25 Best Knoxville Restaurants You Need to Try!

Knoxville is a city set along the Tennessean River with a whole lot of charm. With a population that’s on the rise and a cultural scene that’s quickly coming to life, it’s known now as an up-and-coming Southern hot spot. Today there are almost 100 locally owned restaurants in Knoxville!

The range of dining destinations to be discovered is super diverse, from casual cafes to farm-to-table fine dining. As the natives say, Knox rocks and these best Knoxville restaurants can prove it. 


The Best Knoxville Restaurants


Stock and Barrel

Stock and Barrel - best knoxville restaurants
photo via Instagram @ Stock and Barrel
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: American restaurant
  • Address: 35 Market Square, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Burgers and bourbon are the name of the game at Stock and Barrel. It’s definitely one of the more stylish selections you can make for eating out in Knoxville. The happy hour during the week has great deals, especially if you like classic cocktails.

The grub is elevated American, and all the ingredients are locally sourced. You can’t really go wrong with any of their creative concoctions, and the Spicy Crab Dip is the best way to start off any meal here. 


Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove - best knoxville restaurants
photo via Facebook @Lonesome Dove
  • Price: $$$$
  • Cuisine: American restaurant
  • Address: 100 N Central St, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Lonesome Dove is billed as a Western bistro, with a menu that’s never boring. Every dish and cocktail feels creative here. The atmosphere is upscale, and rustic-chic which matches the modern sophistication of the plates.

The flavors are inspired by every culture that has been a part of the wild west since it first began. The full three-course experience is highly recommended. 


Not Watson’s Kitchen and Bar

Not Watson’s Kitchen and Bar
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: New American restaurant
  • Address: 15 Market Square, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Not Watson’s has a delightful retro feel that we always love. The decor is decidedly vintage. The eats are classic bar bites with a contemporary twist. There are lots of great vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options on this extensive menu, so there’s really something for everyone.

It’s a great spot to have a few drinks as well, whether it’s a fine wine, craft beer, fun cocktails, or spirit flights. The Chimichurri Steak is a must-order. 


The Tomato Head

The Tomato Head
photo via Facebook @ The Tomato Head
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: American restaurant, pizza parlor, vegetarian options
  • Address: 12 Market Square, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

There are two locations of Tomato Head in Knoxville, and it’s our go-to for a solid slice or sandwich in the city. The space is simple yet funky. The food comes first here, though serious support of local Knoxville culture is a strong second. They are often hosting cool events in the city, from live music to poetry readings.

There are daily specials, and all the bread is baked fresh. There are vegetarian and vegan options and it’s also super easy to make any substitutions here. 


Calhoun’s on the River

Calhoun’s on the River
photo via Facebook @ Calhoun’s on the River
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Barbecue restaurant
  • Address: 400 Neyland Dr, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Calhoun’s is one of the best Knoxville restaurants always serving up a real taste of Tennessee. There are three locations throughout the city, so it’s easy to pop in for a relaxed lunch or dinner. We recommend the one right on the river with a stunning deck and its own dock. It’s a meat-focused menu, with award-winning barbecue as the main event.

They first opened in 1983 and the two-story barn has been an iconic spot for smoked ribs and cold beer ever since. The sides and sauces are all made from scratch, and they use traditional methods to cook everything. 


Copper Cellar Restaurant

Copper Cellar Restaurant
photo via Facebook @ Copper Cellar Restaurant
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Steak house
  • Address: 1807 Cumberland Ave, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Voted best Sunday brunch in Knoxville, Copper Cellar is a classic spot for fine dining. The original first opened in 1975, just below street level on the Strip. It has a rich, old-school ambiance with touches of walnut, copper, and leather. The steaks are always tasty here, and we love the Build Your Own Burger option as well. 


Balter Beerworks

Balter Beerworks
photo via Facebook @ Balter Beerworks
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Brewpub / Mexican & Southern-inspired eats & draft beers.
  • Address: 100 Broadway SW, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Balter Beerworks is a scratch kitchen and taproom and one of the best restaurants in Knoxville, Tennessee. The atmosphere is a fun meld between urban aesthetics in an old service station environment. The backyard is super spacious, perfect for al fresco feasting. The food is Mexican and Southern fusion, so every bite is packed with flavor.

The menu is seasonal, using all fresh ingredients, and the plates pair well with the rotating taps. The Pork Belly Street Tacos and the Fried Chicken Sandwich are a couple of our favorites. 


The Drawing Room

The Drawing Room
photo via Facebook @ The Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel (The Drawing Room)
  • Price: $$$
  • Cuisine: American restaurant
  • Address: 531 Henley St, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

The Drawing Room Restaurant is set inside the luxury Tennessean Hotel. The ambiance is intimate and offers scenic views of Knoxville. They serve fresh farm-to-table dishes every day and are known for their artisanal charcuterie.

Everything feels so thoughtfully prepared here, right down to the specialty cocktails. It’s open for breakfast and dinner, and the Shrimp Boil Cocktail is one of the best bites. 


OliBea

OliBea
photo via Facebook @ OliBea
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: New American / Traditional Breakfast restaurant
  • Address: 211 S Central St, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

OliBea is a local institution in the Old City district of Knoxville. The motto here is simple, fresh, and local food that feels like a celebration of the regional culture and history. They boast one of the best breakfasts around and are open from early morning until afternoon.

The Olibea Plate is the crowd favorite, where you pick your own egg, bread, potato, and side styles. They’ve got coffee beverages for a morning pick me up, as well as more adult beverages including a daily drink special. 


Knox Mason

Knox Mason
photo via Facebook @ Knox Mason
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Traditional Southern cuisine
  • Address: 507 S Gay St, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Knox Mason serves Southern cooking at its finest and another one of our favorite Knoxville restaurants. Start off with some Fresh Pork Rinds or Pimento Cheese Dip before chowing down on a Mississippi Catfish Sandwich or Low Country Shrimp and Grits. The wine list is excellent here.

The environment is typically modern, and it always offers a fun and bustling feel. On the weekends you can enjoy a late-night menu and a brunch. 


A Dopo

A Dopo
photo via Facebook @A Dopo
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Pizza restaurant
  • Address: 516 Williams St, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

A Dopo is a wood-fired pizzeria in downtown Knoxville. The sourdough base is the signature that sets them apart from all the rest. They’ve got both beer and wine on tap, and the family-friendly space is laid back and cool.

You can order either Pizza Rossa, where the sauce is made with organic crushed plum tomatoes and sea salt, or Pizza Bianca, for a white sauce made with mascarpone, local cream, and pecorino romano cheese. Of course, there are a variety of fresh ingredients to try on top. 


Emilia 

Emilia 
  • Price: $$$
  • Cuisine: Italian restaurant
  • Address: 16 Market Square, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Emilia is known for simple and seasonal Italian cuisine made by hand. The dishes are all traditional and authentic, with lots of vegan, vegetarian, and celiac-friendly fares. The house pastas are all to die for. The Polenta and Meatballs Pomodoro will likely be a plate you’ll remember for some time. The house wine is affordable and on tap and there’s a longer well-curated list as well. 


Chivo Taqueria

Chivo Taqueria
photo via Facebook @ Chivo Taqueria
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Gourmet tacos
  • Address: 314 S Gay St, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

This is the best place to go for tacos and tequila in Knoxville. It’s set inside a dark, rustic tavern with a trendy decor. The menu is an artful combination of Mexican and globally inspired flavors, and they pride themselves on attention to detail and authenticity. The cocktails are masterfully mixed with juices that are squeezed fresh daily.

Their weirder combinations like the Gangnam Style and Limp Brisket Tacos never cease to impress us. 


J.C. Holdway

J.C. Holdway
photo via Facebook @ J.C. Holdway
  • Price: $$$
  • Cuisine: Regional & seasonal Southern cuisine
  • Address: 501 Union Ave SW, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

J.C. Holdway is an elevated full-service restaurant in downtown Knoxville. It’s cooking up refined, regional fares, often farm-fresh and cooked over a wood-fired grill. The plates tend to be inspired by rural Appalachia, but with a more modern flair. You’ll find both a wine list and a whiskey list here.

There are great smaller dishes for sharing and snacking, like Oysters on the Half Shell or Roasted Bone Marrow. For an entree, it’s best to try one of the handmade pasta. 


Oliver Royale

Oliver Royale
photo via Facebook @ Oliver Royale
  • Price: $$$
  • Cuisine: New American restaurant
  • Address: 5 Market Square, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Here you’ll enjoy inventive and seasonal American fares in an ultra-stylish setting. The Instagram-able art deco ambiance itself is reason enough to check this spot out. It can be on the pricier side but it’s well worth treating yourself. Start a fancy feast off right with the Kobe Beef Meatballs or the Pork Belly Confit.

The Sous Vide Lamb Rack has gotten rave reviews, and there is always at least a vegetarian offer available. 


Kaizen

Kaizen
photo via Facebook @ Kaizen
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Asian cuisine and draft beer
  • Address: 127 S Central St, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Kaizen serves authentic Asian cuisine, with a heavy izakaya influence. They’ve got a full-service bar and a lovely outdoor patio. The dishes are served in a tapas-style, so it’s super fun to offer and try lots of different little plates here. They have a variety of steamed buns and noodle dishes that are all equally tasty. The Dan Dan Noodles are particularly phenomenal.  


Connors Steak and Seafood

Connors Steak and Seafood
photo via Facebook @ Connors Steak and Seafood
  • Price: $$$
  • Cuisine: Steak and Seafood restaurant
  • Address: 10915 Turkey Dr, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Connors is the ideal neighborhood joint. The atmosphere feels warm and cozy, with fireplaces, dark woods, and dim lighting. They offer carefully aged steaks and the freshest seafood around. Between the fine ingredients and the wood-fired grill, the food here is fantastic.

If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can even add a Lump Crab Cake or Cold Water Lobster Tail to your plate. They’re famous for their Espresso Rub Ribeye. 


Sweet P’s Barbecue 

Sweet P’s Barbecue 
photo via Facebook @ Sweet P’s Barbecue
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Southern / Barbecue restaurant
  • Address: 410 W Jackson Ave, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Sweet P’s actually began as a catering company back in 2005. Today, there are two brick-and-mortar locations, the Downtown Dive and the Uptown Corner. It’s a mecca for classic Southern comfort foods. Everything is smoked in the traditional manner and recipes have been passed down for generations.

The smoked meats have all earned quite a reputation, and it does live up to the hype. Go for the Beef Brisket and the Pulled Pork but stay for the Sauteed Greens and Things and the beer garden complete with local craft drafts. You can even take home some of their famous rubs and sauces. 


Kefi

Kefi
  • Price: $$$
  • Cuisine: Greek restaurant
  • Address: 120 E Jackson Ave, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Kefi is a modern and elegant Mediterranean restaurant. The name translates to profound passion. Every plate is colorful and fresh for a very authentic experience. There’s an array of gluten-free and vegetarian dishes to try here.

The assorted flatbreads are all super craveable, and the classics like the Falafel, Souvlaki, and Moussaka are delightful to eat. There are handcrafted cocktails on draft, split into three categories, boozy and honest, rich, and comforting, and fresh and lively. 


Farmacy

Farmacy
photo via Facebook @ Farmacy
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Southern, vegan
  • Address: 5018 Kingston Pike, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Farmacy is a casual and airy eatery serving traditional Southern food. Each ingredient is thoughtfully sourced, and the meals all feel super healthy. We love the happy hour, like Wine Wednesdays, as well as the weekend brunch here.

There are bowls, sandwiches, and a handful of house favs that are guaranteed to put a smile on any hungry face. Honestly, everything here is good, but try the Market Lobstah Rolls if you get to go on a Friday. 


Sunspot

sunspot restaurant
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Southwestern, Caribbean, Latin American fare, vegetarian and draft brews.
  • Address: 2200 Cumberland Ave, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

There is always a daily drink special happening at Sunspot. Mondays are a double boozy doozy, with all-day mimosas and five-dollar martinis. The tagline here is “where tie-dyes and neckties unite” and the vibe totally encapsulates this. It’s a quaint and cute environment.

The food is fresh and veggie-friendly forward. The flavors are inspired by Caribbean and Latin American cuisines. There are over 40 taps, and the rooftop patio offers a perfect panorama of the Knoxville skyline. 


Cafe 4

Cafe 4
photo via Facebook @ Cafe 4
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Southern restaurant
  • Address: 4 Market Square, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Cafe 4 has been a huge part of the downtown foodie scene for over a decade. It’s an urban retreat for modern food and drinks in Knoxville. From the shareables menu, the Lobster BLT Flatbread is a showstopper.

Otherwise, order one of the Mac and Cheeses or Prime Meatloaf. An abundance of framed local artwork adorns the brightly colored walls for a very inviting and kitschy ambiance. 


Nama Sushi Bar

Nama Sushi Bar
photo via website @ Nama Sushi Bar
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Japanese sushi restaurant
  • Address: 506 S Gay St, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

It’s widely known that Nama has the best sushi in Knoxville. There are three convenient locations around the city, so it’s easy to stop in and grab a roll, or four. The ambiance is super cute, which makes it fun to sit inside and enjoy a leisurely lunch.

The menu is extensive so there’s something for everyone, from sashimi to nigiri to maki. The Pizza Roll and Tofu Caprese Roll may be some of the weirdest and coolest orders here. 


Emma’s Southern Kitchen 

Emma’s Southern Kitchen 
photo via website @ Emma’s Southern Kitchen
  • Price: $$
  • Cuisine: Southern, seafood, burgers and tacos
  • Address: 3701 Sutherland Ave, Knoxville (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

Originally Burgers on the Sutherland, the name change for this spot marks a new concept under the same owner. This more eclectic menu offers a whole range of comforting Southern fares to enjoy. You’ll find burgers, tacos, salads, and more.

The Chicken Fried Chicken is a delicious order at Emma’s. The dining room is small and simple, with lots of warm woods, and the patio is adorable as well. 


Lakeside Tavern

Lakeside Tavern
photo via Facebook @ Lakeside Tavern

Price: $$
Cuisine: American Knoxville restaurant
Address: 10911 Concord Park Dr, Knoxville (GPS)
Website: See menu

The ambiance at this Knowxvilel restaurant is quite sleek here, featuring an ultra-modern stone and steel decor. The waterfront views make for one of the most beautiful backdrops for a meal in Knoxville.

The menu is extensive, but those in the know tend to go for the buzzing happy hour and the surf and turf. Hand cut, aged, Angus steaks, and dockside fresh seafood create a very memorable meal. If you want to switch it up, there are also gourmet brick oven pizzas, Southern classics, and pasta specialties. 

About Natasha

Natasha moved to North Carolina for college years ago (but she's not trying to age herself here). Her days were spent reading a book on the beach and enjoying a cold glass of sweet tea in between classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Upon graduation, she met her partner, Cameron, and they traveled the world together crossing 85 countries and six continents. After, six years of international travel they settled down and launched Lost in the Carolinas to share their experiences about and travel tips on South Carolina and North Carolina.

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