Five Essential Restaurants to Visit in Memphis

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The Challenge

You have one day to eat around downtown Memphis. Assuming you don’t want to have barbecue for all your meals — there’s no place better for that strategy — this five-restaurant tour provides a broader taste of The Blues City. Start with biscuits and country ham at The Arcade, which is one of the two oldest restaurants in town — since 1919. The other great oldie is the Little Tea Shop on Cotton Row (opened in 1918), where meals start with a bowl of shockingly tonic green pot likker. At Alcenia’s, masterful soul food is accompanied by love-hugs from proprietor B.J. Chester-Tamayo. And for barbecue, our two top choices are Charlie Vergos Rendezvous, which is a beer-hall party that features intense dry-rub ribs, and Cozy Corner, where Cornish hens, ribs, and pork shoulder might be the best smoke-cooked meats in town — accompanied, please, by barbecued spaghetti.

1

Arcade

Memphis's oldest restaurant (since 1919), the Arcade serves excellent country ham and biscuits as well as a fried Elvis Sandwich of peanut butter and bananas.

2

Little Tea Shop

A vintage lunch room on old Cotton Row, Little Tea Shop is a Memphis experience all food lovers should have, from pot likker to fudge-topped frozen pecan balls.

3

Alcenia’s

Alcenia's is a warm, friendly Memphis, Tennessee, restaurant serving homey soul food meat-and-3 meals that end with glorious pies or bread pudding.

4

Cozy Corner

If you have time for just one BBQ meal in Memphis (or anywhere on earth), go to Cozy Corner, one of the South's great barbecue parlors.

5

Charlie Vergos Rendezvous

Charlie Vergos is famous for sauceless “dry ribs” blanketed with massive amounts of a paprika-colored spice mixture. A Memphis BBQ landmark!

Must Eats