While we’re all about an intimate table for two, we love getting together for dinner with friends – and Memphis is a great spot for group dining of any sort. With a vibrant restaurant scene that can go upscale or down-home, our list of the 10Best group-friendly restaurants in Memphis can help you plan the perfect get-together, whether for 10 or 100.
Your first step, however, is deciding what kind of group dining experience you’re looking for. For an all-out Memphis experience, there’s no better spot that Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, the famous barbecue joint that can handle 30 to 300. If you’re in need of a spot to host a gathering of business travelers, then Capriccio in the Peabody Hotel is the choice for a full-service, full-Southern downtown lunch, while Folk’s Folly in East Memphis is an excellent choice for closing a hush-hush deal, thanks to its private dining areas. For a more casual business event, Ciao Bella’s lounge or Mosa’s wine room are just the ticket, and perfect for mingling over drinks and appetizers. And, if it’s a special celebration for a group of friends, try Itta Benna’s hip Beale Street location, or Interim’s private dining room – both offer incredible service and food.
Whatever the occasion, a combination of great food, attentive service, and a festive atmosphere are most important, and all of the 10 restaurants on this list will fit the bill. While offering an array of cuisine, all are local gems with solid culinary chops and a uniquely Memphis atmosphere.
It's a bit ironic that such a huge space is dedicated to small plates - but after a signature cocktail or two from the mixologists at the wrap-around bar in this Cooper-Young eatery, who pays attention to irony, anyway?
Alchemy works so well in this huge space because it buzzes with a hip, every-everything kind of crowd, from BoHo Midtowners to groups of suburban moms to urban hipsters.
Our favorite tiny plates - and they are small, so take our advice and over-order, especially if you plan to imbibe - are shrimp and grits, the duck spring rolls and the Spanish Manchego cheese with roasted red peppers. The small plates make for excellent sharing in a group setting, meaning you get to try everything. (901-726-4444)
Young Avenue Deli
Don't be thrown by the name; this cavernous space is indeed a deli - and a tasty one, at that.
Young Avenue has one of the broadest menus we've ever laid eyes on; there's everything from killer fish and chips to a cowboy pita to a pimento cheese sandwich, salads, and smaller plates for kids. Yes, kids are welcome – and we'd advise to bring them during daylight hours, as when the deli starts rocking, it's a grown-up scene.
The beer list is expansive, with what just might be the longest beer menu in town, a mix of the most exotic beers on tap and in a bottle or can - and you can indeed order a Bud Light or something of that ilk, but why would you, when you can have a Ghost River Wee Heavy or a Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout? (901-278-0034)
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 the corner from the entrance to B.B. King's), the idea is to evoke the feel of a speakeasy in modern Memphis, and it works.
While the name seems to indicate Italian fare, nothing could be further from the palate; Southern delicacies including fried green tomatoes, she-crab soup, duck and waffles, and Cajun-grilled shrimp and grits are all worthy of a taste. (901-578-3031)
Capriccio Grill - Peabody Hotel Memphis
It's not every day that a hotel restaurant becomes a must-eat for locals. But in the case of the venerable Peabody Hotel, attracting the local crowd has never been an issue.
To appeal to the business crowd, the folks at Capriccio have changed up their lunch offerings, offering a full complement of Southern specialties with a bit of a twist in addition to their regular American and Italian fare, including sandwiches, a pasta bar and pizzas.
There are plenty of lawyers, financial types and kings of cotton located in the downtown business district who want an excellent but fast lunch, and that's a tough find in the city's central business district.
Capriccio's quiet yet elegant atmosphere lends itself well to a business or group lunch: tables are easily rearranged to accommodate groups.
The twist in Capriccio's Southern comfort food is that you can order small plates to share or full-on entrees, whichever you prefer.
Starters to share include some serious Southern favorites, cooked just like your grandma (assuming she was from the South) would make them. Fried green tomatoes come with a side dish filled with toppings of bacon, cheese and more. Who knew you could make fried green tomatoes better with cheese and bacon? (9015294199)
Mosa Asian Bistro
A fresh -and we mean fresh -take on Asian dining, Mosa is a bistro that combines the best of Chinese, Thai and Japanese dishes - noodle and rice bowls, curries and a host of small plates - in a casual atmosphere that rocks with the business crowd at lunch and families at dinner.
Dishes are made to order, truly some of the freshest Asian cuisine we've experienced.
During lunch hours, you order at the counter and take a number, and one of the runners will bring your food.
The Pao family is ever-present in the kitchen or at the register, always making time to say hello and catch up with customers - and after just two visits or so, you can consider yourself a regular. ((901) 683-8889)
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. ((901) 526-1361)
Folk's Folly Prime Steak House
Recognized year after year as the best steakhouse in Memphis, Folk's Folly guarantees a flawless American feast from start to finish. With its very own butcher shop next door, the restaurant asserts that steak is clearly the specialty. However, the menu also boasts an array of other delicious main courses, including grilled duck breast and Alaskan king crab legs. In typical steakhouse fashion, sides are large and meant to be shared - and are not included with entrees.
The restaurant is large and old fashioned, with five dining rooms and multiple private booths. While you're there, stop by the Cellar to enjoy live piano music nightly, along with cocktails and the trademark - and complimentary - fried pickles. (901-762-8200, 800-467-0245)
This casual Italian restaurant sets the perfect mood for a family dinner or quiet dinner with co-workers, and its appealing atmosphere is sure to relax you, thanks to the aromas of pizza right out of the oven and the smooth stylings of Sinatra or Como.
The recently-revised menu has grown, and offers a number of new dishes along with Ciao Bella's old favorites. We're particularly fond of the fried zucchini, and it's a great appetizer to share. Entrees include a wide variety of pastas, fresh seafood, rack of lamb, veal scaloppini, and grilled pork tenderloin. Prices are reasonable, portions are large, and the food's always tasty. Comfort Italian at its best. (901-205-2500)
Interim Restaurant & Bar
We love the steaks, the chops, the burger (best.burger.ever.) and the salads, the hip bar scene, the darling bartender (no, we are NOT naming names), and the general vibe of the place. But the real reason we come to Interim is the mac and cheese. We are addicted, and it makes the perfect side to a steak, chop or burger....or a meal all by itself, with a salad and a nice glass of wine.
The wine list is top notch at Interim, and cocktails are well-mixed and never fussy. The open concept kitchen works very well as a background for the sometimes quiet dining room. Dining at the bar and bar tables is one of our favorite things to do. (901-818-0821)
Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous
Charlie Vergos started this Memphis landmark in 1948 - selling pork sandwiches and coleslaw on the street, eventually opening this one and only location tucked into a downtown alley.
The best bets on the menu are the sausage and cheese plates, barbeque nachos and full slabs of ribs - all of which are great for sharing; the waitstaff can be brusque but don't take it personally - they are simply trying to get everyone served in the cavernous basement that is the main dining area.
On any given night, the restaurant overflows with a combination of locals and tourists; upstairs, if there's not a private party, there's a simple bar and waiting area - and be prepared to wait. If there is a private party, don't be surprised if the waiting room is the alley. Keep your ear out to hear your name called over the tinny microphone. (901-523-2746, 888-464-7359)
About 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 style of the eastern edge of the city, there’s a Memphis for every mood, and she loves every part of it.
Walker Davies is an experienced broadcast, print, and online journalist focusing on travel, and is the Memphis City Editor for StyleBlueprint, the South's fastest-growing digital lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared the Commercial Appeal, AOL Travel, BudgetTravel.com, and The Tennessean. She is the author of Tennessee: An Explorer’s Guide.
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