A Cornerstone of Memphis Food Traditions

Jul 7, 2020

Credit Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal

Black-owned restaurants and food businesses have shaped the culinary scene of Memphis.


They are a key ingredient in the recipe that has made Memphis one of the most innovative food scenes in the South, if not the country.

Restaurants like Cozy CornerThe Bar-B-Q Shop, Payne’s and Interstate Barbecue have helped put Memphis on the map as the barbecue capital of the world.

Soul food restaurants The Four WayAlcenia’s and Orange Mound Grill are gathering spots that not only serve amazing food, but also provide a space of unity for all Memphians.

Innovative chefs are approaching soul food and Southern cooking with a new lens. Phillip Rix of Phillip Ashley Chocolates combines flavors like sweet potato into gourmet chocolates. Eli Townsend at Sage uses Southern classics like turnip greens and fried chicken in his signature “Soul Egg Rolls.” Tamra Patterson of Chef Tam’s Underground Café takes classic Southern dishes over the top with her original and fun spin.

Restaurants like Bala’s Bistro, Curry N Jerk and Stick Em are introducing Memphians to new cuisines from around the world, serving authentic dishes from the owners' native countries.

Fried chicken and hot wings are two dishes that are now just as popular in Memphis as barbecue, thanks to places like Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken, The Wing Guru, Ching’s Hot Wings and Riko’s Kickin’ Chicken.

And don’t get me started on desserts. The Pie Folks, Makeda’s, Suga Mama Snoballs, Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co. and Blues City Donuts are creating one-of-a-kind sweets I can’t resist.

From restaurants to food trucks to online companies, head to commercialappeal.com for a list of more than 150 Black-owned food businesses in Memphis you need to try.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit.