Where To Eat In Memphis Right Now
From Italian red sauce classics to Southern breakfast dreams.
Memphis has seen its local restaurants surviving in a number of creative and inspiring ways during the pandemic. While many restaurants simply had to close down -- whether temporarily or permanently -- many others quickly embraced take out, transformed into pantries, offered pop-ups, built outdoor dining areas, and even launched completely new concepts. As COVID-19 case numbers begin to steady, restaurants can now offer indoor dining with strict masking and distancing rules, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal. With that, we salute Memphis’ newer restaurants (aka those that have opened in the last five years) and tell you everything you need to know about how to enjoy them safely right now.
Hazel’s Lucky Dice Delicatessen
The gist: Famed restaurateur Karen Blockman Carrier is at it again. Bar DKDC’s size and booze heavy menu rendered it a bit obsolete, so Carrier returned to her roots and reimagined it as a New York style deli, the likes of which has been sorely missing from the local dining scene.
The food: Matzo ball soup, pastrami, corned beef, Hebrew nationals, Jewish rye, bagels, gravlox, crunchy kosher dills and everything else you’d expect to see in a New York deli, but with Carrier’s imaginative touch.
The cost: Sandwiches range from $14-17.
How to order: Order through Toast for takeout only. Monday to 11am-4pm and Friday 11am-3pm.
Hustle And Dough
The gist: Ali Rohrbacher’s former side hustle found a permanent home in one of downtown’s newest boutique hotels, Arrive.
The food: Bread focused menu featuring natural fermentation, fresh stone milled flour, and high quality ingredients from ethical sources. Baguettes, sourdough loaves, various toasts (mushroom, avocado, French), granola bowls, and in the adjoining bar -- Roman style pizzas baked to perfection in Detroit style pans.
The cost: Loaves range from $5-8, toasts and bowls $4.50-9.50, and pizzas $16-18.
How to order: Open from 7am-4pm daily, order by calling 901-701-7577 or visit the counter.
Tamboli’s Pasta & Pizza
The gist: Miles Tamboli’s homemade pasta was such a hit at the farmers’ market, his locally sourced pasta and pizza restaurant couldn’t open soon enough.
The food: Homemade pastas and pizza dough are topped with farm fresh ingredients and made to order. During the pandemic, the restaurant is also serving as a mobile pantry with items such as Miles’ popular pastas, sauces, cheeses, and dough available for purchase along with farm fresh produce, locally made bread, and other pantry essentials.
The cost: Hot pizzas range from $12-16, hot pastas range from $11-13, pasta for the pantry is $6, and pizza-making supplies range from $3-10.
How to order: Order online for delivery or pick up. Limited outdoor seating is available.
The gist: Majestic Grille owners Deni & Patrick Riley launch their new American Italian concept as al fresco dining only -- until they feel safe welcoming guests inside the restaurant.
The food: Billed as the “Red sauce joint of your dreams,” the restaurant’s menu features classics like spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli, manicotti, lasagna, eggplant parmesan, and crunchy garlic bread for sopping up the sauce.
The cost: Starters range from $7 for garlic bread to $15 for antipasti, astas are $16-21, and entrees range from $17 for eggplant parmesan to $31 for grilled filet mignon.
How to order: Table service is available on the patio or order online for curbside or takeout.
Magnolia & May
The gist: The sadness brought on by closing of the beloved Grove Grill was mitigated by the recent opening of Magnolia & May -- run by Grove Grill’s former owner’s son, Chip Dunham, and his wife, Amanda.
The food: The brasserie-style menu reflects French techniques, Southern charm, and farm-sourced ingredients. The menu changes week to week, but some recurring dishes include shrimp and grits, peach pancakes, breakfast chimichanga, charcuterie, and seasonal salads.
The cost: Most brunch items are under $15 with the exception of seafood dishes. Dinner entrees range from $10 for a cheese burger to $28 for crabs cakes.
How to order: Table service offered for weekend brunch and dinner Tuesday to Sunday.
The gist: Mark Pender’s new full service brunch spot features a menu driven by Chef Jesus Ramon, who has added his touch to Southern dishes like the breakfast tacos with chorizo verde and the Hidalgo plate featuring squash blossoms.
The food: Offerings include breakfast classics like omelettes, pancakes, and biscuits and gravy plus lunch favorites like fresh salads, burgers, chicken and waffles, and shrimp and grits. The Gnocchetti is soft bread gnocchi sautéed in butter, drizzled with red-eye gravy, crunchy croutons, and Parmesan cheese.
The cost: The most expensive item on the menu is the steak and potatoes at $14.
How to order: Table service available daily from 7am-2pm (3pm on weekends). Order takeout through Toast.
The gist: Casual restaurant featuring traditional African cuisine, run by chef/owner Bala Tounkara who is of West African descent.
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. Wash it all down with fresh juices like hibiscus, ginger, and turmeric.
The cost: Most menu items fall in the $7-12 range, with the red snapper topping out at $20.
How to order: Order online for takeout.
The gist: Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman’s latest gift to the fine dining scene is a French brasserie in the gorgeous, music-centric Central Station Hotel.
The food: Bishop reopened its dining room in July and launched a new breakfast menu predominantly featuring popular menu items from the now shuttered Porcellino’s. Expect a Dutch baby, cinnamon rolls, chicken biscuits, and grapefruit brulee, to name a few. Popular lunch items include mussels and frites, the Bishop burger, French onion soup, and a fish sandwich. At dinner, begin with oysters and chicken liver pate, then move to tinned seafood, escargot, Parisian gnocchi, and fromage brulee.
The cost: Depending on your level of restraint (and thirst), a fair estimate is $15 for breakfast, $25 for lunch and $50-75 for dinner per person.
How to order: Open daily for table service 7am-10pm. Call 901-896-0228 for curbside pickup.
The gist: The Edge District’s premiere restaurant features Tim Barker’s chef-driven breakfast, lunch, and dinner items made from scratch Wednesday 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 and eggs. Lunch must-haves include 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 excellent choices. The cocktail menu is available all day -- no complaints here.
The cost: Menu items range in price from inexpensive to a small splurge at dinner. Breakfast $10-15, lunch hovers around $15, and dinner is $25 a person.
How to order: Make a reservation through OpenTable.
The gist: Chef Ryan Trimm partnered with Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp of Central BBQ to open Sunrise Memphis in 2017. It’s an eclectic diner specializing in classic breakfast favorites and house prepared artisan meats.
The food: Breakfast is king and starts at 7am daily. There’s every biscuit you could ever want, omelettes, fluffy pancakes, breakfast tacos, a number of bowls, bacon, grits, hash browns, yogurt, tofu -- you name it. The lunch menu offers a turkey club, a fried green tomato BLT , a burger, a bean burger, and a couple of salads. We recommend pairing your order with a beermosa.
The cost: The most expensive item on the menu is $10.
How to order: Order at the counter and sit inside or out. Call 901-552-3168 for takeout.
Riko's Kickin' Chicken
The gist: Riko’s, which started out as a wildly popular food truck, opened its flagship restaurant in Madison Heights in late 2017 and has quickly taken the chicken wing game up a notch.
The food: With their standard 20 wings for $20 there’s no reason not to sample every one of their mouth-watering sauces and “get kicked” as they say. Specials include fried shrimp, catfish, cheeseburgers, tacos, and jerk chicken pasta.
The cost: All wings and specials range from $10-20.
How to order: Call 901-726-5347 or order inside.
The gist: This international food hall has been one of the most exciting additions to the Crosstown Concourse. Currently featuring female chefs from Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela, it is a great place to try a variety of dishes you don't see a lot of in Memphis.
The food: Think signature dishes from each culture -- including sambusas, kabobs, arepas, and falafel. The manager, who hails from Mexico, has added a number of dishes to the menu and as well as a margarita with a whole mango on top.
The cost: Individual entrees are in the $10 range and a number of family meals are available for $35.
How to order: Order online for takeout or delivery, or order inside for outdoor dining.
The Liquor Store
The gist: Lisa and Luis Toro, who own City & State, decided to turn an old liquor store a few doors down into a Latin-inspired diner in order to bring more lunch and dinner traffic to the neighborhood.
The food: All-day breakfast, the Cuban sandwich, the Impossible Burger, street tacos, house-made pastries, its patio and the photogenic décor have all made the Liquor Store a dream come true. Even more, Memphis Whistle, a popular to-go cocktail service, recently joined forces with the Toros.
The cost: All items hover between $10-20.
How to order: Table service available service seven days a week beginning at 8am. Cocktails and limited menu available for curbside pick-up delivery from 4-8pm. Order through Upserve.
Chef Tam’s Underground Cafe
The gist: Chef Tamra Eddy may not hail from Memphis, but when you walk into her new Underground Café in the Edge District it’s easy to see how quickly Memphians have embraced her Cajun and soul food, with a little fusion thrown in for fun.
The food: She has it all -- muddy mac-n-cheese, big mouth burgers, hot chicken, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits -- and often creates daily specials that will blow your mind. The peach cobbler nachos are sure to do the trick any ol’ day.
The cost: Starters are $5-10, salads and sandwiches are $10-14, and mains are $13-22.
How to order: Order takeout or delivery through DoorDash.