Review by: Michael Stern

The Arcade has been around since 1919; a plaque outside proclaims it the city’s oldest restaurant (neck and neck with the Little Tea Shop). It so looks like old Memphis that it has appeared in several movies that take place in the city’s past, including Mystery Train. It is an airy two-room eatery with overhead spinning fans, booths upholstered in squishy pink and aqua, and tables covered with boomerang-pattern Formica.

They say Elvis ate here, and your waitress will be happy to point to the booth where he sat. One time when we walked in, it was a few days after Memphis’s annual Elvis Week (celebrated on the anniversary of his death) and a chalkboard sign atop a vintage blond-wood RCA television console in the lobby advertised The Elvis Sandwich: peanut butter and banana, fried on the griddle. But it was nine AM and we were more in the mood for country ham … which is a good mood to be in if you come to The Arcade, because its country ham is excellent. Served in giant portions with squared-off biscuits that are rich and flavorful, it’s the true-south way to start the day. Another good choice from the breakfast menu is a stack of sweet potato pancakes. With or without ham, they’re something special.

At lunch, the Arcade menu ranges offers a fine selection of meat-and-threes. Choose your entrée from such stalwarts as meat loaf, salmon croquettes, and lemon-peppered chicken, and accompany it with two vegetables from a list that includes black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes with gravy, turnip greens, sweet potatoes, buttered rice, and fresh tomatoes. The vegetables are so good that many people simply make a meal of plate of four of them, forgetting about meat altogether. Lunch comes with freshly-made cornbread and can be topped off with either peach cobbler or a fudge sundae.

What To Eat

Ham and Biscuits

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Milk Shake

Elvis Sandwich


Arcade Recipes


What do you think of Arcade?

One Response to “Arcade”

Joe Toenjes

July 8th, 2003

The wife and I had breakfast here on a recent trip to Memphis. It was one of the breakfast places that was recommended when we asked some of the locals. Add to that the recommendation from Roadfood and we just had to give it a try. We really liked the old-time diner feel of the place. We had eggs with hashbrowns, bacon plus biscuits. Great biscuits! I also had an order of sweet potato pancakes that were very good. Real convienent since it is at the end of the Main Street Trolley line, so if you are staying downtown, there is no reason to not go. This is a foodee-must-doee in Memphis.


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