Overton Square is a historic neighborhood in the heart of Midtown, Memphis. Long known as a neighborhood for fun, this place is buzzing with activity. It has five live performance theaters as well as a multi-screen movie theater. But in recent years it has become known for its food scene as well as its cultural programming.
There are restaurant options for every budget, taste, and clientele. Some restaurants are more like clubs with live music that happen to serve food. Others are upscale and cozy bistros, perfect for dates. One restaurant even makes its own beer. If you're looking for a memorable night in Memphis look no further than these excellent restaurants.
Lafayette's Music Room
Lafayette's serves some of the best Southern comfort food in town. It's hard to pass up the wood-fired mushrooms or the chicken and Andouille sausage which pair perfectly with the variety of local beers always on tap. But this restaurant is really known for its live music. In the past stars including KISS and Billy Joel graced the stage before becoming famous. Now the venue continues to host bands and singer/songwriters who just might be the next big thing. There is live music every day of the week (on some days there are separate shows during the day and evening), so you can't go wrong. Watch from the front rows or the balcony upstairs to fully take in the atmosphere.
Local on the Square
Local on the Square is known for creating items you can only have in Memphis. The fish and chips uses grouper battered in a vodka tempura and the duck quesadilla is served with chili aioli and onion jam. The restaurant is also known for its lively ambiance. It's packed on weekday evenings and during weekend brunch with young professionals drinking craft cocktails and tasting local beers. Ask your server to pair drinks with your food; it's a speciality here.
Belly Acres proves that farm-to-table food doesn't have to be pretentious or intimidating. This restaurant creates food for the entire family that is local, nutritious, and of course, tasty. All the beef is 100 percent grass fed and the chicken is free range. In addition to burgers and sandwiches the restaurant is known for its colorful salads. If that feels too healthy order a side of fried onion strings and fried pickles. There is a large kids menu, and every Wednesday the little ones eat free.
Hopdoddy is not your regular burger bar. The restaurant has an in-house bakery that makes all the bread and a butchery that carves all the meat. All the vegetables are sourced from nearby farms, and the meat comes from ranches using sustainable and ethical practices. Plus, the restaurant prides itself in creating quirky, even outrageous, burger combinations. The restaurant also has salads, shakes, and impossible burgers. On a beautiful day snag a seat outside under the umbrellas.
Boscos Restaurant & Brewing Company
While many restaurants in Overton Square are new and hip, Boscos is a beloved institution. It bills itself as Tennessee's first brew pub, and it makes craft beer in big vats in the restaurant. The famous Flaming Stone brew has won numerous awards over the past two decades. The food here is casual pub food. Think burgers, chicken fingers, wraps, and wood-fired pizzas. The Sunday brunch is especially popular with its live music performances. On a nice day the patio is packed. It's worth the wait to get a seat outside just for the people watching.
Babalu Tacos & Tapas
Babalu Tacos & Tapas is all about upscale Latin-inspired cuisine. Here you don't just get regular guacamole; the waiters make it right in front of you with fresh avocados, red and green onions, sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro, fresh lime juice, and other ingredients. You can choose from a variety of tacos including braised pork, roasted chicken, or blackened and fried fish. This restaurant also makes a sangria so good you'll wish you ordered a pitcher. Locals love going here during the week for it's specials. On Mondays, margaritas are $5 all day. You can get $2 tacos all day Tuesdays. Thirsty Thursday grants you $4 glasses of Sangria.
The Second Line
If Memphis has a celebrity chef it's Kelly English. People flocked to his restaurant, Iris, and now they love his second restaurant named The Second Line steps away from Overton Square. The menu is inspired by authentic and casual New Orleans food. Start your meal with barbecue shrimp and fried jambalaya. Move on to po'boys made with fried gulf oysters or roast beef with gravy and swiss cheese. Those looking for bigger portions can opt for the fried Mississippi catfish plate or the "reasonably healthy" dinner salad. The atmosphere is elegant yet casual. There is even a children's menu with a cheeseburger po'boy on it.
Bayou Bar & Grill
The Bayou Bar & Grill was opened in 1987 by Chef Michael Cahal who trained in New Orleans. And you can tell he mastered his craft with his New Orleans style, Cajun recipes. You can find everything at this restaurant like muffalettas, po'boys, jambalaya, gumbo, oysters, and red beans and rice. Don't miss the popcorn crawfish basket or the shrimp and crawfish bisque. While the food is some of the city's best, the restaurant is a sports bar, and televisions are constantly showing the latest basketball or football game. It's a fun place to be if a Memphis team (perhaps the Grizzlies) are playing, as you will be surrounded by cheering, very friendly, fans.