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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Alchemy takes reservations for groups of 10 or more, and has both very public and semi-private spaces for a group.
Sally's expert tip: Parking in Cooper-Young is limited but Alchemy offers a $7 valet option.
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?
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Young Avenue's great for a group get-together as tables are easy to configure and the waitstaff experienced at handling crowds.
Sally's expert tip: While it's easy to order take out at lunchtime, avoid the later evenings, especially when there's a band.
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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Itta Bena takes reservations for groups of all sizes, with those over 15 getting a special contact to ensure a special outing.
Sally's expert tip: Cell phone usage in the dining room is seriously frowned upon. Do everyone a favor and put it away, and if you must take a call, take it outside.
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?
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Capriccio's menu is made for sharing at lunchtime - a perfect spot for a quick group lunch.
Sally's expert tip: Do make a reservation for Capriccio; the restaurant is a popular lunchtime spot for the downtown business crowd.
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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Mosa's tables can be quickly transformed into seating for a dozen, or more and reservations aren't required but helpful.
Sally's expert tip: You can get a real vacation from the office, even if it's temporary, by enjoying your group lunch on Mosa's patio.
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 Group Friendly because: Trolley Stop's big space is perfect for pulling tables together for a casual gathering - and the entire space can be rented for large groups.
Sally's expert tip: The only thing that could make Trolley Stop more perfect is if they served breakfast all day - sadly, it ends promptly at 10:30.
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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: There are plenty of group spaces at Folk's Folly, with atmospheres to match the occasion, whether small and intimate or large and business-like.
Sally's expert tip: When reserving a table at Folk's Folly, be sure to ask for a spot in one of the smaller dining rooms. The largest room is best for business-style get-togethers.
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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Ciao Bella has a loads of options for large parties or groups, whether in the dining room, lounge, or private party space.
Sally's expert tip: Do order the toasted ravioli; they are the best we've tasted outside of the Hill in St. Louis.
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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: Interim offers two spaces for private or group dining, a 16-seat private room.
Sally's expert tip: The private dining room and group spaces at Interim book quickly, so reserve as far as possible in advance.
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.
Recommended for Group Friendly because: The 'Vous has a huge upstairs space for 300 diners, while it's massive downstairs dining rooms work well for groups of 10 - 30 guests.
Sally's expert tip: The entrance is actually in the alley behind the address, just across Union from the Peabody. Don't be put off by this unconventional welcome to the 'Vous.