We may have been compensated through an experience or products from the links and companies mentioned in this post. Thank you for supporting my small business. Please see my disclaimer for more info.
Discover Culinary Delights: The 21 Best Unique Places to Eat in Memphis
When we think of Memphis, it’s easy to consider the fantastic history of this unique city and the plethora of musical venues and museums you can enjoy. Memphis is a cultural mecca of American history. But we would be remiss in not considering Memphis’s unique places to eat.
If your adventure in Memphis only includes museums and quick food stops, you’ll miss out on the city’s rich food culture and diverse dining scene. I was recently in Memphis, and food was one of the main focuses of my trip! So, let me share what I found with you, beginning with the first stop of the day, breakfast.
Table of Contents
Unique Places to Eat in Memphis – Breakfast
You will find Bishop located in the delightful Central Station Hotel on Main Street in Memphis. But you don’t need to stay at the hotel to enjoy everything this fabulous restaurant offers. Although we visited for breakfast, Bishop is open until 10 p.m. and has a full menu for all your meals.
A super-friendly server greeted us and escorted us to tables with cloth napkins and a corner view of Main Street. The menu offered all of the breakfast staples. As we waited for our meals, the staff was busy tidying. We could tell the employees are invested in giving the guests a pleasant experience.
My food was cooked perfectly and so delicious. Unfortunately, my travel buddy’s dish wasn’t spot-on, with overcooked eggs and burnt French Toast. The good news is that the waitress quickly swiped the plate away and returned with a perfect dish in short order. The kitchen swiftly turned a negative into a positive, and we were impressed with how quickly and efficiently the staff corrected the problem.
I give the Bishop an excellent rating if you’re looking for an innovative menu, a great place for a quick breakfast, friendly customer service, and cleanliness!
540 South Main Street, Memphis TN 38103
Step into the Arcade Restaurant on South Main Street, and you can feel the history of Memphis envelop you. From the story of Speros Zepatos, a Greek Immigrant who opened the original restaurant in 1919, through the Elvis Presley years, and up to today, the Arcade restaurant has stories to tell. This place truly epitomizes the statement, “If these walls could talk, what stories would they tell us?”
Sadly, the walls won’t talk, but fourth-generation owner Jeff Zepatos and his wife Kelcie will. We were treated like royalty and escorted to the table where the King of Rock-n-Roll himself sat when he frequented his personal favorite eatery in the 60s. Yep, you, too, can have your cheeks sit in the very spot where Elvis’ cheeks sat.
If you MUST sit there, be sure and call ahead to make arrangements; otherwise, as you can imagine, this seat gets plenty of attention and may not be available when you walk in. As the story goes, Elvis chose this spot to watch the entrance door from the mirror on the back wall. He could make a hasty exit out the back door when he saw adoring fans headed his way. The waitress would pack up his meal for him to grab and go.
Beyond Elvis (or maybe partly because of Elvis), the Arcade restaurant has been featured in at least 11 major films and spotlighted in many TV shows. This location is truly historic. And guess what? It’s on the National Register of Historic Places, so I’m not the only one who finds historic significance here!
Now let’s talk about the delicious food! The Arcade is open for more than just breakfast, but good gosh almighty! I’m not sure I would choose anything other than breakfast. The food was great, the coffee hot and black the way I like it, and the service was delightful.
You can even take a T-shirt home to commemorate your time at the Arcade. When you’re there, be sure to look around at the walls. Every inch of this place drips of its storied history as Memphis’s oldest restaurant!
Hustle & Dough, Vice & Virtue
477 S. Main Street, Memphis TN 38103
We had a fantastic breakfast at Hustle & Dough, another excellent breakfast spot in Arrive Memphis, a local boutique hotel. Hustle & Dough is a beautiful little breakfast spot in downtown Memphis. Located right on Main Street and along the trolley line that runs up and down Main every day, you will be glad you stopped.
They host the local favorite brew from Vice & Virtue Coffee, so grab a cup before heading out. Although the locals rave about the avocado toast Hustle & Dough serves, I treated myself to the egg salad toast and Wowza! It is gorgeous, unique, and tasty – I would order that repeatedly. For dessert, I had a blueberry scone. Yes – sometimes, when I travel, I eat breakfast dessert. Don’t judge.
By The Brewery
400 Tennessee Street, Memphis TN 38103
We visited By the Brewery on our very last day in Memphis, and it was the perfect spot to say goodbye to the adventures we had over the past few days. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Memphis near Tom Lee Park along the Mississippi River, this unassuming place is a local favorite!
After several days of eating decadent and heavy dishes, I was tickled to find a Yogurt parfait as one of the menu items next to a mouthwatering selection of breakfast sandwiches and salads. But since this would be my last day “down south,” I took my last opportunity on this trip to enjoy some grits. This Northern girl has developed a taste for grits, and these cheesy baked grits did not disappoint!
The restaurant was clean, the food was delightful, and the ambiance was chill and relaxed, which was the perfect way to enjoy our final breakfast in Memphis. I am featuring them here as a breakfast option, but know they also have some incredible sandwiches and salads for lunch.
Unique Places to Eat in Memphis – Lunch
Wowza! As I write this, I am reliving so many incredible breakfasts from my trip to Memphis; I’m finding it to believe there are as many great places to get lunch. But guess what? There are! So here we go! Remember that all the choices I showed above have lunch options, too, and then check out some of these best restaurants for lunch in Memphis!
South of Beale
345 S. Main, Memphis TN 38103
Our dining experience at South of Beale was a true Memphis delight. South of Beale is known for its brunch menu; let me tell you, it doesn’t disappoint! You’ll find it nestled in the heart of downtown, and it’s a great way to sit back and enjoy a pampered lunch! As you step inside, the vibrant atmosphere and friendly staff welcome you with open arms.
But what makes South of Beale unique is its fusion of flavors, blending Southern comfort food with innovative twists. We started our meal with an appetizer of Croissant beignets. They were decadent and so good! An appetizer is the perfect way to get our tastebuds worked up for the main dish. I enjoyed the Shrimp and Grits, which was off the charts. I inhaled it so quickly that I almost forgot I had eaten it and needed more. Ugh.
One friend who dined with me had the Mixed Greens salad with roasted grapes – yum! If I’m being honest, I’ll tell you that I’ve never had a roasted grape, so she let me taste hers. I think I shall roast all my grapes from now on.
My other friend has the SOB burger, and she reported that it, too, was off the charts! So whatever your taste buds lead you to, South of Beale will rise to the occasion.
Beauty Shop Restaurant
966 S. Cooper St., Memphis TN 38104
You must travel a few minutes from downtown to the Beauty Shop Restaurant, but visiting this fun place will be worth it! My advice is to grab an Uber and let them do the navigating!
Dining at The Beauty Shop is an experience straight out of a bygone era with a modern twist. Stepping through the doors is like stepping into a time machine, where the decor is complete with vintage hair dryers and retro charm.
But it’s not just the ambiance that makes this place unique; it’s the history. This location was a favorite spot for none other than Priscilla Presley, who frequented The Beauty Shop to have her hair coiffed when she lived in Memphis with Elvis.
Of course, for you, dear reader, I needed to order some appetizers to give you the full review. So we began our cultural journey with some grilled peaches drizzled with a balsamic glaze, and of course, the Corn Fritters called our name. Then, my main course was a corned beef sandwich served with a side of fruit and garnished with a pickle, straight from a bygone era when pickles were almost required alongside every sandwich!
The service was top-notch, the food was inventive and delicious, and we felt like we were dining in the presence of legends. From the moment we took our seats, the vibrant atmosphere and friendly staff welcomed us with open arms. It’s a must-visit destination that captures the essence of Memphis and its rich cultural heritage, giving every bite a taste of history and modern-day charm.
1350 Concourse Ave Ste 157, Memphis TN 38104
Global Café is inside the Crosstown Concourse, a multi-use facility in Memphis, formerly home to a Sears Distribution Center. This delightful little café is the ultimate international food destination! Picture a single restaurant offering you a passport to savor authentic flavors from across the globe!
Their story is unique and compelling. I wish every city had a space like this one, where immigrant and refugee food entrepreneurs come together to serve a diverse array of delicious, budget-friendly dishes from their homelands. I enjoyed the hummus plate with a side of falafel. Both were served fresh and beautifully. The café itself was clean and the staff friendly. Just writing about it makes me want to return for a second helping.
Before you go, know that Global Café is more than just a food hall; it’s a melting pot of cultures where folks from all walks of life gather to explore diverse traditions and savor incredible ethnic cuisine. Nestled in the vibrant Crosstown neighborhood, it perfectly reflects the rich tapestry of its residents, who hail from Bhutan, Burundi, Germany, Ireland, Jamaica, Korea, Mexico, Nepal, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Switzerland, the USA, and Venezuela. It’s a taste of the world right in your backyard.
Unique Places to Eat in Memphis – Dinner
147 E. Butler Ave, Memphis TN 38103
Looking for some down-home Memphis Barbecue? Central BBQ, a Memphis staple, has you covered. Located just a short walk away from the impressive National Civil Rights Museum in the Lorraine Hotel (where Dr. Martin Luther King was shot), it’s the perfect place to stop in for a bite to eat and a minute to unwind, especially if you’ve just come from the museum. What a fantastic site with so much history.
But I digress; we’re here to talk food, and Central BBQ has the food! Step right up to the counter at this casual eatery and choose your favorite barbecue. With ribs, wings, and pulled pork on the menu, deciding which is today’s favorite is your biggest challenge!
Memphians know what they love, and they love Central BBQ, so be prepared for a line when you arrive. Don’t worry. The line moves quickly and is another opportunity to make a new friend while waiting. And while making your new friends, you can discuss the mouthwatering selection of sides.
All joking aside, the food here is terrific, and the locals have rewarded them by ranking them as one of the top 3 BBQ restaurants in Memphis since 2003, with top honors ten times over the past 20 years.
If you’re unsure what to order, I highly recommend the pulled pork plate with a side of potato salad and good, old-fashioned baked beans. I don’t need any bread messing up my pile of ‘que! But whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. Oh! And before I forget – treat yourself to a bit of banana pudding for dessert. So, so good!
Contemporary Southern at Itta Bena
145 Beale Street38103, Memphis, TN
You’ll find Itta Bena on the third floor of B.B. King’s Blues Club. This contemporary southern restaurant overlooks historic Beale Street. I love that this unique restaurant is modeled after the speakeasies that found undercover fame in the 1920s. Walk through the secret hall from inside B.B. King’s Blues Club to get to the entrance.
Be ready for rich wood floors, vaulted ceilings, deep golden-hued chandeliers, and the sounds of the street bustling below drifting up into your ears. Ambiance is the name of the game here, and you can’t beat it. Look around, and you’ll find photos of well-known celebrities who have also enjoyed dining here.
The only thing at Itta Bena that beats the atmosphere is the food they serve. Prepare to spend a little more than your average meal, as the menu is quite upscale, and the prices reflect that. I recommend the Jumbo Shrimp and grits paired with a glass of wine. Treat yourself to a white chocolate bread pudding with caramel sauce for dessert.
Sadly, there is no accessible entrance for this location, so if that’s a consideration, you’ll need to cross this one off your list.
Ecco on Overton Park
1585 Overton Park Ave, Memphis TN 38112
Tucked away in the charming Evergreen Historic District, you’ll find Ecco on Overton Park, a cozy restaurant serving flavorful dishes in a comfy atmosphere. Mosy on in after the sun sets and treat yourself to a delectable Mediterranean-influenced menu complete with cheese plates, house-made pasta, succulently braised meats, and a thoughtfully curated selection of boutique wines and beers.
On my visit, we ordered two cheese plates for the table, both delicious and beautiful to the eye. The main course dishes looked and tasted like they came straight from grandma’s kitchen. The ambiance is cozy, adorned with warm and modern decor, and invites you to relax, sip, and relish every moment. Ecco on Overton Park is a true dining delight in Memphis!
I recommend street parking if you can find it. You may be able to find a spot behind the restaurant, but the lot is small and relatively limited.
Texas de Brazil – Memphis
150 Peabody Pl Ste 103, Memphis TN 38103
Prepare for a flavor-packed fiesta at Texas de Brazil, the Brazilian steakhouse (or churrascaria) that’s all about sizzling sensations! Here, it’s an endless parade of flame-grilled beef, succulent lamb, mouthwatering pork, delectable chicken, and savory Brazilian sausage, all served to your heart’s content. And that’s just the beginning!
But wait, there’s more—before diving into the carnivore’s dream, make a pitstop at the extravagant salad area, where you’ll discover a treasure trove of chef-crafted seasonal delights. From crisp greens to exotic toppings, it’s a paradise for your taste buds.
Pro tip: When you visit Texas de Brazil, don’t miss out on their signature Picanha, a melt-in-your-mouth top sirloin that’s a fan favorite. Pair it with their Brazilian caipirinha cocktail for the ultimate culinary adventure. So, why wait? Come hungry, leave happy, and let the flavor fiesta begin!
Curfew – Memphis
164 Union Ave, Memphis TN 38103
Get ready for a dining experience like no other at Curfew, where classic tavern vibes meet a mouthwatering fusion of Spanish, American, and Italian food flavors! This place is anything but ordinary, with a winning combo of bold ingredients, a cozy ambiance, and a team of culinary wizards who are all about raising the bar.
And guess what? Curfew’s kitchen is under the expert guidance of Celebrity Chef Fabio Viviani, who brings his passion for hospitality to every plate. From authentic dishes to handcrafted cocktails and locally sourced brews, it’s a foodie’s dream come true.
So, whether you’re here to catch the big game, soak in the local art scene, or treat your taste buds to a flavor explosion, Curfew at the Canopy Hotel in Memphis is where you want to be. Don’t miss out on their legendary Wood-Fired Margherita Pizza – it’s pure perfection! Come on over and let the culinary adventure begin!
Need a Place to Stay in Memphis?
Catherine & Mary’s
227 S. Main, Memphis TN 38103
The first thing you’ll notice when you enter the dining room at Catherine & Mary’s is the open atmosphere and the rustic cement vibes. The next thing you’ll see is the excellent service with pristine attention to detail. No doubt you are in for a memorable dining experience!
Now, let’s talk about the menu! Catherine & Mary’s has a carefully curated selection of expertly crafted small plates that will leave you with the dilemma of which ones to choose! They all look and sound excellent.
If you prefer a full entrée, don’t worry; the menu here will take care of you! James Beard Nominated Best Chefs Southeast Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman have created a menu that will give you the feeling of being in your Sicilian Grandmother’s kitchen.
Finally, I would be remiss in not mentioning the bar. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic cocktail or something more adventurous, they’ve got you covered. Don’t leave without trying their legendary Cappuccino Martini – it’s like dessert in a glass!
120 Monroe Ave, Memphis TN 38103
If you’re looking for a comfortable evening out, consider McEwen’s on Monroe. One step in the door, and you’ll see they have a heart for people, food, and wine. They have a particular way of making your dining experience unique and special.
McEwen’s boasts a unique blend of styles and a strong focus on elevating Southern cuisine to new and compelling levels. Although they have a full lunch menu, dinner here is the perfect time to try their more elaborate and inventive dishes.
But what truly sets them apart is their commitment to creating a relaxed, charming atmosphere with attentive staff and delicious food. Picture it – start with BBQ Duck Confit Enchiladas, move along to a Fall Feta Salad, complete with Blackberry Vinaigrette, and then prep for your main dish of Chilean Sea Bass, Ribeye, or a Pork T-Bone. Finish off with a fantastic piece of McEwen’s famous Banana Cream Pie. My mouth waters just writing it out.
If you require a gluten-free or Vegan diet, know that the kitchen at McEwen’s is ready to serve you with plenty of options on the menu.
The Majestic Grille
145 South Main Street, Memphis TN 38103
The Majestic Grille is located inside a historic theater on Main Street in downtown Memphis. The Majestic Theater opened in 1913 and stayed in business for over 30 years. Many years later, the Majestic Grille pays homage to its unique beginnings by serving American fare in an ambiance that celebrates the cinema.
Midwest State Park Adventures makes a great travel companion or gift. Some of the best travel writers in the Midwest collaborated to put this book together, which covers 12 Midwest States and hundreds of state parks.
And I, the Hip Grandma, contributed by writing the Michigan chapter!
You can click on the photo to order on Amazon or click HERE to learn more and order a signed copy directly from me.
The first thing you’ll notice on your way to your table is the low light atmosphere reminiscent of finding your way to and from your seat in a vintage theater. On the back wall, vintage movies play in black and white. In a tribute to the heart and soul of Memphis, a playlist of Jazz tunes softly surrounds you while you dine. I loved hearing Julia Lee croon “King Size Papa” and immediately added it to my playlist as we listened.
Atmosphere aside, I’m sure you want to know about the menu. You’ll find something for everyone with homemade soups and entrees, including meatballs, steaks, flatbread pizzas, and salads. And if you’re up for a cocktail, you won’t be disappointed in the bar service here.
Finally, note that the Majestic Grille was voted “Top Place for Rehearsal Dinner” in Memphis in 2023. Located just a few short steps from the Orpheum Theater, the Majestic is the perfect place for a before-show bite or a night out with your boo for a special occasion.
Unique Places to Eat in Memphis – Cocktails
After dinner, you may find that you’re not ready to end your day in Memphis. I have great news! Memphis has several unique and hip places to stop for a cocktail before calling it a night.
Explore Beale Street
A visit to Memphis isn’t complete without a trip to Beale Street. Known for its music, dining, and entertainment, Beale Street is as old as Memphis itself and remains one of the best places to enjoy a night out on the town.
In the evening, Beale Street is closed to traffic, so you can wander freely up and down the streets, catching the best Jazz wafting out the doors of the Clubs. There is a police presence on-site, so you can feel pretty safe while wandering. When I visited, a pair of gents gave us the hard sell to purchase a rose. They were charmingly insistent, but we resisted. Although they were likely mostly harmless, some may find this atmosphere intimidating.
We also experienced a couple of folks who had one too many drinks, but both were being carefully walked back to their hotel with friends or family members. They didn’t bother us, and I felt they would have a few regrets in the morning.
I tell you this so that you can understand that you are likely safe. If you travel like I do, mostly alone or with women friends, you should exercise suitable safety protocols. Let someone know where you are, keep the officers in your line of vision, and carry money and credit cards securely.
Now that we’ve accomplished the important stuff, let’s talk about five eateries and music venues worth some of your time! You can’t miss these stops with their colorful neon signage along Beale Street. Each has a unique atmosphere, great music, and some down-home, quality Blues.
- Rum Boogie Cafe
- B.B. King’s Blues Club
- Silky O’Sullivan’sBlues Hall Juke Joint
- Ghost River Brewing Co.
The vibrant atmosphere and musical talents in these venues are enough to keep you entertained and hydrated. The overall feel of Beale Street is unique and must-see. If you’re not a late-night party girl, don’t worry – neither am I. Head down to Beale Street in the evening before it gets too late, and you’ll be able to catch a cocktail, listen to some live music, and still get tucked in before the clock strikes midnight!
Tiger And Peacock
21 Cooper St., Memphis TN 38104
Finally, if you want something a little less lively than Beale Street, check out Tiger and Peacock. This unique rooftop bar in Memphis is where culinary innovation meets nightlife vibes! Make a reservation and dress for a night on the town. Jeans and tees are so last year! Slip into your favorite cocktail dress and let your handsome date wear his jacket and tie, then treat yourselves to a night out or a canoodle in a cozy corner. Wink. Wink.
Check-in at the hostess on the main floor, then zoom up the elevator to a unique and funky experience that fits perfectly into the Memphis milieu. Take a sip of a one-of-a-kind cocktail from the Zodiak Drink Menu and imagine sipping on a cosmic cocktail while soaking in the panoramic views from their rooftop terrace—pure magic!
But the excitement doesn’t stop there; they’ve also got a groovy disco lounge room that’s perfectly funky, complete with a disco ball! Tiger and Peacock offers an unforgettable experience that’s truly in a league of its own
Wrapping it all Up
Although it feels like I’ve given you a great big list of Memphis restaurants with dining and drinking options, know that each is tested and tried, and you won’t be disappointed with any choice you make. The options in this historic city are as diverse and compelling as the city itself.
From eggs sunny-side-up for breakfast to grilled peaches under a hair dryer hood to a Pink and sweet, not sour drink on a rooftop terrace, you’re dining and drinking experience in Memphis will leave you satisfied.
If you liked this article, you’d probably like these, too!
- The 10 Best Things to Do and See at Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge Tennessee
- Discover Culinary Delights: The 21 Best Unique Places to Eat in Memphis
- 50 Best Things to do on Day or Weekend Road Trips from Nashville Tennessee
- The 101 Most Fun Trivia Questions and Answers For Your Next Road Trip
- The Best Printable List of Packing Essentials for your next Road Trip
- Unveiling Indiana’s Biggest Attraction: The World’s Largest Ball of Paint
- The 9 Best Must-Have RV Travel Apps for Planning Your Next Car or RV Road Trip
- How To Organize Your Car and The Best Packing Ideas For Your Road Trip
- The 200 Best Road Trip Questions To Keep Your Car Ride Boredom at Bay
- 30 Best Things to Do on Day or Weekend Road Trips from Nashville Tennessee
Frequently Asked Questions
What food is Memphis famous for?
Memphis is famous for its world-famous barbecue! Every restaurant and home around town knows how to make and serve this smokey treat! From pulled pork sandwiches to fall-off-the-bone ribs, Memphis barbecue is best served hot and smoky with various sauces, from tangy to sweet. A good plate of barbecue is a must when in Memphis.
How much is a meal in Memphis?
A meal in Memphis can cost anywhere from a couple of dollars to $50 or more per person. Memphis has many options for dining, and most restaurants have websites with menus available before entering. A moderately-priced meal will range from around $10-$30 per person. If you’re concerned, watch for budget-friendly options like cafes and food trucks throughout the city.
Does Memphis have an arcade?
Yes, Memphis does have an arcade. One of the most famous arcades in the city is “Arcade Restaurant,” an arcade and a historic diner serving classic American food since 1919. While it may not be a traditional gaming arcade, it offers a nostalgic experience with its vintage decor and delicious comfort food. Arcade Restaurant is a popular spot for locals and tourists looking to taste Memphis history.
Why is Beale Street so famous?
Beale Street is famous for its role in the history of American music, including the Blues and Jazz. Legends like B.B. King, Louis Armstrong, and Muddy Waters graced the stages of the clubs and venues along Beale Street when the sounds of the South were becoming known. Today, you can enjoy live music and nightlife surrounded by colorful vintage neon signs. A stroll down Beale Street is like stepping into a living, breathing chapter of musical history.
What do people from Memphis like to eat?
People from Memphis deeply love barbecue, and it is a local culinary specialty. Memphis-style barbecue is characterized by its slow-cooked, smoked meats, often featuring pulled pork, ribs, and chicken paired with various flavorful sauces. Beyond barbecue, Memphians also enjoy other Southern comfort foods like fried chicken, catfish and soul food dishes such as collard greens and cornbread. Additionally, the city’s diverse dining scene offers a range of international cuisines, reflecting its residents’ varied tastes and preferences.