10 Best Downtown Memphis Dining Experiences are Iconic, Elegant and More

Dining in downtown Memphis covers every base imaginable, and that's what our list covers - some fancy, some no frills, and some all-out must eats. Most of the restaurants listed here are within walking distance of the main business district; a few in the South Main district - like Gus's and The Arcade - are easy to reach via the trolley. Paulette's and the Trolley Stop are outside the main downtown district, but both are considered downtown locations, the former in Harbor Town and the latter along Madison, accessible by the Madison line of the Trolley. Barbecue, of course, is a Memphis must; Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous has been pulling in folks with its can't-resist aroma for decades. The Peabody Hotel's lush Chez Philippe is an experience like no other, with gilded columns, an expansive and traditional continental menu and an incredibly divine wait staff. For spicy Southern fried chicken - and we do mean spicy - try Gus's; the best milkshakes and diner-style food is found at the oldest restaurant in town, The Arcade. If you're plans in Memphis only include downtown attractions and spots, then this list will see you through breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a unique flavor to each meal.

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...  Read More

HUGE - and we mean HUGE slices of thick, stick-to-your-ribs cheesecake are served up in this unassuming little bakery / restaurant in South Main, with flavors changing daily – a total of something like 80 options in all (although just a dozen...  Read More

One local politico lovingly calls this Memphis favorite "ambrosia of pork" -but locals simply call it the 'Vous. Charlie Vergos started this Memphis landmark in 1948 - selling pork sandwiches and coleslaw on the street, eventually opening...  Read More

Take off for a taste experience at this downtown Memphis restaurant - with flights of both wine and food, the options are seemingly endless. From champagne flights to salad flights to beef or seafood, cabernets or chardonnays, it can actually be...  Read More

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...  Read More

The Little Tea Shop is a family-owned downtown home-cooking restaurant. The Old Cotton Row eatery is like stepping back in time, with its vintage lunchroom atmosphere and old-fashioned menu. It's very common to see local business bigwigs...  Read More

Tucked high above noisy Beale Street, but with a great view of the action, Itta Bena is a lush bit of quiet yet rustic elegance that sits on top of B.B. King's Beale Street club. With a practically unmarked entrance (facing Second Avenue, around...  Read More

Gus's World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken

The basic brick building on South Front might scare some folks away – but trust us, walk in and load up. Gus's is a franchise of the original in Mason, about an hour from Memphis; that eatery opened in 1953 and the chicken was served up in...  Read More

The most opulent dining experience in all of Memphis is found at Chez Philippe, located in the lobby of the historic Peabody Hotel. Fortunately for diners, the cuisine matches the lush and elegant surroundings. Traditional French fare is the...  Read More

Felicia Suzanne Willett is an alum of Johnson & Wales in Charleston, South Carolina, and former protégée of Emeril Lagasse; her eponymous restaurant opened in 2002 in the historic Lowenstein Building at the corner of Main and Madison. Her...  Read More


Meet Sally Walker Davies

Sally Walker Davies is enchanted by Memphis' music, history, and characters. From the artsy South Main Historic District to the grittiness of her favorite live music clubs to the sophisticated...  More About Sally

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