Memphis is known for more than just barbecue ... get a taste of the soul food and home cooking: cornbread and collard greens, chicken-fried steak. ...
ISAAC HAYES’ MEMPHIS
A block from Beale Street in Peabody Place, this restaurant and nightclub serves up platters like Hot Buttered Soul (named after Hayes’ first multi- platinum album), three flavors of fruit tea and live performances from well-known artists, who are often joined by the Black Moses himself.
Near the University of Memphis, tucked behind a cobblestone courtyard and white picket fence, this small cafe is easily the best breakfast in the city. The family that owns and runs Brother Juniper’s serves up choices ranging from Southern staples to vegetarian and soy options, satisfying the taste buds of a diverse crowd.
BOB’S BARKSDALE RESTAURANT
Stumble into Barksdale's at noon on a Sunday and you’re apt to see booths of bleary-eyed college kids alongside a much better dressed (but equally hungry) after-church crowd. Here’s one reason why: A full breakfast (we’re talking eggs, bacon, grits and biscuits) will set you back a mere $3.95.
This Midtown restaurant is famous for its “meat-and-three” plates (the “three” being fresh veggies like sliced tomatoes, sweet potatoes and turnip greens). The menu changes weekly but always offers plenty of home-style favorites, from fried veal cutlets to lemon ice box pie.
A block from the National Civil Rights Museum and across from the historic train station, visitors will find this kitschy-but-legendary soda fountain— a favorite of Elvis’—serving up some of Memphis’ finest home cooking. Stop in for breakfast before perusing the galleries of the historic South Main Arts District. (Be sure to ask for “Elvis’ booth.”) If the place looks familiar, it’s because scenes from several major films were shot here as well, including “Mystery Train,” “The Firm,” “The Client,” “A Family Thing,” “21 Grams,” “Elizabethtown” and more.
Alcenia’s owner B.J. is famous for two things: the hugs she gives every customer who walks in her door and her smothered cabbage, arguably the world’s tastiest version of the typically ho-hum vegetable. The rest of her menu is delightful as well—just be sure to save room for the bread pudding or egg custard pie.
GUS’S FRIED CHICKEN
With just a dozen tables, Gus’s may not look like a legend, but this unassuming eatery serves up what many folks claim is the best chicken since the invention of the modern frying pan. Gus's one-of-a-kind spicy seasoned bird has been featured in GQ Magazine,Vogue and USA Today, as well as on The Food Network’s $40 a Day with Rachael Ray and The Travel Channel.
EARNESTINE AND HAZEL’S
For its atmosphere alone, this brothel-turned-juke joint is not to be missed. And thanks to the world famous Soul Burgers (the flat-top grill is almost constantly filled with the sizzling, spicy patties) you won’t stay hungry while you’re there. The best part? The grill stays open as late as the dance floor does, which is always well into the wee hours.
This legendary place, which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was known to frequent, first opened in 1946. Besides closing during most of 1999 (a year the Four-Way still won “Best Soul Food” from readers of the Memphis Magazine), the restaurant has been serving soul food favorites for over 50 years from its South Memphis location, just blocks from the Stax Museum.
At their Calhoun Street location, Marmalade’s offers fantastic down-home cookin’, including catfish, fried chicken and barbecue, along with live performances by Memphis’ finest R&B, blues and jazz musicians.