Memphians know how to have a good time!
Photos by Michael Butler Jr.
My friends often tell me, “You never know how to go home.” It’s true. I love to hop around from place to place—a queen can never sit still for too long. With a lot of our Black-owned businesses being in centralized locations, Memphis is a great spot to experience multiple scenes in one night if you wish. Whether you’re looking to impress a client or relax with friends, you’ll catch our city’s soulful and colorful vibe at these spots.
I’m a Memphian with deep roots in North Memphis—a girl that opened books at Vollentine, Idlewild, and Snowden, then moved her graduation tassel to the opposite side at Cordova. These days I am an “experience reviewer,” specializing in Instagram reels. I love narrating the total experience so that my Instagram community gets the full story.
Like most people, I’m guilty of being a creature of habit. That’s usually okay—because most times I just want to go where I’m guaranteed a great experience.
A great experience includes food that is flavored, seasoned, and soulful; customer service that starts before you walk in the door; and a schedule of events and a variety of talent.
Sometimes, though, you need to break out of a rut. I started @camille.unlimited to help me shake up my normal routine and have fun trying out different businesses around the city. Along the way, I’ve found new-to-me places that guarantee that great experience—and I want to share them with you.
Armani Featherson (@tasteofthe901), Trenika Nicole (@plug901), and the author at Tailor’s Union
A musical passport
When you walk into The Genre, owners Bernard Chambers and Lernard Chambers (yes, twins!) want you to enter into an intimate musical journey where the menu is flavorful, like Memphis. Real catfish—no swai over here—and that’s why it is the top seller. Other favorites include the wings dipped in 201 (a sweet-heat savory sauce), the cheeseburger slider, and the blood orange mimosa for brunch.
200 Poplar Avenue, Suite 105
Monday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. & 6 to 10 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. & 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday 6 pm. to 12 a.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
This is a conversation spot—but make sure to take sips in between. Inkwell’s owner Ben Colar describes it as a “dope cocktail bar,” which is an accurate statement! You can’t miss with the Sir Isaac Washington cocktail and a charcuterie plate from Feast & Graze, another Black-owned business. Inkwell offers the right vibes in a delicate atmosphere perfect for a late-night chill session with friends. Inkwell makes it easy to enjoy: Just come in, grab a seat, select a cocktail, have a bite, and build the night.
631 Madison Avenue
Wednesday – Sunday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Eat. Drink. Socialize.
If you need somewhere to go on a weekday evening for a good drink, great R&B, and some excellent wings with the sticky “hood” sauce, then make sure you get to LoVe.
If you need to work off the wings, let the dance floor move you. If you don’t want to leave your seat, that’s cool too because the infamous LoVe Bottle Girls always guarantee fun and reliable table service.
This spot lives up to its social media handle @inlovememphis. There’s absolutely no way someone could come here and not enjoy the soulful after-work vibes that LoVe has to offer. Nightlife is thriving here because the owners respect live music, bringing in some of the best vocalists and musicians from Memphis and the surrounding areas.
LoVe has become one of those places that generations of aunties, uncles, and millennial cousins can all come to and enjoy themselves. It’s also one of those nightlife spots where you come for brunch but stay until dinner.
7144 Winchester Road
Monday & Thursday 4 to 11 p.m., Friday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday 11 to 2 a.m., Sunday 11 to 12 a.m.
Upscale Southern cuisine with a dash of creole
Mahogany is rich, dark, beautiful, and a rarity in Memphis—which makes its nightlife and its food even more divine. They offer a generous dining experience (try the gumbo!) with a superb lineup of music artists that are perfect for a date night. Just a tip: If you want to impress a client or a visitor, bring them to a Mahogany After Dark session where they can get a signature cocktail and an exclusive live music performance. Reservations are highly recommended here—it’s a popular spot!
3092 Poplar Avenue, Suite 11
Wednesday – Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Next Level Sports Bar
Upscale sports bar
Next Level makes nightlife so simple: Just walk in, grab a seat, and enjoy the show. There’s entertainment all around this place! The bar is strategically placed in the center of the lounge so that many can be served at once. There’s a stage well-suited for live music on Mondays and Thursdays. A side room for smokers has windows so no one misses the party. You’ll even find a mechanical bull, pool tables, and big projector screens for cheering on your favorite sports teams. And the hot wings are perfection!
2857 Appling Way
Monday – Thursday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday – Saturday 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Paula & Raiford’s Disco
Phenomenal disco party
The music never stops at Raiford’s! The two-story nightclub features everything disco, from the chandeliers to the leather couches to the fog machines and, of course, the variety of music. You can party at this cash-only disco into the wee hours of the morning, and you’ll likely catch Paula keeping the fun going behind the bar.
14 South Second Street
Thursday available for private party rental, Friday – Saturday 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Picasso’s Seafood Restaurant and Lounge
Experience the new level of taste
If you want grown-folk good times, look no further than Picasso’s! This is the evening spot where your aunties and uncles go to celebrate the long work week, birthdays, anniversaries, and possibly a divorce or two (!). Expect to get some flavorful entrees like the Cajun pasta, live music, and a show—because the dance floor is where the real entertainment lives!
6110 Macon Road
Friday – Saturday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Sunday 4 to 8 p.m.
Serve A Great Experience
SAGE has stayed true to its mission of embodying the heart of downtown Memphis. SAGE is best known for its Soul Roll, which consists of fried chicken, mac and cheese, and turnip greens in an egg roll wrapper. The staff’s favorite cocktail is the Nearest to Happiness, which features Uncle Nearest, a Black-owned spirit. Come to SAGE for professional ambience and an evening cocktail.
94 South Main Street
Wednesday 5 to 10 p.m., Thursday – Saturday 11a.m. to 3 p.m. & 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
SALT Bar & Bistro
Soulful Adult Leisure Therapy
The owners of SALT have covered all the bases for the mature audience to relax and enjoy. Their top brunch menu item is catfish or shrimp with grits; for dinner, try the lamb chops. Cocktail favorites include the Lemon Drop and Strawberry Hennessy. And the weeknight entertainment lineup is a real crowd-pleaser.
3101 South Mendenhall Road
Tuesday – Wednesday 3 to 10 p.m., Thursday 3 to 11 p.m., Friday 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. & 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sticks X Stones
Unmatched experience vibes
A customer once told the Sticks X Stones owner that if God were a food item, it would be the SXS barbecue tacos! This is a place where guests can be casual and enjoy meeting new people over a simple beer, wine, or champagne and, of course, a smoke. SXS offers a fun, relaxing atmosphere almost every night of the week!
2965 North Germantown Parkway, Suite 111
Tuesday – Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday – Saturday 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., Sunday 12 to 10 p.m.
Good food, good music, good times!
The catfish is amazing. Repeat: The catfish is amazing! This is downhome cooking with a jukebox feel. Imagine a summertime Friday night fish fry with live music (starting at 7:30 on Friday and Saturday) and good vibes. You don’t have to imagine it too much because it’s the reality at SugaShack! Also try the fried chicken cooked in the special SugaHot sauce with a “ReRe” cocktail named after Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul herself! This is a true soul experience.
392 Beale Street
Thursday 11a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday – Saturday 11 to 12 a.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Supper Club on 2nd
A complete experience
Opening this summer, SCO2 has creatively translated each detail of an elegant date night, sophisticated happy hour, and late-night dining experience into a beautifully represented establishment. Guests can look forward to a substantial bourbon and champagne selection. The owners promise the cocktails will be a fresh and proper offering, all while placing a special twist on the nightlife table service presentation.
85 South Second Street
Tuesday – Wednesday 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Thursday – Friday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday 11 to 2 a.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tailors’ Union & The Pocket
Shhh, don’t tell anybody
Tailors’ Union and The Pocket at Tailors’ Union craft two different experiences on two different levels, redefining an evening for all guests. When you walk into the front room of the tailor shop, you get the feeling that something is going on behind the scenes—and it totally is.
You’re met with vibrant walls, an upbeat scene, and a beautiful marble bar that houses some great cocktails like French Cuffs and The Half Slip. The top-selling menu item is the shrimp taco, but here’s an insider tip: Order the breaded wings with Freddie’s special sauce. The downstairs offers an underground feeling in a cozy atmosphere that is perfect for live performances by some of the best local artists that Memphis has to offer.
People flock to Tailor’s Union and The Pocket for nightlife because they are open late on the weekends, host weeknight musician jam sessions, and have live music performances every Friday and Saturday night. They also have a happy hour that will leave you happier after 6 p.m., when most other ones end. No matter your age bracket or tax bracket, you’ll find the time you’re looking for here.
115 Union Avenue
Wednesday – Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday – Saturday 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Thrive Social Bar
Prosper. Flourish. Thrive.
Guests can enjoy Thrive’s tapas-style menu while vibing to some of Memphis’s hottest local artists. The nightlife can be described as casual chill elegance, meaning you should expect cocktails with a little umph. Make a reservation at Thrive to get social, order a specialty cocktail like the Central Tini, and get full on the atmosphere and the highly recommended lamb chops!
1680 Madison Avenue
Thursday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday – Saturday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
WKND Hang Suite
The rebirth of chill
Where can you go to order Buffalo shrimp, watch a game, listen to a mix from a live DJ, and grab a good cocktail all at one time? The WKND Hang Suite has you covered. They also offer a weekend happy hour! The WKND is rebirthing and redefining chill. And that’s what the Grind City is looking for.
The WKND Hang Suite has secured the formula for a specific nightlife experience that Memphis has requested: good vibes, shareable food, and a great happy hour. Their consistency keeps Memphians and visitors coming back. They say they’re here to “un-club your WKND,” and that’s exactly it. Memphis wants to see more lounges and more opportunities to connect and celebrate life.
If you search for the WKND on social media, the original location in Nashville will likely pop up. No shade, but there’s just no vibe like the Memphis vibe, and the owners see that. That’s why—here’s that sneak peek I promised—they are opening Minerva Avenue, a second spot in Memphis with a larger space and more opportunities for the complete spectrum of millennials to kick it. Minerva Avenue will include prime outdoor space in downtown Memphis. The owners are promising a myriad of options for nightlife like unmatched vibes, gread food, cigars, craft cocktails, hookahs, and more. The countdown for Minerva Avenue Memphis has officially begun; it’s expected to open Fall 2022.
115 Vance Avenue
Thursday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday – Saturday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Y-Not Bar & Grill
Excellent food and drinks, great entertainment, along with good company
Let’s take a moment to fact check that tagline shall we? Y-Not sticks to a simple menu for bar bites and brunch favorites, which makes their meal options consistently great to order. Check! The bartenders are skilled and can make just about anything you ask for. Check! Y-Not has entertainment and events throughout the week, so there’s always something to get into. Check! Everyone from the staff to the guests deserves cool points for knowing how to have a good time. Check!
1166 Houston Levee Road
Monday – Thursday 3 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday – Saturday 3 p.m. to 3 a.m., Sunday 11 to 12 a.m.
Camille Patrice Fulton is an event integration advisor for ALSAC / St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A native of Memphis, Camille is passionate about sharing messages about the cultural vibrancy that make up this eclectic city. She hopes that her Instagram reviews inspire readers to experience Memphis differently. @camille.unlimited
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