The Blackest Food Adventure, Mane

The Blackest Food Adventure, Mane 

Photography by Michael Butler, Jr.

There’s no other place on earth that has better food than Memphis, Memphis. (We are our own city and state, and you better respect it!) Many know about the culinary prowess of the city, but few know where the best Black-owned spots are. 

Let me be your guide to the biggest, baddest, Blackest food adventure in the city. I curated this list to be a weekend challenge. Will you accept the challenge or just pop around from place to place? Either way, you will have a great time and experience a wide range of food, drinks, vibes, and people. I think that’s what makes Memphis as a whole great. 

Life is for living, so get out there and try some new spots and make some memories. If you see me, come up and speak. Let’s talk food and Memphis! 


Coffee & Pastry
Muggin Coffeehouse
1139 Brownlee Road
(second location coming soon to 606 North Main Street)

Muggin is definitely a great chill vibe with great service and a really good cup of coffee.

I enjoy the peace and quiet Muggin offers.

Definitely a great place to plan your day and get some much needed work done. An iced Zippin Pippin (which will satisfy the caramel lovers) and a piece of sweet potato loaf cake are about $10. So it definitely won’t break the bank. 

Plant Based Heat
669 South Highland Street

I had to include a vegan spot because they are few and far between in a city that loves pork. I’m not really the type to frequent any establishment that doesn’t have meat on the menu, but I consulted my good friend and neighbor (and strict vegan) David Quarles IV. He told me Plant Based Heat was a great transition into the world of no meat. He was absolutely right! The food was incredible.

I picked up the Plant Based Heat Classic burger, and I honestly forgot I wasn’t eating meat.

It was one of the better burgers I’ve ever had. Shoutout to legend and founder Ralph “RJ Groove” Johnson for this spot, mane! The food takes a minute to get to you because everything is cooked to order, but it’s worth the wait! 

Dinner & Drinks
4202 Hacks Cross Road

One of the newest spots in the city is the brainchild of rapper Moneybagg Yo, and it absolutely shows. I took my lovely wife to Cache42 for a date night, and we both really enjoyed it. The interior is absolutely beautiful. You are transported to a trendy Atlanta or Miami lounge.

This feels like where your rich, fun auntie goes, and I see why.

The food! Daris “Chef Wood” Leatherwood is overseeing the kitchen, and if you know Wood, you know he doesn’t play about whats plated. My meal consisted of a New York strip, Brussels sprouts, and a heavy-handed old-fashioned. I like to call this spot a club-staurant because it definitely gives off those vibes. They have sections you can rent. Our waitress Vee was out-freaking-standing as well. Quick tip, tell them to bring your food without the decorative ornaments. Those things are freaking huge. This is trap dining, and everyone should experience it. Be ready to party!


Eggxactly Breakfast & Deli
1248 Marlin Road

OK, let me put you up on game. If these folks tell you to get a table, don’t do it because you have to order at the register. And if you want to tip with a card, do it when you order; there’s no going back. Now that you know the rules, act accordingly. This food is awesome. I’ve never had chicken thighs and waffles, but I like it far more than chicken wings and waffles.

Chicken thighs are heaven-sent. Trust me.

If these were boneless thighs, I would give it a 10 out of 10. I’m bougie and don’t like getting my hands dirty while eating. 

Late Lunch
Payne’s BBQ
1762 Lamar Avenue

There was no way I was going to not have a barbecue spot on the list in the home of the best barbecue in the entire universe.

To know Payne’s is to know Memphis.

They’ve been in the same spot for 50 years, and that’s a major achievement when restaurants come and go so frequently. They stick to the same principles of good food and friendly service. I got a jumbo chopped pork sandwich combo that came with baked beans, chips, and a drink. Cost $13. Not bad for lunch at all. The only issue was that I needed a nap right after. The establishment has a lot of the old charm of Memphis that seems to be slowly fading; the flooring reminds me of the floors in my grandmother’s house. The slaw is mustard-based, so if you aren’t a huge fan, get it on the side.

Small Plates & Drinks
631 Madison Avenue

Oh how I love Inkwell!

This is the bar where you want to be because it’s not a vibe—it is the vibe!

The brainchild of my good friends Ben Colar and Carmeon Hamilton, this place is wonderful. I go so often that the bartenders already know I want a Sir Isaac Washington and my wife wants the Inkwell Sour. Neither are on the menu, so that tells you how we roll. This bar is designed to be social and for conversation. There are no TVs, which I love. There are small bites if you’re hungry, but the grilled cheese sandwich is the star of the show.

Dessert/Late Night
The Cheesecake Corner
113 East GE Patterson Avenue

This place makes the list mainly because the cheesecake is just so dang good. Yes, we have all heard stories about this spot—from weird hours to not the best customer service. But none of that matters because the cheesecake is absolutely worth it. Best advice is to get it to go or, if it’s a nice evening, eat out front on the patio chairs. 


The Genre
200 Poplar Avenue, Suite 105

I first knew Genre as a food truck, and, mane, it’s great, but twin brothers Bernard and Lernard Chambers also have an actual restaurant. It’s conveniently located directly across the street from 201 Poplar. The address is literally 200 Poplar! My wife and I decided to go for a late Sunday Funday with our good friends Donald and Moriah Watkins. They are our brunch partners in crime. The main restaurant is slightly club themed. There’s a DJ, and the lights are low.

The real star is the back patio.

It’s like a completely different spot. I love the community tables and the decor. This spot also has mimosa towers. The catfish and grits are super unique and some of the best I’ve ever had. 

So that’s the list, mane!

Michael Butler, Jr., loves everything Memphis. His goal is to show the beauty in Memphis that others overlook. He’s a photographer, videographer, Memphis tee collector, foodie, lover of tacos, and mayor of South Memphis. @_one901