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Grits, Grounds and Gouda: Brunch in Memphis Is Anything but Boring



It’s said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we couldn’t agree more – and we also think it's the most delicious. That’s why we came up with our recommendations for the best Breakfast/Brunch restaurants in Memphis.  Try Paulette's for its to-die for popovers, served with strawberry 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 become an institution for students and business types as well.  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.

This list includes plenty of spots which serve Southern specialties - hand cut biscuits, cheese grits, and the like - but also offer some of the most unusual brunch dishes and best milkshakes, too.

Just a handful of the restaurants on our list take reservations for brunch; those that have a wait are good about offering coffee and other beverages while you wait. Every spot on this list welcomes children, too.  Since Memphis is a big church-going town, these spots all fill up quickly between 10 and 1, so simply go early if you don’t want to battle the crowds.


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Stone Soup Cafe & Market


Stone Soup brings a veteran of the Memphis restaurant scene, chef Sharron Johnson, back into the Cooper Young neighborhood following a great run with the now closed Buns on the Run. Johnson offers everything that is comfort food - breakfast features egg platters and omelets and biscuits and gravy, plus hue cinnamon rolls and other bakery delights. Lunch means plate lunches, sandwiches (including the amazing Big Rex - a everything is made on premises, and some things - including herbs and a few veggies - come straight out of the restaurant's garden. Take out is a big business at Stone Soup, and the market area is a real delight, offering daily baked goods and produce and products from local purveyors.

Recommended for Breakfast because: Bosco's draws a very eclectic crowd for its brunch, serves one of the best Bloody Mary's in town.

Sally's expert tip: Stone Soup is cash only, so come prepared.

Read more about Stone Soup Cafe & Market →




The Cupboard opened in 1943, and quickly became a Memphis favorite, serving up basic but scrumptious home-y meals, with loads of options, daily specials, and some killer side dishes. There are no surprises when it comes to eating at The Cupboard; Monday's specials this week are the same as Monday's specials next week - and the same goes for the daily vegetable selections and the daily dessert. Breakfast is served all day, every day - which is a real draw for us - and portions are generous, fresh, and served up by gals who will probably call you darlin' or honey.

Recommended for Breakfast because: A Brushmark brunch is breakfast with a culinary twist, with very few of the usual suspects, and that makes for a delightful morning.

Sally's expert tip: The daily breakfast special, served from 7 - 11 am only, is just $4.99, and includes eggs, a choice of bacon or sausage, and biscuits or toast.

Read more about The Cupboard Restaurant →




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.

Recommended for Breakfast because: The Beauty Shop is just so Memphis, home to the cook that really started the foodie revolution in town and packed with a hip, eclectic crowd.

Sally's expert tip: Be sure to peruse the daily milkshake offerings, written in colorful marker on the dining room mirrors.

Read more about Beauty Shop →


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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.

Recommended for Breakfast because: It's a Memphis institution, and the milkshakes rock our world.

Sally's expert tip: Don't be surprised if you catch some of Memphis' biggest business and celebrity names here at any given time.

Read more about The Arcade Restaurant →


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.

Recommended for Breakfast because: Everything except the dining space is huge at Brother Juniper's, from the menu to the breakfast platters.

Sally's expert tip: Seriously long lines are the norm, no matter the day or hour. You can call ahead and put your name on the list when you're on the way - do it!

Read more about Brother Juniper's →




A longtime tradition, Owen Brennan's headlines Cajun and Creole dishes in a festive, Mardi Gras-like environment. Located in a sophisticated shopping center, the restaurant features upscale ambience and friendly service, which make for delightful dining. Champagne flows during Sunday brunch, and a live New Orleans jazz band plays throughout the event. Breakfast otherwise consists of a three-course prix fixe option or à 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.

Recommended for Breakfast because: The breadth of quality of the brunch is spectacular, and the touch of New Orleans in the offerings makes it unique.

Sally's expert tip: On certain Sundays - Mother's Day and Father's Day, among other Sundays near holidays - the pricing for brunch increases.

Read more about Owen Brennan's →


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. Our advice is treat Bryant's like a tapas bar - bring a few friends, over-order, and share. 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.

Recommended for Breakfast because: We love a spot whose focus is on the one meal in which bacon gets top billing.

Sally's expert tip: Long lines are standard. If you really must avoid the wait, call in a to-go order.

Read more about Bryant's →


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, and a bit of the truly unusual - like slices of crispy bacon with a smidge of crunchy peanut butter, topped with chocolate. 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.

Recommended for Breakfast because: The Peabpdy's Sunday brunch is experiential dining at its best - especially during one of the Christmas brunches, when the hotel is sumptuously decorated.

Sally's expert tip: During special holidays - Easter, Mother's Day and Thanksgiving - the brunch moves from the Capriccio to the mezzanine of the hotel; reservations are a must on these special days, and the price for brunch increases.

Read more about Capriccio Grill - Peabody Hotel Memphis →




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.

Recommended for Breakfast because: Trolley Stop is one of those places where they really do make your food to order, and you can taste the difference.

Sally's expert tip: Breakfast ends promptly at 10:30 daily. Darn it.

Read more about Trolley Stop Market →


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.

Recommended for Breakfast because: Popovers, strawberry butter, incredible service, and a reasonable priced breakfast add up to the best breakfast experience in Memphis.

Sally's expert tip: Avoid holiday Sundays - like Mother's Day or Father's Day, as not only is it tough to get a reservation, the menu pricing goes way up for the standards like waffles and egg dishes.

Read more about Paulette's →


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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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