The Little Tea Shop (69 Monroe, 901/525-6000, Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–2 p.m., $4.95–7.50) serves traditional plate lunches through the week. Choose from daily specials like fried catfish, chicken pot pie, and meatloaf with your choice of vegetable and side dishes. Every meal (except sandwiches) comes with fresh, hot corn bread that might well be the star of the show. This is stick-to-your-ribs Southern cooking at its best, so come hungry. If you have room, try the peach cobbler for dessert. The staff’s welcoming yet efficient style makes this perfect for a quick lunch. Not to be missed.
The Blue Plate Cafe (113 Court Square S., 901/523-2050, daily 7 a.m.–2 p.m., $4–10) serves hearty breakfasts, plate lunches, and traditional home-style cooking. Its newsprint menu imparts wisdom (“Rule of Life No. 1: Wake up. Show up. Pay attention.”) and declares that every day should begin with a great breakfast. It’s not hard to comply at the Blue Plate. Eggs come with homemade biscuits and gravy, and your choice of grits, hash browns, or pancakes. For lunch, try a meat-and-three or vegetable plate, slow-cooked white-bean soup, or a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich. Locals swear by the fried green tomatoes. There are three Blue Plate Cafes in Memphis : the other two are at 2921 Kirby Whitten Road in Bartlett (901/213-1066) and at 5469 Poplar Avenue (901/761-9696) in midtown.
Alcenia’s (317 N. Main St., 901/523-0200, Tues.–Fri. 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–1 p.m., $4–10), located in the Pinch district, is among Memphis’s  best Southern-style restaurants. Known for its plate lunches, fried chicken, and pastries, Alcenia’s has a style unlike any other Memphis eatery, witnessed in its off-beat decor of ’60s-style beads, folk art, and wedding lace. Proprietor B. J. Chester-Tamayo is all love, and she pours her devotion into some of the city’s best soul food. Try the spicy cabbage and deep-fried chicken, and save room for Alcenia’s famous bread pudding for dessert. Chicken and waffles is the Saturday-morning specialty.