A local favorite born in Mason, Tennessee, the crisp and spicy fried chicken has been crafted from the same recipe since 1953.
Two floors above BB King’s Blues Club, chefs share their refined and contemporary take on classic Southern food, such as grits with jumbo shrimp and duck confit with waffles.
In the midst of downtown, finding this relaxing garden space is quite unexpected. With more outdoor space than indoor space, the restaurant allows patrons to relax on benches in the front yard, snag a rocking chair on the porch, or chill next to the waterfalls out back.
Memphis Magazine readers have voted this burger joint the best every year since 1984. At the self-proclaimed home of “blues, brews, and burgers,” guests will find plenty of all three, with live music every Saturday and Sunday night, an extensive listing of beers, and, of course the burgers.
Each burger begins with six ounces of certified angus beef and a secret blend of seasonings. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. Crisp bacon, onion straws, jalapenos, and even texas toast all find their way atop a burger.
Walk down the alley across from the Peabody Hotel and into the basement, and get ready to dig into what many call the standard for Memphis-style ribs. Arguably the most famous of the downtown Memphis restaurants, they’ve been made these ribs in the same place, with the same recipe, since 1948.
Ribs are the thing at Blues City Cafe, and they’ve been featured on both the Travel Channel and the Food Network. Located right on the famous Beale St., the restaurant has hosted numerous luminaries, both at its tables and on its music stage.
Don’t be fooled by the unassuming blue sheet-metal storefront—this super-casual eatery has been heralded throughout the years by such foodie magazines as Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Food & Wine for its succulent, slow-cooked ribs.
The main protein in Memphis BBQ is pork, especially the ribs, which usually a dry rub seasoning (where the pit-master’s skills really come into play) before being slow-cooked in a pit.
While Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous may be the most well known outside the city, Memphian’s give their stamp of approval to Central BBQ. In 2018, its proprietors were named two “Legends of Memphis Barbecue” by Memphis Flyer, and both the Food Network and the Travel Channel name it one of the city’s best.
What to try? For something beyond the usual ribs or pulled pork, opt for the barbecue nachos or bite into a barbecue bologna sandwich.
For more on other regional BBQ styles, click here.
The house special here is the molcajete, steak, shrimp, chicken, and chorizo cooked with cheese and cactus in a fiery sauce.
House-made chips and tortillas support this restaurant’s extensive menu of classic Mexican fare in a restaurant where you’ll see nary a sombrero or poncho on the wall, so the focus can remain squarely as it should—on the food.
Served in a room with sunny tangerine walls and string lights along the archways are no-nonsense Mexican dishes and fresh-fruit agua frescas.
Though he’s front Chicago, food writer David Tamarkin’s tips likely apply to any taco-seeker in any city around the US. Here are five questions to ask when you are appraising a taco place.
The more people in the restaurant, the higher turnover of tables—which means ingredients don’t sit in the freezer for weeks. The fresher the food, the better.
If the restaurant makes its own tortillas “that’s a sign [staff] works hard to do something right.” This work ethic likely extends to everything else the kitchen does.
Because of their flavor, corn tortillas, declares David, are the only true option—and they should be warm and fresh as possible.
If he can see the kitchen, David finds it “reassuring . . . you can see what they’re doing . . . from beginning to end.”
A good taco should have “texture, acid, and coolness.” In a traditional taco, these are added by, respectively, onions, lime, and cilantro—and should not overpower the flavor of the protein.