Cool Spots in Memphis

When you google “things to do in Memphis” you’ll of course get your expected results such as watching the infamous Peabody ducks, wandering around the Bass Pro Pyramid, visiting iconic locations such as Graceland or Sun Studio, and of course perusing Beale Street. What you won’t find are the everyday places that you would be more likely to try on a Friday afternoon after class. Below is a list of coffee shops, book stores, thrift stores, places to see art, and the best food that I’ve compiled in the few months I’ve lived here. Try them out for yourself!

Coffee Shops:

Java Cabana

If you’re a fiend for tea look no further. Located in the Cooper-Young district, Java Cabana has a full tea menu served in your personal teapot. Be sure to check out their website for nights with live local music and open mics.

Qahwa Coffee Bar

Located downtown, Qahwa (the “original name for coffee”) serves speciality coffees and is a good place to stop by for a quick game of dominoes or chess.


One of the more popular coffee holes in town, Otherlands offers a hip atmosphere and is a great place to visit solo to study or bring friends to chat.

Bluff City Coffee

While this coffee shop is a bit more expensive than the ones above, its downtown location makes it a convenient place to stop while walking around. It’s front patio act as a good stoop to sip caffeine and shoot the bull.

Book Stores

Burke’s Books

This shop in the Cooper-Young district offers a wide variety of genres, authors, and prices. If you can’t find the book you’re looking for (new or used) they will order it in at no extra charge. A great place to browse for hours, you won’t leave without a book of some kind.

Second Editions

A lesser known spot, Seconds Editions is a used book store located right inside the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. The average price of a book is only $3! I no longer have space on my bookshelf after visiting this place a few times.

Two Rivers

A small independent book store next door to Java Cabana, Two Rivers specializes in science fiction, horror, fantasy, and other odd bits and pieces. Visit this little shop if you’re interested in livening up your bookshelf.

Thrift Stores/Antique:

Antique Warehouse Mall

If you’re into old stuff, this is the place for you. Offering a wide selection of vintage clothes, records, odds and ends, and various other antiques, the employees here are incredibly helpful.

Mid South Outlet

Cheap clothes. Don’t ask questions. It’s a trend now.


Another vintage store, this place is much like Antique Warehouse Mall in that they both offer a changing inventory of various items. You’ll always find something that strikes your fancy.


Jay Etkin Gallery

A small, tidy gallery in the middle of Cooper-Young, this is a great place to stop by if you’re walking through the area. They showcase with an emphasis on contemporary and ethnographic art.

Brooks Museum of Art

Not too large, but nicely curated, the Brooks Museum in Overton Park is a quiet place to spend a Saturday afternoon. Current exhibits include Georgia O'Keeffe.

Clough-Hanson Gallery

Rhodes plug! Located on the campus of Rhodes College, this small gallery offers changing contents. Every student knows it’s here, but forgets to wander in. Stop by!


99 cent Soul Food Express

If you miss your mom’s cooking visit this downtown spot for a variety southern vegetables, fried chicken, and the most friendly staff. Tell them Meagan sent you.

Blue Plate Cafe

While the wait for lunch on a Sunday took well over an hour, these were the best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever tasted. The wait was for their popular fluffy pancakes.

Kwik Chek

Whether you’re craving a fresh chicken salad sandwich or you’re feeling Greek or Korean bites, this place has it all. Order their special Bi Bim Bap and people watch Midtown at their counter.

Blues City Cafe

Located at the head of Beale Street, I must mention this bustling place for their “world’s best” tamales with chili and their equally delicious gumbo cheese fries. You read that right.

Dino’s Grill

Within walking distance of campus, this classic Italian spot is known for their toasted ravioli. I’d also recommend the eggplant parmesan—you can always judge an Italian eatery on their eggplant parmesan.