Where to Eat in Memphis Right Now
There was a moment when we thought the service industry might not survive, but here we are with a long list of amazing places to try, and many of them are new. Sure, some things have changed. Business hours are shorter, and finding somewhere to eat on a Monday or Tuesday can be challenging. Auto-gratuities are becoming the norm. We’re making—and showing up for—reservations. We pull out our masks, vaccination cards, and/or negative COVID tests when needed. And, hopefully, we’re more understanding of the challenges that restaurateurs and their staff face on a daily basis and even more appreciative of every meal we have the pleasure of eating outside of our own kitchens.
The gist: Husband-and-wife team Jamal and Hanan Romani own this Moroccan restaurant in the Sanderlin Center which offers a menu full of farm fresh and halal delights.
The food: Authentic Moroccan cuisine including tagines (hot pots served with crispy bread), pastillas (slow cooked meals wrapped in phyllo dough), and bocadillos (Moroccan subs).
Biscuits And Jam
The gist: This breakfast, lunch, and brunch spot in Bartlett features a full bar and live music.
The food: Hearty Southern style breakfast with a special touch. Menu highlights include the Down Home Blues Biscuit with smoked sausage, fried egg, and molasses; the Rum Boogie French Toast with rum sauce and powdered sugar glaze; and the Alotta Potata hand-cut fries with sauteed peppers, onions, fried egg, Parmesan, and garlic aioli.
The gist: Chef David Krog offers an ever-changing chef’s tasting menu from the freshest ingredients available closest to home in a cozy space on Brookhaven Circle.
The food: Locally sourced and beautifully presented dishes like beets, housemade ricotta, pecans, satsuma sauce, and micro arugula; scallop, quail egg, hollandaise, caviar, and dehydrated egg yolk; redfish, saffron broth, and sunflower shoots; and pork belly, turnip puree, greens, and dehydrated foie gras. Their bar offers a rotating snack menu for those who just want a small, more casual taste of Krog’s delicacies.
El Mero Taco
The gist: This popular Cordova taco stop owned by chefs Clarissa and Jacob Dries now has an in-house Mescaleria and a partnership with the adjacent bike shop to run a coffee bar and serve breakfast burritos.
The food: Cauliflower ceviche, Oaxacan mole fries, sweet potato flautas, and Southern fried chicken tacos are just a few examples of the perfect marriage of Mexican and southern flavors to be found here.
The gist: Sarah Cai and Arturo Leighton’s Asian fusion restaurant on Main Street brings handmade noodles and dumplings to Memphis.
The food: While noodles and dumplings are their specialty, the chicken wings also have customers raving. The chefs’ dedication to including vegan options is also a bonus. They also introduced taiyaki (famous Japanese fish-shaped waffle cones filled with ice cream) to Memphis.
Hog & Hominy
The gist: Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman’s casual concept in Brookhaven Circle has been completely rebuilt and revitalized after a fire in 2020. New features include an expanded lounge and patio.
The food: Southern-influenced Italian dishes like sweetbreads with chili flakes, lemon conserva crab claws, Buffalo pig ears, collards & hominy, oysters and their famous wood-fired pizzas.
The gist: New Haven style pizza from famed restaurateurs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman is served inside Wiseacre Brewing’s expansive downtown taproom.
The food: Think thin, crispy pizza topped with quality ingredients like ricotta, cured pork shoulder, mortadella, spicy salami, Tuscan sausage, and Calabrian chilis. Creative salads, snacks, and desserts that pair really well with craft beer round out the menu.
The gist: Chef Kelly English takes on Catalan inspired small plates with house created cocktails and classics in a colorful, funky space designed by David Quarles IV.
The food: The menu features about a dozen small plates, perfect for sharing, including Entrepá de Anec a les Landes (harissa roasted duck on baguette + chermoula slaw), Costella de Vedella i Bolets (grilled beef + mushroom pan sauce) and Bomba Barceloneta (fried payne's bbq & potatoes + brava sauce & charred green onion aioli).
Plant Based Heat
The gist: After more than a year of eating vegan, Ralph Johnson (better known as RJ Groove) is introducing healthier food options that taste familiar to Memphians in a fast-casual spot on the Highland Strip.
The food: Vegan comfort food including "vings" with various sauces (agave gold!), cheeseburgers & fries, fried Buffalo cauliflower, Mexican street corn, and ice cream.
Ryu Sushi & Pho
The gist: New owner and self taught sushi chef, Rose Nguyen, has brought new life—and menu items—to this East Memphis sushi spot.
The food: Traditional appetizers (edamame, gyoza), expertly rolled sushi, beautifully cut sashimi, and half a dozen fresh pho options. (Ask for dumplings to be added to the pho.)
Sugar Ghost Ice Cream and Bubble Tea
The gist: Housemade ice cream and a variety of bubble teas in a whimsical shop designed by Collect + Curate in the Broad Avenue Arts District.
The food: Ice cream by the scoop—including vegan options—available in cups, cones, and by the pint. Vanilla soft serve can be dipped in chocolate, peanut butter, and raspberry. A variety of screams (ice cream blended with your choice of a topping), shakes, and ice cream sandwiches can be made to order. Various flavors and types of bubble tea round out the menu.
The gist: Greg Diaz’s fleet of trucks serves birria tacos to the thankful masses in all corners of the city to help fund Las Américas, a Latino youth development center.
The food: Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, and gorditas featuring asada, al pastor, barbacoa, carnitas, chicharrón, pollo, and camarones. The house speciality includes your choice of meat prepared with a dried pepper salsa and sauteéd onions and the consomé, a tasty beef soup, is perfect for dipping.
The gist: This casual restaurant featuring traditional African cuisine is from chef/owner Bala Tounkara, who is of West African descent and wanted to provide a taste of home to other Africans living in Memphis. His new location features a buffet so diners can try several dishes at a time.
The food: Grilled tilapia, curried goat, okra stew, lamb, oxtails, chicken in peanut sauce, and plantain fufu are the African stand outs. There’s also vegan saka saka and root vegetable stew. There are also several fresh juices featuring hibiscus, ginger, and turmeric. (A host of American dishes are also available so adventurous diners need not go it alone.)
The gist: The Edge District’s premiere restaurant features Tim Barker’s chef driven breakfast, lunch, and dinner items made from scratch Thursday to Sunday in a casual setting with indoor and outdoor dining options.
The food: All meals should begin or end with the coffee which is roasted in-house. Breakfast favorites include a towering avocado toast, house cured salmon lox, and steak & eggs. Lunch must haves are the burger or a grain bowl, depending on whether a “light lunch” is in your vocabulary. Dinner specials are always solid, and the market fish and chicken confit are always a good choice. The cocktail menu is available all day.