In the American South, Sunday brunch is a time for fellowship, slowing down to spend time with loved ones. From a 1950s beauty shop to a 1913 Beaux Arts theatre, Memphis offers a selection of brunch venues that are saturated with the local culture. Explore these Downtown, Cooper-Young and East Memphis hotspots, sampling Southern cuisine with gourmet flair.
Rizzo’s Diner offers three different styles of eggs Benedict on their brunch menu, showing they are serious about the weekend’s favorite meal. Featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the downtown diner begins with the dishes every Southerner grew up with and then adds the ‘chef’s touch’. Chef Michael Patrick has banned salt and pepper shakers from his table settings, not allowing anything to interfere with his carefully crafted tastes. Indulge a sweet tooth with the French toast bananas foster or a spicy side with the South Main Scramble.
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Situated downtown in the South Main Arts District, South of Beale’s intimate atmosphere is the perfect spot to begin a lazy Sunday wandering around the galleries. South of Beale has the distinction of being Memphis’s first gastropub, combining exquisite food with exquisite drink. Pair the huevos rancheros with a bloody mary or try the French toast, made with mascarpone, mint and macerated blueberries, with a classic mimosa. Several other dishes offer contemporary twists on traditional Southern meals, such as the blackened catfish and fried green tomato benedict and chicken and waffle sliders with a Maker’s Mark glaze.
In the heart of Cooper-Young, there once was a beauty shop. In fact, this beauty shop was Priscilla Presley’s choice for her curling and dyeing needs. Now, this beauty shop is a fabulous restaurant that serves a delicious brunch. Chefs Karen Carrier and Shay Widmer offer a generous menu featuring beignets, grits, and fourteen different egg dishes, not to mention mimosas and bloody marys. Guests will enjoy their meals on the patio or in the dining room, brimming with 1950’s kitsch, including the original Belvedere hair dryers. The Beauty Shop offers meals and an atmosphere like no other.
Boscos Squared in Midtown is a little slice of heaven for those who would like to enjoy their brunch on one of Memphis’s best patios with a local craft beer in hand. Sunday brunch also comes complete with live entertainment from jazz and R&B singer Joyce Cobb so patrons can keep the party going or slowly mellow down through Sunday afternoon. Try the Spanish shrimp and chorizo omelette or crème brulee French toast for a real treat. Ask your server for recommendations on the perfect handcrafted beer to complement your choice.
Stone Soup Café is named after the popular stone soup legend. A hungry stranger came into a poor village and was refused a meal so he began to boil water to make ‘stone soup’ for the community. Each villager contributed an ingredient to improve the soup, and by coming together created a hearty stew for all to enjoy. The Stone Soup Café begun with a strong emphasis on building and contributing to its Cooper-Young community. The café showcases the work of local artists on its walls and offers gourmet foods and apparel from other local businesses in its market. The breakfast menu does more than its fair share to keep the local community and visiting strangers alike well fed.
Automatic Slim’s is an eclectic downtown restaurant named for a Beale Street bluesman. In business for over 20 years, Slim’s is a Memphis staple and has been known to host celebrities such as Francis Ford Coppola and Tom Cruise. Waffles and pancakes are the highlights of the menu, with selections from red velvet pancakes to the Manhattan waffle, a cherry infused waffle topped with bourbon vermouth syrup. For more savoury tastes, try the crab cakes benedict or three little pigs omelette.
Named after St. Francis of Assisi’s cook, Brother Juniper’s brings its namesake’s vocation of community service to East Memphis. Its monthly Community Spotlight raises money for local charities and the restaurant began a baking apprenticeship program, teaching at-risk youth the skill of baking artisan bread. Beyond its good works, Brother Juniper’s serves an equally good breakfast. Pairing its exquisite dishes and artisan baked breads with freshly ground coffee, the ingredients are simple but the result is extraordinary.
For those seeking brunch and a show, look no further than the Majestic Grille, known as the Majestic Theatre to Memphians 100 years ago. Still playing silent films in its stunning Beaux Arts interior, the Majestic Grille is now home to one of the top brunch menus in the city. For an indulgence, enjoy the filet mignon benedict or smoked salmon hash. Specialties also include shrimp and grits and frittatas. Of course, it wouldn’t be brunch without mimosas and bloody marys also on the menu.
Owen Brennan’s brings the flavours and fun of New Orleans up the Mississippi River to East Memphis. Brunch with a Cajun and Creole twist is a winning combination, given that its Sunday Brunch has been voted the best in Memphis for 18 years straight. Meals are served buffet style in specialty stations. The entrée station offers Louisiana classic crawfish etouffee and patrons can select from bread pudding and omelettes at the made to order station. Live music from the Lannie McMillan Jazz Trio completes the festive atmosphere.
Downtown’s Blind Bear may be a speak easy, but diners don’t need a password to sample its delightful brunch menu. For those struggling on the weekends after too much bathtub gin, Blind Bear serves the Hung Over Like a Bear Brunch until 6 PM on Saturday and Sunday. The Everything breakfast burrito offers egg, cheese, smoked sausage and potatoes garnished with sour cream and salsa. Macaroni and cheese aficionados can choose between the pepper jack mac and cheese or the crawfish mac with asparagus. Brave souls seeking some hair of the dog can try the breakfast shot, Jameson and butterscotch schnapps, chased with orange juice and a bacon finish, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.