A Step-by-Step Guide to Memphis' Best Food + Attractions That We Love
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A Step-by-Step Guide to Memphis' Best Food + Attractions That We Love

March 10, 2022 / Candice Pair

tagged in: Lindsey’s picks

Here at Ryan & Rose, we are always asked for recommendations on where to visit in Memphis. Since most of us have lived in Memphis our entire lives, we decided to compile a list of our most commonly asked questions and inquiries, and document our favorite restaurants and attractions. Memphis has so much to offer from history to entertainment, and we hope you find this information helpful when planning your next getaway to Bluff City!

We've compiled a list of the Cutie Crew's favorite places to eat, shop, and sightsee around Memphis. For a quick reference guide, simply hold your finger down on the images below. You'll be able to save these 2 lists directly to your phone or device! Below those images, we go into great detail about lots of these landmarks. I outline our personal experiences, and why we love these places as much as we do! 

Memphis Food

When we think of good breakfast in Memphis, we think of Bryant's and Arcade. Both of these are Memphis classics, full of history and good food. Arcade is located downtown, and it is the oldest restaurant in Memphis! The food is great, and it offers a fun experience. If you’re not visiting downtown, definitely try  Bryant's. A few other Cutie favorites are Staks! Pancake Kitchen, Another Broken Egg, and Big Bad Breakfast. 

Gibson’s Donuts is not your run of the mill donut shop. It has been a Memphis staple since the 1960s, and still offers some of the best tasting donuts you’ve ever had. The traditional glazed cannot be beat, but the Maple bacon is also a favorite of ours. Can’t make it there for breakfast? No worries…it’s open 24 hrs a day! 

Arcade | Bryant's | Staks! Pancake Kitchen | Another Broken Egg | Big Bad Breakfast | Gibson's Donuts

 

Memphis has so many great brunch options! The Cutie Crew just went to Owen Brennan’s, a New Orleans inspired restaurant, and it did not disappoint. It is buffet style, and the options are endless. It is no wonder it is often recognized as the best brunch in Memphis! Hog & Hominy is also an East Memphis favorite of ours. They offer a variety as well, but are known for their pizzas. The Liquor Store is also a great spot to grab brunch, but make sure you get there early! It is such a cute, eclectic restaurant that offers a unique atmosphere. If you are in the downtown area, Majestic Grille is also a great place to dine. It is located on Main Street in a restored historic building, and plays old black and white movies in the background. Side note: this is a great restaurant to get a reservation at if you are visiting the Orpheum for a show!

Owen Brennan's | Hog & Hominy | The Liquor Store | The Majestic Grille

Memphis is famous for its BBQ, and we’re giving you pointers on a few of our favorites! The Cutie Crew’s favorite is Central BBQ on Poplar. Although it hasn’t been around as long as The Rendezvous, it has definitely made a huge impact on Memphis BBQ. Another classic option is The Rendezvous. Not only is it one of the original BBQ restaurants of Memphis, but it's also world renown.  The Rendezvous is known for its ribs, sauce, and seasoning, and ships all of the above all, over the world! A few more honorable mentions are locally owned Baby Jacks and The BBQ Shop. One thing is for sure… you can’t go wrong with BBQ in Bluff City.

Central BBQ | The Rendezvous | Baby Jacks | BBQ Shop

 

Memphis may be known for its BBQ, but let’s be honest…it’s known for food in general! A few of our favorite Burger spots are Huey'sBelmont GrillBabalu, and Tops BBQHuey's and Belmont Grill are both locally owned restaurants that have made a huge name for themselves. Both offer a great variety of food, but their burgers are hard to beat! Babalu (Latin inspired cuisine) and Tops BBQ may not be your first thought when wanting a good burger, but both ranked at the top of our list for the best burger in Memphis!

Huey's | Belmont Grill | BabaluTops BBQ

 

If you’ve followed Lindsey for a bit, you know that she loves Grisanti's! There are actually two restaurants, Ronnie Grisanti and Frank Grisanti…our personal favorite is Frank! The Chicken Alfredo and Spaghetti are our favorites! Amerigo and Venice Kitchen also have amazing Italian food, and also have great brunch options, too!

Frank Gristanti's | Amerigo | Venice Kitchen 

 

Sideporch Steakhouse tops the list as a local favorite. Located in Bartlett, it was one of Mia’s preferred restaurants to go to as a family, so it holds a special place in our hearts, too. Their steaks never disappoint, and neither do their croutons, homemade salad dressing, and fried pickles! Folk's Folly and Porch & Parlor are two Memphis originals where you are guaranteed to get a great steak. Folk’s Folly is a refined restaurant in East Memphis that offers a wonderful experience and great cuisine. Porch & Parlor is also another favorite, plus it is located in Overton Square which is a fun place to shop and visit! Although not local to Memphis, Redlands is also another restaurant we like to keep in the rotation. 

Sideporch SteakhousePorch & Parlor | Folk's Folly | Redlands 

 

Choosing a favorite Mexican restaurant is hard because there are so many good ones, and they can all be so different. Babalu is one of our favorites because their Tableside Guacamole is amazing! Las Delicias, Salsa, and Swanky’s are a few more East Memphis favorites (we all agree that Swanky’s chips are the BEST)! If you find yourself in the suburbs of Arlington, Cazadores is Lindsey’s favorite “local” Mexican restaurant.  If you like traditional street tacos, Taco Nganas is one of the best! They operate out of food trucks, but have set locations around the city with outdoor seating for dining!

Babalu | Swanky's Taco Shop | Las Delicias | Salsa | Cazadores | Taco Nganas

 

Milano’s Pizza of Bartlett is our favorite pizza, with Jet’s being a close second. Memphis Pizza Cafe is also a Memphis staple, and offers multiple locations around the city. If you’re in the downtown area, Aldo’s Pizza Pies on Main Street is delicious!

Milano's | Jet's | Memphis Pizza Cafe | Aldo's Pizza Pies

 

The Cutie Crew loves sushi, and Red Koi is one of our favorites to eat! Some of our favorite rolls are the Memphis, Bass Pro, Ridgeway, and Tennessee…all hometown themed rolls, of course! Osaka is another local favorite and has multiple locations to choose from.

Red Koi Japanese Cuisine | Osaka Japanese Cuisine

 

Coastal Fish and Porch & Parlor are sister companies, so it’s not surprising they both top our list for favorite seafood! Coastal Fish not only offers delicious seafood options, but the atmosphere and scenery are great, too! Porch & Parlor is a go-to for their wonderful Lobster. Saltwater Crab, which is located in Midtown, is a great choice if you want a variety of seafood options. They offer anything from sushi, po’ boys, fish, and many boil options . We love the outdoor dining area, too!If you are looking for a more affordable option, Soul Fish is the place to go!

Coastal Fish | Porch & Parlor | Saltwater CrabSoul Fish

 

Southern Social is another sister company to Porch & Parlor and Coastal Fish, and it’s one of our favorites. Their food never disappoints, and the atmosphere and service are always exceptional. Some of our favorite dishes are the Fried Pimento Cheese Sandwiches and the Bacon and Gouda Fondue. Porch and Parlor has amazing Steak Egg Rolls and Mac and Cheese. Make sure you get the Butcher’s Bacon Rack for an appetizer…you won’t be disappointed! Flight is a downtown favorite, and gives you the opportunity to try many different flights of foods and drinks in one setting. Capital Grille is not local to Memphis, but is guaranteed to provide you with a wonderful dining experience. Lastly, some of our favorite dishes at Folk’s Folly are the Au Gratin potatoes and Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms.

Southern Sister | Porch & Parlor | Flight | Capital Grille | Folk's Folly

 

Looking for a Memphis based restaurant specifically? Gus’s began in a small shack in Mason, TN, about 30 minutes outside of Memphis. Now Gus’s is all over the country, and is world renown. Huey's is another local fan favorite, known for their burgers as mentioned above, and for thousands of toothpicks hanging from the ceiling! Both offer many locations to choose from. 

Gus's Fried Chicken | Huey's

 

We are a little biased when it comes to Lenny’s Grill and Subs! The original location, Lenny’s #1, is owned and operated by Sarah’s husband, Don, and it’s the best in town! You can personalize your sub or salad, or get it the “Lenny’s way,” which is delicious! We also enjoy getting subs from Newk’s, and they offer yummy pizzas and salads, too.

Lenny's Grill and Subs | Newk's Eatery

 

When it comes to dessert, there are a few local favorites that always hit the spot! Muddy’s has some of the best cupcakes you’ll ever eat…try Lindsey’s favorite, the Prozac, and you’ll see just why! Another Memphis classic is Jerry’s Snow Cones. You may have a line wrapped around the building, but it’s definitely worth the wait. Frost Bake Shop is a family owned bakery in Memphis. Choose from their yummy cakes, pies, and cookies, or place an order for a custom cake and/or dessert for your next social event. Make it supreme with ice cream on top…you won’t regret it! If you love milkshakes, the Milk Dessert Bar is the place to go! We love Miccos Snocones and Shakes, and are excited that they are making their way to the Arlington/Lakeland area! Not only do they offer snocones and over 50 flavors of milkshakes, but they also have sundaes, brownies, and more! Mempops is locally owned, as the name implies, and offers a great alternative to traditional popsicles. They use seasonal fruits and all natural ingredients. They have multiple locations, as well as food trucks that can be spotted around the city at various events. 

They offer the ultimate experience for milkshake lovers, but they have other dessert options, too. Although none of these are local to Memphis, a few other favorites are Menchies, Baskin Robbins, and Ben & Jerry’s.

Muddy's | Jerry's Snow Cones | Frost Bake ShopMilk Dessert BarMicco's Snocones | Mempops | Menchies Frozen Yogurt | Baskin Robbins | Ben & Jerry's

 

The Raspberry Rosemary Spritz and Memphian are two of our favorite cocktails from Porch and Parlor. Firebirds has a refreshing Lemonade Drop, and a tasty Double Black Diamond Martini. If you are a Margarita fan, we love the seasonal Margaritas that Babalu has to offer. If you are looking for an upscale bar scene downtown, don’t forget the Peabody Hotel. They have many drinks to choose from, with the Pomegranate Martini topping the list!

Porch & Parlor | Firebirds | Babalu | Peabody

 

Memphis Shopping

Great shopping in Memphis is scattered all about. One of our favorite areas is in Germantown, known as Saddle Creek, where there are a lot of cute stores and boutiques. Nashville is also a favorite for Memphians, if you’re willing to take a 3 hour drive east! A few to check out are The GulchHillsboro Village, and Downtown Franklin. Last but not least…Target…need I say more?

Saddle Creek | {Nashville} The Gulch | {Nashville} Hillsboro Village | {Nashville } Downtown Franklin | Target

 

Memphis Tourist Attractions

Downtown Memphis offers so many amazing places to visit. The National Civil Rights Museum and the Lorraine Motel rank at the very top of our list. The history and education behind the museum will provide you with a memorable experience for the entire family. 

Beale Street is known around the world as the heart of downtown Memphis, where many people go to dine and have a good time. There are many restaurants and bars to choose from, live music, shops, and of course our famous Beale Street Flippers.

Home of the Blues, Memphis has played a huge role in the music scene throughout the years. Sun Studio is considered the “Birthplace of Rock ‘N’ Roll,” where B.B. King, Elvis, Johnny Cash, and many more were discovered. Take a tour down memory lane and stand where Elvis first recorded his music. Stax Museum of American Soul Music is another great tourist attraction for music lovers. You can tour the history of soul music, admire Isaccy Hayes’ custom Cadillac, and experience where Otis Redding was discovered. 

The Peabody Memphis Hotel is a great hotel to stay in, but you don’t have to be a guest to enjoy many of the amenities. During the summer, there are many rooftop parties overlooking the city of Memphis and the Mississippi River. You can also enjoy dinner, drinks, or afternoon tea, and watch the famous Peabody Duck March. The Duckmaster and his ducks make their debut daily, where they take the elevator from the rooftop, down to the lobby and the water fountains! 

The Orpheum Theatre is one of the most beautiful buildings in Memphis. Make sure to check out the various Broadway shows and concerts that they offer throughout the year. It is also located on Main Street downtown, and within walking distance to many restaurants and activities. 

Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid offer much more than shopping for our outdoor lovers. The glass observation deck offers incredible views of our city, the Memphis bridge, and the Mighty Mississippi River. You can also enjoy bowling, dining, and staying overnight in the Big Cypress Lodge. 

Last but not least, you can’t make a visit to Memphis and not visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley! The Cutie Crew recently went at Christmas time, and it was such a wonderful experience. With original furniture and decorations from when Elvis lived there, you can’t help but step into the past and enjoy the nostalgia of it all.

Civil Rights Museum | Beale Street | Sun Studio | Stax | Ducks at Peabody | The Orpheum | Bass Pro Shops | Graceland | Civil Axe Throwing

 

Memphis Family Friendly Attractions

The Memphis Zoo is easily one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city, and for local Memphians, too. The Zoo hosts various activities and events throughout the year; Zoo Boo, Zoo lights at Christmastime, camps, tours, and more. However, it is the daily attractions that make the Memphis Zoo so special; the Teton Trek, where you can find grizzly bears, wolves, and elk, or the Northwest Passage where you can “Press Paws” through the glass with our polar bear. You will also want to make sure you visit our Hippos at the Zambezi River, or stroll through Cat Country and the African Veldt, where you can hand feed giraffes! The Memphis Zoo has something to offer for the entire family, and you will definitely see why Trip Advisor once ranked it the #1 zoo in the country!

The Children’s Museum has been a Memphis staple for years. Kids love to visit the museum because it offers various interactive activities, such as Rock Climbing, Lego play, “fishing” the Mississippi River, and “flying” a FedEx airplane. During the warmer months, you can also enjoy the outdoor play area with zip lines and playground classics, such as seesaws and merry-go-rounds, and then cool off at the Splash Park! There are also many nostalgic activities that still remain, such as the Skyscraper maze and a grocery store where your little one can pretend to do their own grocery shopping. Last but not least, do not forget to check out the century old remodeled carousel!

Memphis Botanic Gardens offers a beautiful scenic experience in the middle of the city. They have almost 100 acres of flowers, gardens, sculptures, and more. If you are visiting in the spring, the Daffodils and Tulip gardens are some of the most popular to see. In addition to the regular gardens, there is also My Big Backyard. It includes many life size playhouses and tree houses, with interactive activities for kids to enjoy.

If you’re looking for additional indoor activities, we recommend bowling at Andy B’s in Bartlett, or Billy Hardwick’s All Star Lanes in East Memphis. Cordova Skating Rink, and Highpoint Climbing Memphis are also great places to visit with your family!

Memphis has great options for our sports fans. During basketball season, go to a Memphis Grizzlies game, or a UofM Tigers basketball game, at the FedEx Forum. During baseball season, you can catch a Memphis Redbirds game at Autozone Park. Not only are the games fun to watch, but they also do amazing firework shows at many of the home games. Lastly, if football is your sport, tailgating at the Liberty Bowl for a Memphis Tigers game is a must!

Shelby Farms is a great place to visit in Memphis! They offer many activities such as horseback riding and paintball, or you can enjoy walking and riding bikes on the trails. One of our favorite spots at Shelby Farms is Go Ape Adventures, where you can climb through obstacles and zipline! Afterwards, enjoy a nice picnic in the park.

Another favorite is the Overton Park Shell, formerly known as Levitt Shell. It offers many concerts and activities throughout the year, and is also right next to the Memphis Zoo!

Memphis Zoo | Children's Museum of Memphis | Botanic Garden & My Big Backyard | Bowling, Andy B's | Bowling, Billy Hardwicks | Cordova Skating Rink | Highpoint Climbing | Grizzlies Games | Memphis Tigers, Basketball | Memphis Tigers, Football | Redbirds | Shelby Farms | Go Ape | Overton Park Shell

 

 

Do you plan to visit Memphis? Let us know your trip plans in the comments below. We'd love to have you come to Memphis! 

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