Memphis is home to the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and known for its world-famous barbecue, so naturally people assume the only thing worth eating here is slow-roasted pork. But the city is also known for having many other great restaurants. Some of the best Bluff City eateries are off the beaten path or even hidden in plain sight. While some restaurants on this list do serve barbecue, they all share one thing: they are all hidden gems in the Memphis culinary world. Outside of the beloved restaurants like the Rendezvous and Central BBQ, these hot spots make our mouths water, too.

12 Hidden Culinary Gems of Memphis

Ching’s Hot Wings

1264 Getwell Rd., Memphis, TN 38111 • (901) 743-5545
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

Ching’s Hot Wings is one of those places you have to look for when you go there the first time because it’s easy to miss. It may be a hole in the wall, but they know wings. With wing flavors of hot, extra hot, suicide, seasoned, lemon pepper, dry hot, honey gold, honey hot and honey extra hot, there is something here for everyone. Besides the expected sides and drinks, this place doesn’t serve much other than their deliciously prepared chicken — and you won’t be complaining. Fun fact: “Ching” was actually the nickname of the owner’s mother.

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

Hot and honey-hot wings from Ching’s Hot Wings | Image: Ching’s Hot Wings

Elwood’s Shack

4523 Summer Ave., Memphis, TN 38122 • (901) 761-9898
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Elwood’s Shack (tucked away to the side of the Lowe’s parking lot) may be small, but their food packs a mighty punch. They offer many choices on their menu, from sandwiches and subs to pizza and tacos and more. You know you’ve hit culinary gold when you overhear folks in line behind you answering their friends’ queries about what to order with “Everything is good.” They even serve some good ol’ barbecue, too. And if the weather is nice, you can enjoy their outdoor seating.

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

For Elwood’s house-smoked pastrami on their Reuben, they take a 30-day cured beef brisket and season it with their house dry rub for 24 hours. The next day, they slow-smoke it for six hours and then braise it in Fat Tire beer for two hours for an incredible end result. Image: Elwood’s Shack

Global Café

1350 Concourse Ave. #157, Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 512-6890
Hours: Sunday & Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Closed Monday

Global Café serves authentic global cuisine, featuring three different immigrant and refugee food entrepreneurs cooking a variety of affordable dishes. Sudanese, Nepalese and Syrian food are all served under one roof with the goal of bringing people together to enjoy exotic flavors from around the world. This global eatery in the heart of Crosstown Concourse is sure to provide a uniquely delicious dining experience.

 

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

A popular featured appetizer is the hand-rolled and stuffed MoMo Dumplings — which come vegan, chicken or pork — slow-steamed to perfection and paired with a sesame seed and fresh ginger chutney sauce. Image: Global Cafe

Highland Super Submarine Sandwich Shop, a.k.a. Chinese Sub Shop

3316 Summer Ave., Memphis, TN 38112 • (901) 324-3728
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Closed Sunday

This restaurant moved from Highland Street to Summer Avenue, but nothing else about this beloved eatery has changed. As their colloquially used moniker suggests, the Chinese Sub Shop sells Chinese food, but they’re also known for their surprisingly delicious sub sandwiches. These crowd-pleasing sandwiches are simply divine and worth waiting in long lines for during peak times. These cooks give “sandwich artist” a whole new meaning. Pro tip: Chinese Sub Shop only accepts cash.

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

An 8-inch turkey sub on toasted bread from the Highland Super Submarine Sandwich Shop | Image: Eli Cash

La Guadalupana

4818 Summer Ave., Memphis, TN 38122 • (901) 685-6857
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 8 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, La Guadalupana is a Memphis gem. This place offers many different Mexican dishes, including the basics like burritos and chimichangas, as well as some fabulous seafood dishes. Whatever your favorite Mexican flavors may be, La Guadalupana has something for you. The friendly and attentive staff always provides a memorable experience.

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

These carnitas asada tacos from La Guadalupana are served in the authentic style with white onions, cilantro, radish, charred peppers and lime.

Bryant’s Breakfast

3965 Summer Ave., Memphis, TN 38112 • (901) 324-7494
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 5 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Closed Monday & Tuesday

Bryant’s Breakfast started out as a barbecue joint, but now this place is known for its breakfast and biscuits. Family-owned and -operated, Bryant’s has been named one of the best places to eat breakfast in the United States by Esquire and USA Today. They serve all your favorite breakfast foods like their homemade biscuits, gravy, country ham, omelets and grits. They also have a great down-home lunch menu. Bring cash, though, because they don’t accept cards.

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

Buttery homemade biscuits from Bryant’s Breakfast | Image: Bryant’s Breakfast

RELATED: Best of the Brunch: Where to Find the Best Local Brunch Spots in Memphis

The Little Tea Shop

69 Monroe Ave., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 525-6000
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Closed Saturday & Sunday

In its 101st year in operation, this cute little weekday lunch stop is the oldest restaurant in Memphis. They are known — and loved — for their cornbread, which is cooked in corn-shaped cast-iron pans and best enjoyed with some homestyle turnip greens. The Little Tea Shop has some pretty scrumptious dessert, too. It just has a quaint, old school vibe you can’t help but love. Stop by this downtown landmark for a throwback lunch with friends!

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

This incredible little eatery has been around for 101 years! Image: The Little Tea Shop

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

Crispy edges and soft, fluffy cornbread is just perfect for sopping up your turnip greens’ pot liquor! Image: The Little Tea Shop

Lotus Vietnamese Restaurant

4970 Summer Ave., Memphis, TN 38122 • (901) 682-1151
Hours: Open daily, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

This unassuming spot is quite the culinary find. The restaurant serves classic Vietnamese dishes in its compact dining space. They have dishes like steamed dumplings, lemongrass beef, summer rolls and a pho noodle soup that has been touted as the best pho in Memphis. Lotus Vietnamese Restaurant also offers some other Asian dishes, and diners get to view a lovely tropical mural while eating dinner. Don’t drive too fast past it — you might miss it!

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

Lotus Vietnamese Restaurant’s pho noodle soup has been hailed as the best in Memphis. Image: Yelp

Midtown Crossing Grill

394 N. Watkins St., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 443-0502
Hours: Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Right by Crosstown Concourse, this colorful tavern offers specialty pizza and sandwiches. All their pizza is made in-house from scratch. Midtown Crossing Grill also has a draft brew happy hour, as well as trivia nights. Stop by for some artisanal gourmet dishes, or get the tastiness delivered right to your doorstep!

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

There’s nothing like a classic pepperoni pizza to bring out the kid in all of us! Image: Midtown Crossing Grill

RELATED: 7 Must-Try Pizza Places in Memphis

Payne’s Bar-B-Que

1762 Lamar Ave., Memphis, TN 38114 • (901) 272-1523
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Sunday and Monday

This unassuming cinderblock building hides a real treasure inside. The quality and flavor of their ‘cue set them apart from the rest of the Memphis barbecue scene. Payne’s Bar-B-Que has received local, regional and national acclaim for their chopped and pulled pork sandwiches and smoked sausage. There may not be much on their menu, but what they have packs a punch. Stop by for a Memphis barbecue experience you won’t soon forget.

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

This is Payne’s famous chopped pork sandwich with your choice of mild or hot sauce, topped with a mustardy slaw. Image: Ten and 1

901 Grille and Market

711 E. Pkwy. S., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 512-6171
Hours: Monday through Thursday & Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Closed Sunday

This spot has everything from traditional burgers, chicken tenders and hot wings, to salads, pitas, gyros and falafels. Established 20 years ago, 901 Grille and Market has been taken over by new management and has before a favorite locally owned staple of the Midtown community. Don’t forget to try one of their thick and creamy milkshakes!

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

The special 901 mushroom and Swiss premium burger | Image: 901 Grille & Market

City Market

836 Cooper St., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 552-4890
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m to 10 p.m.

66 S. Main St., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 729-6152
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

City Market has two locations in Memphis. This locally owned business is both a gourmet deli and a grocery store that sells locally sourced produce and other food items. You can take home some of the prepared foods they make fresh daily. They also offer vegan, gluten-free and organic options, so it’s perfect for that quick and healthy lunch.

Eat Like a Local at These Hidden Culinary Memphis Treasures

The Monte Cristo Sandwich from City Market is packed with salami, ham and cheese.

Make sure to stop by one of these fabulous hidden culinary gems of the Bluff City this weekend!

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