Memphis, Tennessee is known for its music scene, but it also has some incredible food. There are a few signature dishes it’s known for. Like in the Mississippi Delta, you can also find dishes like fried catfish and cheese and sausage plates.
Everyone has recommendations for you, no matter who you ask. There are many must-eat dishes, but these are just a few that visitors can’t miss. What is your favorite dish in Memphis? Let us know in the comments!
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If you only have one dish in Memphis, it will likely be ribs. Memphis-style ribs are made with a dry rub of seasoning, rather than a wet rub of sauce. They’re then soaked to seal in the flavor.
Memphis is the most well-known place to enjoy ribs, hosting a national competition every year. Every local has a different place they recommend to go, but you can’t really go wrong with any of them. Many restaurants also serve pulled pork and smoked chicken in addition to ribs.
Where to Eat It: Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous is one of the most famous in town, but expect to wait. Corky’s Ribs & BBQ has multiple locations and sides like macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. Central BBQ is another local favorite, with an outpost right across from the National Civil Rights Museum.
Soul food is the delicious home cooking found throughout the South and beyond. In Memphis, you can find many establishments offering “meat and three,” a plate meal featuring one meat with three sides. You might have fried chicken, pot roast, collard greens, and everything in-between as the menu typically changes daily.
Where to Eat It: The Four Way is a restaurant near Stax that has been open since 1946, serving names like Aretha Franklin and Martin Luther King Jr. Alcenia’s Soul Food Cafe is another favorite for its cabbage and hot water cornbread.
If you’re looking for a vegan soul food option, there’s Imagine Vegan Cafe in the Cooper-Young neighborhood. They have vegan versions of chicken and waffles and macaroni and cheese.
Looking for more places to eat soul food? Check out this post from Memphis Travel.
Peanut butter and banana sandwich
The peanut butter and banana sandwich was a notorious favorite of Elvis Presley so the dish has made its way onto menus throughout the city in honor of the native son.
The snack provides a combination of flavors and textures, combining salty and sweet along with the crunch of the buttery bread and peanuts. It’s also one you can easily make at home, adding in bacon for even more flavor.
Where to Eat It: The Arcade Restaurant was said to be a favorite of Elvis, and is Memphis’ oldest restaurant, opening in 1919. You can have the sandwich in his booth.
Hernando’s Hideaway is a venue where Elvis and his contemporaries performed. Today they serve burgers and their own version of the sandwich. And, of course, The Guest House at Graceland serves them nightly to guests.
There may be imitations, but there’s only one Soul Burger in Memphis. Earnestine and Hazel’s makes a hamburger that comes topped with onions, cheese, pickles, and “soul sauce.” In fact, the only dishes on their menu are the regular and double soul burgers with no substitutions.
Where to Eat It: Earnestine and Hazel’s is a juke joint and former brothel that is reportedly haunted, but what it’s really known for its the Soul Burger.
Barbecue spaghetti may sound unusual, but the dish is a delicious concoction found only in Memphis. It was invented by Brady Vincent at Brady and Lil’s before the recipe was passed along to the owners of The Bar-B-Q Shop. It contains a smoky sauce over spaghetti noodles, topped in chunks of pork.
Where to Eat It: Why not start at The Bar-B-Q Shop? Here they use a different barbecue sauce for the spaghetti and top it with their signature pork.
Jim Neely also learned the recipe from Vincent and incorporated it into his menu at Interstate Bar-B-Q. Their recipe uses the back portion of the ribs and a sauce cooked with peppers, onions, and other spices.
Looking to enjoy even more of the delicious food of Memphis? Book a spot on the Southern Food and Culture Tour. The Central Station Memphis and ARRIVE Memphis are both convenient to these restaurants. Check out our weekend guide for more things to do in the area.