The Four Way Soul Food / Alex Shanksy

Memphis Guide to Soul Food

Home cooked, meat-and-three, Southern cookin' – whatever you want to call it, Memphis has got it going on! Serving up traditional Southern classics that are made with love. If you haven't had a good, sit down, unbuckle your belt, need-a-nap meal then read this guide for Memphis favorites that feed the belly and the soul.

Four Way restaurant Thanksgiving meal
Four Way Thanksgiving Photo by Holly Whitfield

The Four Way

A can't miss lunch spot after a visit to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. The Four Way has been dishing up scrumptious soul food to locals and visitors since 1946. Famous for being one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s favorite spots to grab a bite to eat where he would often dine there with other Civil Rights leaders. 

Lunchbox Eats 

Entrees come on compartmentalized trays, and the menu is written on a chalkboard. You can order by taking your "quiz," and hand it off to your server to get "graded." While you're waiting for your food, take advantage of Lunchbox's lemonade of the day. 

Lobster Pronto Pup at Rizzos
Lobster Pronto Pup at Rizzos. Photo by Justin Fox Burks


Alcenia's is a soul food restaurant in the Pinch District of downtown, and the owner, B.J., is just as famous for her hugs as she is her comfort food. There are two things you should know before you head into Alecina's: the food is decadent and delicious, and it's going to be a leisurely lunch. Everything is made-to-order so come hungry and be prepared to relax and socialize with a cup of their world famous Ghetto-Aid. 

Hog & Hominy

One of four restaurants by the Chef duo Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer, Hog & Hominy has been racking up foodie awards since opening in 2011.  Their East Memphis restaurant takes southern comfort with an Italian twist with dishes like Grits Al Forno and Biscuit Gnocci. Come see what happens when you cross-pollinate a brick oven, family meals, southern cooking and a love of pork. Ten-to-one, you'll be yelling "Dang, that's succulento!

Alcenia's Catfish plate
    Alcenia's Catfish Plate Photo by Holly Whitfield

Second Line

Do you want an authentic New Orleans po'boy? Or authentic casual New Orleans anything? Then go to  Chef Kelly English's The Second Line. A cozy dinner spot in a renovated house next door to Chef English's fine dining Restaurant Iris in Overton Sqaure. The cheese grits are life changing and the cocktails are delicious. 

Soul Fish

With two locations in Memphis, Soul Fish offers traditional Southern comfort food for a great price. Just as the name describes, you won't want to miss their catfish any way you want it- fried, grilled or blackened. 

Little Tea Shop

This casual, family-owned restaurant in Downtown Memphis features Southern favorites. This traditional meat-and-three is a popular stop for lunch. Known for friendly service, everyone is treated like a regular.  Make sure to order an extra side of cornbread sticks because you won't want them to end. 

Have you been to the newly renovated midtown Soul Fish Cafe? #southerncookin #soulfood #catfish #hushpuppies #patiolife

A photo posted by MemphisTravel (@memphistravel) on

The Cupboard

One of the best places to get your meat-and-three, only it's hard to just pick three sides with all the great choices. Everything from freshly prepared veggies including eggplant casserole, crowder peas, turnip greens and corn pudding. Of course this is served with fresh yeast rolls or homemade corn bread. Top it off with some homemade banana pudding, and you're set. 

Rizzos Diner

Comfort food with class can be found in South Main Arts District. Chef Patrick has managed to combine the highest and lowest classes of food into one delicious dish on a stick with the Pronto Pup. Big, white chunks of lobster that have been battered with Pronto Pup batter, impaled on a stick and drizzled with homemade mustard.