While traveling the world, we naturally started to reminisce about our favorite spots back home, and realized we should put together a Memphis guide for anybody visiting this awesome city! Here’s our complete guide to Memphis, filled with our favorite restaurants, bars, activities, and everything in between.
C H E A P E A T S
- Elwoods Shack: Our favorites include the brisket or fish tacos (or one of each, but they are BIG), patty melt, seattle dog, and trout pizza
- Gus’s Friend Chicken: A “plate” meal with chicken on the bone – white or dark. The tenders are good, but not as good as on the bone! Fries, coleslaw and mac & cheese are the favorite sides.
- Soulfish Cafe: Great fried catfish and wide selection of delicious sides
- Kooky Canuck: Get the Yonge Street burger or Memphis Best burger (add some fried jalepenos if you like it spicy!) and make sure to SAVE ROOM for a deep dish cookie a la mode. The burgers here are great, but the cookie skillet is even better. Don’t leave here without trying one!
- Huey’s Burgers: Famous Memphis spot for burgers and other pub grub. The whole menu is pretty good, but in our opinion you are better off at Elwood’s Shack, Kooky Canuck, or Dyer’s.
- Dyer’s Burgers: Can’t go wrong with Doc’s Original, and if you’re hungier go for the Offroad 4×4!
- Las Delicias: Arguably the best Mexican food in Memphis. The (unlimited) tortilla chips are indisputably the greatest, and everything else is authentic and cheap (including the margaritas).
- Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken: Featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Get some fried chicken dunked in the famous “sweet & spicy love” sauce. Don’t leave without trying the “corrupted carrots”.
- Blues City Cafe: Awesome joint at the end of Beale Street. They serve everything from enormous plates of gumbo cheese fries to full racks of ribs to 3-pound porterhouse steaks! You can’t go wrong here, especially after a late night out on Beale.
- Aldo’s Pizza: Probably our favorite pizza place in Memphis. We’ve never had a pizza we didn’t like from Aldo’s!
- Ching’s Hot Wings: Who makes the best hot wings in Memphis can certainly be a contentious debate, but Ching’s is always in the discussion. Grab a “Wing Ding Combo” (you can choose whole or party wings). We recommend getting the “seasoned” flavor, and then asking them to drizzle it in one of their other sauces. That way you get the delicious crispiness of the seasoned flavor, but still get a little bit of their amazing sauces! Honey gold and honey hot are two favorite sauces.
- Super Submarine: The cash-only sub shop is a Memphis classic, known to locals as “the Chinese sub shop”, serving Chinese food and sub sandwiches. In fact, it became so well known that other little shops started opening up across the city with the same business model of Chinese food + subs – an odd combo for sure. Don’t bother with the Chinese food here, just grab a sandwich. You’ll be asked if you want “soft or hard bread” when you order. This just means “not toasted or toasted” (We prefer hard/toasted).
B R E A K F A S T / B R U N C H
- Edge Alley: Best for a cup of coffee and smaller plate (think chicken biscuit or avocado toast)
- Beauty Shop: Best fancy brunch spot decorated as a 1950’s style hair salon
- Brother Junipers: Best traditional breakfast, but there will be a long line (no reservations)! Amazing open face omelettes, biscuits, and preserves/jam.
F I N E R D I N I N G
- Hog & Hominy: Delicious small plates, pizzas, and unique cocktails
- Houston’s Restaurant: Traditional American fare, all executed to perfection. If you like shoestring fries, Houston’s has some of the best. We love to order them with a side of their “dijon sauce” which is like honey mustard with a dijon kick (not on the menu, so you have to ask for this sauce).
- Catherine & Mary’s: Excellent small plates to share on South Main Street. The whole menu completely changes seasonally but we’ve never had a dish we weren’t obsessed with here!
- Flight: The whole menu is centered around the “flight” concept. You can get traditional flights of wine, as well as flights of entrees, appetizers, and desserts. It’s multiple dishes within every dish, but it’s still hard to choose what to order because everything is so good!
- Bounty on Broad: Located on Broad Ave (hence the name), this place has great plates to share family style. The brussel sprouts salad is a must-d0.
- Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen: Frequently awarded Italian restaurant with a famous “maw-maw’s” tomato sauce.
- Alchemy (for the drinks): The food is good, but we recommend coming here for the wildly creative and delicious cocktails!
C O F F E E & S W E E T S
- Gibson’s Donuts: The BEST donuts in the world. They have standard flavors as well as some more interesting ones, such as “Maple Bacon” (which is delicious).
- Jerry’s Sno Cones: Get a wedding cake supreme sno-cone. Any of their flavors can be ordered “supreme” which means they put soft-serve ice cream in the middle.
- Area 51 Ice Cream at Crosstown Concourse: Mississippi-based ice cream shop with delicious homemade flavors. Try the bourbon pecan!
- The Hub Coffee: Some of the best coffee in town, located at a church! You can also purchase beans here from a local award-winning roaster, Dr. Beans. Good for lattes, pour-overs, and a nice place to chill or work on your laptop.
- French Truck Coffee at Crosstown Concourse: Our second favorite coffee shop in Memphis, good for pour-overs and cold brew.
- LowFi Coffee: A newcomer to the coffee game in Memphis down on South Main, serving up great pour-overs!
- City & State: Probably the most expensive coffee shop in Memphis, but they do a great job. This one is located on Broad Ave, another unique and recently revitalized area.
M E M P H I S B B Q
- One & Only BBQ: All around great barbecue, ribs, nachos, and pulled pork
- Memphis Barbecue Company (in Horn Lake, MS): World champion BBQ just across the Mississippi border (don’t be fooled by the name). They do everything well – you can’t choose wrong!
- Central BBQ: One of the most famous joints in Memphis, so you can expect a line. They serve local beer on tap, enormous plates of BBQ nachos, good pulled pork sandwiches, and very smoky ribs and chicken wings. They have a location Downtown and another in Midtown.
- Payne’s BBQ: Cash-only place with incredible BBQ. Order the pork sandwich, chopped, with slaw and your choice of sauce (mild, medium or hot). Or for something a little different, get their BBQ bologna sandwich.
- Interstate BBQ: Interstate also has multiple locations. Try the pulled pork sandwich here.
- Cozy Corner: Go here for the ribs!
B A R S
Day & Night
- Loflin Yard: Awesome outdoor venue located Downtown with outdoor games, fire pits, multiple bars with unique cocktails, beer, and wine, as well as some great food. Often has live music at night.
- Railgarten: Another outdoor venue in Midtown run by the same group as Loflin Yard. Similar outdoor feel with games, multiple bars, and live music. They even have a giant tire swing and a beach volleyball court!
- Silky O’Sullivan’s: Located on Beale Street, this indoor/outdoor bar has enormous draught beers at a good price. There’s a piano bar inside and another live band outside – it feels like you’re on Bourbon Street in NOLA!
- Lafayette’s Music Room: Midtown venue for good food during the day, lots of drinks at night, and almost always some live msuic
- Wiseacre Brewery: Outdoor games and amazing local beer. There are several other breweries in Memphis but this is our favorite.
- Young Avenue Deli: Great bar food, wide selection of craft beer on tap, and pool tables in the back. Depending on the night you may find trivia, live music, or a sporting event being projected on the big screen. Don’t leave without trying the mozzeralla sticks! The cheese fries are great as well.
- Paula Raiford’s Disco: Cash-only and commanding a substantial cover-charge, this place is uniquely Memphis. It’s all about loud music, dancing, and drinking 40s.
- Tin Roof/Green Room: On Beale Street just down the street from Silky’s you can find more live music here, and usually more dancing than at Silky’s.
- Highland Strip: This strip of college bars is right down the road from the University of Memphis
M U S E U M S
- National Civil Rights Museum: Our favorite museum in Memphis. Located at the Lorraine Motel where MLK Jr. was assassinated, the museum tells the story of MLK Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement
- Music-Based Museums: Stax Museum of American Soul, Sun Studios, and Graceland
C O N C E R T V E N U E S
- Levitt Shell: The spot for free concerts throughout the summer! Check out their website for details. Definitely something to check out while you’re in Memphis, and don’t forget to bring your lawn chair and a cooler!
- Mud Island Amphitheater: Our favorite venue in Memphis for a concert. It’s on Mud Island right on the Mississippi River. Excellent spot where some great artists have played.
- Minglewood Hall: Smaller venue in Memphis where some great concerts are held. For the bigger events it’s usually just general admission standing room in the front with maybe a few tables in the back.
- Lander’s Center: Concert venue in Southaven, MS
- Snowden Grove Amphitheater: Awesome outdoor venue for concerts in Southaven, MS
- Fedex Forum: Where the biggest names come to play. This arena is where the Memphis’s NBA team, The Grizzlies, play as well.
G A M B L I N G
- Tunica, MS: Head south into Mississippi, just under an hour drive away, for casinos galore in the heart of Tunica County
- Southland Casino & Race Track: Head just across the river into Arkansas for a smaller, less popular (but closer to Memphis) gambling spot, including dog races
O T H E R A C T I V I T I E S
- Memphis Zoo: Memphis is home to an excellent zoo, and is one of the only four in the USA (and one of only 26 in the world) that is home to giant pandas!
- Mud Island Monorail & River Park: Take the monorail from Downtown to Mud Island, where you can check out the river park and walk alongside the Mississippi River
- Big River Crossing: Walk over the Mississippi River to get the best view of the Memphis skyline, including the “M Bridge” and the Memphis Pyramid. We like it best at night when everything is lit up!
- Beale Street & Beale Street Landing: A trip to Memphis wouldn’t be complete without checking out the famous Beale Street. Down on the Mississippi River, you can check out Beale Street Landing where the riverboats dock. There’s a great park and a restaurant there overlooking the water.
- Bass Pro Shops at the Memphis Pyramid: The Memphis Pyramid is now an extravagant Bass Pro Shops. Even if you’re not a fan of outdoor sports, this is definitely a place to check out. Inside they have a hotel, a bowling alley, an indoor swamp, restaurants, a shooting range, enormous fish tanks, a museum, and the tallest free-standing elevator in the world that will take you to up to the tip of the pyramid. At the top, there is a beautiful bar and restaurant, and a glass sky deck overlooking downtown Memphis and the Mississippi River (you can see Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi from up here!). It costs $10/person to ride the elevator to the top, unless you are eating at the restaurant or staying in the hotel.
- Ducks at The Peabody Hotel: Twice a day, the famous Peabody ducks are walked through this famous hotel’s lobby by the Peabody Duck Master and into the fountain in the center
- Old Dominick’s Distillery: Check out this new distillery tour and try their famous “Memphis Toddy”
- Overton Square: This area of Memphis is great for walking around, boutique shopping, bars, and restaurants
- Broad Ave Arts District: The area surrounding Broad Ave has become known as the arts district in Memphis. There are cute hipster shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and antique stores here.
- South Main: Downtown area in Memphis which is great for walking around the city. There are restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars all over South Main.