over the years i’ve written at length about many of my favorite memphis restaurants. with a plan to move coming up soon i won’t have time to get back to all of them or to write about all of them, so i figured i could compile all of my favorite memphis eats into one gigantic post.
some of these are long-time favorites at which i am a regular visitor, and others are ones i’ve maybe only been to a few times but very much enjoyed. they run the gamut in terms of cuisine, price, and location, but whenever people are coming to visit or i am asked for food suggestions my recommendations almost always come from this list.
this is obviously not an exhaustive list of all the great places to eat in memphis nor do i claim to be any kind of expert. these are simply my tried-and-true memphis places that i always miss when i am away. i’ve included location and my favorite order in case that’s helpful for you.
india palace. located in midtown at the corner of poplar and evergreen. my standard is the chicken tikka masala, extra spicy, with a garlic naan. always one of my first meals whenever i return to town.
maciel’s. two locations, one downtown and one in cooper-young. i legit love everything on their menu, but some of my regular fares are the baja taco and the fried avocado taco. if i do street tacos i order one chorizo, one pastor, and one spicy shrimp [or sometimes tinga, depending on my mood]. also the tortas. and the quesadillas. like i said, it’s all good.
huey’s. many locations throughout the city; my most-visited is the midtown location. i really like their black bean patty, so i’ll often do a señor huey with a black bean patty and add jalapeños. also their cheese fries are very good.
bar-b-q shop. located in midtown on madison avenue. they’re my favorite place for a pulled pork sandwich because they serve them on texas toast. standard sandwiches come with slaw, so if you are like me and don’t want it, be sure to mention that. also their bbq spaghetti is delicious.
central bbq. multiple locations; my spot is the one on central because i like it best and because it’s less than a quarter-mile from my house. my order is a half plate of bbq nachos with pulled pork and extra jalapeños.
blues city café. located downtown at the corner of beale and second. my favorite spot in the city for ribs, and their gumbo and skillet shrimp are also delicious. if i’m with someone else i like to split the “best meal ever” which is a half-rack of ribs, a piece of catfish, baked beans, fries, and toast.
gus’s fried chicken. multiple locations, but the only one i’ll go to is the one downtown on front st. depending on how hungry i am i’ll do either the 2- or 3-piece dark plate, and my sides rotate between baked beans, mac and cheese, and fries.
mulan. three locations; my go-to is the one in cooper-young [it was my favorite even before i moved to the neighborhood]. i am partial to the spicy hot wok and whatever protein i am in the mood for, and their fried rice is very good. on the sushi side i like their dynamite roll. their menu is extensive and some dishes can be hit-or-miss, so don’t get too adventurous.
kwik chek. located on madison ave, this has been a favorite of mine since college. everything on their menu is great, but my standard is always the fireball of freedom. sometimes i’ll branch out and order something different and i will always enjoy it in the moment, but an hour or two later i will find myself wishing i had ordered the fireball and inevitably wind up back there a few days later so quench my craving.
slider inn. two locations, one downtown on south main and one in midtown at the corner of peabody and cooper. my order changes depending on the time of day and how hungry i am, but it’s usually either a selection of sliders or an order of wings. and a jameson slushie or two, of course.
edge alley. located in the edge district, this is one of my favorite places to co-work during the day or have brunch at the weekend. i love their avocado toast, and they do a good bloody mary.
taco nganas. multiple locations, including cooper-young. one of the city’s most beloved taco food trucks. trust me when i say everything is delicious.
global café. my favorite place in crosstown concourse. although i’ve been there less frequently since the nepalese stand left, i’m a big fan of the sudanese menu items. and i very much appreciate their commitment to the community.
hyderabad house. located on winchester road in germantown, this place is a bit of a drive if you live in midtown or downtown, but trust me when i say it is worth it. i love the goat biryani, the egg biryani, the paneer butter masala, the gobi manchurian, and the goat curry. and their masala dosas are also excellent, especially if you ask for the special ginger chutney to go with it.
dyer’s. downtown on beale street. hundred-year-old grease makes for some delicious burgers, and i love the seasoning they put on their fries. but know if you go after 10pm the line will be long. also the chocolate shakes are pretty good.
el mezcal. a few locations around the city; my favorite is the one in east memphis. good tex-mex fare, and you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
casablanca. two locations, one on madison ave in midtown and another on poplar in east memphis; i have only been to the one on madison. i am a big fan of their shawarma, but if you are dining in be prepared for the service to be slow.
second line. located at the corner of cooper and monroe, second line is a great spot if you’re feeling a little fancy. highly recommend the po-boys.
soul fish café. multiple locations; my favorite is the one in cooper-young. also a great place for po-boys or catfish plates, and more casual than second line.
muddy’s. my favorite cupcakes in the city. they no longer have sit-down locations, but you can schedule ahead for pickup at their location on broad ave.
comeback coffee. my other favorite co-working spot, located in the pinch district. i don’t drink coffee but have heard great things about theirs, and i very much enjoy their hot chocolate. they stopped doing full service food and scaled back to only pastries, all of which are delicious.
uncle lou’s. on millbranch in south memphis. come for the chicken smothered in sauce, stay for the sides and the chance to meet uncle lou himself.
ecco. on overton park ave in midtown. i’ve not eaten there as much as i would have liked, but the food is fantastic. i’ve had a few different pasta dishes and they have all been delicious. they also used to have very good happy hour deals on wine, but it’s been a few years since i’ve been there so i don’t know if that’s still a thing.
wing guru. you can’t go wrong with any of the wing places in the city, but i am partial to the wing guru on mt moriah. word to the wise for any of the wing spots: expect a wait. i promise it’s worth it.
the four way. located in soulsville, the four way is one of the best places for soul food. their daily specials are always a good choice, and their spaghetti is one of the best.
i know i have forgotten some places, and if i remember any egregious oversights i will come back and add them. but for now i think this is a good place to leave this list.
also, a word to the wise: a lot of these places are closed on certain days, either as a long standing practice or due to a shortage of staff during the pandemic. your best bet is to call ahead or check their social media to make sure a specific location is open before visiting.