Young Ave Deli

Craig Thompson

Cooper-Young

Cooper-Young is one of Memphis' most vibrant and active neighborhoods, with a storied history of art, music, and markets. Johnny Cash recorded his first album in the basement of the Galloway Church here, and the state's largest art festival is held here every year.

Today when you visit, you can see historic homes - most were built before 1915 and the neighborhood is a part of the National Register of Historic Places - and enjoy a plethora of restaurants, bars, shops, and galleries. It's the perfect place to wander and explore, and to get to know Memphis a little better.

Food + Drink

For home-cooked goodness in a cozy atmosphere, try Stone Soup Cafe for brunch or lunch. The Beauty Shop is a Memphis classic, with fusion food and amazing desserts in a former beauty shop where Priscilla Presley got her hair done. For one of the best patios in town - and there are some good ones - have a margarita on the deck at Cafe Ole. The beloved neighborhood bar, Young Avenue Deli, boasts a big beer list, pool tables, and plenty of gastropub grub like burgers, pitas, their famous cheese sticks, and award-winning fries.

Mulan Asian Bistro offers a crowd-pleasing mix of Asian cuisine, from Chinese food to sushi, plus a lively bar. Strano Sicilian Kitchen offers homemade pastas, Italian favorites, and an infamous bottomless mimosa brunch on weekends. For Korean BBQ (you can opt to cook it yourself or have the kitchen take care of that) be sure to stop in to DWJ Korean BBQ.

Vegans and non-vegans alike will appreciate the offerings of Imagine Vegan Cafe, which also serves beer and has plenty of seasonal specials. Chef Tam's Underground will satisfy your southern-cuisine cravings with the Dirty Mac 'n' Cheese served with crawfish and special sauce. For quick sandwiches, smoothies, and prepared foods - including daily specials and Indian food plates - head to City Market’s Cooper-Young location, which also offers biscuits and coffee in the mornings.

Coffee lovers have options in Cooper-Young. If you need a song jolt of java early in the morning, head to Bluff City Coffee's Cooper-Young location. They also have an enticing display of baked goods, from breads to cookies to breakfast pastries. Tart is a cute cafe on Cooper Street; stop in for a latte to-go or stick around for French cuisine. Java Cabana is the quintessential coffee house for poets, writers, and creative types, catering to a young, evening crowd.

Hammer & Ale is the perfect casual spot to try all of Memphis' local breweries in one place; their pimento grilled cheese and spicy potato chips are underrated and a solid complement to a flight of beer. Celtic Crossing is the neighborhood's dependable Irish pub, with a large patio, traditional Irish breakfast on weekends, and tasty food, along with a selection of Irish whiskeys, plus beer and wine of all kinds. For soul food - especially fried catfish and hushpuppies - take the whole family to Soul Fish Cafe and enjoy patio seating or cozy booths inside.

If you're planning a date night on your Memphis visit, Cooper-Young is a smart choice. Start out with drinks and apps at the bar at Alchemy, a snazzy cocktail and wine lounge with sophisticated small plates. For dinner, head to the longstanding Tsunami for Pacific Rim inspired seafood, or head across the street to Sweet Grass for oysters and plenty of Low Country cuisine. Later, you can see what's happening at the Memphis Made taproom (and snap a photo in front of the I Love Memphis mural there) or go to Sweet Grass Next Door for cocktails and to catch a Grizz game. If the evening doesn't feel quite over, head to Bar DKDC's intimate music lounge and bar for a late show with a local band.

A little farther north on Cooper and on Central Avenue, you have even more options for food and fun. Order New York style pizza, Italian meatballs, or some mouth-watering garlic knots at Aldo’s Pizza Pies (which also boasts a cute rooftop patio) or try one of Memphis’ barbecue restaurants with ribs, nachos, and pulled pork or pulled chicken sandwiches at Central BBQ. Spend an afternoon at the hotspot Railgarten, which is part diner and ice cream parlor, part ping-pong bar, and part sprawling patio/play area with a giant tire swing and plenty of seating.

Tapas and cocktails at Alchemy in Memphis, TN
Memphis Made Brewing Company owner. Photo Credit: Justin Fox Burks
From brunch and cocktails to barbecue and local beers, Cooper-Young has everything your tastebuds desire

MUSIC, FESTIVALS + THEATER

The Cooper-Young neighborhood is the proud home of several of Memphis' largest and best-loved annual events, as well as a few fun spots to catch live music year-round.

Held annually in May, the Cooper-Young Garden Walk is a day when dozens of locals open their home gardens for a walking tour around the neighborhood. The Cooper-Young Festival is held on a Saturday in mid-September each year with more than 100,000 people flocking to the area for hundreds of food, craft, art, and apparel vendors, three live music stages, and a kids' area.

Gonerfest's annual celebration of punk, indie, and metal music usually kicks off in September or October with a pop-up concert at the Cooper-Young Gazebo - just steps away from the Goner Records Shop. The Cooper-Young Beerfest is held in mid-October each year in the parking lot of Midtown Auto Works right near the famous trestle bridge artwork. You can sample dozens of regional beers and meet directly with the brewers at this locally beloved event.

Bar DKDC is the most dependable spot for catching live music in the Cooper-Young area, with local bands performing several nights a week, usually at 10 p.m. or later, with a minimal cover charge. You'll also find bands performing on a regular basis at Young Avenue Deli, Celtic Crossing (there's always traditional Irish music at brunch), Railgarten, and Memphis Made Brewing.​

There's always something happening

SHOPPING + THINGS TO DO

The historic Cooper-Young District is one of the best neighborhoods in town for shopping in local boutiques and specialty shops. Burke's Books is more than a hundred years old, and still sells new and used books in its quaint Cooper Street location. Two Rivers Bookstore is a newer addition to Young Avenue, featuring locally-made gifts, fantasy and sci-fi books, including rare and special editions.

901 Comics offers the best in new and used comic books and comic-related games and merch. Rounding out the area's "old school" shopping options is the beloved Goner Records music store, which sells all manner of vinyl, CDs, and band merch. Xanadu offers an eclectic selection of vintage and used books as well as music.

For gifts and art, stop in to Jay Etkin Gallery, which features contemporary and ethnographic art on display by appointment, LouDean’s women’s boutique, handmade glass pieces at Young Avenue Glassworks, and world-renowned gourmet chocolates at Phillip Ashley Chocolates. The Memphis Drum Shop is well-known as one of the world’s top drum boutiques. Ladies will appreciate the vintage chic styles available at Fox + Cat Vintage or the latest in lingerie and shapewear at Coco & Lola’s boutique.

For the antique and vintage shopper in Memphis, Cooper-Young has several spots to inspire your next outfit or home decorating project. Palladio Home & Garden specializes in furnishings and lights fixtures for indoors and outdoors, Second Hand Rose’s has antique and vintage furniture, and Flashback Vintage Department Store is a browse-worthy location with retro clothing, accessories, glassware, and more. Be sure to check out their intriguing display window that changes seasonally.

While it's not exactly "shopping", everyone who comes to Cooper-Young is compelled to stop by the House of Mews, a cat rescue and non-profit where cats are curled up in the windows and lounging inside the store. Cooper-Young has a variety of other businesses and services including fitness centers, yoga studios, and salons if you need some pampering or a workout while you’re in town. Be sure to visit the Cooper-Young Business Association website for more information.

NEARBY

Cooper-Young District is centrally located to most other Memphis attractions and fun neighborhoods. Overton Square entertainment district is less than one mile to the north, it’s less than two miles to Overton Park and the Memphis Zoo, and Soulsville USA is just a few minutes drive south west. Downtown and East Memphis are a 10-15 minute drive to the west and east, respectively. Near Cooper-Young, you'll find the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Christian Brothers University, and the Children's Museum of Memphis.

If You Go/Tips

If you're coming from a nearby neighborhood, a cab or ride-sharing app would be ideal for visiting Cooper-Young; parking can be limited and you may plan to have enjoy an adult beverage. If you do drive, find a spot for the evening (either along the street or in one of the few paid lots) and then stroll to your next destinations. Quite a few of the restaurants offer valet parking for your convenience, as well.