AB Road Eats: Memphis

This city has so much going for it. With all the food I was able to try, it’s hard to believe I was here for only a day. But that just means I have to make a trip back to Memphis soon.


Cafe Eclectic: Recommended by so many of my fans, I tried an Americano-Cubano hybrid, as well as an iced latte. Both were great, but I will say I really enjoyed that latte.


Gibson’s Donuts: This place got me good. Not only did one of the owners (Britton) offer to drive me to his establishment, he and his father gave me one of the warmest welcomes I’ve ever received. I had the pleasure of getting behind-the-scenes to see how the doughnuts are made, as well as the talented people who make them. I spoke to locals who had been coming to Gibson’s as a kid, and now they’re bringing theirs. I can officially say that their glazed doughnut just might be the best I’ve ever had. That’s right. I said it. When it comes to doughnuts, I tend to lean toward the more simple flavors, and they’re doing them all right. One of the most-memorable moments from the Alton Brown Live tour so far was his dad (Don) throwing me a doughnut the moment I walked in the door. I would like to make doughnuts with these guys one day.


Dyer’s Burgers: Talk about one of the best burgers this country has to offer. Britton from Gibson’s told me that this establishment has been frying the burgers in the same fat since 1912. So you would naturally think these burgers have a serious grease factor. Not so much. They’re not heavy at all (and if I hadn’t had so many doughnuts, I might have had more than a couple bites). If you’re in Memphis, you’d be missing out by not having yourself a Dyer’s Burger.

Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken: I’m from the South. So I know good fried chicken. And I make seriously good fried chicken. But Gus’s is making quite possibly my favorite fried chicken. The chicken is moist, the crust is crunchy (and has a kick). I can admit I saved a couple pieces and put in the refrigerator for a late-night snack a day later. I would come back to Memphis for this chicken and their seasoned fries in a heartbeat.


Pearl’s Oyster House: I ran over to Pearl’s after the show just to try a dozen of their char-grilled oysters (topped with garlic chipotle butter and Parmesan cheese). I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the cheese, but that feeling quickly subsided. The oysters were cooked perfectly and had just the right amount of heat from the chipotle. If I had more time, I probably would have ordered another six.

Images © Alton Brown, 2014


Add yours
  1. 1

    for deliciously smoked meats you gotta try Malia’s Bbq (a little shack at the corner of park and greer ran by an old couple) and Elwood’s Shack (another little shack next to Lowe’s at Perkins and Summer). When Malia’s started, they didn’t have electricity or anything – just a smoker and a small trailer to stand and serve the meat in. I noticed them out there cooking in the rain early on a Saturday morning, that’s how serious they are. Sampler plate is loaded with a variety of meat – pork ribs, beef ribs, rib tips, chicken, bologna, hot dogs, smoked sausage, and more. They’re only there Friday and Saturday, cause it’s too good to let people have it 7 days a week.
    Elwood’s has a variety of sandwiches, wraps, pizzas and more. Steelhead trout taco’s that make any salmon blush, so thick and pink and wonderful. The _best_ smoked brisket in town. House-made pastrami. An amazing spicy Italian sub, the ‘debris’ po-boy..

    Alton, you are a hero of mine. I’ve been a fanatic of your show and I love the way you blend history, geography, culture, science and technique to educate us on the ins-and-outs of all the good eats. Please come back to Memphis, even off the record, for a few days, so we can show you what’s really up – there’s so much good food here it’s unreal.

  2. 3

    -Finer Dining-
    Restaurant Iris, Catherine and Mary’s

    Muddys, Mem pops for ice cream

    -Late night-
    Ernestine and hazels for a late late night burger,

    -Memphis staples-
    Germantown commissary, little tea shop, lunchbox eats,

    -Coffee and small bites-
    city and state for coffee, edgy alley for a snack, mama Gia’s for vegan,

    -Not open yet but will be amazing based on owners history-
    Sunrise Memphis (if open), the Liquor store (if open),

  3. 6

    Y’all are forgetting about those insane burgers at LBOE on Madison. For a fantastic pint, check out Meddlesome Brewing Company on Trinity Rd just on the east side of Shelby Farms. Just follow union Ave, east until it turns into walnut grove. Make a left onto farm Rd and then a right onto Mullins station, follow it until it turns into Raliegh-Lagrange (you’re almost there!) It’ll be to your left as the road changes names again and turns into Trinity Rd. Can’t wait to see you and the food science magic!

  4. 13

    Las Tortugas Deli Mexicano … Tacos de carne assada. Best dad-gum tacos ever ! And the corn (elote) is heavenly. Loved the show last time, hope to make it again.

  5. 14
    Dan Wortham

    Before going to Gibson’s, he needs to walk across the street to Bogie’s and join me for an Awesome BLT on their thick home-made grilled wheatberry bread, Ripley tomatoes (when in season), thick bacon, and creamy melted Gruyere cheese. THEN, go to Gibson’s for the donuts.

  6. 15

    Well okey dokey now those are good but there is better. I don’t eat chicken but I love chocolates. Phillip Ashley Chocolates is a must when you return. Sweet potato marshmallow, German chocolate cake, fennel apple butter, fig port wine and that southern flavor of collards and cornbread. It just doesn’t get much better!

  7. 23

    Hog and Hominy is a must. The Beauty Shop on Cooper is one of my favorites. I really love the burgers at Belly Acres. So many good suggestions.

  8. 24
    Mary Dowling

    I saw your last show and it was great!! So glad you’re coming back and that you’re starting a new show!! If you like Korean, I recommend Crazy Noodle. For Ethiopian, Abyssinia. They have a gorgeous and delicious vegetable platter. I have to cast my votes, as well, for Rizzo’s, Brother Juniper’s, and second Line. Gus’s, of, course, is hard to beat although you’ve been there. I keep hearing that Farm Burger in the new Crosstown Concourse is good, although I’ve yet to try it. Memphis loves you!!

  9. 25

    Hey Alton. If you have a taste for some delicious down-home soul food come to Memphis and try Clara Bell’s Kitchen, an operating food truck or Ms. Girlie’s. You can also try Memphis Barbecue Company which is just over the stateline in Horn Lake, MS.

  10. 26

    You have got to try the Debris Poboy (roast beef) at Elwood’s Shack. They even have an eggs benedict for breakfast with the debris piled high on it. Great little place with a master working the smoker.

  11. 27

    You have got to try the Debris Poboy at Elwood’s Shack. It’s a funky little place in the parking lot of a hardware chain store. They even have an eggs benedict that they put the debris (roast beef) on.

  12. 29

    Oops, and you might want to check out Crosstown Concourse for lunch. The things they are doing there are amazing. Great buffet lunch, all homemade!

  13. 30

    I’m gonna third or fourth or fifth Uncle Lou’s! For BBQ, Cozy Corner or Payne’s. I also am a fan of Belmont Grill for pub grub (hamburger!) You gotta check out Earnestine & Hazel’s for the Soul Burger, though. Go late, you won’t regret it. I love Flying Fish, across from the Peabody, for seafood. Check out Two Vegan Sistas if you’re so inclined. And DeJavu, downtown, also for vegan and “other”. Brother Juniper’s for breakfast. Thanks! So glad you love our eats!

  14. 31
    Nicole Batson

    Mr. Brown, you need to try Pho Binh on Madison Avenue! Everyone from college students to professors and professionals eat there week after week. The pho and fried chicken are must tries! The lunch buffet runs until 3pm on weekdays. My family and I are big fans of yours. Also try La Michocana Ice Cream on Summer Ave. Thanks and enjoy your trip!

  15. 32

    Hog and Hominy is still a great option. The Edge has phenomenal coffee and great biscuit breakfast sandwiches. Ernestine and Hazel for a late night drink and a soul burger. Catherine and Mary’s had great Italian food in a rad building. In midtown try Slider Inn and ask for the Jameson slushie.

  16. 33
    Eddie Cavender

    I would have to say for breakfast the only place to go is Bryants. Lunch I would say either Wing Guru or Uncle Lou’s fried chicken. Dinner is easy Second Line in midtown.

  17. 34
    Tatia Johnson

    I second the nominations of Uncle Lou’s & Second Line. If you’re up for a seriously nice meal, make reservations at Restaurant Iris (the older sister restaurant to Second Line.) Not kidding about the reservations, but it’s SOOOO worth it.
    Boscos brewpub always has good food & beer.
    There are some very good, authentic Mexican places on/near Summer Ave. but I’ll let someone more knowledgeable fill you in on that. La Michoacana On Summer has delicious paletas.
    We are always glad to welcome you back to town & fill your belly with great stuff.

  18. 35
    Jen Wood-Bowien

    Lemongrass tofu at Pho Binh on Madison
    Everything from The Little Tea Shop (lunch) on Monroe
    Some great fried chicken and a steak sandwich from Jack Pirtle’s
    A soul burger from Earnestine & Hazels on S. Main

  19. 36

    Try Hog and Hominy or Andrew Michael – they’re both wonderful. The Belmont and Elwood’s Shack for pub grub. Erring Jensen is fabulous. Second Line serves an excellent Po Boy. Looking forward to seeing you!

  20. 39

    Next time go down to Beale and take a seat in Blues City Cafe. Best ribs in the city but if you’re tired of BBQ (how could you?) then try the fried catfish or the family style steak… now I’m hungry.

  21. 41

    If you come back to Memphis, try Double J Smokehouse & Saloon. Pulled pork egg rolls. Breakfast at The Arcade. And for certain, a stop at The Cheesecake Corner(way better than that factory place).

  22. 42

    Glad you enjoyed your trip…come back often because there’s lots more to sample. When you do return add these places to your list: Central BBQ’s smoked dry rub hit wings, Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken (even better than Gus’); and The Second Line where EVERYTHING is great. I’ll be happy to be your chauffeur.

  23. 43

    Mr. Don, he’s a donut thrower. It means he likes you. You hit my family’s 2 favorite Memphis good eats: Gibson’s and Gus’s. Nothing better anywhere! Glad they treated you well!

  24. 44

    I agree with all of the above. There are some restaurants that are new and awesome as well as a few hidden gems that you would love, lobster pups from Rizzo’s, calamari from Majestic’s, BBQ from Elwood’s shack, or Central BBQ, Anything from Hog & Hominy.. You must comeback and do a real food tour of memphis. We would love to show you more!

  25. 45

    While I’m really glad you liked the places you tried, the Memphis food scene has way better choices to offer! What about Brother Junipers for breakfast, Elegant Farmer for lunch, and literally anywhere in Overton Square, Cooper Young, or on North Main for dinner!!! You’ll have to come back and give some of our best restaurants a chance. (I do however love going to Gibson’s for cheap donuts later in the night, it’s always delicious).

  26. 46

    You’re right about Dyer’s, I was eating burgers fried in that same grease in the late 60’s early 70’s. Great burgers!!! And Gus’s is the best chicken outside of my mothers iron skillet fried chicken.

  27. 49

    I’m a native Memphian, but have been away for quite some time now. You got really good advice on places to go. I would love some Gus’s fried chicken and a Dyer’s burger right now. Thanks for this post. Glad you enjoyed it.

  28. 50

    I am a huge fan (ever since the early days of Good Eats) and I hate that I couldn’t make it to your recent show at The Orpheum, but several of my FB friends went and raved….definitely some of the best this city has to offer, but I would love the chance to take you on a tour of some hole-in-the-wall places that aren’t going to show up in a travel guide!

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