10 New Restaurants to Try

Most people know Memphis for barbecue and soul food. But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that’s just the start. There are fresh and local ingredients that inspire new dishes, celebrated chefs that push boundaries, craft beer made from a thousand year old auquifer, and these 10 new restaurants to try the next time you’re in town.

Samantha Crespo | July, 2018
Gray Canary / Alex Shansky

1. The Gray Canary

The latest from James Beard nominated chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman is Gray Canary. Instead of their usual emphasis on Italian-meets-Southern flavors, the chefs play with fire and ice here. Start with cocktails and crudo at the raw bar, then move to the chef’s counter. You’ll have a view to the wood-fired grill, where flame and embers transform meats and vegetables into impeccable dishes. Bonus: GC is located inside Old Dominick Distillery, so you could grab a drink before dinner. 

Carolina Watershed / Alex Shansky

2. Carolina Watershed

If you’re looking for a food-and-drink experience, Carolina Watershed is it. Steel grain bins conceal the restaurant and two bars; the outdoor space creates an oasis amid downtown Memphis with cozy landscaping and a mini-waterfall. Cocktails branch out while the food menu—including late-night and brunch options on weekends—riffs on Southern classics. Think Delta-style tamales, a pimento cheese burger and pulled pork flatbread drizzled with sweet citrus sauce.

117 Prime / Alex Shansky

3. 117 Prime

You could do lunch at 117 Prime, but the scene is richest in the evenings when you can start with fresh oysters chargrilled or a butcher’s plate of cured meats and artisan cheeses at the bar, linger over the substantial drink list and drift to a table for the main event: your favorite cut of beef, from petite filets to 16-ounce rib-eyes. Ådd on a sauce—maybe demi-glace or béarnaise—and luscious toppings such as jumbo lump crab and Stilton bleu cheese.  

Sunrise Breakfast / Alex Shansky

4. Sunrise

Sunrise is a casual, cheery spot for locally-roasted coffee, breakfast plates and bowls, fluffy pancakes and biscuit sammies like the King, layered with fried chicken, country ham and sausage gravy. Saturday through Monday, a Bloody Mary bar makes your breakfast or brunch even better. Return at lunch for hearty salads and sandwiches, many starring house-prepared meats—Sunrise’s creators met on Memphis’ competitive barbecue circuit. 

South Main Market / Leah Gafni

5. South Main Market

The South Main Historic Arts District is oh-so-walkable, making the South Main Market a perfect stop as you hop between museums, galleries and shops. Duck into the century-old space to discover Java Cabana, specializing in coffee and vegan desserts; Civil Pour, where you can pair artisan cocktails, wine or local brews with small bites; and City Block Salumeria. This full-service butcher serves house-made charcuterie and crafts delicious sandwiches from breakfast into the evening.   

The Liquor Store / Ashley Renee

6. The Liquor Store

As more local makers and retailers move to the Broad Avenue Arts District, restaurants are following. The Liquor Store fits right in with Broad’s creative personality—pink neon signs and a countertop painted in lush greens suggest a tropical-chic vibe. Go with it and order something Latin-inspired, maybe the Cuban sandwich featuring 14-hour roast pork on house-made bread. Add a cocktail like a rum spritzer—after all, you are in a former liquor store.
Cozy up to the bar.

Southern Social Restaurant / Alex Shansky

7. Southern Social

With traditional design and the Old Germantown train depot next door, Southern Social feels genteel. But the menus here mix fine and comfort cuisine. For brunch, indulge in a cinnamon roll served in a cast iron skillet—or smoked salmon complemented with crème fraiche and caviar. For dinner, choose cornbread-and-Andouille-stuffed quail—or fried chicken with a side of macaroni and cheese. Whatever you choose, don’t leave without considering a wine or bourbon flight.

Southern Social Restaurant / Alex Shansky

8. Next Door American Eatery

Next Door is the casual choice among Kimbal Musk’s real-food restaurants in Memphis. The menu caters to every eater—kids, dairy- and gluten-free’ers, vegans and vegetarians included—so you might try a bowl heaped with roasted veggies and drizzled with cilantro tahini, or a burger made with local pasture-raised beef. Bonus: Next Door is part of Memphis’ new vertical urban village, Crosstown Concourse. Walk about after your meal.

17 Berkshire / Alex Shansky

9. 17 Berkshire

When it’s time for a treat, 17 Berkshire is as sweet as it gets, and pretty as a picture too. Inside the cases of this from-scratch patisserie, you might find chocolate eclairs, blueberry pies, fruit tarts and a rainbow of pastel macarons in flavors like orange blossom, lavender and pineapple coconut. Specialty teas and coffee are always on. And you’re in the Overton Square Entertainment District, so you can totally walk (or shop) off your indulgence. 

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