Beyond Barbecue

Memphis Food is More Than Ribs

Andrew Adams and Wally Joe at ACRE

Join chefs Andrew Adams and Wally Joe at Acre in East Memphis for fine dining. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

Shrimp & Grits at Majestic Grille: Deni Carr Reilly

Shrimp and Grits at the Majestic Grille

Restaurant Iris. Photo Credit: Justin Fox Burks

Fine dining at Chef Kelly English's Restaurant Iris. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

wine flight with dinner

Flight Restaurant in Downtown Memphis

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen: Justin Fox Burks

Chefs from Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen put the final touches on a dish. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

Cocktails at The Second Line. Photo Credit: Justin Fox Burks

Handcrafted cocktails and New Orleans-style food at The Second Line in Overton Square. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

Surf and Turf at Restaurant Iris

Named as one of the best meals in Memphis, the surf and turf at Restaurant Iris is like New York and New Orleans got married in Memphis. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

Chef Kelly English. Photo Credit: Justin Fox Burks

Chef Kelly English of Restaurant Iris and the Second Line gives us the scoop on why Memphis cuisine is some of the best in the country. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

Unique craft beer at Wiseacre tap room - Justin Fox Burks

Enjoy a cold Wiseacre craft beer at their Broad Avenue taproom. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen Memphis

Italian and Southern fusion at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen. Photo by Justin Fox Burks.

It’s hard to think of Memphis and not hunger for a slab of Rendezvous ribs or one of Cozy Corner’s Cornish game hens. But the city’s palate is evolving. In recent years, a number of young up-and-coming chefs have been bringing their talents to Memphis in the form of intimate and authentic establishments. We’re talking about the gastropub.

A perfect fit for Memphis, the gastropub trend introduces local, seasonal and still very Southern cuisine to a city that’s always appreciated a more affordable plate and good drinks to go with it. Two restaurants epitomize that experience, South of Beale and Local Gastropub. Located on South Main, South of Beale was the first to bring the gastropub to Memphis. You’ll find chef-driven items on their menu like seared duck, roasted mushroom salad and Guinness elk chili, as well as a large selection of beers, including choices from Memphis’ own Ghost River Brewery. Just a few blocks north on Main, Local  takes an intelligent and cool approach to classic comfort foods like pork belly salad, bbq braised short rib tacos, chicken and waffles and much more.

Local as a concept is also taking root in Memphis. With Arkansas just over the river and Mississippi just south of the city, Memphis’ location is ideal for restaurants that want to feature local and regional food sources. Restaurant Iris, one of the best restaurants in the city, takes that concept pretty seriously by making sure that all patrons read the following disclaimer before making a reservation: “In order to provide you with the freshest ingredients, menus are subject to change frequently, depending on the season and products available at the farmers’ market.” In addition to Iris, Cooper-Young’s Sweet Grass, Downtown’s Trolley Stop Market and Café Eclectic’s three locations (Midtown, Harbor Town and near the University of Memphis) are all reason to feel good about Memphis food.