- Michelle Combs
As the Gateway to the Smokey Mountains, Tennessee’s original capital and one of the larger cities in the South, Knoxville is the home of an eclectic blend of Appalachian culture, urban sophistication and rich history. The city’s culinary delights reflect this melting pot of influences, ranging from raw tuna steak to BBQ to fried local catfish, all served with a side of the city’s unique culture and history.
Bistro at the Bijou
The Bistro at the Bijou is nestled in one of the oldest buildings in Knoxville, a site that has had the distinct honour of hosting five American Presidents throughout its previous life as a frontier hotel and tavern. The 19th century painting known as ‘Miss Lil’ behind the bar is another relic of the past. The Bistro now serves up a wide variety of delicious dishes for theatregoers and those visiting just for the food and ambiance. The menu features sandwiches and comfort food as well as steak and seafood, serving from brunch through dinner.
Bistro at the Bijou, 807 South Gay Street, Knoxville, TN, USA, +1 (865) 544 0537
Shuck Raw Bar & Ale
Those craving fresh seafood and an ultra-modern setting should head down Gay Street to Shuck Raw Bar & Ale. With specials featuring fish tacos, hand-selected oysters, and raw tuna this trendy restaurant will satisfy seafood lovers of all tastes. The menu also features po’ boys, a classic Southern sandwich consisting of grouper, shrimp, crab or oysters accompanied by homemade tartar sauce, romaine lettuce, and tomato on a hoagie bun. The exquisite food is well complimented by an extensive drinks menu, featuring wine, specialty cocktails and a variety of ales and lagers.
Shuck Downtown, 135 S Gay Street, Knoxville, TN, USA, +1 (865) 329 0000
Shuck Bearden, 5200 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN, USA, +1 (865) 219 5714
The Crown & Goose
Boasting the title of Knoxville’s first London-style gastropub, The Crown & Goose is located in the Old City, on South Central Street. The pub features an oyster bar and fresh seafood as well as British classics and award-winning cheese boards. For indecisive guests, Chef Jeffrey DeAlejandro recommends the Confit Duck Leg, 2 confit duck legs with barley risotto tossed with fresh spinach in a parmesan broth, and the Creekstone Ribeye & Chips, 12 oz. Angus Ribeye topped with grilled onions and a balsamic and red wine reduction. Served with their famous house-made English Chips. Dishes are prepared with locally sourced ingredients and accompanied by a wide-ranging and thorough selection of drink from all over the world.
The Crown & Goose, 123 S. Central Street, Knoxville, TN, USA, +1 (865) 524 2100
Stock & Barrel
For the best burger in town, Knoxvillians frequent Stock & Barrel. Working to promote local sustainability in addition to serving excellent burgers, Stock & Barrel is committed to a farm-to-table concept, sourcing all of its beef from Mitchell Family Farms in Blaine, Tennessee; and bread, cheese and bacon from other local producers. The menu also boasts a few other gems of local cuisine with a gourmet twist, notably fried green tomatoes with goat’s cheese in a balsamic reduction and a white cheddar pimiento cheese dip. Stock & Barrel’s tag line is ‘Burgers and Bourbon’, and the bourbon selection does indeed live up to this moniker.
Stock & Barrel, 35 Market Square, Knoxville, TN, USA, +1 (865) 766 2075
Bistro by the Tracks
Bistro by the Tracks blends continental dishes with a Southern flair to provide a fine dining experience in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. With this concept in mind, Chef Chester Miller has created unique dishes, such as his shrimp bisque, consisting of butter-poached shrimp and scallion in tomato cream, accompanied by crispy grits and cornmeal-crusted catfish, served with crayfish, red beans & rice, and remoulade. Bistro by the Tracks has also received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence; patrons will be sure to find the perfect wine to compliment Miller’s exceptional dishes. The bistro is open for lunch and dinner.
Bistro by the Tracks, 215 Brookview Centreway, Suite 109, Knoxville, TN, USA, +1 (865) 558 9500
Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show
Diners with an adventurous spirit should travel a short distance from Knoxville to Pigeon Forge, for a unique cultural experience known as the Dixie Stampede. Highlights of this family-friendly spectacle include horse-riding stunts, Bluegrass and country music and a theme of North and South rivalry based on the history of the American Civil War. A four-course meal is served during the dinner show, on a fixed menu that also has a vegetarian option. The Dixie Stampede is a fun, light-hearted experience that also gives an insight into Southern culture and history.
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner (as well as featuring a gluten-free menu) Café 4 has something for everyone. The menu is crafted with an abundance of local ingredients and encompasses a wide variety of dishes: fried chicken and waffles to the Café 4 strawberry salad to steak roquefort and a mac n cheese bar. The cafe also boasts a bakery with many confectionery delights. Voted one of the top romantic restaurants in America by Gourmet.com, Café 4’s intimate ambiance is charming. The cafe features live music in The Square Room and is located in Market Square.
Café 4, 4 Market Square, Knoxville, TN, USA, +1 (865) 544 4144
The French Market
The French Market is Knoxville’s premier crêperie. Located in the heart of downtown on Gay Street, The French Market crafts savoury and sweet crêpes using batter imported directly from France with a wide variety of fillings to choose from. Open primarily for breakfast and lunch, but also dinner on Thursday through Saturday, The French Market also serves baguettes, croissants, soups and salads in a cosy, friendly atmosphere.
The French Market, 526 South Gay Street, Knoxville, TN, USA, +1 (865) 540 4372
Archers is the best place for BBQ in Knoxville. This Memphis-style BBQ consists of dry rubbed and hickory smoked pork, chicken, sliced beef and baby back ribs marinated in sauces created by founder Archer Bagley, a Memphis native. These delicious, high-quality meats are served with classic Southern sides: collard greens, BBQ beans, potato salad, and coleslaw. For authentic comfort food in true East Tennessee style, go no further than Archers, located on Kingston Pike.
Archers BBQ, 5415 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN, USA +1 (865) 394 9580
The Grill at Highlands Row
The history of the Highlands Grill goes back to the time of Prohibition in America (1920-1933). According to the restaurant’s lore, alcohol was served, but only if a patron knew the owner. Now that all diners can be served equally and freely, The Grill at Highlands Row continues its hospitality. The menu is crafted on local tastes of shrimp and grits and fried pickles as well as gourmet steak and crab cakes. The restaurant is locally owned and sources much of its ingredients locally. As a nod to its speakeasy past, The Grill offers a (completely legal) moonshine cocktail, ideally enjoyed on the patio while taking in some of the beautiful weather and scenery Knoxville has to offer during the spring and summer months.
The Grill at Highlands Row, 4705 Old Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN, USA +1 (865) 851 7722