Disco, Blues and Booze: Downtown Memphis Rocks the Nightlife

Is it redundant to talk about nightlife in Memphis , when the city is home to Beale Street? When it comes to an ultimate nightlife district, Beale is only second to New Orleans' Bourbon Street. But in downtown Memphis, there are plenty of options - on and off Beale - to satisfy the creatures of the night.

Our list of our favorite downtown nightspots covers dance clubs and discos, dark, interesting bars filled with interesting (and sometimes dark and mysterious) people; it also covers two hotel bar must-hits – which we think is pretty unusual in the 'best nightlife' category. Or maybe being a Memphian, I just have a really high expectation of a hotel bar. But I digress.

Beale Street is definitely the spot to start or finish your evening, depending on how adventurous you're feeling. With a killer house band cranking out the blues at B.B.. King's and the drinking goats at Silky O'Sullivan's, Beale is full of options.

But beyond Beale, from South Main to Victorian Village, there's more nightlife to discover. The spirited Mollie Fontaine is perhaps our favorite spot of all - with its varied crowd, dark spaces for canoodling, and musical variety. The historic Peabody Hotel and the chic Madison Hotel both offer in-housebars worth checking out; the Madison's rooftop lounge is sleek, contemporary and boasts an amazing river view, while the lush Peabody Lobby Bar is an oasis of elegance.

To really get a feel for Memphis' best nightlife, hit these ten spots. If nothing else, you'll discover the real Memphis.



An Irish dueling piano pub with beer-loving goats? Nothing quite compares with what awaits you at Silky O'Sullivan's. Located in the heart of Memphis nightlife on Beale Street, Silky's serves up Southern pub grub and ice-cold beer in a raucous...  Read More



Silly Goose is really more of a hip bar with late night dancing Thursday - Saturday nights, and the occasional themed parties, but definitely worth the visit regardless of what's happening. With its dark, chic interior - think men's club (as...  Read More



In the ranks of Memphis's most famous nightspots, B.B.'s is one of those rare places that you must visit if you spend any time in the city at all. Featuring an amazing nightly repertoire of blues, along with great food and cold beer, the bar...  Read More



When they say food / spirits on the Mollie Fontaine Web site, spirits has a double meaning - as in, the kind your drink and the kind who haunt old, Victorian homes. Mollie Fontaine is housed in a gorgeous Victorian mansion, stuffed with a...  Read More



This is one of those spots your mom warned you about - and is, as we say in the South, a hot mess. But we love it anyway! For years, Hollywood Raiford entertained Memphians in a huge old building on Vance, just south of the central business...  Read More



The historic Peabody Hotel is widely regarded as the place to stay when you're visiting Memphis; the grand hotel is elegant and sophisticated, with a huge two-story lobby featuring marble columns and rich decor. Indeed, the hotel's lobby...  Read More



Located in the heart of Memphis's nightlife scene (the corner of Third and Beale), Alfred's is one of those places that you need to stop in if you plan on telling people you visited Memphis. Known for its live music, Alfred's offers one of...  Read More



The newest entry in the downtown hotel rooftop scene, Twilight is a super-chic space with commanding views of the Mississippi. Perched atop the boutique Madison Hotel, the refurbished rooftop space now includes comfy seating for lounging,...  Read More



You've got to love a place that was open in the 1930's - and was rumored to be a speakeasy during Prohibition - that's found its way back to being a hip joint in 2012. The Green Beetle (it can't be called anything else, as outlined in the...  Read More



This gritty club " a former bordello and hotel, is the local go-to for late night drinks and an alcohol-absorbing Soul Burger " a tasty concoction of greasy burger with onions that helps one regain one's sobriety at the end of the evening....  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