Restaurants in Memphis
Memphis restaurants run the gamut of the culinary world: from award-winning barbecue shacks to sophisticated, upscale dining, there’s something for everyone’s tastes and budget. Dig in at some of our favorite restaurants in Memphis.
Of all the choices of Memphis restaurants, be sure to visit at least one barbecue spot. Memphis-style barbecue primarily features slow pit-cooked pork ribs, which are prepared either “wet” (with sauce) or “dry” (using a rub). It’s hard to go wrong with either style or at any of the local spots, but keep an eye out for Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, Neely’s or Central BBQ. For a more upscale affair, check out Restaurant Iris, voted “Best Chef”, “Best Service,”and “Best Restaurant in Memphis” by Memphis Magazine, this fine dining gem offers is helmed by James Beard-award winning chef Kelly English. The spot specializes in French-Creole cuisine. While many of its dishes, like the lobster “knuckle sandwich,” are famous, you can also put your dinner in the chef’s hands with a tasting menu meal.
Open since 2002, and full of students from nearby colleges, Central has a breezy, spring-break feel and outdoor deck seating to match. Order a pork plate with extra “bark” (the dark, heavily smoked crust).
A local chain that’s been around since 1952, Tops makes for a nice introduction to Memphis eats. No matter where you are in the city, you’re near one. The hickory-flavored chopped sandwich combo with mustardy slaw and beans will fortify you while you plan the rest of your ’cue odyssey.
They’re not wet; they’re not dry. They’re “’Vous-style” ribs and they’re famous. Basted just before serving with a vinegar solution and followed by a dusting of spices (including bay leaf and oregano), the savory ribs’ bright flavor is a nod to the founding family’s Greek heritage.
Mention to locals that you’re heading to Cozy Corner for barbecued Cornish hen—rich and moist all the way through—and you’ll get plenty of head-nodding approval. Although the grilled rib-tips get their share of attention, it’s the burnished little bird that rules this roost.
The Burger: Grease is the word at Dyer’s Burger, a Memphis institution since 1912. The pounded-thin, all-beef patties at this café are dunked in a cast-iron skillet of boiling hot vegetable oil. The meat turns crunchy as the fry cook flips it onto a squishy Wonder Bread bun.
The dark wood paneling and oversize booths make it seem like a roadhouse tavern, until the aroma sets you straight: Neely’s means business. Don’t miss the succulent pulled-pork platter, served with amazingly rich beans—dark, sweet, and thick with threads of caramelized meat.