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Hungry? Here Are The 15 Best Restaurants in Knoxville

When it comes to finding the best restaurants in Knoxville, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

With everything from Southern comfort food to international cuisine, you’re sure to find something that excites your taste buds.

So whether you’re a tourist looking for a dining experience that’s unique to the Scruffy City, or a local who’s looking for a new favorite spot, read on for our recommendations of the best restaurants in town!

15 Best Places to Eat in Knoxville, Tennessee

1. A Dopo Sourdough Pizza

  • Location: 516 Williams Street
  • Price range: $$

If you’re in the mood for some truly delicious pizza, then you need to head to A Dopo Sourdough Pizza.

This cozy little dinner spot in Knoxville is known for its incredible Neopolitan-style wood-fired pizzas, which are made with locally sourced ingredients, freshly made mozzarella, and a unique, scratch-made sourdough crust. Trust us, once you’ve had a taste of these pies, you’ll be hooked!

Customer favorites include the Calabrese (with red sauce, house-made mozzarella, spicy salami, fresh basil, Castel Vetrano olives, and chili oil) and the daily pizza special that’s unique and changes daily.

Enjoy your pie with a glass of their fantastic selection of Italian wines on tap and in the bottle. And, don’t forget to save room for A Dopo’s scrumptious small batch gelato, made with local milk and cream.

2. Stock & Barrel

  • Location: 3730 E Magnolia Avenue
  • Price range: $$

There are always a few top contenders for the best burger in town, but you’ll always find Stock & Barrel near the top of the list. And it’s no wonder why – these burgers are made with locally-sourced, pasture-fed beef that’s topped with an array of delicious & unique toppings. “The Elvis” comes topped with (you guessed it) peanut butter, fried banana, and bacon.

Or, try “The Farmhouse,” with beef, cheddar, an over-easy egg, bacon, tomato, onion, and garlic aioli. If you’re not in the mood for beef, they’ve also got a selection of chicken, turkey, lamb, and salmon options. Burgers are served with house-made fries or beer-battered onion rings.

Stock & Barrel is also known for their extensive selection of Bourbon. In fact, they were recently recognized by The Bourbon Review as one of America’s Best Bourbon Bars for 2022.

3. Kefi

  • Location: 120 East Jackson Avenue
  • Price range: $$$

Kefi is a favorite among locals for its delicious Greek cuisine and high-end atmosphere. The menu features all of your Greek favorites, like dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), spanakopita (spinach pie), kebabs, and falafel.

But Kefi also offers some unique takes on traditional Greek dishes, like the “Octopodi,” grilled octopus served with fava beans, rainbow chard, and slow-roasted tomato.

Favorites are the Spicy Feta, Hummus, and Saganaki. And, of course, no meal at Kefi would be complete without one of their famous Greek cocktails, like the “Age of Kronos” (ouzo, fresh lime juice, and strawberry thyme simple syrup) or the “Santorini” (white rum, Dolin blanc, guava nectar, lime juice, and coconut cream). Be sure to save room for the baklava.

4. OliBea

  • Location: 211 S Central Street
  • Price range: $$

OliBea is a great choice for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. This local favorite is known for its creative and delicious Southern-inspired dishes. The menu changes seasonally, but you can always count on some kind of breakfast burrito, a scrumptious breakfast biscuit, tacos, and exciting & unique daily specials from the chef.

One day you might find savory zucchini bread french toast on the menu and the next, you’ll have a country-fried steak sandwich topped with onions, fried cheese sticks, scrambled eggs, and steak sauce.

OliBea also has a great selection of fun cocktails that change as often as their menu, so you have every reason to keep coming back for more!

5. Sticky Rice Cafe

  • Location: 120 Jack Dance Street
  • Price range: $

If you’re looking for a delicious, affordable meal, look no further than Sticky Rice Cafe. This cozy little cafe is known for its fantastic Laotian cuisine.

The menu features all of your favorites, like pho, Pad Thai, and curries. But they also have some unique and lesser-known dishes that are definitely worth trying, like the “Noodle Bowl” (rice noodles and lettuce cilantro mix with your choice of meat or tofu, veggies, egg, and sauce) or the “Papaya Salad” (shredded green papaya, cherry tomatoes, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and hot chili peppers).

Sticky Rice Cafe is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a quick, tasty meal that won’t break the bank.

6. Sweet P’s Barbeque & Downtown Dive

Sweet P's BBQ
Photos: Sweet P’s
  • Location: 410 W. Jackson Avenue
  • Price range: $$

Sweet P’s Barbeque and Downtown Dive is a great choice if you’re looking for some delicious barbecue.

This local favorite is known for its “low and slow” smoked meats, like pulled pork, ribs, and chicken, combined with soul food classics like mac and cheese, greens, beans, and tater salad. And, of course, no meal at Sweet P’s would be complete without one of their famous sauces. Choose from Thick (a sweet and tangy sauce), Hot (a hot and spicy sauce), or Thin (a vinegar-based sauce).

Whatever you do, don’t dare leave without trying the banana pudding. It’s the perfect way to end your meal.

7. Kaizen

  • Location: 127 S Central Street
  • Price range: $$

If you’re a fan of Asian fusion, you’ll be happy to know that Knoxville has an exceptional Asian fusion restaurant. Kaizen is known for its creative and delicious dishes that combine the best of Japanese, Szechuan, and Thai cuisine.

Some of the menu favorites include the Steamed Buns (with options like Bang Bang shrimp, tofu, Kimchi BBQ chicken, and more), Pork Belly Fried Rice, and Dan Dan Noodles (chilled lo mein with ground pork, black soy, black vinegar, toasted chili oil, pickled cabbage, and Szechuan peppercorns).

Kaizen has a fantastic ambiance and a really cool vibe but it fills up quickly (it’s a popular spot for a reason!) so plan to get there early.

8. Farmacy

  • Location: 5018 Kingston Pike
  • Price range: $$

Farmacy is a great choice if you’re looking for a farm-to-table, scratch-made, southern cookin’. This restaurant is known for its fresh, local ingredients and delicious comfort food.

The menu changes seasonally, but you can always expect to find dishes like Nashville Hot Chicken, Shrimp & Grits, and a variety of fresh salads with scratch-made dressings. And don’t forget to try one of their famous desserts, like the Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding or the Strawberry Cream Cake (the owner’s family recipe!).

Farmacy is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a tasty, home-cooked meal made with fresh, natural ingredients.

9. Balter Beerworks

Balter Beerworks
Photo: Balter Beerworks
  • Location: 100 S. Broadway Street
  • Price range: $$

Balter Beerworks is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a great meal made from scratch and a cold beer. This local microbrewery serves up some of the best beers in town, as well as a menu of delicious pub fare.

It hardly seems fair to call it pub food, though. The menu features scratch-made burgers, sandwiches, fresh salads, and entrées like bourbon pork belly, blackened fish tacos, and shrimp & grits.

Plus, they serve up one of the best weekend brunches in Knoxville. Be sure to try the Fried Green Tomato Benedict (with a buttermilk biscuit, fried green tomato, pimento cheese, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, smoked paprika, parsley, and breakfast potatoes) or the Chicken & Waffles (fried chicken, whipped honey butter, powdered sugar, syrup & honey drizzle).

And don’t forget to wash it all down with one (or more) of their $1 mimosas.

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10. J.C. Holdway

  • Location: 501 Union Avenue
  • Price range: $$$

If you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience, look no further than J.C. Holdway. This restaurant is known for its wood-fired cuisine and southern hospitality served up by James Beard Award-winning chef, Joseph Lenn.

The menu features seasonal dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, like the Grilled Pork Shoulder Steak (corn, snapped beans, romesco & pickled peppers) and the Wood-Fired Whole Sunburst Trout (with grilled okra, bagna cauda, beurre blanc & crispy onions).

But the real star of the show is the wood-fired oven, which Chef Lenn believes imparts a unique flavor that can’t be duplicated with gas or electric cooking. If you’re looking for an unforgettable dining experience, J.C. Holdway is the place to go.

11. Burger Boys

  • Location: 2400 Chapman Highway
  • Price range: $

Hands down, the best fast food burger in Knoxville! (And some would argue it’s the best burger, period). Burger Boys is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for an inexpensive, delicious burger.

This local drive-thru restaurant is known for its fresh, never-frozen beef burgers that are cooked to perfection and made fresh daily. And, every burger comes with free fries! The menu features a variety of burgers, chicken sandwiches, wings, fried chicken, catfish, and freshly made sides like mashed potatoes, green beans, collards, mac & cheese, and potato salad.

There’s also homemade cheesecake and sweet potato pie. It’s no wonder Burger Boys is a local favorite!

12. Cafe 4

Featured Photo Credit: Cafe 4
  • Location: 4 Market Square, Apt 303C
  • Price range: $$

Cafe 4 was a pioneer in the revitalization of Knoxville’s Market Square scene, having opened nearly a decade ago when the area was not nearly as desirable to be in as it is now.

Their mission to bring hospitality and high-quality local eats to Market Square has been a success, as the cafe is now one of the most popular places in Knoxville to eat.

The menu features a variety of brunch, lunch, and dinner items made with fresh ingredients. And, they’re known for their killer mac & cheese. If you’re looking for a great meal in a relaxed setting, Cafe 4 is the place to go.

13. Simpl.

Simpl.
Photo: Simpl.
  • Location: 1120 Sevier Avenue
  • Price range: $$

Simpl. is a great option if you’re looking for a fresh, clean, farm-to-table meal that’s made from scratch. This restaurant is committed to using fresh, local ingredients to create simple, seasonal dishes that are tasty and satisfying. The menu features weekly specials, small plates, large plates, and burgers.

Fan favorites include the Pastrami Fries (fries loaded with pastrami, chives, and BBQ sauce), Pork Belly Tacos (smoked pork belly with black bean puree, queso fresco, pickled slaw, and salsa), and the ABC Burger (double beef patties, double bacon, avocado, cheese, and aioli on a Paysan bun served with fries).

They also serve up a scrumptious weekend brunch with more brunch cocktails than we have room to list here!

14. Jackie’s Dream

  • Location: 1008 E. Woodland Avenue
  • Price range: $$

Our list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention the stomach-rumbling soul food served up at Jackie’s Dream.

This restaurant is known for heaping portions of comfort food classics like fried chicken, catfish, ‘Knoxville’ hot chicken, oxtails, mac & cheese, greens, cornbread, and some of the best fried green tomatoes you’ve ever had.

Save room for a homemade dessert!

Don’t be fooled by this non-descript little place in a tiny strip mall — Jackie’s Dream is the real deal. And, it’s affordable too! The only thing better than the food is the service, from Jackie herself.

15. Chivo Taqueria

  • Location: 314 South Gay Street
  • Price range: $$

Last but not least, we have Chivo Taqueria, a relatively new restaurant that’s quickly become a Knoxville favorite. This taqueria specializes in creative, Mexican-inspired street food made with fresh, local ingredients, working directly with East Tennessee farmers. What’s more, they grind their own corn flour in the traditional spirit of the Nixtamal process.

The menu features tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, and salads. Plus, they have a full bar with an impressive selection of tequila and cocktails.

Our favorite thing on the menu is the Limp Brisket taco, which features barbacoa brisket, goat cheese, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro. That said, the house-made chips and guac on their own are worth the trip in.

And that concludes it!

These are just a few of the best restaurants Knoxville has to offer. So whether you’re in the mood for some comfort food, wood-fired cuisine, or just a good ol’ burger and beer, you’re sure to find something to your taste in this great city.

Let us know in the comments if there are other restaurants in Knoxville we need to try!

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Gallery images of food and places to eat in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Featured image courtesy of Cafe 4, Knoxville.