Here's Our Travel Guide to This Nation of Over 7,000 Islands
1. Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken310 S Front St, Memphis
2. Pho Binh1615 Madison Ave, Memphis
3. Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken3633 Millbranch Rd, Memphis
4. Miss Polly's Soul City Cafe154 Beale St, Memphis
5. Cash Saver1620 Madison Ave, Memphis
6. Alcenia's317 N. Main St, Memphis
7. Jack Pirtle's Chicken3571 Lamar Ave, Memphis
8. The Four Way998 Mississippi Blvd, Memphis
9. Lunchbox Eats288 S 4th St, Memphis
10. Sweet Grass and Next Door937 S Cooper St, Memphis
11. Southern Hands Family Dining6025 Winchester Rd, Memphis
Gus's has spent the past 60 years spreading the gospel of fried chicken across the land, transitioning from its original location to the outskirts of Memphis to the city proper, and ultimately to other TN cities, as well as Arkansas and Texas. Regardless of the location, no two trips to Gus's will taste the same, thanks to an ever-changing recipe that kicks its fresh bird with a spicy secret breading.
You had us at “all-you-can-eat tofu buffet.” This bare-bones Midtown spot serves up affordable Vietnamese eats, and while the usual suspects like shrimp spring rolls à la peanut sauce and pork glass noodles remain staples on the menu, Pho Binh is especially popular amongst local vegetarians: whether you opt for the lemongrass tofu or vegetable pho, the vast meatless offerings are entirely satisfactory. It’s a beloved hole-in-the-wall that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, so swing through during weekday lunches to get your fix.
A man named Lou Martin opened the doors to Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken in 2001 to share his carefully honed family recipe for fried chicken, wings, and biscuits with Memphis, and the rest is history. Order your chicken fried with Sweet Spicy Love sauce or homestyle (which means very hot), then wash it all down with a 44oz "bucket" of Kool-Aid.
You can get (as the sign says) "Love, Peace, and Chicken Grease," along with Southern favorites like fried catfish and chicken and waffles at Miss Polly's Soul City Cafe.
The Cash Saver grocery store is an interesting place. It has cheap groceries, an insane beer selection, a growler-filling station that looks like a bar, and a lunch buffet with some of the best fried chicken around.
Prepare to be greeted at the door by owner Betty Joyce "B.J." Chester-Tamayo with a big, back-cracking hug at her Uptown soul-food restaurant (named after her Mother). She'll take your order (if you're smart, a chicken-and-waffles brunch), cook it herself in the small kitchen, and probably deliver it to your table too, before selling you some bread pudding to go.
Other cities have local drive-through fast-food religions, but Memphis' is top bird. Just find the nearest Jack Pirtle's Chicken, order some fried chicken, and prepare yourself for a crispy, greasy, spiritual experience. The Pirtle family's fried expertise goes beyond breasts, wings, and thighs: their fried chicken livers and gizzards dinners are just as legendary.
The Four Way soul food restaurant is famous for at least two things: first, it was a popular meeting spot for civil rights activists from the 1940s to the 1960s, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Second, the Four Way is famous for its straightforward Southern home cooking menu. Though best-known for the daily turkey and best-dressing-ever meal, the fried chicken is another staple.
Lunchbox Eats puts a modern twist on Southern American classics you're sure to appreciate, like its chicken n' waffle sandwich.
Sweet Grass and Next Door are a perfect pair: an upscale low-country restaurant and its casual bar cousin. But at either, you can get a delicious taste of Southern flavor -- say, with the Pimento Cheeseburger, featuring local beef from Claybrook Farms, tangy pimento cheese, crisp lettuce, peppers, onions, and the best house-made sweet pickles you've ever had.
Proof that you shouldn't judge a chicken by its container: in an unassuming building down on Winchester, right in front of what's left of the Hickory Ridge Mall, is a spacious soul food restaurant called Southern Hands, where you can get a huge plate of seasoned fried chicken served with a pile of candied yams, greens, boiled okra, black eye peas, cabbage, and more.