University District

Destination Eats: University District is a smart choice for good food

High Ground's signature "On the Ground" series embeds a team of journalists and photojournalists in a Memphis neighborhood for 1-6 months of intensive, hyper-local coverage. 

While we're there, we eat. A lot.

We chose a different neighborhood restaurant every Friday for team lunches. We also hit up restaurants for "research" before we pen a business profile.

It's a tough job, but we're always ready to step up. 

In "Destination Eats," we're rounding up some of the best restaurants we've covered in our 14 On the Ground neighborhoods.

This four installment takes us to The University District. Check out the rest of the series here:
"Destination Eats: Hickory Hill has what you you're craving"
"Destination Eats: Madison Heights is Memphis magic"
"Destination Eats: Devour the world from The Heights"

The University District includes several distinct neighborhoods, including East Buntyn, Sherwood Forest, and Normal Station.

It's a major hub for good eats, coffee culture, and nightlife. Its major commercial corridors of Highland Street and Poplar and Park avenues are packed with local spots and national chains alike.

Here are some of our favorites to get you started, but we recommend you head to the district and check it out for yourself. Whatever you're craving, it's got it. 

Belltower Coffeehouse & Studio
525 South Highland Street | 901-590-2677 | Website
(Photo: Cole Bradley)
There are plenty of coffee shops in the University District to fuel early morning meetings and late-night study sessions. We loved Belltower Coffeehouse & Studio on the Highland Strip so much that we made it our home base while we were embedded in the district. It's part pottery studio, part cafe, and always delivers a solid beverage. 

Read more about Belltower, the history of the University District, and our coverage here. 

Highland Row 
395 & 431 South Highland Street | Char Restaurant website | The Casual Pint website
(Photo by Ziggy Mack)

The Highland Row apartments and retail center is home to several spots you don't want to miss.

Check out Char Restaurant for top-tier fine dining, the Casual Pint for some local brews, and Newk's for a quick lunch. 

Read more about the Highland Row development and its tenants here.

Ms. B's Sub Shop
1256 Getwell Road | 901-567-5523 | Website
(Photo by Ziggy Mack)

For 30-plus years, Bonnie Harris was the secret behind the sandwiches at Super Submarine Sandwich Shop (better knows as Chinese Sub Shop). She opened her own store at the southern edge of the University District in 2019. 

She's a Memphis legend who will not disappoint.

Read more about "The Sandwich Lady" here.

Insomnia Cookies
545 South Highland Street | 901-254-8587 | Website

Insomnia Cookies was founded in 2003 in a college dorm room at the University of Pennsylvania by then-student Seth Berkowitz. While we try to hype Memphis-based restaurants whenever possible, we think a shop that delivers warm cookies to your doorstep at midnight deserves a shoutout. 

Bonus! Insomnia is in the Highland Strip. If you go in person, you can grab coffee at Belltower, food at Ubee's, or watch a game with some buds and suds at The Bluff too. 

Read more about Insomia's arrival to the Highland Strip here. 

Here are some other favorites we visited while embedded in The University District:
The Bluff | 535 South Highland Street | 901-454-7771 | Website

Las Delicias | 4002 Park Avenue | 901-458-9264 | Website

A-Tan | 3445 Poplar Avenue | 901-458-8877 | Website

Brother Juniper's | 3519 Walker Avenue | 901-324-0144 | Website

Garibaldi's Pizza | 3530 Walker Avenue | 901-327-6111 | Website
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Read more articles by Cole Bradley.

Cole Bradley is a native Memphian and graduate of the University of Memphis. Cole's worked locally as a researcher and community engagement strategist and began contributing to High Ground in Jan 2017.