Best Restaurants in MemphisOur favorites include some of this destination's best restaurants—from fine dining to simple fare.
For more than 70 years, the Vergos family has been grilling the best ribs in Memphis at Rendezvous . This spot has served world leaders, touring rock bands and thousands of locals who crowd this downtown favorite on weekend nights. The décor reflects the restaurant's history, and antiques are displayed seamlessly with new memorabilia. The result is a comfortable, casual atmosphere where families and friends linger and laugh. Don't be surprised if you see the same waiters on a return visit; some have been working here for 45 years. As for food, start with barbecue chicken nachos, charcoal-broiled lamb riblets or the colossal sandwiches of pork shoulder, chopped chicken or ham and cheese. Full meal recommendations include the world-famous Rendezvous charcoal-broiled ribs, which come in a full or half order, or the delectable beef brisket, pork loin and pork shoulder, available alone or as a combination.
Experience classic Southern barbecue at Corky's Ribs & BBQ . Open since 1984, this popular restaurant operates numerous locations in Memphis. Corky's is cozy and fun, with rough plank walls, bright neon signs and oldies music. Thanks to slow hickory cooking and a secret-recipe rub, Corky's pork and chicken are savory and fall-off-the-bone tender. Ribs are served “with” or “without”—locals know this means with just rub seasoning, or also with tangy, award-winning sauce. Pulled pork, beef brisket and combinations tempt the barbecue connoisseur. Great starters include barbecue pork nachos, fried chicken drummies or hot tamales. Huge salads come topped with smoked meats. The sides are great, especially the slow-cooked baked beans and loaded baked potato. If you can, save room for the chocolate fudge pie or Karo pecan pie.
Not all steakhouses break the bank, and Buckley's serves great meals at reasonable prices. A consistent local favorite, Buckley's serves one of the best steaks in Memphis. The kitchen cooks to exact specifications, and the results are tender, juicy steaks, delectable grilled seafood and exceptional chicken dishes. Ravioli soup tops the appetizer list, which includes stuffed mushroom caps, hot artichoke dip and Rag's cheese bread. All of the entrees are first-rate, but especially good are the shrimp and grits and the macadamia nut-encrusted mahi-mahi. Garlic mashed potatoes and creamed spinach are perfect accompaniments to the steaks.
At Texas de Brazil , guests feast in the tradition of the Brazilian churrascaria, or steakhouse. The luscious red decor is decidedly upscale, though never stuffy. From the moment you enter, you're treated like a member of the family. Knife-wielding gauchos carve the restaurant's signature meats at tableside, with selections ranging from seasoned beef, pork, lamb and chicken to Brazilian sausage. Surprisingly, this steakhouse also stocks an impressive salad bar with more than 50 items, including fresh buffalo mozzarella, steamed asparagus, Brazilian hearts of palm, grilled portobello mushrooms and various sushi and sashimi selections. An extensive wine list is heavy with rich and lusty French, Californian and South American reds to match the meat-themed menu. The bar is well stocked with single malt scotches and spirits. The adventurous will want to try a caipirinha, a margaritalike drink prepared with cachaça.
Crowds pack Folk's Folly Prime Steak House in east Memphis to sample Prime steaks served with herb-flavored butter. Though meats are clearly the focus, the menu also features duck, chicken, veal, lamb, crab and lobster dishes. The crab cakes are especially good, made with sweet crab meat and little filler. For dessert, try the bread pudding topped with whiskey sauce. There may be prettier places to enjoy a steak, but not many boast this level of quality. The Cellar Lounge offers live piano music and complimentary fried dill pickles (a Southern delicacy). The drink list includes fine wines, mixed drinks, cocktails, cognacs, liqueurs and coffees.
The fashionable Firebirds Wood Fired Grill specializes in open-flame grilling, bold sauces and creative touches of Southwestern spices. Paired with hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood or rotisserie chicken, the result is distinctive and exceptional. Favorites include the chile-rubbed Delmonico steak and coconut jumbo shrimp with mango habañero chutney. Your best bet for dessert is the warm chocolate brownie, though all of the pies and cakes are tasty. Sample the restaurant's private label wines or choose from a substantial list of scotches, specialty margaritas and microbrews. Exposed rafters and huge beams evoke the feel of a Colorado ski lodge. The large, open kitchen and in-house rotisserie add warmth, as does a massive fireplace in the bar.
Tucked away in an upscale shopping center in East Memphis, Napa Cafe is a trendy bistro with a welcome lack of pretense. As you'd expect, the restaurant focuses on wine, with many unusual labels to match its electric American cuisine. First courses include a jumbo lump crab cake, house made pumpkin gnocchi, short rib sliders and seasonal soups and salads. Though the dinner menu isn't long, it features standout entrees like filet mignon, ancho-crusted rib-eye steak and pan-seared yellow fin tuna. Try the sweet buttermilk pie—a lighter, Southern version of cheesecake—for dessert. For a special occasion, request private seating in the wine cellar.
A longtime tradition in Memphis, Owen Brennan's Restaurant serves up Cajun and Creole dishes with panache. Big Easy favorites include gumbo, crawfish, soft-shell crabs and turtle soup. Save room for the bananas Foster or Key lime pie. Seating options range from the soaring grandeur of the main dining room to the intimacy of the smaller Orleans rooms for private functions. Bring family and friends to the free-wheeling Sunday brunch, with great live music and Cajun Bloody Marys.
Taking its cue from the Versailles, Chez Philippe at The Peabody Memphis elevates French cuisine to an art form. Jackets are preferred, as this fine dining experience deserves the proper respect. The changing menu features inventive and artistic variations on classic French dishes—many with an Asian flare. Evening specials might include pheasant with truffled potatoes, brown butter-basted sea scallops with a crispy lobster claw, or medallion of veal with potato, spinach and brie roulade. To sample a variety of courses, take a look at the prix fixe menu. Order the Grand Marnier soufflé du jour for dessert—it takes 25 minutes to prepare, but it's well worth the wait. With its elegant atmosphere and opulent decor, Chez Philippe is the ultimate place for a romantic candlelight dinner.
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AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
State sales tax is 7 percent; occupancy tax is 6 percent; and Memphis sales tax is 2.25 percent, for a combined lodging tax of 15.25 percent.
Time and Temperature
Baptist Memorial Hospital, (901) 226-5000; Delta Medical Center, (877) 627-4395; Methodist North Hospital, (901) 516-5200; Methodist South Hospital, (901) 516-3700; Regional Medical Center at Memphis, (901) 545-7100; Saint Francis Hospital, (901) 765-1000.
3205 Elvis Presley Blvd. Memphis, TN 38116. Phone:(901)543-5300 or (888)633-9099
Domestic and foreign airlines serve
Discounts are offered to AAA members by Hertz, (901) 345-5680 or (800) 654-3131.
Amtrak offers passenger service from Central Station, 545 S. Main St.; phone (901) 526-0052 or (800) 872-7245.
The Greyhound bus station is at 3033 Airways Blvd.; phone (800) 231-2222.
The major company is Yellow Cab, (901) 577-7777. Fares are metered, with the basic rate $3.80 for the first mile, then $1.80 for each additional mile. One dollar is added for each additional passenger. A $3 surcharge is added to fares originating from the airport.
Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) buses operate Mon.-Fri. 4:30 a.m.-11:15 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. and holidays 8-5. Base fare is $1.75, with increases for zones outside city limits; a day pass can be purchased for $3.50, and covers unlimited bus rides. Ages 65+, students and the physically impaired pay reduced rates with a special MATA ID card. Park 'n' Ride service is available at multiple locations within the city. Not all routes operate nights and Sundays.