You can always afford to travel the world -- at least your stomach can -- thanks to the spread of international eats throughout Memphis. No matter what type of food you’re in the mood for, these are the best restaurants for every type of cuisine in the city.
Italian: Bari Ristorante e Enoteca
Bari has it all -- great location, atmosphere, food, cocktails, and service. Whether you’re sitting at the bar and having a few small plates or having a full-on romantic dinner, Bari has you covered. It's a family-owned restaurant specializing in Pugliese cuisine. Favorites include frutti di mare fritti, spaghetti alla carbonara, orzo con pomodoro e granchio, and tonno arrostito.
French: Erling Jensen, The Restaurant
Chef Erling Jensen was born in Denmark, and started cooking at age 14. In every city there is a special place where people go for fine dining and here that place is Erling Jensen. The menu includes French delicacies like crispy sweetbreads, a rack of lamb, and a chocolate soufflé. On Sunday nights the restaurant offers a special three-course prix-fixe meal for $38.
Mexican: Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana
Las Tortugas has redefined our idea of Mexican food by refusing to Americanize the process or presentation. Fresh is always the main ingredient. The atmosphere is casual, but the food is serious. The tortas and tacos will blow your mind. No meal is complete without an order of elote and an agua fresca.
Emerald is the most authentic Thai restaurant we have so just hush and drive to Lakeland. You won’t regret it. Dishes are served in the Thai style which means you can get a small basket of steamed sticky rice on the side. Everything is better with sticky rice, especially if you order it spicy.
Vietnamese: Saigon Le
Saigon Le is one of the oldest Vietnamese restaurants in town and has definitely stood the test of time. It has a great variety of vegetarian options, delicious & spicy soups, and everything is served with an abundance of fresh herbs from its garden. The more often you dine there, the more the staff likes you and treats you like family. Most regulars have a life goal of being invited to the big round table for family-style dinner and off-menu delicacies.
Chinese: Asian Palace
Asian Palace is the perfect place to go and try all of the exotic Chinese dishes you always wanted to try but have been too scared to. Take a group on Sunday for dim sum and see what Chinese cuisine is really all about.
The food and service at Mayuri are consistently excellent. Mayuri serves authentic North and South Indian food and the dishes are prepared from recipes that have been passed from generation to generation. Cabbage curry, chana masala, broccoli rice, poori, spinach pakora, and tandoori chicken are just a few of the popular dishes. And yes, there's a lunch buffet.
Sekisui is not traditional Japanese, but it excels at classic dishes like tonkatsu and tempura. When it comes to sushi, you can count on Sekisui to have the freshest.
American: Beauty Shop
The Beauty Shop does not rely on butter to make its food taste good. Plus, it is totally possible to have a healthy meal here and it offers a truly robust vegan alternative to almost everything. The menu is inventive and it is often quite hard to decide what to order because everything sounds so good. Lunch, brunch, or dinner -- the Beauty Shop has you covered.
Korean: The Crazy Noodle
The Crazy Noodle is a bit of a secret despite several years of cranking out some crazy dishes like manduguk, japchae, jam bong, and chicken curry ramen. The service is friendly, though often a little slow, as dishes are made to order.
Vegetarian: Fuel Café & Food Truck
Built in an old gas station, Fuel specializes in all-natural, vegan-friendly food. Grass-fed meat rounds out the menu, but omnivores and vegetarians alike enjoy the veggie burgers, vegetarian meatloaf, and delightful salads. The food truck specializes in tacos and they are hands down among the best in town.
Ethiopian: Blue Nile
The atmosphere at Blue Nile is cool and inviting with low lighting. Inside it feels like you are in a fabulous hideaway. The menu is very clear and has a lot of variety without being overwhelming. The whole snapper is a clear favorite, but the doro wat is also perfectly executed.
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1. Bari Ristorante e Enoteca22 S Cooper St, Memphis
2. Erling Jensen1044 S Yates Rd, Memphis
3. Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana1215 S Germantown Rd, Memphis
4. Emerald8882-8950 US-64, Arlington
5. Saigon Le51 N Cleveland St, Memphis
6. Asian Palace Restaurant5266 Summer Ave, Memphis
7. Mayuri Indian Cuisine6524 Quince Rd, Memphis
8. Sekisui Midtown25 S Belvedere Blvd, Memphis
9. The Beauty Shop Restaurant966 Cooper St, Memphis
10. Crazy Noodle2015 Madison Ave, Memphis
11. Fuel Cafe1761 Madison Ave, Memphis
12. Blue Nile1798 Madison Ave, Memphis
The Bari experience is much like joining someone else's family for the evening: the space is intimate and warm, though never stuffy, and the staff is attentive and informed, taking special care to recommend wines and cheeses from the changing menu based on your preferences. Starting -- or ending -- the night there with a specialty cocktail or aperitif, a cheese plate, and the fruiti di mare fritti is a quick way to sample the experience, while enjoying a luxurious multi-course meal in the lovely (and quiet!) dining room isn't half bad either.
Chef Erling Jensen knows what fine dining looks like, and he takes every measure to ensure his vision matches your expectations at his East Memphis restaurant. The servers are uniformed, the white tablecloths pressed, and the clientele upscale. Erling Jensen is kind of restaurant you bring people you want to impress -- and the kind of restaurant where entrées like racks of lamb, Dover sole, and Buffalo tenderloin are all upwards of $40. If you have room left over, splurge on the chef's signature dessert, Maker's Mark-infused chocolate soufflé.
Far from the usual Tex-Mex, Pepe Magallenes and his son Jonathan redefined Memphis's idea of Mexican food when they brought authentic Mexico City cuisine to an unassuming shopping center just outside the Memphis city limits. There's a line out the door most days for lunch for the supremely fresh fish tacos, guacamole, tortas, elote, and aguas frescas. Ask Pepe and Jonathan to choose for you or opt for one of the daily specials.
This is the best Thai place in Memphis.
Not only is this the best Vietnamese place in Memphis, but they have great vegetarian food,
This is the perfect place to try all of the exotic Chinese dishes you have always wanted to try.
Two words. Lunch. Buffet.
A lot of sushi places do sake specials, but Sekisui midtown takes the roll with their two-for-one deals on plain or flavored sake every weekday. The sushi ain't bad either. Actually, it's really good.
Brunch gets a makeover at this Cooper Young hotspot, which is completely packed on Sundays with Midtowners looking for an upgrade to everyday omelettes. Try the Beneduck -- spiced, sugared crispy duck with jalapeño jam -- or country ham with red-eye gravy, green apples, and bleu cheese over eggs and hash browns. Spirits-wise, the Bad Boy Bloody Mary and the Big Boy Mimosa have you covered.
Serving up what many call the best Korean food in Memphis, this shop slings noodles, as well as hot pots, soups, and traditional appetizers. While the menu isn't holistic, it prepares each of its selections (like jap-chae and jja-jang noodles) in an authentic manner, serving them in a trendy, graffiti-painted space that one-ups the neighboring Kwik Chek's low-key atmosphere.
We've got taco trucks and authentic Mexican restaurants up and down Summer Ave, so finding a cheap taco is not hard. However, should you want veggie tacos that are so good non vegetarians line up to order them, then track down Fuel Truck's current location. Made with fresh tortillas gently glued together with cheese, its signature veggie burger patties, and a load of toppings, an order of two is a meal in itself. Go ahead, add the fresh avocado for an additional buck (chicken and bison tacos are also available).
Blue Nile in Midtown is home to some of the city’s most authentic Ethiopian cuisine, and is a solid stop for a satisfying, savory meal at a low price. While the vegetarian platter is a decided standout -- for just $12, you'll get spicy and mild mesir wat served with a combination of vegetables and salads, and a basket of injera, East African flatbread -- the assorted myriad of menu items features a spicy lentil salad, beets, cabbage, and potatoes, among others. Order extra injera for the table, though, you're going to need it.