From the outside, the South Main Market looks just like any other building downtown. But step inside and you’ll be surprised! One Memphis family has transformed a historic three-story building downtown into a bustling community and neighborhood gathering space full of delicious dining options.
The South Main Market is Memphis’ first true “food hall,” a culinary movement sweeping the nation. Unlike a food court that features fast food options, a food hall mixes local artisan restaurants, coffee shops, bars and other food-oriented boutiques under one roof. In larger cities, food halls have become sprawling markets that showcase a variety of restaurants and retail food vendors all under one roof. The South Main Market is just getting started with its first five vendors, but over the summer look for the offerings to expand.
“As Memphis’ first food hall, we bring a variety of culinary options under one roof so that the downtown community — its neighbors, commuters, tourists and Grizz enthusiasts alike — can all visit, with any number of persons, without having to choose just one ‘style’ of food,” explains Kim Dyer who opened the South Main Market with her family.
Kim, her husband and her in-laws handpicked every vendor in the market. “We wanted good quality offerings, so we searched out local people who are passionate about their craft,” Kim explains. “We hope to one day have as many as 10 vendors.”
Each of the four current dining options offers something different, so each person in your party can pick and choose their desired dish and then eat together in the communal seating area. “It’s perfect for when you and your girlfriend can’t decide what you want,” jokes Daniel Masters, who owns the market’s bar, Civil Pour.
“I had just come back from a trip to New York, and one of my favorite places to visit there is the Chelsea Market, an urban food hall concept in the Meatpacking District,” says Mary Burns of her decision to open a second location of her popular coffee-house, Java Cabana, in the South Main Market. “The Dyer’s vision for Memphis’ first food hall appealed to me. I loved the idea of working with other restaurant owners under one roof and being in the midst of South Main’s growing community.”
Creating a community gathering space was an integral part of the vision for the South Main Market. Downtown Yoga teaches a class once a month, small groups hold meetings in the space, and guests can rent the third floor space for weddings and special events. And the fifth vendor is a floral shop to help you make your home beautiful.
If you’re trying to decide when to go, the South Main Market is a must on Trolley Night, the last Friday of each month. On Trolley Night, Food Drank Culture transforms the South Main Market into a pop-up gallery featuring local artists and vendors. “We host our events to spotlight the creative artists and artisans in town and provide a venue for them to connect with potential clients,” says Food Drank Culture owner Jonathan Cooper. This dynamic, community-focused partnership really adds to the South Main Market experience. Now, check out the five current vendors at the South Main Market!
Inside the South Main Market — Memphis’ First Food Hall
409 South Main St., Memphis, TN 38103
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Trolley Night, open until 9 p.m.
The South Main Market houses the second location of this beloved Cooper-Young coffeehouse. At the new location, owner Mary Burns has brought some of the quirky charm and magic of the midtown coffeehouse downtown with her. “I wanted to carve out a small space for dreamers who appreciate a good cup of coffee and give them a place to sit, chat and recharge,” she says. Java Cabana serves fair-trade coffee, cappuccinos, lattes, homemade cocoa and specialty drinks, as well as hot teas. “Lavender Mocha is definitely our signature drink,” says Mary when asked what we should try. Made with Ghirardelli chocolate, lavender flavor, espresso, steamed milk and topped with whipped cream, pretty much all we can say about this beautiful drink is “yum!” Mary’s personal favorite, though, is simply a good ol’ cup of coffee. “I love our drip coffee. It’s so good,” she says. “We buy coffee from local roaster Ugly Mug. In the land of lattes and specialty drinks, sometimes you just want a good cup of coffee, and we’ve got it.”
409 South Main St., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 440-8575
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Closed on Mondays
If you love biscuits, you need to go to Kinfolk. Kinfolk chef and owner Cole Jeanes has created a signature biscuit and overall menu that combines the best of France and the South. “I would describe our food as ‘Southern French.’ Think: classic French recipes with Southern ingredients,” he explains. His biscuits are classic Southern buttermilk biscuits, but he has elevated them by using rich European butter and French Herbs de Provence. For breakfast and lunch, we recommend the hearty and popular fried chicken biscuit. A piece of perfectly fried chicken is tossed in a sweet and spicy mixture of hot sauce and honey and served on Kinfolk’s signature herb biscuit. Cole finishes the sandwich with a generous brushing of honey butter on top and adds his mother’s homemade pickles. Any day now, the menu will expand to include Southern-inspired sandwiches made on French Pain de Mie bread (We are eager to try the collard greens cheese melt!), as well as a dinner menu that will include some wild game dishes.
409 South Main St., Memphis, TN 38103
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Closed on Mondays
Known for its freshly made bagels, breakfast items and traditional Jewish deli offerings, City East Bagel & Grille at the South Main Market is the second location for the popular East Memphis institution. “Once we toured the building, I loved the look and feel. I also really like the modern appeal of the food hall concept,” explains Kyle Penland of their decision to open a satellite downtown. Their most loved sandwich is, hands-down, the reuben. “We make the corned beef from scratch, and it takes about two weeks to fully cure the brisket,” says Kyle. “We then slow-roast the brisket to perfection, and then it is steamed to order for your sandwich. We sell more reubens than any other item on our menu.” We also love the bagels and lox. Their bagels are the real deal — the same chef has been making them for City East Bagel for 37 years! And that dish tastes just like what we have had in New York City. Brunch anyone?
409 South Main St., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 871- 4988
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sundays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Craft cocktails, wine on tap and local beers make Civil Pour the place to meet and greet after work, before the game or show, or just when hanging out at the South Main Market. “Whereas the other vendors focus on food, we focus on culinary cocktails,” explains owner Daniel Masters, who also owns the popular downtown watering holes Silly Goose and Pontotoc Lounge. Lead bartender Nicholas Manlavi mixes up seasonal cocktails that have us ordering seconds. “I like to go in and ask Nicholas to surprise me. He is good at what he does, and I am never disappointed,” says Kim Dyer, the South Main Market co-owner. That’s advice we plan to take with us on our next visit.
409 South Main St., Memphis, TN 38103 • (901) 679-9690
Hours: Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In addition to all the delicious eats, the South Main Market has a flower boutique. “Wallflower started in Portland, OR, and with me moving back to Memphis, I felt that we should have the same offerings here as well,” Wallflower owner Cash Williams says. “With that said, my inspiration came from the flower stands in markets out West. So when I saw that a food hall was going to be here in downtown Memphis, I jumped on the opportunity and completely saw the vision.” Fresh flower bouquets, lush potted plants and custom arrangements are a few of the options at Wallflower, but we also love Cash’s favorite offering. “My favorite item would have to be the terrariums and miniature gardens, mainly because they’re so fun to create and actually very calming to watch.”
So, grab your friends and head to the South Main Market for an outing that everyone will enjoy!
The South Main Market is located at 409 South Main St., Memphis, TN 38103. General hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Individual vendor hours may vary. For more information, call (901) 341-3838 or visit thesouthmainmarket.com.
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