Knoxville, Tennessee continues to be unmatched. It may not get the shine and love that other bigger cities like Nashville do, but the truth is this “scruffy city” is a vibrant town full of charm, fun, and food. Home to the University of Tennessee Volunteers, Knoxville is home to fantastic eats both near the University, along the beautiful riverfront, and just a stone’s throw away further in town. Here are some of the greatest hits you can find in its lively dining scene.
A Dopo Sourdough Pizza
516 Williams St Knoxville, TN 37917
A Dopo is serving up a unique and delicious pie. With classic red sauce choices made from organic crushed plum tomatoes and “bianca” choices that combine mascarpone cheese, local cream, and pecorino romano cheese, there’s something for everyone. The crust is thin-crusted and sourdough, adding a bit of tang with each bite that just works so damn well and makes every bites taste so damn flavorful. It was even ranked #38 in Yelp’s list of top-rated/best pizzas across the United States. End your meal with some gelato.
100 S Broadway St Knoxville, TN 37902
Knoxville hasn’t been immune to the nationwide boom in local craft breweries. Balter Beerwork is delivering a casual and fun experience, with comfy seating indoor and outdoor that’s perfect for settling in and indulging in a pint or two. Dig into a tasty gastropub menu with beer-friendly Southern/New American favorites like fried green tomatoes, caramelized brussel sprouts, and chicken and waffles. Parking’s also easy with their own lot. They also have an excellent happy hour from 3pm to 5:30pm on weekdays. They’ve also got igloos on their patios in the wintertime!
Boyd’s Jig and Reel
101 S Central St, Knoxville, TN 37902
Every city needs a comfy pub and Boyd’s Jig and Reed is exactly that with live music and 800 whiskies on the menu. It’s essential for whiskey lovers. The menu has a really cool mix of Scottish/British favorites like Scotch eggs, Tikka masala, fish & chips, bangers and mash, and beer cheese. Diners rave about the atmosphere, too.
For fabulous Italian food in the heart of Knoxville, head to Emilia. The menu is filled with delicious Italian/Italian American favorites like artichoke fritters, fussili carbonara, and warm focaccia bread. The atmosphere is lovely, with cozy lighting and a handful of patio tables outdoors too.
5018 Kingston Pike Knoxville, TN 37919
The Front Porch
1509 West Emory Road, Powell, TN 37849
Just a stone’s throw out of Knoxville, you’ll find the Front Porch right in Powell, and boy is their food crazy good. Just listen to what’s on the menu right now: catfish & grits. Grilled parmesan chicken. Trout cakes. Po boys! It’s Southern cooking at its finest in a beautiful historic home, and it’s also a local shop offering a boutique selection of locally made furniture, candles, prints, and more, perfect for gift giving.
1008 E Woodland Ave, Knoxville, TN 37917
For some soul food realness and what may be the best hot chicken in town, head to Jackie’s Dream. The catfish here is a dream, and the fried chicken is tender and flavorful. The interiors are clean though nothing fancy, but you’ll feel right at home as you chow down and dig into a big old plate of all the good stuff.
In the mood for Asian food? Kaizen is where you want to be. Dig into pork belly fried rice, baos, and dan dan noodles for a delicious pan Asian meal. The interiors are very cool and industrial, and they’ve got an excellent patio as well that almost feels like a New York alleyway with great string lights.
5 Market Square, Knoxville, TN 37902
For an elegant meal in the heart of downtown/Market Square, give Oliver Royale a go. They have a refined menu featuring items like kobe beef meatballs, short rib confit, and yellowtail snapper. The cocktails are excellent, and the bartenders and staff make every experience memorable. It is perfect for a date night or birthday celebration or a random Tuesday where you’re feeling a little fancier.
Schulz Bräu Brewing Company
126 Bernard Ave Knoxville, TN 37917
This German brewery has got to have one of the best patios in all of Knoxville. Dig into German food like schnitzel and curry wurst and enjoy their German beers like the Hefeweizen and Dunkel. The patio is also Fido friendly, so bring your pup!
Stock & Barrel
35 Market Sq Knoxville, TN 37902
The burgers are bomb at this New American burger/cocktail spot! The insides are cozy and the portions are fair, and the bourbon list runs deep. Be aware the wait times can get crazy! Park in the parking garage around the corner.
4329 Lonas Dr Knoxville, TN 37909
135 S Gay St Knoxville, TN 37902
This cocktail bar is so! dang! cute! It’s got all the Havana vibes and beautiful cocktails in fun and colorful Tiki glassware. There’s an excellent outdoor patio and a small and beautiful interior. With beautiful plants and colorful blue and pink walls, it’s very instagrammable and you won’t mind paying the slightly more premium price for these well-crafted drinks
To learn more about the delicious food spots at other SEC schools, check out our Best Restaurants in the SEC guide, which includes all 14 college towns and their amazing eateries.