Bakery in Knoxville - Magpies Bakery
Photo Credit: Tennessee Tourism

Sweet Treats and Savory Eats: Experience Knoxville’s Culinary Boom

Taste your way through Knoxville's restaurants and bakeries

If you haven’t taken a seat at one of Knoxville’s many thriving restaurants, bakeries and otherwise outstanding eateries to sample what chefs are serving up, you may have not heard: Knoxville is undergoing a culinary boom, and you need to be there. Here's where to get sweet treats and savory food in Knoxville.

Knoxville Bakery Stops

Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop

Buttermilk Sky Pie Shops gives you an authentic taste of Southern tradition with their delicious pies. The gluten-friendly bakery offers must have flavors like Southern custard (buttermilk), Granny's apple pie, rich and thick chocolate cream and tart key lime pies. Seasonal favorites include pumpkin, lemon icebox pie and more that are available throughout the year. Other sweet treats include thumbprint shortbread cookies, pecan shortbread cloud cookies, and pie a la mode - a mini pie with a scoop of ice cream. 

Wild Love Bakehouse

Locals and travelers alike go wild for Wild Love Bakehouse and their handmade pastries full of meticulously sourced local ingredients such as hand-picked and in-season berries, eggs from Tickiwoo Farms and dairy from Cruze Farms. At Wild Love, the early bird gets the perfect, buttery croissants, which often sell out during the breakfast rush. Stop in for lunch as well for scratch-made soups, potpies and breads.

Status Dough

Head to Status Dough for a donut menu that seasonally changes, making each dough, each batch and each tray a freshly glazed miracle. Lick your fingers clean with classic raised doughnuts and cake doughnuts, fruit fritters, jelly-filled Paczkis and Long Johns. Coupled with the coffee and espresso bar, Status Dough is a must when you visit Knoxville. 

Magpies Bakery

Hailed by many as producing the "Best Cupcakes in Knoxville," you can't go wrong with the confectionery heaven that is Magpies Bakery. Chocolate strawberry, red velvet, vanilla mocha, creamy caramel and chocolate caramel will make your choice difficult; or, simply get them all! Pies like chocolate cream, chess, apple, blue ribbon pecan and blueberry are available as well as cookies, cheesecakes, banana pudding, baked loaves and even wheat-free cupcakes.

Savory Eats in Knoxville

J.C. Holdway

In the kitchen at J.C. Holdway, the wood-fire grill takes center stage - you can see it burning behind the bar. Using it to create his Appalachian-inspired fare, Knoxville-native Chef Joseph Lenn converts comfort classic plates into an elevated culinary experience. His take on chicken and dumplings, for example, by substituting gnocchi for dumplings and adding a slow-cooked egg for you to break in the broth. Or, the simple-yet-elegant smoked catfish-onion dip served with out-and-out barbecue chips that sit pleasantly on the bites menu. Chef Lenn cooked alongside Sean Brock in Nashville’s Capitol Grill before becoming executive chef at the Barn Restaurant at Blackberry Farm, a position for which he won the incredibly prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast in 2013. In 2015, Lenn resolved to open his own establishment, which he named in honor of his late uncle Joseph Charles Holdway, who left an indelible mark on Lenn’s life.

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.


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.

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. You may even see Chef McDonald at the Market Square Farmers Market, carefully selecting ingredients that inform the flavors of his kitchen. Cornmeal tempura chicken livers or a cheese and crackers appetizer featuring red wine chutney and Sequatchie Cove Cumberland Tomme, jowl bacon pizza, white sorghum and oyster mushroom “risotto,” sweet tea brined JEM Farm organic chicken or ramp chimichurri marinated lamb sirloin - and those are just samplings from the new dinner menu. 

Stock & Barrel

Knoxville’s favorite burger joint, Stock & Barrel, sits right on bustling Market Square and is an undeniable staple upon Knoxville’s food scene. With locally sourced ingredients like beef raised by Mitchell Family Farms of Blaine, Tennessee, breads from Flour Head Bakery, cheeses from Sweetwater Valley Farm and bacon from Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams, these burgers will be some of the best you ever tasted. Sink your teeth into The Steakhouse topped with crispy onions, sauteed mushrooms, melted cheddar and drizzled with A1 sauce or try The Elvis, a unique Tennessee burger that celebrates the King of Rock n' Roll's favorite combo - peanut butter, fried banana and bacon topped on a burger. Add a bit of spice to your life with The Ring of Fire burger topped with pepper jack, black bean and corn salsa, habanero, jalapenos and a delicious garlic aioli. Duck fat fries are the ultimate side, but the mac n' cheese and beer battered onion rings are great choices, too.


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