Knoxville, TN, is a charming city in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. As a local, I have spent most of my years in this city and can confidently say it is a wonderful place to explore.
Knoxville is known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and diverse food scene. It is home to many well-known landmarks, including the Tennessee Theatre, World’s Fair Park, and the University of Tennessee.
One thing that makes the city stand out to me is the restaurants in Knoxville, TN. With a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars, there is something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner spot, a cozy brunch place, or a lively bar to catch up with friends.
Whether you’re a local or a tourist looking to taste the delicious food served in Knoxville, I can tell you that the food scene here is to be noticed. Knoxville offers diverse flavors, from Southern classics like fried chicken and barbecue to international cuisines like Thai and Italian.
This article will focus on the top 10 restaurants in Knoxville, TN. These restaurants have been carefully selected based on various criteria, including food quality, service, and atmosphere. This will be a helpful guide for anyone planning to visit Knoxville and explore its food scene.
The Top 10 Best Restaurants in Knoxville, TN
Get ready to loosen those belts because I’m about to take you on a culinary adventure through the best restaurants in Knoxville, TN!
These top 10 restaurants are the perfect starting point for anyone looking to experience the city’s best. Whether you’re in the mood for great dining, a more casual atmosphere, a foodie, or just a hungry human, these eateries will satisfy your taste buds.
Indulge in Knoxville’s Culinary Delights: Try Calhoun’s On The River
Calhoun’s On The River is the spot for you if you want a riverside dining experience. Not only does this place have killer views of the Tennessee River, but they also serve up some of the tastiest Southern comfort food in town.
Their menu features classic Southern dishes like baby back ribs, smoked chicken, catfish, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and local craft beer.
Don’t forget to try their famous onion rings – they’re to die for! And let’s be real, who doesn’t love onion rings? Calhoun’s version is so good you’ll be tempted to propose to them.
Discover the Flavors of Regional Ingredients at J.C. Holdway
Attention all foodies! J.C. Holdway is a culinary paradise that will leave your taste buds singing. This is one of the top Knoxville restaurants. It is run by James Beard Award-winning executive chef Joseph Lenn, so you know you’re in for a treat.
Holdway is known for its seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes frequently, but you can always expect innovative dishes that showcase the flavors of East Tennessee.
Some of my favorites are the smoked trout dip, the lamb chops, and the grilled octopus. The service is exceptional, and the ambiance is cozy. It has lovely outdoor seating, which would be great for a romantic evening. Plus, there’s a full bar.
Treat Your Taste Buds to Sushi On Small Plates At Kaizen
Sushi lovers, this one’s for you. Kaizen is a trendy spot offering modern Japanese cuisine to make your taste buds dance. They place a huge emphasis on using fresh and high-quality ingredients.
Their ramen bowls are flavorful and comforting. The sushi rolls are so beautifully crafted you almost don’t want to eat them. But trust me; you’ll want to dive right in.
Tacos and tapas and drinks, oh my! For a taste of Spain and Mexico, head to Babalu Tacos & Tapas. Babalu is a fun and funky restaurant in Knoxville, TN, that fuses Spanish and Mexican flavors in the most delicious way possible.
This vibrant restaurant offers a fusion of flavors and textures, with dishes like crispy pork belly tacos, guacamole, and patatas bravas.
The pork belly tacos are crispy and juicy, and the guacamole is so good you’ll want to bathe in it. Just make sure you have some napkins because things can get messy. Their cocktails are creative and refreshing.
The atmosphere is upbeat and lively, with colorful decor and a patio area for outdoor dining.
Experience The Wood-Fired Grill At Connors Steak & Seafood
This chill dining experience has served fresh seafood and aged-to-perfection steaks since 2004. The cozy atmosphere will make you feel at home. You’ll be surrounded by wood and fireplaces, plus the sizzling sounds and smoky smells of their wood-fired grills will make your mouth water.
Sink your teeth into a succulent prime rib, a juicy 14-ounce New York strip, or some delectable Australian lamb chops. Your taste buds will be in heaven. And if seafood is more your style, Connors has covered you with classics like Shrimp & Cheesy Grits or their perfectly grilled Atlantic salmon. And remember to try their famous remoulade sauce or creamy lobster dip to take your meal to the next level.
Satisfy Your Vegan Cravings at The Tomato Head’s Cozy Booths
Tomato Head is the place for you if you want vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. But don’t let that fool you – their food is so good even carnivores salivate. The pizzas are a fan favorite, and the Mediterranean plate is loaded with flavor.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try the tofu wings. They’ll make you forget all about the real thing. The Tomato Head is the go-to place for a hip experience and amazing food, pizza, wine, and craft beer.
Emilia’s Charming Place Is One Of Knoxville’s Best-Kept Dining Secrets
If you’re in the mood for Italian food, Emilia is the place to go. From homemade pasta to wood-fired pizzas, this restaurant serves traditional Italian dishes.
The dishes are paired with amazing wine as well.
If you’re in luck, you might see the owner, Chef Matt Gallaher, in action. Don’t distract him – he’s a man on a mission to make your taste buds sing.
Enjoy Amazing Meals at The French Market Crêperie Downtown Knoxville
The French Market Crêperie offers cozy indoor and outdoor settings for a quick bite or a healthy meal. If you’re in the mood for something sweet or savory, The French Market Creperie has you covered.
Their crepes are delicious and can be customized to your liking. Try the Nutella and banana crepe for a sweet treat, or the ham and cheese for a savory option.
Relish The Ultimate Seafood Experience At Chesapeake’s Seafood Restaurant
Seafood lovers, this restaurant is for you. Chesapeake’s downtown is a seafood restaurant that prides itself on using fresh, sustainable ingredients. This place has everything from oysters to crab cakes to lobster rolls.
If you’re feeling fancy, try the bouillabaisse. It’s a French classic that will transport you straight to the coast of Marseille.
Get The Best Lunch At The Stock & Barrel
Last but certainly not least, we have Stock & Barrel. This restaurant is a meat lover’s paradise, serving up some of the best burgers and whiskey in town.
The beef is locally sourced and ground in-house, so you know you’re getting the good stuff. If you’re daring, try the infamous “Big Cheesy” burger. It’s loaded with cheese, bacon, and all the fixes. Just be prepared to unbutton your pants after.
Well, folks, there you have it – the top 10 best restaurants in Knoxville, TN. Knoxville has got you covered whether you’re in the mood for barbecue, sushi, or Italian or Southern cooking. So what are you waiting for? Grab a fork and get to eating!
What Makes Knoxville Restaurants the Best in TN?
Wondering how I picked the top restaurants in Knoxville, TN? Aside from reading countless reviews and recommendations, I’ve got my tastebuds involved to bring you the best of the best. After all, the proof is in the eating!
I focused on a few key criteria when I chose my top 10. Quality is paramount – without it, you’re left with average at best. But other factors like price and atmosphere are important too. Here are the five criteria I used to pick the cream of the crop:
Quality of Food
The food had to be the star of the show. I looked for restaurants that served consistently delicious, fresh, and well-prepared food.
From juicy burgers to fresh salads, crispy fried chicken, to savory Italian pasta, I wanted to ensure each restaurant had something special. For those with dietary restrictions, I looked for restaurants catering to various needs.
Service and Hospitality
Great food is essential, but it’s even better when accompanied by warm and friendly service. Among the top picks here, the staff went above and beyond to make diners feel welcomed and appreciated.
From small gestures like a complimentary dessert to a genuine smile, I wanted to ensure your dining experience was memorable.
The Atmosphere and Ambiance
Knoxville has a wide range of restaurants, each with a unique vibe and ambiance. I looked for restaurants that created a welcoming and comfortable environment, whether a cozy café, a romantic dinner spot, or a lively bar.
And let’s be real, a great Instagram-worthy backdrop doesn’t hurt, either!
Eating out shouldn’t break the bank, so I included a mix of price points in our top 10 list. We looked for restaurants offering great value for money, generous portions, and affordability.
Popularity and Reputation
Finally, I considered the popularity and reputation of the restaurants. I also tried to include the most popular restaurants. I scoured online reviews, ratings, and recommendations from locals and visitors to ensure I bring you the most loved and highly regarded restaurants in Knoxville.
Discover the Flavorful Side of Knoxville
People love Knoxville, and it’s easy to see why. Apart from world-class attractions and rich culture, the city offers outstanding restaurants with mouth-watering meals for any occasion.
Whether you’re a tourist looking for the best spots for a tasty meal or a local looking to discover unknown eateries with delicious dishes and great views, Knoxville has something wonderful for you.
But there’s more to Knoxville than its history, culture, and great restaurants. Knoxville is also ideal for home buyers and investors looking for their next profitable deal. And there’s no better way to explore the Knoxville housing market than with a professional with a deep understanding of the local market.
As a local realtor (and foodie), Haley Jones is uniquely positioned to help her clients find their dream homes.
Whether looking for a neighborhood with a thriving bar scene or a quiet suburb with cozy cafés, Haley can help you find the perfect location to satisfy your housing needs and your taste buds.
Other Honorable Mentions: A Few Spots That Also Standout
Now that I’ve shared my top 10 picks, I want to highlight some honorable mentions and a few restaurants that stand out in Knoxville.
So, without further ado, here are some other Knoxville restaurants that didn’t make it to the top ten list but that I couldn’t leave out.
Bida Saigon is a go-to spot when you’re in the mood for Vietnamese food. The pho is some of the best in town, and the banh mi sandwiches are also worth trying. Plus, the prices are reasonable, and the service is friendly.
A Dopo Pizza
I can always say yes to a good Neapolitan-style pizza, and A Dopo always delivers. The wood-fired pies are always cooked to perfection, and the toppings are creative and fresh. Plus, they have a great selection of beer and cocktails to wash it down.
The Plaid Apron
This farm-to-table restaurant is a hidden gem in Knoxville and deserves acknowledgment. The menu changes frequently based on what’s in season, but everything I’ve tried has been delicious. The minimalist café is a great location for brunch on weekends.
That’s the list! So many amazing Knoxville restaurants make this list hard to curate. However, whether you’re in the mood for pizza, Vietnamese, or Southern comfort food, there’s something here for everyone. So get out there and explore!
Treat Yourself To Amazing Cuisines In Downtown Knoxville
Knoxville, TN, is home to a diverse and vibrant food scene, with options ranging from fine dining to casual spots that offer delicious food and unforgettable experiences. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, plenty of exciting restaurants exist in the area.
From the upscale cuisine of The French Market Creperie to the laid-back atmosphere of Sweet P’s, there’s something for even the most discerning palettes.
It’s time to try new restaurants, discover new flavors, and create unforgettable dining experiences in Knoxville. The city is a hidden gem for food, with diverse restaurants catering to all tastes and preferences.
As a Knoxville native, I have had the privilege of experiencing the city’s food scene firsthand. This list of the top 10 restaurants in Knoxville, TN, is made of restaurants with meals that you simply must try.
Live and Dine Like Royalty in Knoxville, Tennessee
As you explore the top Knoxville restaurants, you will discover an almost endless list of sights and things to do in Knoxville, TN. Living in Knoxville offers a fantastic opportunity to experience all Knoxville offers. With the right help, you can enjoy a smooth experience, discovering more of Knoxville than you could have on your own.
Whether you’re a young professional, growing family, or elderly downsizer, Haley makes the home buying or selling process exciting and without the hassle. With insider knowledge of the local real estate market and the top-rated eateries in town, she can help you find a home that meets your practical needs and satisfies your requirements down to the letter.
So, what are you waiting for? Contact Haley today to start your Knoxville real estate journey and find your perfect home.