The Beauty Shop / Alex Shansky

Beyond Barbecue: Dining Out in Memphis

The Beauty Shop / Alex Shansky 

While Memphians love their barbecue, there’s more happening in the city than pulled pork and ribs. Here are a few local restaurants that go beyond barbecue to make Memphis an all-around culinary destination.

117 Prime: Upscale bar cuisine served in a steakhouse atmosphere. Whet your appetite with the raw bar and artisanal meat-and-cheese platter and an adult beverage from their extensive wine and cocktail list. Steaks come in all shapes and sizes, from a five-ounce prime beef filet to a 28-ounce dry-aged porterhouse.

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen: This award-winning restaurant features a rustic Italian menu rooted in Southern tradition. Indulge in an assortment of artisanal meats and cheeses, antipasti dishes, pastas such as handmade ravioli and potato gnocchi, and savory meat, fowl and seafood dishes. The restaurant also offers craft cocktails and a curated wine list. Andrew Michael is the original restaurant from Memphis chefs Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman; the duo now operates a handful of unique restaurant concepts across Memphis including Hog & Hominy, Catherine & Mary’s, and Gray Canary.

Bari: Bari in the Overton Square District specializes in the cuisine of the Puglia region -- the heel of Italy’s boot. Enjoy Bari’s extensive variety of specialty cheeses, carefully curated Italian wines, delicious small plates for sharing, and flavorful pasta, meat and seafood entrées. If you’re into artisanal cocktails, see if you can get a spot at the 12-seat upstairs bars, Dodici.

Beauty Shop:  This hip, eclectic restaurant in the Cooper-Young district occupies the space that was formerly Priscilla Presley’s curl-and-dye spot. Sit beneath hooded Belvedere hair dryers while you sip craft cocktails and dine on crispy pork dumplings and grilled shiitake mushrooms. Snack on egg and olive or tempeh reuben sandwiches, or tuck into satisfying entrees like pan-roasted barramundi and grilled lamb chops.

Bosco’s: Bosco’s is known for its innovative, tasty craft brews, but they also mix delicious cocktails and have great breakfast and lunch menus. Sunday brunch features live jazz. Dinner options include wood oven-planked salmon, ribeye steaks and wood-fired pizzas. For dessert, treat yourself to Bosco’s signature Creme Brulée Grand Marnier.

Bounty on Broad: All dishes are served family style at this farm-to-table restaurant in the Broad Avenue Arts District. Share small plates like artisanal cheeses and fried gulf oysters, and dig into satisfying main courses like pork tenderloin and pan-roasted chicken. Ingredients are sourced locally, so menus might vary slightly based on availability. You would never know this from the exciting variety on the menu, but everything at Bounty is gluten free. Please note that Bounty accepts credit cards only, no cash.

Brass Door: This upscale Irish pub has a seafood-heavy menu featuring chowder, steamed mussels and smoked salmon, as well as Emerald Isle classics like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and corned beef. Brass Door also serves an extensive selection of Irish spirits and an all-day full Irish breakfast complete with rashers, bangers, baked beans, and black and white puddings.

Catherine & Mary’s: Located inside Downtown’s historic Hotel Chisca, this Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman restaurant serves up Tuscan and Sicilian Cuisine using fresh local ingredients. Try the multicourse dinner menu featuring small plates like classic Sunday meatballs, various pastas, and entrees such as duck, snapper and short rib. There’s also an extensive list of wines and craft cocktails.

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Loflin Yard: This bar and restaurant offers satisfying small plates like brisket poutine and hickory-smoked salmon, as well as family style plates like beef brisket and house-smoked turkey. Loflin Yard also serves both refreshing seasonal craft cocktails and warm-you-up drinks, such as mulled wine and brandied cider. There’s plenty of outdoor space for games, lounging, and live music; Loflin Yard is family-friendly in the afternoon and early evenings.

Lucky Cat Ramen: This casual dine-in or take-out spot in the Broad Avenue Arts District serves up Japanese-inspired small dishes and ramen bowls, with ingredients that change with the seasons. Call for weekly specials, and BYOB (beer or wine).

Lunchbox Eats: This schoolhouse-inspired gourmet sandwich shop, located just south of FedExForum, serves up sandwiches stacked with everything from catfish to cajun turkey to portobello mushroom. They’ve also got great sides, like corn on the cob, veggie slaw and eggplant fries. Unwind on the outdoor patio with a cold beer or their refreshing lemonade of the day.

Maciel’s: This family-friendly taco shop, with locations in the University District and Downtown (each with its own menu) combines traditional recipes from the Mexican State of Michoacan with fresh ingredients and authentic seasonings used to craft “comida mexicana del alma,” or Mexican Soul Food. In addition to an assortment of soft and crispy tacos, burritos, tortas and quesadillas, Maciel’s serves up a variety of beers and creative cantina cocktails.

Majestic Grille: Just steps from The Orpheum, Majestic Grille, a favorite dining venue for Downtown theater-goers, serves classic American food and cocktails in a former movie theater building. Chef Patrick Reilly and his team serve up signature flatbreads and wraps, savory burgers, fresh seafood, and tender steaks, as well as a number of vegetarian-friendly options. This upscale family-friendly restaurant also offers a kids’ menu, and weekend brunches feature a variety of freshly made frittatas, benedicts and classic hair-of-the-dog cocktails.

Shelby Forest General Store: Located about 15 miles from Midtown Memphis, this old-fashioned, family-owned general store has a breakfast/lunch counter featuring no-frills made-to-order classics like fried egg sandwiches, patty melts, BLTs and fried bologna sandwiches. Nestled in the forested neighborhood where pop star Justin Timberlake spent his early years, the general store also sells live bait, picnic supplies, firewood, frisbees and just about anything else you might need for an outing at beautiful nearby Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park.

Soul Fish Cafe: Catfish is king at Soul Fish. You can get it blackened, fried, or grilled; on tacos, on salads, or plain. Don’t miss the side dishes - their Southern-style vegetables are excellent. Visit multiple area locations and enjoy wine or local beer on draft with your meal.

South of Beale: Memphis’ original gastropub is more than a neighborhood watering hole - it’s a restaurant with great chef-driven food. The menu changes seasonally, but favorites like the duck fried rice, SOB Burger and daily bar pies are always available.

Sunrise Memphis: This eclectic diner in the historic Victorian Village neighborhood is open for breakfast and lunch. Sunrise Memphis specializes in classic breakfast favorites and house-prepared artisan meats. Breakfast includes a variety of omelets, breakfast tacos, bowls, and biscuit sandwiches, like the popular King Biscuit, starring chicken, country ham, fried egg, and sausage gravy.

Sweet Grass Next Door: Chef Ryan Trimm has coupled the delicious Low Country cuisine of Sweet Grass with a fantastic beer selection to create a great neighborhood bar in Midtown Memphis. This is a prime spot to catch the game, grab a drink, or enjoy delicious fare in a more casual setting.

Farm Burger: Located inside Crosstown Concourse, Farm Burger grills delicious craft burgers using grass-fed beef from local farms. They also serve vegetarian and vegan burgers, farm-fresh salads, hand-cut fries, shakes, and local beers from Memphis Made, Crosstown Brewing, and Wiseacre Brewing Co.

Felicia Suzanne’s: Chef Felicia Suzanne Willett serves her upscale takes on Southern classics like shrimp and grits, gumbo, fried green tomatoes and fried chicken. The patio is the perfect spot to sip creative craft cocktails and indulge in decadent Southern desserts such as old-fashioned baked fudge and warm bread pudding topped with whiskey sauce.

Global Cafe: Open for lunch and dinner, this international food hall inside Crosstown Concourse hosts three immigrant and refugee food entrepreneurs who cook and sell affordable, authentic ethnic dishes from different cultures: think Nepalese dumplings, Sudanese sambusa, Syrian yalangi and Turkish coffee in addition to hummus, falafel, skewered meats, and a full bar with cocktails and mocktails. Global Cafe received national attention from NPR for its mission and delicious cuisine, making the casual spot a destination for foodies visiting Memphis.

Greyhound Memphis: Located on the site of the former Greyhound bus station inside the Hilton Garden Inn, this snazzy spot prides itself on Southern hospitality and its unique gin-focused craft cocktails, plus a full selection of local beers, wines and spirits. Check out the brisket quesadillas, white bean and roasted beet hummus, and sandwich, “The Memphis Club.” The Greyhound’s downtown patio is the perfect spot for a cocktail before a Memphis Redbirds for 901FC game, as it’s across the street from AutoZone Park.

Hog & Hominy: Named one of GQ’s 12 Most Outstanding Restaurants of 2013 and Conde Nast Traveler’s Best New Restaurant in the South, Hog & Hominy is lead by Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer, who were named James Beard semi-finalists in 2015 and 2016. See what happens when you cross-pollinate a brick oven, family meals, southern cooking and a love of pork. Ten-to-one, you'll be yelling "Dang, that's succulento!"

Hu Diner: An upscale diner-inspired restaurant with views of South Main Street that combines Southern classics with global flavors. Think crawfish mac and cheese, country-fried cauliflower, fried chicken livers with baked apples, and grilled octopus with black pepper grits.

Itta Bena: Named for the small Mississippi town where legendary bluesman B.B. King was born, this fine dining gem is accessed through a discreet entrance by heading up the fire escape over B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street. Enjoy contemporary Delta cuisine with a twist, like slow-braised pork belly and duck and waffles, in this unique dining space designed to look like a 1920’s speakeasy.

Las Delicias: Mexican food lovers will fall head over heels for Las Delicias. Their menu is full of authentic Mexican dishes, and their handmade (read: no mix) margaritas are excellent. Insider tip: their homemade, fresh guacamole is considered by many to be the best in town.