Hot Spot Guide: Overton Square
In the last few years, a lot has gone into turning Overton Square back into a fun place to hang out. Maybe you haven't been in a while. Maybe you go all the time, but always go to the same places and want to try something new. Either way, here's a guide to what's up with Overton Square now.
1. Eat and Drink. The main thing to do in Overton Square is eat. And drink. Preferably both. Here's a quick list, with links to any I Love Memphis restaurant reviews or relevant posts.
– Babalu has tacos, tapas, cocktails, and an indoor-outdoor bar. Post: Babalu Tacos & Tapas Memphis Location is Now Open
– Bar Louie is a franchise that serves lunch, dinner, and late night. Post: Bar Louie Opens in Overton Square
– Bari offers gourmet Southern Italian cuisine and a killer cheese plate. Post: Eat All The Cheese At Bari
– Belly Acres will be a kid-friendly gourmet burger joint with distinctive decor (think Willy Wonka).
– Boscos claims to be the place for beer lovers, and I can't argue. Post: Drink Some Shaft (on Draft)
– The Bayou is a great place to watch sports, grab cheap drinks, and eat Southern and Cajun food.
– Bogie's Deli is a beloved Memphis deli in a house the middle of a movie theater parking lot. Of course.
– Chiwawa is a bit off the Square proper, but we can count it. Post: Meet Chiwawa (Closed)
– Le Chardonnay is an intimate spot with Italian food, pizza open for dinner. Note: smoking is allowed.
– Golden India has Indian food (including a lunch buffet) in a casual but nice atmosphere.
– Lenny's is the sandwich shop next to Bari. Did you know Lenny's was founded in Memphis?
– Local on the Square is a true gastropub, with a solid menu and bars on two floors. Post: Local Gastropub Opens in Overton Square
– Memphis Pizza Cafe is the original location for the Memphis pizza chain specializing in thin crust pies and super sandwiches. Post: Lunch at Memphis Pizza Cafe
– Restaurant Iris has been named "Best Restaurant" in just about every poll. Make reservations weeks in advance (at least). Post: Chef Kelly English Loves Memphis
– Robata Ramen and Yakitori Bar, a Jimmy Ishii restauraant, offers make-your-own ramen bowls and skewers.
– Schweinehaus is a German restaurant in the old Paulette's location offering brats, beer, and pretzel rolls. Great patio and lots of lederhosen.
– Second Line is the casual cousin of Restaurant Iris. Post: It Gets Real At The Second Line
– Side Street is a laid-back, affordable dinner/drinks spot with lots of daily specials and a huge "martini" menu.
– YoLo's midtown location has fro yo, gelato, and baked goods.
2. Shop. There are a handful of shops in Overton Square.
– The Attic has men's and women's clothing, accessories, and gifts from luxury brands like 7 For All Mankind.
– Breakway Running is a locally-owned running shoe and sporting goods store. They also host group runs. Post: 10 Cheap Ways to Get Moving in Memphis.
– Dabbles is not tehnically a shop, but the hair salon is a local favorite and annual finalist for "Best Salon" in media polls.
– Gould's on the Square is also not technically a shop, but the locally-owned salon and spa chain's newest location will give you the works in terms of hair cut, color, style, massages, and spa treatments.
– Maggie's Pharm is one of my favorite stores in Memphis, with everything from homemade soaps and lotions to jewelery to herbal teas and tinctures to gag gifts. Post: Homemade Healthy and Beauty.
– Mr. Lincoln's Costume Shop is one of those quirky Memphis gems that you have to experience for yourself. Here's a post from the Choose 901 blog: Mr. Lincoln's Costume Shop.
– Sew Memphis sells designer fabric and sewing and crafting supplies, and offers sewing classes. Post: New Midtown Fabric Store is Sew Memphis.
– The Square Olive sells gourmet olive oil and vinegar and other olive-oil related products.
– Sweet Noshings could technically go under "Eat and Drink" since you can go for scoop-your-own candy jars, gourmet popcorn, packaged sweets or the Ugly Mug coffee. Post: Sweet Noshings in Overton Square is Open
3. Get Moving. We have three fitness/health/exercise spots in Overton Square, including Cardio Barre, Delta Groove Yoga, and Bikram Hot Yoga. All three offer classes and packages, or you can drop-in for a little extra cost.
4. See a Show. We could make the argument that Overton Square is Memphis' theatre district. Here's where to watch.
– Malco Studio on the Square is my favorite movie theatre in Memphis because it has a nice mix of blockbusters and more artsy/Oscar bait flicks. It's much smaller and more laid-back than the Paradiso in East Memphis, but not as, well, weird as the Ridgeway Four. Studio on the Square also hosts tons of film festivals and screenings of all sizes and styles, including Indie Memphis.
– Hattiloo Theatre home for dramas and musicals featuring African American playwriters, actors, and crews.
– Playhouse on the Square is a professional, resident theater that produces dramatic plays, Tony-winning musicals, comedies, and more. It's also the midtown home of Ballet Memphis, and a venue for lots of events and parties, including the annual Midtown Opera Festival. Post: Inside the new Playhouse on the Square.
– Circuit Playhouse is a part of the Playhouse on the Square "family" and it produces (in general) less mainstream plays and musicals, sometimes for a more mature audience, i.e., Reefer Madness.
– Theatreworks hosts local theatre groups and performances like FreakEngine, Memphis Comedy events, Threepenny Theatre, and loads more.
5. See some public art. There are a couple of fun pieces of public art in the Overton Square area.
– The "Memphis Taking Shape" mural hangs on the east-facing side of the parking garage. Young students from the Barbara K Lipman Early Childhood School collaborated with parents and teachers to create the piece.
– The mural of familiar Overton Square buildings by artist David Lynch is on the north side of the Bari.
– "You are the Universe" (pictured above) is a mural by artist Guillaume Alby is on the west side of 2110 Madison Ave (future home of Schweinehaus).
– "Gyroscopic" (pictured at the top of this post) is a 30-foot motorized, LED-light metal sculpture at the corner of Madison and Cooper by Memphis artist Yvonne Bobo.
– A whimsical steampunk-style mural by Mary Norman is on the security offices on the south side of Bar Louie.
– A geometric mosaic by artist Lea Holland is on the sidewalk in front of the Griffin House (future home of Robata).
– Giant windchimes by artist Sean Murphy hang in the Tower Courtyard.
6. How to get there. Overton Square is located just north of Union Avenue in midtown, along/west of Cooper St. and along/east of Florence. There's not a real, official boundary (that I know of) that's just colloquially what most Memphians consider to be "Overton Square".
As for parking, you there are a couple of lots and very limited street parking, but please do not block anyone's driveway if you park in a residential area. Restaurant Iris and The Second Line offer valet services. There's also a well-lit, clean parking garage which is free before 6 p.m. every day. After 6 p.m., the garage is a flat rate of $3 and is open until 4 a.m. If you use the garage, note that there's no attendant. You pay in cash or by credit card at a kiosk by entering your vehicle's tag number right after you park on your way out.
More things to do in Overton Square. There are several ongoing and annual events that pack out Overton Square on a regular basis.
Stage at Tower Courtyard, location of Thursdays Squared concerts
– Bluesday Tuesdays are free weekly blues concerts on Tuesdays evenings in the spring and summer.
– Shows at the Corner Stage happen from time to time, when local musicans play a set at the corner of Cooper and Madison on the stage at the base of "Gyroscopic".
– The Maker's Market is a monthly market for art, crafts, and handmade goods that will take place this summer. Go here to see the schedule.
You can visit the Overton Square website for news and events.
I tried to be thorough, but there's a possibility I left something out. Let me know your favorite Overton Square spot, something I should add, your favorite Overton Square memories…I want to hear all about it.