Five Essential Restaurants to Visit in Memphis


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.



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.


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.



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.


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.


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