Great To-Go Options: Memphis Takeout Is Easy and Excellent

Photo courtesy of Courtesy Young Avenue Deli
By Sally Walker Davies, Memphis Local Expert

Memphis is turning into quite the foodie town, and finding excellent take out here goes way beyond pizza or burgers - although you will still find those on this list of our 10 favorite take out spots in the city. All of the options on our list are locally owned, so they have their own made-in-Memphis taste - and you can have the added satisfaction of supporting local businesses.

Note that each of the eateries on this list have different take-out options - and by that, we mean in terms of how you can order. Some take no phone calls, others offer online ordering. Because Memphis is an easy town to navigate and in which to park, grabbing a meal to go is usually pretty easy - exceptions have been noted.

From hand-tossed pizza to juicy burgers and the city's best Asian food, finding take out to suit your taste is easy and relatively inexpensive; take options range from a few of Midtown's best eateries, including pizza from  Trolley Stop and deli-style sandwiches at Fino's, and our favorite East Memphis go-to's - Swanky's for tacos and Mosa for Asian.

And for a really quick take-out experience, check out the the local food truck alliance, which offers food truck rodeos and special lunchtime gatherings throughout the city.


10. Cozy Corner
Photo courtesy of Southern Foodways Alliance

You'll get a huge bang for your buck at this family-run restaurant, located in a strip mall that has admittedly seen better days, just outside of downtown in a neighborhood that has also seen better days. What's missing in ambiance is more than made up for by the food, however. Served on paper plates and set on plastic tablecloths, barbecue comes in the form of baby back ribs, regular ribs and sandwiches. Bu the piece de resistance is and house specialty is the scrumptious Cornish game hen. Smoky and spicy, this isn't so much barbecue as a smoked meat - and is a truly unique taste of Memphis.

9. Cheffie's Cafe
Photo courtesy of Cheffie's Cafe

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.

8. 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 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?

7. Trolley Stop Market
Photo courtesy of Trolley Stop Market

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.

6. Fino's Italian Grocery
Photo courtesy of Kerry Crawford, I Love Memphis

A great little Italian deli and market, Fino's has just a few tables for the lunch crowd, and does a ton of take-out business. During the warmer months, picnic tables are set up out on the sidewalk of this Midtown Memphis gem. Sandwiches and pasta dishes rule the menu, and the creativity is endless. Combinations include spaghetti with spinach and mushroom marinara, chicken-pancetta Amorosa soup, and a daily sandwich special like turkey & salami with provolone,lettuce, and tomato/onion marinade. Luscious cakes and desserts are the perfect ending to any meal - and given the huge serving size, could even be a meal all its own.

5. Huey's
Photo courtesy of Huey's

Memphis has more than its fair share of neighborhood bar and grills, and Huey's happens to be one of the best. The atmosphere is no frills and all bar, and the menu features what many locals regard as the area's tastiest burger. With locations from downtown to Collierville, the local chain really understands what it means to be a neighborhood favorite; each spot offers live music, some have patios, all offer the same excellent food - with burgers just being the start. Salads and seafood, soups and guilt-inducing snacks - there's something for everyone. Huey's is a great place to swing by and catch the game on TV too – especially if you're inclined to down a few brews and sample something delicious, like sublime onion rings.

4. Gus's World Famous Hot & Spicy Fried Chicken

The basic brick building on South Front might scare some folks away – 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 – fried rice. Assuming you have any room left, chess pie is the way to go for dessert.

3. High Point Pizza
Photo courtesy of High Point Pizza

The restaurant is tiny, the menu impressively expansive, and the pizza crust brushed with garlic sauce – and this neighborhood pizza joint tosses some seriously good pizza that way better than anything one can have delivered in town. With fried macaroni and cheese, a small variety of sandwiches, a full complement of traditional - and a few not-so-traditional - toppings, HPP is a favorite across the city, with folks driving miles to pick up. A few tables in the small dining room are actually vintage video game consoles - Ms. Pac Man included. When the weather's fine, a few outdoor tables are set up, and with the nearby greenline and a few more local businesses in the same strip mall, the people watching is always good. Beer is served, but you can bring your own wine in (a corkage fee applies).

2. Mosa Asian Bistro
Photo courtesy of Mosa Asian Bistro

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 is ever-present at both the White Station and Kirby locations, always making time to say hello and catch up with customers -and after just two visits or so, you can consider yourself a regular.

1. Swanky's Taco Shop
Photo courtesy of Memphis CVB

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.