When we last featured Overton Square as our neighborhood spotlight in early 2014, there were a lot of restaurants and shops that had either just opened or were about to open. As of this writing, the Midtown entertainment district is not only thriving, it’s full.
Stores and restaurants have been opening like clockwork since we last featured the Square, so that means there are more reasons than ever to visit! Here’s what’s new since we last checked in.
The corner of Madison Avenue and Cooper is Ground Zero for Overton Square. Image: Lisa Buser
Overton Square’s three live performance theaters – The Hattiloo, Playhouse on the Square and The Circuit Playhouse – had already joined the longtime neighborhood movie theater, Malco Studio on the Square, as the district’s performing and visual arts outlets at our last writing. Since then, a number of new live music venues have opened, adding even more vibrancy to the Midtown scene.
2119 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 207-5097
Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Lafayette’s Music Room reopened in 2015, and Memphians old enough to remember its first run were thrilled. Historically, Lafayette’s was known for showcasing legendary musicians such as Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Big Star, Kansas and Kiss before they became household names. The new Lafayette’s features live music nightly and starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with local and regional bands playing most of the sets, making it a great way to showcase our local music scene and the city’s fantastic musicians. The two-story space inside is mimicked outside, so there is tons of room for meeting friends and enjoying the live music, or sitting outside and people watching.
2114 Trimble Place, Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 249-8147
Hours: Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.; Sunday, 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Some of the most charming things about Overton Square are the narrow paths (we hesitate to call them alleys) that wind between some of the buildings, from Trimble Place to Madison. That’s where you’ll find The Zebra Lounge, which opened in late 2014. It’s the second location of one of Chicago’s oldest piano bars, and there’s always an eclectic mix of people in the cozy booths and along the bar; don’t be surprised if you start singing along to the tunes as the hour gets closer to midnight.
The Acoustic Courtyard/Bluesday Tuesday
You can bring your lawn chairs and sit under the stars to enjoy some of the city’s best musical talent throughout the spring and summer in the Tower Courtyard facing Trimble Place, near Belly Acres.
On the last Thursday of every month from April to October, the Acoustic Courtyardconcert series features local musicians of all genres, playing acoustic sets from 6:30 p.m. on.
Every Tuesday during that same time frame, Bluesday Tuesday takes over the courtyard. The Memphis Blues Society puts on this weekly event that celebrates regional blues musicians. You won’t find any cover music either. It’s all original to the band or performer playing.
2102 Trimble Place, Memphis 38104 • (901) 529-7017
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Belly Acres is hamburger nirvana, with a build-you-own menu featuring more options than we can sometimes comprehend. (There’s a nice listing of preordained burgers, sandwiches and salads as well). The city-meets-country theme is fun for everyone, and the restaurant is totally loaded for fun with a full bar, a large patio overlooking the courtyard and even a tractor the kids can sit on, with supervision.
2116 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 410-8290
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Jimmy Ishii opened Robata to rave reviews. The noodle-focused eatery offers plenty of other yummy Asian options in addition to the noodle bowls and yakitori (skewers), including rice dishes and a great lineup of interesting appetizers. There’s a fabulous selection of sake and rice wines as well.
2110 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 347-3060
Hours: Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Schweinehaus has a tagline we love: A Celebration of Pork and Bier. How Memphis is that? The German-themed restaurant features servers in Germanic dress and communal, handmade wooden tables in the style of a classic Oktoberfest beer hall, inside and out. They have huge, freshly baked pretzels, German beers, traditional German dishes and a few local dishes, too, including fried chicken and a barbecue sandwich.
2111 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN 38104 • (901) 452-6905
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Crazy Beautiful moved to Overton Square from the University of Memphis area in late 2014, just in time for its 10-year anniversary. The boutique for women offers on-trend clothing and accessories, including a few Memphis-made jewelry lines.
There’s always something going on at Overton Square — we can’t wait to see what’s next!