Best Breakfast Spots in Memphis: Biscuits, Grits and Bacon, Oh My!

Photo courtesy of Sally Walker Davies
Photo courtesy of Lisa Buser
By Sally Walker Davies, Memphis Local Expert

Going out to eat isn't always about cravings. Often enough, mealtimes dictate our choices, limiting restaurant possibilities. When circumstances narrow the options, let 10Best help. Direct from our taste buds are our recommendations for the best Breakfast/Brunch restaurants in Memphis.  Try Paulette's for its to-die for popovers, served with soft butter (and that's just the starter for every breakfast order), or the Trolley Stop for a locally-sourced platter of eggs and bacon. It's hard to beat Brother Juniper's, the University of Memphis-area eatery that's a morning stop for students and the city's power brokers alike - try one of their huge omelets if you're super-hungry.

For all-out decadence, the historic Peabody Hotel offers a lovely Sunday brunch that includes a 22-foot long dessert table and a meat-packed carving station, and Owen Brennan's is the destination for a New Orleans / Cajun / seafood brunch that will jazz up any weekend.

Few of the restaurants listed take reservations for brunch, with the exception of Paulette's, Peabody's Capriccio Grill and Owen Brennan's. Most are child-friendly, and most offer coffee and other beverages while you wait for your table. If you're worried about getting a table on Sunday mornings, simply go early; Memphis is a church-going town, but most folks don't leave church until late morning.

10. The Arcade Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Arcade Restaurant

Started in 1919, The Arcade claims to be Memphis' oldest restaurant. Everything about the place is classic Memphis from the historic photos lining the walls, to the 1950's diner decor, to the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich special. Elvis used to come here quite often, sitting in the last booth on the left, with his back to the restaurant. He could be part of the crowd, however, thanks to the huge mirror on the back wall. The menu is short and simple, divided into breakfast, salads, sandwiches, and pizza; but everything is made from scratch and served up quickly by the friendly staff. Maybe the biggest perk of all is that breakfast is served all day so no matter how late you sleep in, you can still enjoy a plate of fluffy pancakes.

9. Capriccio Grill - Peabody Hotel Memphis
Photo courtesy of Sally Walker Davies

On Sundays from 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., The Peabody's Capriccio Grill turns from steakhouse into brunch nirvana, with a buffet brunch that knocks most everybody's socks off. Or at least makes it much more difficult to see said socks. Tables are laden with omelette and Belgian waffle stations, arrays of fruits and hand-carved meats, salads and pastas. The most memorable station, however, is the over-the-top dessert bar; with stacks of brownies and cookies, jars full of candies, and more, this table gives new meaning to the words 'save room for dessert'. The price tag for brunch is $39.95 for adults, $14 for kids 5 - 12, and free for kids 4 and under.

8. Sweet Grass
Photo courtesy of Lisa Buser

With a seasonal menu and a focus on locally grown produce, the menu is never quite the same each evening at Sweet Grass, but one can always count on an artful combination of Low Country cooking combined with an overall Southern flair. Our favorites include a few always-on-the-menu options - the fried green tomato sandwich, such a treat - and the tasty shrimp and grits, peppered with a few scallops to keep your palate off balance. The airy, open dining room has a small bar area and a very small waiting area, so you can always pop next door to Next Door, also co-owned by Chef Trimm, to wait in comfort for a table if there's no spot available at the bar. Both are open for Sunday brunch.

7. Beauty Shop
Photo courtesy of SinglePlatform

This trendy, festive restaurant is just as the name implies. Set in a 1940s beauty shop, some guests dine in refurbished hairdryer chairs, and you can almost see the ghosts of the wash-and-set,set that used to come in for a curl. Nevertheless, the kitschy theme isn't what keeps the place packed. Its eclectic fare is intriguing yet delicious, and that's especially true when it comes to breakfast. Sunday brunch means French toast made with challah, big mimosas, a variety of egg dishes, and even a beef tenderloin sandwich for those really needing to splurge. It's all part of the attraction that is culinary genius of Karen Blockman Carrier, the mind behind this and a variety of other popular, funky Memphis restaurants.

6. Brother Juniper's

This funky little breakfast nook, once owned by an Eastern Orthodox priest, stands apart from other breakfast places thanks to its fresh, healthy options. Practically located on the University of Memphis campus, one would expect that college students would be the majority of the clientele, but there are loads of families and folks from all over town who make a trek on the weekend. The homemade, fluffy rolls are offered in white or wheat and the open-faced omelets can be topped with anything from spinach to feta cheese to black beans or sausage. They're also widely known for their homemade biscuits with sorghum. Those visiting solo or as a couple should ask for a counter seat – your wait will be minimal, and the people watching is great from this vantage point.

5. Bryant's

Any local will tell you that Bryant's is one of the best places to get a hot, greasy, incredibly delicious Southern breakfast feast – or hangover meal, call it what you want. The specialty at this walk-up and order, take-a-seat spot is all Southern: biscuits and gravy, grits, eggs any way you like, country ham. Bryant's also bakes up some seriously good cinnamon rolls, too. The prices are small and the servings are huge, meaning it is a favorite spot for the college crowd, but it's also a go-to for just about anyone in town.

4. Porcellino's Craft Butcher

Chefs Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman have another hit on their hands; Porcellino's is the duo's third restaurant on Brookhaven Circle, joining their upscale original, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and their superbly casual pizza & comfort food spot Hog & Hominy. Porcellino's has a much different focus and feel; it's open from breakfast through dinner daily, offering a set menu of pastries and coffees, plus fabulous daily specials (kimchee and Siracha-brined fried chicken biscuit, anyone? It's our brekkie go-to) and freshly baked treats and egg dishes at breakfast. We love the mix of carpool moms, yogis from the yoga studio down the street, and the business crowd of the morning set. Counter service is how the morning begins, with a switch-over to table service around 10-ish, with an emphasis on the ish. The atmosphere at Porcellino's is like the neighborhood cafes that make visiting European villages so charming; there's a friendly staff, a cozy environment, simple metal chairs and dark wooden tables (plus counter seating throughout the space. And Porcellino's has one distinct differentiator from its sister restaurants � it's also a butcher shop filled with delightful meats and charcuterie to take home.

3. Owen Brennan's
Photo courtesy of Owen Brennan's

A longtime tradition, Owen Brennan's headlines Cajun and Creole dishes in a festive, Mardi Gras-like environment. Located in a sophisticated East Memphis shopping center, the restaurant features upscale ambience and friendly service, especially during the signature Sunday brunch, when Champagne flows and a live New Orleans jazz band plays throughout the event. Breakfast otherwise consists of a three-course prix fixe option or ? la carte selections like an andouille omelet, eggs Sardou, praline waffles, or steak and eggs. Dine on the patio under huge shade trees when the weather allows.

2. Trolley Stop Market
Photo courtesy of Trolley Stop Market

One of the most unique spots in town, the Trolley Stop is part restaurant, part bar, part market and part gift store - and we adore each and every part that exists here. The cavernous space located across from the Orleans trolley stop on Madison Avenue offers diners some of the best breakfast in town; the food is super-fresh, with locally-sourced everything on the menu: Eggs, bacon, grits and cheeses come from 'round these parts, and the result is fabulous. When the plate hits the table, you truly feel like you're eating at a friend's house, or at Grandma's - it's that good, and that home-cooked.

1. Paulette's
Photo courtesy of Paulette's

Since its move to the River Inn, Paulette's is now open for breakfast daily, and that's a real treat as its breakfast offerings are lush - from eggs Benedict with creamy Hollandaise to hands-down the best French toast in town. Weekday breakfast is complimentary for hotel guests. Every breakfast or brunch begins with Paulette's signature popovers and strawberry butter - and don't be shy about indulging, as the wait staff will gladly bring seconds. Excellent service is the hallmark of Paulette;s, and that's no different at breakfast, when egg dishes and many entrees offered for under $10 - a true treat for the palate and the pocketbook.