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Mar 18, 2007 08:24 AM

Memphis trip-need best homestyle/southern, bbq, fried chicken and a nicer restaurant

Hi, I am going to Memphis next week with the new fiance to our parents to meet...His in Texas, mine in Mississippi and us in St. Louis-it is the mid point for all of us.

I have been to Memphis before and didn't find much of the great food that I know is there. For BBQ, Southern/homestyle and Fried Chicken, I would prefer non corporate restaurants, willing to go into neighborhoods that aren't pristine, etc. Willing to go anywhere for a great meal!
As far as a more upscale restaurant, not looking for extra formal, but somewhere nicer and interesting(we are all food adventurous) that we can announce to our parents that we are getting married.

So what are your thoughts?

Thanks for all of the help!

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  1. Sounds like a big weekend!!

    Here are some thoughts:

    For BBQ, our favorite is Central Barbeque. It's in midtown and on Central Ave. Excellent pulled pork sandwiches and ribs. They make their own BBQ potato chips which are good -- and I am not usually a fan of flavored chips. Fries are good too, as is the slaw though it usually needs salt. Pretty good beer selection.

    For fried chicken, go to Gus's which is downtown near the South Main arts district area. The chicken is excellent, is spicy. All the sides are nothing to get excited about.

    There are various plate lunch Southern style places and we don't like the ones we hear most people talk about (like the Cupboard in midtown). But do check out Little Tea Shop on Monroe downtown, this one is good. Also for Southern soul food, check out Alencia's on North Main in downtown Memphis. I'd go for Alencia's over Little Tea Shop.

    More upscale....lots of options here.
    Downtown you might check out Felicia Suzanne's - which has a southern element to the food, but upscale; she used to work with Emeril in NO. Portions are very large.
    Also downtown we like Stella which is on Monroe at Main St.

    In midtown you might look into Tsunami which is in the Cooper Young district; emphasis on seafood.

    Jarret's is out east which could be good depending on where y'all are staying.

    Just thought of where I really think you should go....... The Hunt Phelan. It's in a very old Southern mansion, in downtown Memphis. Food is excellent. The service is fine but spotty -- you expect a bit better but we do keep going back. Definitely a Southern and a bit of Creole influence. Beautfiul. Has a bar in the bar and a wonderful outdoor patio terrace which could be nice for a drink before dinner or after. It's a nice fit for such an important dinner.

    What else are you planning for your weekend activities -- other than eating? Are you staying downtown? I am happy to help with other recommendations!

    There is a Williams Sonoma outlet and a separate Pottery Barn outlet in east Memphis -- about 20 min. drive from downtown and definitely worth a stop!

    Good luck.


    7 Replies
    1. re: VStallworth

      thanks so much for your help! These are different than the norm, we are looking forward to checking these out. Do you have any thoughts on breakfast? We are staying east of downtown. Also thinking of museums and gardens for visiting.

      We will report back after the trip!

      1. re: jardin32

        For breakfast, the best place that I know of anywhere in the world is Bryant's Bar-B-Q on Summer Avenue. If I was on death row, their country ham, egg and cheese on a bisquit would be my last meal ...

        I also second the nomination for The Bar-B-Q Shop and their ribs- had them last night and I'm still licking my fingers!

        1. re: Clarkafella

          There's a good weekend brunch at Owen Brennan's (Ridgeway and Poplar). It's an offshoot of the New Orleans Brennan's. In nice weather, there's a pretty outside patio.

        2. re: jardin32

          Brother Juniper's in the University of Memphis area has a good breakfast.

        3. re: VStallworth


          You've got some good suggestions. I heard of a place called Buntyn(sp?) that serves good southern fried chicken. Have you heard of it and do you recommend?


          1. re: Bensuj

            Buntyn Cafe WAS a great place for southern food. Meat and three place.
            Last I checked, it's closed though.


          2. re: VStallworth

            Second the recommendation of Encore- the chef is the old chef from the Peabody Hotel- he's won lots of award. Encore has a nice atmosphere but is not wildly expensive. Felicia Suzanne's and nearby Stella are more upscale. Bluefin has outdoor tables IF it's not too hot, which it has been lately. I like Automatic Slim's for the Caribbean food, but it's on the funky side (across the street from the Peabody) Then there are two restaurants in the Peabody, if you really want a full, elegant, blow-them-away experience. Downtown is really thriving these days- lots of people around, and you'll need to eat early or make reservations (didn't use to be a problem in Memphis). Whatever you do, don't let anyone talk you into going to the Rendevous for your announcement! It's a fun experience, but noisy and not even the best barbecue. Everyone has their own ideas about the best barbecue place- I like a little place out east on Ridgeway called Showboat, but we do take out- there's no atmosphere at all. But then you don't go to a barbecue place for atmosphere.

          3. Virginia has a good recap. In addition to those, I like:

            The Bar-B-Que Shop on Madison in Midtown. I love everything there, but they are known for their sandwiches.Ribs are great and underrated, especially the dry. I also love the bbq bologna and sausage plate.

            A&R and Paynes BBQ in South Memphis. A&R is on Elvis Presley (get a fried pie!)

            Paynes is on Lamar and is a great sandwich too.

            I also like Encore for a nice restaurant downtown. Have fun and best wishes.


            1 Reply
            1. re: tater

              thanks! we will try some of these too. Will report back after the trip.

            2. I really liked the Cozy Corner my own trip there. Good rib tips, fried baloney sandwich ok, interesting smoked cornish hens, decent wings. Probably had more but was in swine coma at that point.

              Also really liked the spicy Chicken at Gus' and agree the sides were kind of lame. Fried pickles ok as an app. Server did place our order as a takeout, then forgot to check that section, so we waited an hour for food after waiting 20 minutes for a table. No huge deal, but they should have been more upfront about it.

              1. I second MphsLady and raise up Brother Juniper's for breakfast. It's off of Highland in the University of Memphis area. **Note: Make sure to get there early if you do go, because a big crowd tends to gather!

                My opinion on BBQ is that if you don't hit the Rendezvous you may as well be eating slop. ;) OK, not REALLY...but it is my personal fave. When DH and I were dating and I lived over there, we hit that joint whenever we needed a 'cue fix. It's downtown on Second. Doesn't look like much (you actually enter and go down into a lower floor through a modest set of doors) but TRUST ME -- y'all will love it!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Amy_in_AR

                  When we were dating, it's the first place Mrs. Sippi took me on my first trip down there.
                  I still love the place. Of course, she had an in since her dad was the one who installed the beer taps so many years ago.