A block off Cooper Street in a residential neighborhood, Buns on the Run (2150 Elzey Ave., 901/278-2867, Tues.–Fri. 7 a.m.–2 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.–12:30 p.m., $4–8) serves breakfast and lunch. The atmosphere is homey and welcoming, and the food is made from scratch. Breakfast includes omelets, quiches, crepes, and pancakes. For lunch you can get grilled or cold sandwiches, salads with or without meat, or a plate lunch. As the name suggests, Buns on the Run specializes in baked goods, including soft and sweet cinnamon buns, lemon ice-box pie, and a rainbow of cakes.
For a wide selection of vegetarian and organic options, go to Square Foods (937 S. Cooper St., 901/274-4222, Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–3 p.m., $7–10). The menu here changes regularly, but includes a variety of stir-fries, sandwiches, and wraps, as well as prepared food like roasted organic free-range chickens.
No restaurant has a larger or more loyal following in midtown than Young Avenue Deli (2119 Young Ave., 901/278-0034, Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–3 a.m., Sun. noon–3 a.m., $4–8), which serves a dozen different specialty sandwiches, grill fare including burgers and chicken sandwiches, plus salads and sides. The Bren—smoked turkey, mushrooms, onions, and cream cheese in a steamed pita—is a deli favorite. The food is certainly good, but it’s the atmosphere at this homey yet hip Cooper-Young institution that really pulls in the crowds. There is live music most weekends, and the bar serves a kaleidoscope of domestic and imported beer, including lots of hard-to-find microbrews. The deli serves lunch and dinner daily.
For a good cup of coffee in the Cooper-Young neighborhood, head to Java Cabana (2170 Young Ave., 901/272-7210, Mon.–Thurs. 8:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri. 8:30 a.m.–midnight, Sat. 9 a.m.–midnight, Sun. noon–10 p.m., $4–10). Java Cabana serves light breakfast fare, including pancakes and omelets, all day. For lunch or later, you can order simple sandwiches or munchies like apple slices and peanut butter, potato chips, or pop tarts.
For a cold treat during the long, hot Memphis  summer, head to Wiles-Smith Drug Store (1635 Union Ave., 901/278-6416, Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–3 p.m.) for a milkshake. The lunch counter at this old-fashioned drug store also serves sandwiches and snacks, but it is the milkshakes that draw the biggest crowd. They come in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and cherry and customers gets to pour the frothy treat into their own glasses.