Charcuterie board from Oliver Royale in Knoxville, TN

Experience These Knoxville Restaurants

This is just a small taste of all the great places Knoxville has to offer.

Knoxville is experiencing a culinary boom with restaurants that celebrate Southern cuisine and establishments opened by famous chefs. Take in the hustle of the city from a patio seat at a Market Square restaurant or slip into a high-end restaurant in downtown Knoxville. Read our article below for a number of places to eat in Knoxville that will have you wanting seconds. Read more for below. 

The Plaid Apron

At the forefront of Knoxville’s meticulously and sustainably-sourced menus, chef and owner Drew McDonald has painstakingly created an almost purely scratch-made kitchen. Recently remodeled and reopened, Plaid Apron is located in the beautiful Sequoyah Hills neighborhood, tucked away from a lot of the bustle of downtown and the Old City. This may be Knoxville’s most gluten-free and ingredient-conscious dining experience. All your breakfast needs are covered with breakfast sandwiches made to your liking - omelets, oatmeal and even eggs Benedict. Fluffy cinnamon rolls, muffins, scones, cookies and biscotti are made fresh every day. Try the griddle cakes that come with whipped sorghum and vanilla butter, drizzled in maple syrup. You'll eat so well, you'll want to come back for lunch and dinner where jowl bacon pizza, white sorghum and oyster mushroom “risotto,” sweet tea-brined JEM Farm organic chicken, ramp chimichurri marinated lamb sirloin and other delicious entrees and sides await.   

Oliver Royale

Have an elegant dining experience surrounded by exposed brick walls and contemporary artwork. Oliver Royale serves a variety of dishes from confit pork belly with macaroni and cheese and Benton's bacon-braised collard greens to barbecue spare ribs and, of course, a charcuterie board that is loaded with crostini, mustard, jam and an assortment of meats, cheeses and pickled items.

Preservation Pub

Walk into the bright, energetic Preservation Pub for local brews, music and food that hits the spot. Journey up to the rooftop where you can sit among the "electric forest," drink and be merry with downtown Knoxville spread out before you. Pair your drink of choice with one of their specialty pizzas (the dough is made with Guinness Stout), panini served on Italian focaccia bread made in-house, nachos, subs and more. 


Kaizen is a Japanese word often translated literally “change for the better,” but most often interpreted as a philosophy summed up by the phrase “continual improvement,” applied here by Executive Chef and owner Jesse Newmister. To continue our crash-course in Japanese culinary tradition, Kaizen embraces the izakaya restaurant model, most easily described as a Japanese tapas-pub. But Kaizen isn’t simply a traditional Japanese-style restaurant. In fact, it’s anything but. All manner and method of Asian cuisine makes up this oft-rotating menu – from Thai to Szechuan and all else that may inspire and inform Chef Newmister. There is the Nashville bun, the chef’s take on Nashville hot chicken, and the Thai sausage bun, which has a delicate peanut sauce. Everything on the menu feels and tastes light, crisp and fresh, with a lot of fresh herbs – even the fried dishes, so that you never feel bogged down, even after a heavy meal. 


Photo Credit: Visit Knoxville

Sharing is caring at Vida where the best way to experience the Pan-Latin flavors is to order a few small plates to share with your friends and family around the table. Enjoy barbacoa empanadas with caramelized onions, barbacoa beef, sofrito, romesco and cotija cooked in a house-made pastry; mini changas with roasted chicken, Spanish rice, jalapeno and black beans, Yuca fries topped with queso blanco and jack cheese and local Benton's bacon; sauteed mussels; tuna tacos and more. The Peruvian chicken, boneless beef short rib and swordfish are chef's specialties and should not be missed.

Sweet P's

You can't go to Knoxville and not stop in at Sweet P's BBQ & Soul House and Sweet P's Downtown Dive. The two locations serve up incredible, mouthwatering barbecue and sides like cole slaw, green beans, macaroni & cheese and banana pudding. Order pulled pork or chicken, ribs, brisket and bone-in, smoked chicken. They even have a barbecue burrito that will quickly become your favorite. 


Photo Credit: @ieatknoxville

Savor Mediterranean flavors at Kefi with expertly crafted dishes and a menu with gluten-free and vegetarian options. Start with the Baba Ghanooj - grilled eggplant dressed with imported tahini, olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper smoked almonds. Order a few sharing plates like the garides - large shrimp in garlic butter, marinated tomato and feta served with grilled bread or the fatayer - seasoned beef, pork and veal with roasted onion, tomato and dressed in dijon cream. You'll love the branzino that is citrus and herb stuffed and served with grilled squash and rice pilaf and the Padakia - perfectly grilled lamb chops served alongside crispy cured lemon fingerling potatoes and butternut squash puree. Save room for dessert - the butterscotch pecan bread pudding is heavenly.

Lonesome Dove

Photo Credit: @slavicvixen

Lonesome Dove is a western bistro with an elegant flair. The menu is full of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients so that each visit is different. Expand your palate with dishes like elk-foie gras sliders, rabbit-rattlesnake sausage and wild boar ribs. Main courses like the rabbit ravioli, Berkshire pork chops served with grits and crispy onion as well as sweet potato succotash-chili relleno with a black bean emulsion, Manchego cheese, chili pepitas and an avocado corn salsa will warm your soul. Give the night a sweet finish with decadent 

French Market Creperie 

Knoxville may not be known for having a Parisian flare, but thanks to the French Market Creperie, the city is beginning to be known for having world-class crepes. These versatile pastries, which resemble incredibly thin pancakes, can be eaten for any meal, filled as they may be with bacon and eggs, smoked salmon, spinach and tomato, strawberries and cream, Nutella, caramel, cinnamon and sugar and just about any other ingredient. They also offer croissant and baguette sandwiches, soups and brie, and to truly round out the French Market experience, they brew Europe’s most popular coffee and espresso, LaVazza. In addition to the menu, the French Market Creperie is one of downtown Knoxville’s best spots to open up your laptop or a book and relax. 

Potchke Deli 

Start your day with the colorful, Instagram-worthy dishes at Potchke. You'll love the menu of Jewish and Eastern European favorites like tartine, blintz, matzo ball soup, babka and bialy. Many items are vegetarian and/or vegan and there are gluten-free options as well. 

Barley's Taproom & Pizzaria

A great place to hang out, Barley's Taproom & Pizzaria in downtown Knoxville has unique pizzas and an extensive beer selection. Enjoy a slize of the Barley-Q pizza topped with grilled chicken, red onions and banana peppers and drizzled with barbecue sauce. The "Hoff" is deliciously spicy with jalapenos, portabella mushrooms and sausage on an Alfredo sauce and mozzarella base. And, if you want the specialty pizza of the month, order The Mysterio. Other entrees like a veggie wrap and fish and chips are on the menu as well as salads and small bites like garlic cheese bread and black bean hummus.

The Tomato Head

While on Market Square, grab a bite at The Tomato Head for locally sourced foods from soups and salads to sandwiches and pizza. Enjoy the hummus plate with fresh vegetables and pita bread to dip in the spicy original hummus. Order up the chef salad or the baked tofu salad. And, bite into handhelds like the vegan sandwich with marinated tofu or the turkey melt with sprouts, red onion and Monterey Jack cheese. Brunch is also served Saturdays and Sundays until 3 p.m. Huevos Rancheros, breakfast pizza topped with scrambled eggs, smoked salmon an capers

Chivo Taqueria

Located in downtown Knoxville on South Gay Street, Chivo Taqueria is the place to go for Mexican cuisine and an unrivaled selection of tequilas, whiskeys, wine and craft beers. Dig in to the house made nacho chips topped with Korean barbecue, jalapenos, avocado crema, black beans and queso dip, guacamole, fire grilled wings and queso fundido. A la carte tacos, quesadillas, giant burritos topped with queso and tortas like the Tijuana hot torta, their take on a hot chicken sandwich, are fan favorites. Churros and flan should be ordered for dessert. And, don't miss their brunch menu served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.


You won't ever go hungry in Knoxville with its endless options of cuisine. Explore more must-eats in Knoxville and start planning your culinary adventure. 

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