Memphis is a foodie city, a smorgasbord of culinary delights, fine dining, international cooking contests, and even a few restaurants made famous on TV. My favorite places to eat here are the hometown diners, coffee shops and cafes that make you feel like you're back home at grandma's house. So pull up a chair and loosen your belts Memphis, here are the best greasy spoons in town!
1. Front Street Deli
Let's start off with the oldest Deli in Memphis. Front Street Deli has been around since 1976, but the building dates back to 1853. Its claim to fame is being one of the filming locations for the Tom Cruise movie The Firm, and appropriately enough, all of the sandwiches here are named after Tom Cruise films. The names are catchy and fun, but what makes this one of my favorites is the mouthwatering sandwiches themselves! If you live downtown, or are staying here from out of town and you find yourself downtown in the morning, stop in here for one of their breakfast sandwhiches. Piled up to the sky on biscuits, croissants or toast, you can choose one of their favorites or build your own. Front Street Deli has got breakfast sandwiches that are perfection!
2. Blues City Cafe
Blues City Cafe is a Memphis institution. In the heart of Beale Street, this historic diner/juke joint perfectly combines the blues music and soul food that was born in the Mississippi Delta, and is still alive today on the streets of Memphis. Just thinking about the food here makes my mouth water. They have a selection of french fry platters that will blow your mind. Can you say chili cheese fries, BBQ pork fries, and gumbo cheese fries? Take your pick of one of their loaded salads, belly up to a platter of steak, fried fish, chicken or shrimp, or dig in to one of their down-home cajun dishes. It's all about go big or go home here. Did I mention their BBQ ribs? Just a little thing that's been featured on the Travel Channel, Food Network, and in Bon Appetit magazine. Just make sure you leave room for dessert, you can't leave here without one of their signature southern dessert specialties!
3. Elwood's Shack
Another one of my favorite diners is Elwood’s Shack in the East Memphis/ Berclair area. It has amazing sandwiches, delicious barbecue, and a pretty darn good brunch! With classic southern comfort food and picnic tables inside AND outside, it tastes and feels just like home. When I first heard about Elwood's Shack, it was all about the sandwiches. "You have to go there for the sandwiches", people said. It's true, the Shack serves up a mind boggling selection of classic subs, smokehouse favorites, hot dogs and burgers, all with their own creative flair. However, what I actually fell in love with here was the breakfast. Southern inspired and jazzed up Memphis style, their breakfast will have you coming back time and again. You absolutely must have one of their home made cinnamon rolls, they are life changing!
4. Bob's Barksdale Restaurant
Speaking of comfort food, Bob’s Barksdale Restaurant in Midtown near Cooper Young will make you feel like you're back at grandma's house for Sunday dinner. Simple but delicious old fashioned breakfast made on the griddle, plate lunches, and homemade rolls that are the epitome of "home cookin". They have my absolute favorite french toast in Memphis, stacked across your plate with crispy edges and powdered sugar sprinkled on top, just like mom used to make. This is a no-frills, family run diner, right down to the hand-written specials on the back of the menu. It's the kind of place where they'll keep coming back to refill your coffee as many times as you'd like, with conversation and a smile. They don't do fancy, but what they do have is damn good food and a community feel. Oh, and while you're waiting for your food, take a look around at their Memphis memorabilia and photo collection, there's a lot of history covering these walls.
5. Arcade Restaurant
The Arcade Restaurant, in the South Main Arts District, is another Memphis institution. Built in 1925, the Arcade boasts the title of oldest cafe in Memphis; however, that's not their only claim to fame. Word is that Elvis loved to eat here, and even had his own special booth close to the back door so he could sneak out if he was recognized. The Arcade serves up breakfast all day, along with daily lunch specials, and dinner Thursday through Saturday. The breakfast here is amazing, and the cocktails and spiked milkshakes are perfect for brunch, happy hour, or an after dinner treat! Breakfast shot, anyone? Maybe you would prefer some Eggs Redneck or sweet potato pancakes? In tribute to the King, they even have a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich! Whatever you eat at this historic restaurant will most certainly fill your tummy and feed your soul.
I'd love to hear about your favorite greasy spoons in Memphis too, hit me up in the comments below!
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