Four friends dine-in at Gus's Fried Chicken
David Meany

10 Dishes to Try in Memphis

Memphis is full of tasty treats and delicious eats, and it might be hard to decide which of the best restaurants in Memphis you've got time for. If you don't have much to spare, these are the top 10 items we think you have to try before you leave the Bluff City.


1. Brother Juniper's

A hearty breakfast can be found in East Memphis, near the University of Memphis, at Brother Juniper’s. The San Diegan, a bed of home fries topped with portabellas, feta, cheddar, bacon and tomatoes, is a favorite of Food Network star, Rachael Ray, visitors and locals alike. 

2. Gibson's Donuts 

If you like your breakfast to fall a little more on the sweet side, go no further than Gibson’s Donuts. Their signature flavor, maple bacon, is delicious morning, noon, or night, and since Gibson’s is open 24/7, you’ll always be able to assuage your donut craving. Famed Food Network star Alton Brown goes to Gibson’s every time he’s in town. Brown said Gibson's is one of two of his favorite things to eat on the TV series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

3. Sunrise Memphis

A fast casual spot that specializes in classic breakfast favorites and house prepared artisan meats. Sunrise Memphis is best known for its fluffy biscuit sandwiches. Get the “dirty south” topped with pimento cheese, fried green tomato, and sunrise sauce for a true taste of the south.

For weekend breakfast and brunch, you might find lines at Brother Juniper's and Sunrise. They're worth the wait, but check this list for 80 more recommendations for a melt-in-your-mouth Memphis breakfast or brunch.  

man smiles eating omelette with Bloody Mary at sunrise memphis
Sunrise Memphis


4. Central BBQ 

It’s easy to get your pork on in Memphis. We’ve got 101+ barbecue spots on every corner. If you had to pick just one item from one barbecue restaurant, we would suggest the barbecue nachos at Central BBQ. Diner’s choice of pulled pork, chicken, beef or turkey is piled high and served with cheese sauce, shredded cheddar, barbecue sauce and jalapeños. Pro tip: get your nachos served on top of Central’s house-made potato chips for an unforgettable dining experience.

Why stop at one? The Memphis BBQ Trail guides you to 15 local favorites. Get your free pass to start tasting around town.

5. Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken 

The South is known for its fried chicken, and Memphis is no exception. Locals flock to Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken to get their chicken fix. It doesn’t matter if you prefer dark meat or white meat; each piece is hand-battered, juicy and fried to wonderful golden perfection.

Fried chicken is just one of our specialties: Explore more Memphis soul food traditions and restaurants when you're in town. 

overhead shot of multiple plates of fried chicken with sides and fried pickles from Gus'
Alex Shansky
man smiles while eating bbq nachos at table in central bbq
Alex Shansky
dining room of Catherine and Marys
Cara Greenstein
dining room of Restaurant Iris
Alex Shansky


6. Catherine & Mary's

From James Beard Nominated Best Chefs: Southeast Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, Catherine & Mary's fuses Southern ingredients with the loving, delicious culinary traditions of the chefs' Tuscan and Sicilian grandmothers. The rigatoni with maw maw’s gravy is a classic staple along with their delectable cocktails. Enjoy dessert with an espresso martini (one of the best in the city).

For a spirited night out in Memphis, check out our favorite happy hours and local bars.

7. Restaurant Iris 

Chef Kelly English is known for the big, bold flavors of the Louisiana Gulf, mixed with a little Memphis grit and charm. His flagship concept, Restaurant Iris, and his signature surf ‘n’ turf dish, exemplify his unique cooking style. Chef English stuffs a NY strip steak with fried oysters, tops it with a creamy bleu cheese sauce and serves it on top of a huge mound of potato bacon hash.

8. Porch & Parlor

Rated as the best steakhouse in Tennessee by Yelp, Porch & Parlor is one of the newest restaurants taking over the Memphis food scene. Some of the best prime cuts of meat can be found here, best paired with their Southern-style sides. Order the butcher’s bacon rack for the table and take turns hand-cutting pieces of various flavors of bacon to try.

woman stands at window of little bettie food stand inside wiseacre -- walls are all teal
Little Bettie at Wiseacre Brewing Company


9. Wiseacre Taproom 

Traversing the Bluff City can be thirsty work, and if you find yourself parched near Midtown or Downtown Memphis, check out two Wiseacre taprooms or one of Memphis' many breweries. The Tiny Bomb American Pilsner is our personal favorite and is brewed with German and American malt and local wildflower honey. Hungry for more? Try a pizza from Little Bettie located in Wiseacre's downtown brewery.

Wiseacre is one of Memphis' many craft breweries. How many have you visited?

10. Muddy's Bake Shop 

If your sweet tooth is about to knock you down, check out Midtown Memphis’ cute and quirky bakery, Muddy’s Bake Shop, in the Broad Avenue Arts District. While all of Muddy’s offerings are delicious, it’s always difficult to bypass the aptly-named Prozac cupcake: a moist chocolate cupcake topped with rich, creamy chocolate frosting.