Downtown Memphis has an abundance of great bars. From dive bars to tourist joints, we've got it covered, which makes it hard to narrow them down to a short list of the best. Some places offer more novelty of ambiance than great service, but whatever the attraction is, these establishments keep people coming back for more.
Based on factors such as atmosphere, cuisine, affordability, uniqueness, quality of events, and the keeping of unreasonable hours, here’s a list of the bars (in no particular order) in downtown Memphis that keep residents and visitors coming back for another round.
Kooky Canuck - 97 South 2nd Street, (901) 578-9800
Known for their enormous burgers, Kooky Canuck lends a Canadian vibe to their burger joint and sports pub. You can take the Kookamunga Challenge, which involves your table finishing a ten-pound burger in under one hour. Kooky Canuck is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. every day. They have a lunch menu with $6.99 specials from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. on weekdays.
Bardog Tavern - 73 Monroe Avenue, (901) 275-8752
Whether you need breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or late-night munchies, Bardog has you covered. It’s a popular spot for the after-after party or for a little day drinking. They offer daily specials, including a daily dog, daily sliders, a soup of the day, and even mussels.The bar is open from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturdays and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The kitchen is open daily until 2 a.m. Bardog Tavern is 21 and over and does allow smoking at the upstairs bar.
South of Beale - 361 South Main Street, (901) 526-0388
If you want to have some seriously tasty food with your craft beer and cocktails, then South of Beale (also known as S.O.B.) is where to go. It’s arguably Memphis’ first gastropub and offers bar and table seating, plus a nice patio. In addition to an excellent burger, they offer a bar pie of the day, a weekday happy hour from 3 p.m to 6 p.m. and a great brunch menu with drink specials on weekends.
South of Beale is open from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily.
The Silly Goose - 100 Peabody Place, (901) 435-6915
With the feel of a sleek lounge, Silly Goose is a popular bar in the middle of downtown that offers bar seating, lounge seating, a patio, and a dance floor. Though it's primarily a late-night establishment, The Silly Goose is open from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily except Saturdays, when the Silly Goose opens at 2 p.m.
Max's Sports Bar - 115 East G.E. Patterson, (901) 528-8600
Max’s lives up to its name with a cozy establishment catering to regulars and sports fans through several TVs, great drink specials, and a casual vibe. Though the bar is mostly no frills, don’t sleep on the jukebox. Max's is open from 4:30 p.m. to midnight every day, but they often open early for major sporting events.
Updated by Holly Whitfield September 2016.