Memphis is known for its Southern-style cuisine, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be boring or predictable. Foodies are in for a huge treat in this city, with everything from classic ‘meat-and-threes’, pulled smokey pork or chicken to modern American twists on dishes. We’ve rounded up the best dishes in the city to add to your Memphis food bucket list.
As restaurants begin to reopen, make these the first places you dash to for a feast. Drooling yet?
Memphis Food Bucket List
You’ve probably tried a Pronto Pup at the local fair before – a large corndog coated in a slightly sweet pancake batter. At Rizzo’s Diner in Downtown Memphis, Chef Michael Patrick’s lobster version is a fancier version. Tender chunks of lobster are skewered, coated in a light batter, fried and served with a homemade mustard sauce on a bed of greens.
What makes the fried chicken here so famous? Well first off, the recipe is a secret: Word has it that only five living family members know the recipe. The chicken here is perfectly crispy with the right amount of spice, and the order doesn’t hit the fryer until you say so.
Chef Kelly English has made a name for himself by reinventing traditional Creole dishes using classic French techniques in his Midtown eatery. There’s all sorts of delicious spins on the old favourites, such as the brunch dish of biscuits with crawfish and jalapeño gravy. Menus change here depending on what’s in season, but everything is divine.
If pork shoulder is what you’re after, then you absolutely have to try the BBQ at Payne’s. The family-owned restaurant serves the best in the city, which they’ll also slice and chop to suit your tastes. We suggest trying their famous BBQ sandwich, but be prepared with more than a few wet wipes as it’s some of the messiest (re delicious) BBQ plates in Memphis.
This casual, family-owned restaurant in Downtown Memphis features Southern favorites. This traditional meat-and-three spot has different daily specials, including entrees, soups and salads. If you’re unsure of what to order, you can’t go wrong with the Lacy’s Special – Chicken breast with cornbread sticks, smothered in gravy.
This ‘breakfast-for-dinner’ dish is a must-eat when in Memphis. It’s a playful take on Southern morning staples, featuring creamy polenta topped with pork belly, a soft poached egg and house-made pork cracklins. If you’re really indecisive, order the five-course tasting menu and leave all the decision-making up to the award-winning chefs here.
There are donuts and then there’s Gibson’s Donuts. These light and fluffy pillows of fried dough goodness are exceptionally tasty. Among the local’s favorites are red velvet cake, blueberry, New Orleans buttermilk donut and, of course, glazed donuts. Plus, it’s open 24-hours a day, so you can get your sweet fix at at any time.