is the last of its kind in the country. Named after a cook and a Brother who home-baked bread for St Francis of Assisi, the first Brother Juniper’s was meant to serve good but inexpensive food to feed the hungry. Brother Juniper’s in Memphis serves breakfast meals, with the handcrafted bread. They have cereals and waffles, and–of course–omelets.
E’s 24 Hour Cafe
For a good, heavy Memphis breakfast, drop by E’s 24 Hour Cafe for breakfast. They have steak and eggs, eggs and bacon, eggs and sausages, burger steak with eggs, eggs with breakfast wraps, you name it. There are pancakes and biscuits, jam and toast, and any other combination of breakfast food you could ever look for.
Best Brunch in Memphis, TN
Why worry about missing breakfast when Memphis has the best brunches anyone could ever hope for? It is easy enough to pick a diner, pick some food, and satisfy your hunger without having to wait for lunchtime.
Owen Brennan’s is a restaurant in Memphis with a Cajun and Creole, New Orleans flavor. Owen Brennan’s is big and grand, long rows of tables on the floor and long rows of chairs against the bar. The menu is full of Creole specialties: Catfish Beaudreaux, Pasta Jambalaya, and even a New Orleans Brennan’s original, Eggs Hussarde.
The Majestic Grille
The Majestic Grille is beautifully aged, barely changed since 1913. The Majestic No. 1 was a silent film theater and bar. Today, it is a restaurant that has retained and restored the theater decor. Silent and classic films are still run in the “largest private movie screen in the city.” The brunch has a wide menu, from flatbreads to steak, so take your pick and enjoy the theater.
Best Lunch in Memphis, TN
Lunch is the time of day when you are out with friends, relaxing from work or just catching up. Such a time requires good food but not too hard to eat, and an eating-place perfect for chatting and talking.
When Elwood’s Shack took over the Pizza Shack in Lowe’s parking lot, it kept pizza on the menu and added a whole lot more. You can go in for subs and sandwiches spilling over with meatballs and tomatoes, beef and lettuce, chicken and salami. They have tacos and wings, wraps and burgers, and yes: they even have quite a few salads for those who prefer them.
Memphians obviously love to preserve their history as restaurants. The Beauty Shop was an actual beauty salon in the 1940s. The decor and interior are intact, meaning a number of diners eat in salon chairs. The food is basic homemade Southern: pancakes and toast, fried chicken and waffles, and–best of all–handmade old-fashioned milkshakes.
Best Places To Eat in Memphis, TN: By Food
Best Ribs in Memphis,TN
Central BBQ made its first appearance in 2002, the brainchild of Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp. Their reputation on the grill, especially for ribs, is well-earned. Every side of meat is dry-rubbed with spices, marinated for hours, and then slow-smoked. Their ribs are dry-rubbed with a special “rib rub” of 10 spices, and served with sauce or without.
According to Corky’s, “Corky’s BBQ is Memphis BBQ.” This restaurant is over 30 years old, and has had a whole lot of time to perfect their ribs. The meat is put on slow roast over a grill. Depending on your order, the added spices are either dry or wet, or even both at once. Corky’s lets you order online, so you can bring them straight to your home.
Best Burger in Memphis, TN
The whole name is Huey’s Blues, Brews & Burgers. Their whole mandate in a nutshell. They have live bands afternoon and evening, have been awarded the “Best Beer Selection,” and have been winning “Best Burger” from Memphis Magazine since 1984. Their burgers are not flattened or disturbed during grilling, so they retain their juices until the first bite.
Recently, there has been some danger of the burger craze slowing down because of animal rights and health. Belly Acres is going strong because it went with the flow instead of fighting it. All its burgers are made of only grass-fed beef, or even of beef substitutes. With such creative titles as Double Dare Ya and PB&J burgers, Belly Acres is an experience and a half.
Best Sushi in Memphis, TN
Sakura Japanese Restaurant is a cheerful place and a great place for sitting down to the sushi of your choice. Pick a Tuna Roll, a Mardi Gras Roll, a California Roll, or any other sushi roll that reflects this Japanese-American Fusion cuisine. Have some Beef Teriyaki on the side, and even Tempura to finish off the taste.
Tokyo Grill is designed to join the normal city-rush eateries by offering fast-serve, low-priced casual Japanese food. You can choose from a wide array of Japanese dishes, but their specialty is naturally the sushi. For less than $10 dollars you can grab 3 rolls or hand rolls. If you get 2 or 3, you get free miso soup into the mix. The food is fresh and good.
The Best Places to Eat: Are in Memphis
When you are in Memphis, you might not have time to visit all 23 of these best places to eat in Memphis. However, keep these restaurants in mind, and visit them when you find, notice, or remember them. The best places to eat, you will discover, are in Memphis.