To understand the food community in Memphis, you really have to take a step back and appreciate the city’s entrepreneurial streak, which has affected its fortunes more than an outsider might realize. Memphis gave rise to corporations with national and global impact, including familiar names like FedEx and Holiday Inn, and so while this is a city that’s synonymous with Elvis, blues, and barbecue to most of the world, it’s pretty well understood here that Memphis is as good a place as any for a someone with a big idea to take some chances. So much so that you don’t see too much of an ebb and flow in people starting companies, opening mom-and-pop shops — or launching restaurants of their own. It’s a way of life here; even during the pandemic there were restaurateurs, incredibly, still introducing new concepts to the Memphis food scene.
Stepping inside a restaurant here is like seeing all of Memphis in microcosm. At Muddy’s Bake Shop, owner-baker and colorfully coiffed Kat Gordon makes adorably named cupcakes and other desserts; a quick flavor tour in Midtown offers kabob-focused cuisine at Stickem as well as the eclectic dishes inside restaurateur Karen Carrier’s Beauty Shop (housed in a former salon, of course), to name just two examples. Such places form the connective tissue linking communities here and make up the bulk of this list, which spotlights some of the city’s must-visit restaurants, deliciously essential parts of the fabric of the city.Read More