There is nothing quite like the rich flavors of authentic southern cuisine. From turnip greens cooked with bacon and catfish fried in cornmeal batter to sweet candied yams and homemade pecan pie, the south knows good food. If you are in Memphis, Tennessee and looking for a true taste of the city, the following restaurants can't be beaten. They are all casual, kid-friendly, and reasonably priced.
If you can only dine at one southern dining establishment in Memphis, this is a good one to choose. Alcenia's has become famous around town and beyond for their always-fresh soul food, friendly service, and a complimentary hug from the proprietress. The fried pork chops, catfish, fried green tomatoes, and pecan pie are among the local favorites but you really can't go wrong with anything you try here.
Four Way Restaurant
The Four Way Restaurant is one of Memphis' little gems that shouldn't be missed. This tiny restaurant has been serving up soul food for decades and for good reason--their food is delicious. It was also a meeting place for civil rights leaders in the 1960s. Locals love the fried chicken, turnip greens, and peach cobbler. Oh, and if you like uber-sweet beverages, order the VIP, a combination of lemonade and sweet tea.
Gus's Fried Chicken
The sign above Gus's Fried Chicken says that it is "world famous" and that may not be too much of an exaggeration. Folks from all over the world have indulged in this spicy and juicy chicken that is native to Memphis. In addition to chicken, you can get the usual assortment of sides but don't miss the seasoned rice and bacon jalapeno hushpuppies.
Peggy's Healthy Home Cooking
Peggy's puts a twist on southern cooking by making it as healthy as possible. For example, unlike many southern establishments, Peggy doesn't season her vegetables with meat or meat drippings (like bacon grease which is very common). Nevertheless, the food here really is heavenly and the smothered chicken, yams, and German chocolate cake are must-tries.
Southern Hands doesn't look like a lot of the other places on this list--it's fairly new and housed in a very sanitized looking building. While it may be missing the character of some other down-home restaurants, it is not lacking in flavor. In fact, many locals proclaim the turnip greens here to be the best in town. Try the caramel cake and banana pudding too. Yum!
Updated by Holly Whitfield September 2016