From Hip to Hog, Cooper-Young Rocks the Memphis Dining Scene

When it comes to dining, Memphis has  come a long way recently, thanks in no small part to a few innovative chefs who put down roots in the city's artsy Midtown neighborhood called Cooper Young.

Located the the blocks around the intersection of Cooper and Young, CY has emerged as the city's premier dining destination. Chefs Karen Carrier and Ben Smith were the first to bring their culinary genius to CY; Carrier's Beauty Shop combines unexpected ingredients for a twist on comfort food, while Smith's Tsunami takes seafood to another dimension. A few years later, Ryan Trimm opened his Low Country-inspired Sweet Grass to wide acclaim, then the ultra-hip Alchemy opened in a huge space, offering small plates, creative cocktails, a giant U-shaped bar and some of the best people watching in the city.

The great thing about dining in Cooper Young is that it's easy, at least in terms of finding a perfect fit for what you want - be it coffee and a fresh cinnamon roll to a fried green tomato BLT. The hard part is two-fold - first, parking is at a premium (we advise paying a valet fee - so worth the frustration of the hunt) and second, deciding which restaurant to try. Admittedly, the latter is a nice problem to have.


Java Cabana


This retro coffeehouse has been a fixture in the trendy Cooper-Young district since 1992. Befitting of any coffeehouse stereotype, you can sip a steaming cup of joe while listening to live acoustic music or poetry readings and browsing the...  Read More



Central is one of our favorites, thanks to the huge patio that's open during fine weather (often with a band tucked into the corner), the homemade potato chips with bleu cheese dressing, which our table of six agreed recently were the work of...  Read More

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...  Read More



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...  Read More



Chef Ryan Trimm opened a more casual version of his super-popular Sweet Grass, right next door - hence the name of this Cooper-Young spot, which is as popular as its more upscale neighbor. A bar runs along one wall of the restaurant, with...  Read More



This funky little spot in Cooper Young opened in 2013 with little fanfare but loads of fans; chef Karen Carrier's latest nightspot / restaurant is fresh and hip and a great addition to the neighborhood nightlife scene. Decorated with...  Read More



You'll probably find a full house at this longtime CY fave, and after sampling its excellent Pacific Rim-inflected cuisine, you'll understand - and want to return often. Tsunami is decorated with funky, colorful works of art, and the menu...  Read More

Young Avenue Deli
Photo courtesy of Courtesy 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...  Read More



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....  Read More

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...  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