Knoxville has some wonderful restaurants to choose from, from casual to fine dining. My top recommendations include:
Café 4 at 4 Market Square: This is a popular restaurant with an attractive coffee bar and bakery.
Stock & Barrel at 35 Market Sq.: This is the casual spot for burgers and bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey. I enjoyed the turkey burger and heard that the salmon burger is also great.
The good news is that the day I arrived on my last trip, Cruze Farm Dairy opened their new permanent ice cream store at 408 S. Gay St. Make sure to stop in when you are in town! The ice cream is really outstanding.
Knox Mason: At 131 S. Gay, this is one of the better restaurants in the city according to many sources. I enjoyed a fun dinner with friends. The cornmeal crusted trout was the way to go. They are moving to a bigger place in 2019 at Gay St. and Union Ave., so check the website for the opening date and address.
Shuck Raw Bar & Ale: I enjoyed the downtown location at 135 S. Gay St., which has a good menu of seafood items. They are known for their lobster roll as well as their seafood and tuna tower salads.
French Market Creperie: This is an attractive spot for coffee. They also have a full menu of sandwiches and salads plus many savory and sweet crepes to choose from. 412 Clinch Ave.
Coffee & Chocolate: Each time I am in town, I stop in for coffee at this coffee bar and artisanal chocolate shop. 327 Union St.
Tupelo Honey Cafe: This is a local’s favorite which is located in the The Oliver Hotel. The wait can be long as they only take reservations for larger parties.
Down the street is Old City Java, a fun spot, where you can stop in for a cup of coffee and a pastry. 109 S Central.
Bistro by the Tracks, 215 Brookview Centreway: This is an upscale restaurant with a warm comfortable décor and really good food and service. I enjoyed a great dinner with friends. The salmon and swordfish entrees were excellent as was the beet salad. After dinner, head next door to their upscale wine bar/cocktail lounge Drink. The atmosphere is dark and warm with several groupings of comfortable seating. This was my first experience of several pour-your-own wine stations where you can put in a card they provide and you can then sample any of the wines in three sizes of pours. What a great idea!
Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop: A local pie shop with two locations. Don’t miss the Southern Buttermilk pie or the strawberry pie which are both excellent. The smaller 4 inch pies are perfect for a snack! The owners, Scott and Meredith Layton, are delightful! I like the newest location at 5400 Kingston Pike.
On my most recent trip I enjoyed dinner at J.C. Holdway restaurant opened by Chef Joseph Lenn in 2016, who won the 2013 James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast. He was also a chef at the famed Blackberry Farm. It is at 501 Union Ave. and features his wood-fired techniques. I had a wonderful meal of pork, catfish and warm beets with pumpkin seeds. Eater.com named it one of the 12 Best New Restaurants in America in June, 2017. Make sure to book early before you go. I booked online the day the reservations opened up a month in advance
Another new find is Pete’s Coffee Shop & Restaurant, which is a fun diner that has been around for over 30 years. I loved the atmosphere and the great food. It is in a great location downtown, so skip breakfast at your hotel and head over early. 540 Union Ave.
Lonesome Dove Western Bistro: Located in the the Old City neighborhood at 100 N. Central, the restaurant features “Urban Western Cuisine” in a renovated historic building. Chef Tim Love “features both classic and new tastes” and features “bold flavors, wild game, and signature wood-fired cooking techniques.” I enjoyed a great meal on my recent trip. Make sure to notice the custom made cutlery and steak knives which are beautifully done.
On the way out of town I stopped in at Wild Love Bakehouse located at 1625 N. Central St. This is a fun, hip spot for great coffee and baked goods. The cranberry scone was excellent.
Next time I want to try Calhoun’s on the River at 400 Neyland Drive for its Tennessee BBQ and OliBea, named after its owners Oliver and Beatrice and known for its great breakfasts in Knoxville’s Old Town at 109 S. Central St. They feature a menu of Southern and Mexican dishes. I heard the owner speak at a food conference!
Also on my list for my next trip is Oliver Royale at 5 market Square, for seasonal American dishes and cocktails. It is at the Oliver Hotel along with Tupelo Honey Cafe. On Market Square Tomato Head is recommended for pizza and Emilia for Italian and pasta at 16 Market Sq.
Downtown in Market Square I always enjoy visiting the The Market Square Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Here you will find a variety of food trucks and vendors.