Best Lunch in Memphis

Where to Eat Lunch in Memphis: Find Comfort Food Beyond Just Southern

Going out to eat isn't always about cravings. Often enough, mealtimes dictate our choices, limiting restaurant possibilities. When circumstances narrow the options, let 10Best help. We'll direct you to the best Lunch restaurants in Memphis and save you the hassle of calling around for business hours. 10Best readers will find everything from the little tea room where the big names in business lunch, a hard to beat Gus's World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken, which serves the perfect fried chicken, and a few of the city's best new restaurants featuring young, hip, and nationally-adored chefs.

Hog & Hominy is one of the country's hottest restaurants - and it's a long wait during dinner, But at lunch, there's rarely a wait; much of the menu is the same and you can even score their delicious polenta (not always on the menu) as a side if you ask kindly.

Our list covers every corner of town, a variety of cuisines, and a price point that fits every wallet.  Many of the eateries on our list - including Mosa and Swanky's - offer take out if dining in isn't an option.  So from downtown to east Memphis, from swanky to simple, you can find just what you're taste buds are asking for, at the right price.


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 Lunch because: The Beauty Shop is the only place we know where you can order a daily grilled cheese special, complete with truffle oil fries. Yum!

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 →

Cheffie's is where the guest is the chef - building salads and sandwiches from scratch - or for those who can't make a decision, you can choose from a broad menu of options. We love, love, love the salad-making; choose from a few lettuce bases, then add in grilled chicken, bacon, eggs, all manner of veggies, all of our favorite crunchies - and the result is the perfect salad. The same deal goes for sandwiches, and for those who are wavering between the two, never fear - you can go for the half-and-half option. A gelatto and wine bar offers homemade seasonal flavors of icy gelatto, with a nice selection of wines from which to choose.

Recommended for Lunch because: With an off-the-beaten-path location, Cheffie's is the perfect spot to get away from the office, especially if you want to avoid your co-workers.

Sally's expert tip: Avoid the lunch take-out crowd - arrive before 11:30 or after 1:00.

Read more about Cheffie's Cafe →

The Little Tea Shop is a family-owned downtown home-cooking restaurant. The Old Cotton Row eatery is like stepping back in time, with its vintage lunchroom atmosphere and old-fashioned menu. It's very common to see local business bigwigs chatting up the friendly waitresses, many of whom have worked here for decades; these gals know their regulars well and can even name their children. The food is simple Southern fare, chosen via ballot-style menu � simply grab a pencil, pickup a menu, and start marking off your choices; turnip greens and other lushly prepared veggies are always on the menu, as is chicken salad, and daily specials include catfish or fried chicken. No matter what day of the week, everything is served with corn sticks on the side.

Recommended for Lunch because: Going to the Little Tea Shop for lunch is like going to your grandma's house - loads of comfort food served up by a sweet lady.

Sally's expert tip: The homemade desserts are worth skipping dinner for, especially the tasty frozen pecan ball with hot fudge. And we don't even like pecans!

Read more about The Little Tea Shop →


During lunch, it's a walk-up and order spot, with the line moving quickly as customers build-their-own burritos, tacos and salads – with the help of the friendly and often teasing food builders. One can get more complicated at lunch; there are grilled entrees including fish tacos, quesadillas and fajita plates. The star of the menu may just be the white queso; it is super creamy and rich, and practically a meal in itself. The fish tacos are another must-order with crispy yet lightly breaded white fish. Two locations - both on Poplar Avenue and one nearly in Germantown - offer a mixed lunch crowd of business execs, young professionals, yard guys and moms with tots, and both locations offer patio dining when the weather is fine.

Recommended for Lunch because: Swanky's is a quick and scrumptious option for lunch, which means you can fill up and get back to work in a snap.

Sally's expert tip: During the heat of summer - July and August - avoid the patio at lunch, unless you like to sweat on your meal. Since the patio is a) uncovered and b) next to the parking lot, it's H-O-T.

Read more about Swanky's Taco Shop →

Gus's World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken

The basic brick building on South Front might scare some folks away â€" but trust us, walk in and load up. Gus's is a franchise of the original in Mason, about an hour from Memphis; that eatery opened in 1953 and the chicken was served up in a paper sack. This is the real deal spicy, crunchy, and juicy, served with white bread. And be patient - your particular order doesn't hit the oil until you've ordered. Cold beer (served up in 40-ounce cans) is a nice contrast to the hot chicken. Sides and starters include fried pickles and green tomatoes, beans and slaw, and strangely enough â€" fried rice. Assuming you have any room left, chess pie is the way to go for dessert.

Recommended for Lunch because: Gus's is quick a easy - and if you follow that 'eat like a prince at lunch' advice, the perfect choice for a filling meal.

Sally's expert tip: Water, tea, cola - whatever your beverage of choice, keep it handy - you'll need it close to cool off the kick of spice that makes Gus's fried chicken an iconic dish.

Read more about Gus's World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken →

Ladies who lunch in Memphis often lunch at the Woman's Exchange; it's a cozy lunch spot where the food is so much more than chicken salad, although that's on the menu too. Opened in the early 60's in a Midtown house, it hasn't changed a lot in those years, whether we're talking the food or the clientele. The lunch crowd (and yes, men eat here, too!) dines on everything from beef tenderloin to fried catfish to the aforementioned chicken salad; the cost of the meal includes beverage, dessert, gratuity and tax and is one of the best lunch deals in town.

Recommended for Lunch because: What could possibly be better than a great Southern lunch that supports a great cause?

Sally's expert tip: The other part of the Exchange is a gift store and specialty children's shop with hand-smocked clothing and charming hand-crafted gifts, including baby blankets and quilted animals. The gift shop is open from 10 - 4 on weekdays and until 2 p.m. on Saturday.

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The more casual brainchild of young chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, Hog & Hominy is a tribute to the pair's roots - both Southern and Italian. The result is a mix of vegetable dishes, pork-focused main dishes and wood-fired pizzas – all set in a super-casual atmosphere yet with refined service. Located just across from their namesake Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen on Brookhaven Circle, H&H, like it's sister restaurant, is housed in a former ranch-style residence. Walls have been moved and opened up to create an active space - and a wall of windows infuses the dining room with light. The bricks from from old chimney found new life as the brick oven, and colorful metal chairs add pops of color to the open dining space. Outside, there's not only a nice patio for al fresco dining - there's a bocce court. My Italian ancestors are rejoicing.

Recommended for Lunch because: Hog & Hominy is one of the hottest restaurants in the country, but for lunch it's easy to get a table at lunchtime and indulge.

Sally's expert tip: The combination of toppings on the pizzas are true genius - so we discourage you from asking for substitutions.

Read more about Hog & Hominy →

The space is uninspiring, in the corner of a strip mall, with little decor on the walls and basic furnishings. But no one's coming to Las Delicias for the decor, now are they? No, they come for the freshly-made guacamole, chunky and perfectly blended with garlic, cilantro and lime; they come for the huge, home-made chips, the queso, the tortas and and small, authentic tacos of steak or chicken, served up in warm corn tortillas. (Be warned – those come with loads of cilantro and onions). The family-run Las Delicias is a beehive of activity at any hour, but the lunch crowd moves quickly – the dinner crowd, not so much. Parking is at a premium- be mindful of the driveways if you're forced to find a spot on the street.

Recommended for Lunch because: Las Delicias is one of the best deals in town - you can score a bowl of fresh guacamole and two tacos for under $10.

Sally's expert tip: Be in the door by 11:15 to ensure you won't have a wait.

Read more about Las Delicias →

Mosa Asian Bistro
Photo courtesy of Mosa / Craig Collier

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. Dishes are made to order, truly some of the freshest Asian cuisine we've experienced. They come out as they are ready, so appetizers can be quickly followed by one diner's entree - the flow depends on how packed the restaurant is. If time is critical, call ahead and order to go. During lunch hours, you order at the counter and take a number, and one of the runners will bring your food. The Pao family always makes time to say hello and catch up with customers -and after just two visits or so, you'll feel like a regular!

Recommended for Lunch because: Mosa's snappy staff and fresh food combine for the perfect - and quick - lunch hour.

Sally's expert tip: You can get a real vacation from the office, even if it's temporary, by enjoying lunch on Mosa's patio. If you're taking out, allow 30 minutes from calling to pick-up.

Read more about Mosa Asian Bistro →

Capriccio Grill - Peabody Hotel Memphis
Photo courtesy of Sally Walker Davies

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 lunch: it's the kind of place where hushed conversations are almost expected, and tables and booths are positioned in such a way that one can actually conduct business in relative privacy. 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? If you've never had traditional buttermilk fried chicken, this is the place to start. Chef Andreas Kisler says the hotel's long-time cooks – all of whom apparently have grandmothers who make killer fried chicken – are true to the process that delivers such crisp-on-the-outside and juicy-one-the-inside pieces. This is Memphis, so of course there's some kind of barbecue (pork, thank you very much) on every menu in town. Capriccio's take on barbecue is in salad form, and it comes in a jar – pulled pork with barbecue sauce that you (or the server) can pour atop lettuce.

Recommended for Lunch because: Fried green tomato sandwiches, a pimento cheese hamburger, and home cut potato chips...what more can we say?

Sally's expert tip: Do make a reservation for Capriccio; the restaurant is a popular lunchtime spot for the downtown business crowd.

Read more about Capriccio Grill - Peabody Hotel Memphis →


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