The best restaurants in Memphis combine Southern comfort, global influence & local ingredients

Sally Walker Davies

By , Local Expert, Memphis
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Ten years ago, no one would have guessed that Memphis would be the foodie destination it is today.

As the hometown of the annual World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest - aka the 'Superbowl of Swine' - one might think that Memphis is all about barbecue - and certainly, we do adore our pulled pork sandwiches and pork ribs. But dining in Memphis has gone way beyond barbecue, thanks to a group of young chefs dedicated to the local farm movement and the more experienced chefs who mentor them.

In choosing our list of the ten best dining experiences in Memphis, we've chosen a group of restaurants that bridge cuisines and...  Read more »

  • 1

    Hog & Hominy

    The food at Hog & Hominy sets the bar for the the best dining in Memphis.

    Local Expert Tip: "Snag the bocce court by arriving right at opening - 4 p.m. - on the weekends."

  • 2

    Restaurant Iris

    A meal at Iris is simply one of the best dining experiences one will find in the South.

    Local Expert Tip: "English opens one Sunday a month for a scrumptious brunch; call ahead or check the Web site for updated information. "

  • 3

    Chez Philippe

    Everything about Chez Philippe is simply divine, from the ambiance to the cuisine to the service.

    Local Expert Tip: "A Petit Philippe menu is offered after 9 p.m. in the hotel's Lobby Bar - a great way to try small plates of the famed cuisine without breaking the bank."

  • 4

    Sweet Grass

    Sweetgrass combines fine dining with a more casual atmosphere - a perfect marriage in our book.

    Local Expert Tip: "This is a SABS (Seen And Be Seen) kind of spot, so reservations are a must. "

  • 5

    Folk's Folly Prime Steak House

    We love Folk's for its predictability, its social scene, and its amazing beef.

    Local Expert Tip: "When reserving a table at Folk's Folly, be sure to ask for a spot in one of the smaller dining rooms. The largest room, while certainly comfortable, lacks intimacy and is best for business-style get-togethers. "

  • 6


    Paulette's is iconic and charming whether for a family brunch or a romantic evening out.

    Local Expert Tip: "Save a little money by trying Paulette's for Sunday breakfast; the signature popovers and strawberry butter and excellent service are in evidence during brunch, with egg dishes and many entrees offered for under $10. "

  • 7

    Mosa Asian Bistro

    Mosa is a fast-casual eatery that's all about creating fresh, memorable food.

    Local Expert Tip: "When it comes to heat, your server to recommend how Mr. Pao would eat it - that's the best way to experience his food."

  • 8

    Southward Fare & Libations

    We love the upscale country feel of Southward - and its inventive take on Southern favorites.

    Local Expert Tip: "Lunch is less expensive but no less fantastic; order the executive lunch - a daily special featuring a choice of potato leek soup or salad, an entree, dessert and iced tea."

  • 9

    Erling Jensen - The Restaurant

    Erling's is probably the most under-appreciated fine dining experience in Memphis.

    Local Expert Tip: "An extensive bar menu is a delightful way to enjoy Erling Jensen's creative flair with food; his take on pizza combines duck confit with lemon and arugula, while the traditional bar burger goes upscale through the use of buffalo instead of traditional ground beef."

  • 10

    Central BBQ

    You simply cannot come to Memphis and not eat some barbecue - and Central is our favorite.

    Local Expert Tip: "Barbecue joints in Memphis tend to close shop earlier than most other restaurants, so be sure to arrive at Central with plenty of time to enjoy your meal - by 8:30 most nights, as the restaurant closes at 9 daily."



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