In the 1950s, Memphis’ Summer Avenue was “the strip,” where young folks could show off their newest cars, and look at shops and restaurants with their dates. In modern times, Summer Avenue is often overlooked when making plans, but this historic haven of Memphis culture has loads in store for an adventurous couple to explore. Mix and match picks from our food & fun suggestions to build your perfect date or entire day enjoying what Summer Avenue has to offer.
4255 Summer Ave.
Voted the best taco in Memphis, TACOnganas touts an add-on of mouthwatering consomé dipping sauce to make for a special experience.
4523 Summer Ave.
Rebuilt in their original location in the Lowe’s parking lot at Perkins & Summer Avenue, Elwood’s brings fantastic, flavorful food with a mix of local and homemade ingredients. Try their ribs, sandwiches, or famous fish tacos. Their meat can’t be beat!
Ryu Sushi & Pho
5137 Summer Ave., near White Station
Under new ownership, Ryu has cut its dining space and doubled the quality of its menu. Don’t miss the Spider Roll or their delicious homemade pho. Pop in to the market next door for some Asian specialty foods.
4960 Summer Ave.
Yelp voted Lotus “one of the best Vietnamese restaurants nobody knows about”. Vietnamese classics, curries, pho, and appetizers as well as Japanese stir-fry and teriyakis. Don’t miss Lotus at Chinese New Year- the menu expands to serve special Lunar New Year foods, celebrating the holiday.
590 N Perkins Rd. @ Summer Ave.
There’s a reason some places withstand the test of time. Mortimer’s is known as a neighborhood bar & grill, but it is home to Memphis band Big Star, serves fantastic plate lunches (meat & vegetables), steak & seafood dinners, pot roast, and tamales. Oyster specials repeat every year when in season. Come for dinner, return for the casual vibe.
3966 Summer Ave. @ Graham
Legendary for their biscuits and fast-paced ordering system, Bryant’s leaves an indelible mark on Memphis’ breakfast history. Know- before-you-go is the name of the game, or you’ll hold up the line. Try the city ham biscuit with grape jelly – a hangover cure, it is told.
The Pancake Shop
4838 Summer Ave.
Sure, they have breakfast, but they’re known for the afterparty. Decades of Memphians have flocked to the Pancake Shop, open 24/7, in the wee hours for pancakes, French toast, country fried steak, and decent diner coffee to nourish their partied-out bodies.
Malco Summer Drive-In
5310 Summer Ave.
Drive-in movies aren’t just a thing of the past, but our very own Summer Drive-in is one of only a handful remaining in the region. All showings are two-for-one, starting at dusk. Visit malco.com for shows and showtimes. One of the four screens is dedicated to their Time Warp Drive-In series, showing a few movies with a common theme. July’s theme is Bedtime Stories, and August is Bloody Highways: the Saga of Mad Max. Bring lawn chairs or sit in your vehicle. You’ll know it by the yellow Volkswagen Beetle atop the sign at the entrance. $25/carload.
Putt-Putt Golf & Games
5484 Summer Ave.
Family-friendly, with indoor and outdoor games to enjoy, Putt Putt Golf & Games offers mini-golf as well as go-karts, laser tag, batting cages, and more. Win tickets to redeem for candy and prizes at their arcade, work on your skee-ball technique, and take selfies at the funky mini-golf obstacles. A limited concessions menu is available.
Jun Lee Tranding Company
3397 Summer Ave. @ National
Not just for drag queens, this open-box, bin-style store carries inexpensive jewelry, purses, tiaras, and accessories for parties, fashion, and those who just want something sparkly to wear to a special occasion.
5124 Summer Ave. @ 240
Sprawling aisles draw the eye to fun finds at City Thrift. Color tags indicate month-long specials on items half off. Charity
bins for donations are available outside the store, which is recognized for being eco-friendly. 80% of unwanted clothing ends up in landfills—instead, donate your unwanted items, then shop for new-to-you.
Junior League Repeat Boutique
3586 Summer Ave.
An upscale thrift store, the non-profit Repeat Boutique funds various programs for Memphis’ Junior League community- based initiatives. Inventory is focused on clothing and accessories and includes mainly casual and business casual clothing for women, men, and children, as well as a good selection of formalwear and wedding gowns. Open Tuesday- Saturday, 10-5.
Great China Food Market
5137 Summer Ave., near White SS
One of the older Asian markets in Memphis, this place is both literally and figuratively funky (prepare for authentic seafood smells). Shop for harder-to- find fresh ingredients for Asian cooking, as well as packaged foods like agar- agar, crackers and cookies, nori, teas, and treats like Pocky. Moon cakes and mung bean cakes are not to be missed.