Knoxville, Tennessee may be known for its stunning natural beauty and rich history, but it has also quietly established itself as a hidden gem for food enthusiasts. Nestled in the heart of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, this charming city offers a vibrant culinary scene that is sure to delight even the most discerning palates.
With an eclectic mix of restaurants, food festivals, and local specialties, Knoxville has become a must-visit destination for those seeking gastronomic adventures. Stepping into Knoxville means immersing yourself in a tapestry of flavors that reflect both traditional Southern cuisine and innovative culinary trends.
From mouthwatering barbecue joints to upscale farm-to-table establishments, this city caters to all tastes and budgets. Whether you’re a devoted foodie or simply looking for a memorable dining experience during your visit to the Volunteer State, Knoxville won’t disappoint.
Mention of diverse food offerings and local specialties
One of the things that make Knoxville’s food scene truly remarkable is its diversity. The city boasts an impressive array of cuisines from around the world. Craving authentic Mexican street tacos?
Look no further than Chivo Taqueria in downtown Knoxville. Their homemade tortillas and flavorful fillings are bound to transport your taste buds south of the border.
But it doesn’t stop there – Indian cuisine lovers can indulge in fragrant curries and aromatic spices at Sitar Indian Cuisine. For those with an affinity for Italian fare, Naples-born Chef Gino Ciccone brings his passion for traditional Neapolitan pizza to downtown Knoxville at his beloved eatery called Gino’s East Wood Fired Pizza.
Local specialties also play a significant role in defining Knoxville’s gastronomic identity. One such specialty is “biscuits,” which are essentially fluffy clouds of heaven.
The International Biscuit Festival, held annually in Knoxville, celebrates this Southern staple through various biscuit-themed events and competitions. Another local favorite is “hot chicken,” a spicy twist on fried chicken that originated in neighboring Nashville but has gained popularity throughout Tennessee.
For the best hot chicken experience in Knoxville, head to one of the city’s beloved spots like Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken or Chandler’s Deli. Knoxville’s food scene has something for everyone.
From international flavors to beloved local specialties, this culinary destination offers a delightful fusion of tastes and experiences. So get ready to explore the diverse food offerings and savor the unique flavors that define Knoxville’s gastronomic landscape.
Iconic Restaurants in Knoxville
Calhoun’s: A Riverfront Institution
When it comes to iconic restaurants in Knoxville, Calhoun’s is undoubtedly a name that resonates with locals and visitors alike. Situated along the picturesque Tennessee River, this beloved eatery has been serving up mouthwatering Southern cuisine since 1983. Step inside Calhoun’s and you’ll be greeted by an inviting atmosphere, complete with rustic wooden furnishings and walls adorned with local memorabilia.
Whether you choose to dine in the cozy indoor seating area or opt for a table on their expansive outdoor patio, you’re in for a treat. As for the menu, Calhoun’s specializes in delicious barbecue dishes that will leave your taste buds dancing.
From their tender baby back ribs smothered in tangy sauce to their succulent pulled pork sandwiches, every bite is a flavor explosion. Don’t miss out on their famous hush puppies – golden-fried balls of cornmeal goodness that are simply addictive.
Chesapeake’s: A Seafood Lover’s Paradise
If seafood is your weakness, then Chesapeake’s is the place to indulge your cravings. Located in downtown Knoxville, this upscale restaurant offers a delectable selection of coastal delights that will transport you straight to the shores of New England. The moment you step inside Chesapeake’s elegant space, you’ll be transported into a nautical wonderland.
Adorned with sailboat models and seaside-inspired décor, the ambiance sets the tone for an unforgettable dining experience. The highlight of Chesapeake’s menu lies in its fresh seafood offerings sourced from both East Coast and Gulf Coast waters.
From juicy lobster tails served with drawn butter to succulent oysters Rockefeller topped with spinach and bacon – every dish is a celebration of oceanic flavors. For those seeking a taste of land, Chesapeake’s also boasts impressive steak and poultry options.
Sink your teeth into their perfectly cooked filet mignon or savor the robust flavors of their roasted duck breast. With each dish expertly crafted and presented with finesse, Chesapeake’s truly delivers on its promise of exceptional dining.
Whether you find yourself at Calhoun’s or Chesapeake’s, one thing is certain – Knoxville offers a diverse range of iconic restaurants that are sure to satisfy any craving. So next time you’re in town, be sure to immerse yourself in the culinary delights that this vibrant city has to offer.
Farm-to-Table Movement in Knoxville
Embracing Locally Sourced Ingredients
Knoxville, TN has witnessed a remarkable surge in the farm-to-table movement, where restaurants prioritize using locally sourced ingredients to create fresh and flavorful dishes. This growing trend has gained immense popularity among food enthusiasts and health-conscious individuals who appreciate the connection between what they eat and where it comes from.
By choosing to support local farms and producers, these eateries not only provide exceptional dining experiences but also contribute to sustainable agriculture practices. One prominent restaurant that exemplifies this movement is Knox Mason, located in the heart of downtown Knoxville.
Boasting a rustic yet elegant atmosphere, Knox Mason prides itself on its commitment to sourcing ingredients from nearby farms. The menu changes seasonally to highlight the freshest offerings available, ensuring every dish bursts with flavor and vitality.
From heirloom tomatoes picked just hours before serving to pasture-raised meats, every ingredient is carefully selected to showcase the region’s rich agricultural heritage. Another outstanding establishment embracing the farm-to-table concept is The Plaid Apron.
Nestled in Knoxville’s Sequoyah Hills neighborhood, this cozy eatery sources its ingredients from a network of local farmers who prioritize organic and sustainable practices. The Plaid Apron’s dedication to utilizing seasonal produce shines through their ever-changing menu of innovative dishes that celebrate regional flavors with a modern twist.
Whether you’re savoring their roasted beet salad or indulging in their grass-fed burger, you can be sure your meal was crafted with utmost care using only the finest locally sourced ingredients. By supporting restaurants like Knox Mason and The Plaid Apron that actively participate in the farm-to-table movement, visitors not only get an extraordinary culinary experience but also contribute directly to nurturing local food systems and reducing carbon footprints associated with long-distance food transportation.
Promoting Sustainable Agriculture Practices
The farm-to-table movement in Knoxville goes beyond just providing exceptional dining experiences. It serves as a catalyst for promoting sustainable agriculture practices within the region. By partnering with local farmers and producers, restaurants actively support small-scale, environmentally friendly farming methods that prioritize soil health, biodiversity, and animal welfare.
Knox Mason’s collaboration with nearby farms allows them to directly impact the sustainability of the local food system. By sourcing ingredients that are grown using organic or regenerative farming methods, Knox Mason not only ensures the highest quality produce but also supports farmers who prioritize environmental stewardship.
This partnership encourages farmers to continue implementing sustainable practices while fostering a deeper sense of community between diners and those who grow their food. Similarly, The Plaid Apron’s commitment to locally sourced ingredients creates a ripple effect throughout the region’s agricultural landscape.
By working closely with their network of farmers, this eatery actively promotes sustainable practices such as rotational grazing for livestock and regenerative crop cultivation techniques. This collaborative effort not only enhances the quality of their dishes but also contributes to preserving natural resources and protecting ecosystems.
The farm-to-table movement has brought about a culinary revolution in Knoxville’s restaurant scene.
Restaurants like Knox Mason and The Plaid Apron embrace this concept wholeheartedly by sourcing ingredients from nearby farms and promoting sustainable agriculture practices. Diners can indulge in delectable dishes crafted from fresh seasonal produce while supporting local farmers who prioritize environmental stewardship.
By patronizing these establishments, visitors not only savor extraordinary flavors but also contribute to building stronger communities centered around sustainable food systems. Knoxville truly stands as a beacon for those seeking an authentic farm-to-table dining experience rooted in both flavor and conscious consumption.
Ethnic Cuisine in Knoxville
Exploration of the city’s diverse ethnic food options
Knoxville, Tennessee is not only known for its Southern comfort food; it also boasts a vibrant and diverse culinary scene that offers a wide array of ethnic cuisines. From spicy Mexican flavors to aromatic Indian spices, foodies in Knoxville are spoiled for choice when it comes to exploring different cultures through their taste buds. The city’s rich cultural heritage has paved the way for numerous authentic restaurants that serve up delectable dishes from all corners of the world.
Mexican Delights at Chivo Taqueria
When it comes to Mexican cuisine in Knoxville, Chivo Taqueria stands out as a true gem. Located in the heart of downtown with its vibrant and colorful atmosphere, this restaurant takes diners on a flavorful journey south of the border.
From their mouthwatering tacos loaded with succulent meats to their homemade salsas bursting with freshness, every bite at Chivo Taqueria is an explosion of flavor. Don’t miss their famous street corn – perfectly grilled ears slathered in tangy lime crema and sprinkled with crumbly cheese.
A Taste of India at Sitar Indian Cuisine
For those craving the bold flavors and fragrant spices of Indian cuisine, Sitar Indian Cuisine is a must-visit destination in Knoxville. This elegant yet unpretentious restaurant offers an extensive menu featuring traditional dishes from various regions of India.
Start your culinary adventure with samosas – crispy pastries stuffed with spiced potatoes and peas – before diving into main courses like butter chicken or lamb biryani. The rich blend of exotic spices will transport you straight to the streets of Mumbai or Delhi.
Authentic Thai Experience at Nama Sushi Bar
Although primarily known for its sushi, Nama Sushi Bar in Knoxville also offers a tantalizing selection of Thai dishes that are not to be missed. From aromatic green curry to savory pad Thai, each dish is prepared with precision and care.
The balance of flavors and the vibrant presentation make every meal at Nama Sushi Bar a true culinary adventure. Don’t forget to try their crispy spring rolls or the refreshing papaya salad for an exceptional taste of Thailand.
A Culinary Journey through Mediterranean Cuisine at Kefi
For lovers of Mediterranean flavors, Kefi is a restaurant that should be on your radar. This charming eatery brings the vibrant tastes of Greece and other Mediterranean countries to Knoxville. From classic Greek dishes like moussaka and gyro platters to hearty kebabs bursting with succulent marinated meats, Kefi offers an authentic taste of the Mediterranean region.
The restaurant’s warm ambiance and attentive staff create an inviting atmosphere that enhances the overall dining experience. Knoxville’s diverse ethnic food scene provides a passport to explore the world through your taste buds.
Whether you crave mouthwatering Mexican cuisine at Chivo Taqueria, aromatic Indian spices at Sitar Indian Cuisine, or venture into Thai delicacies or Mediterranean delights at Nama Sushi Bar or Kefi respectively, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city. So why not embark on a culinary journey and indulge in these ethnic treasures right here in Knoxville?
Food Festivals in Knoxville
An Extravaganza of Flavors and Cultures
Knoxville, Tennessee, is not only known for its incredible restaurants but also for its vibrant food festivals that showcase the city’s diverse culinary landscape. Ranging from quirky celebrations to cultural extravaganzas, these events offer an opportunity to delve into the local food scene and immerse yourself in a world of flavors and cultures. One such festival that has gained nationwide recognition is the International Biscuit Festival.
Held annually in downtown Knoxville, this biscuit lover’s paradise attracts both locals and tourists alike. Imagine wandering through the streets filled with mouthwatering aromas of freshly baked biscuits, served in all shapes and sizes – from classic buttermilk to unique creations like bacon and cheese-stuffed biscuits.
The festival features biscuit competitions, workshops on biscuit-making techniques, live music performances, and even a biscuit-themed fashion show. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!
Another popular food festival that celebrates Knoxville’s rich diversity is Greek Fest. Located at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, this three-day extravaganza offers an authentic taste of Greek cuisine and culture.
As you step onto the festival grounds, you’ll be greeted by traditional music filling the air while tantalizing aromas waft from various food stalls serving up Greek delicacies like gyros, souvlaki (grilled skewered meat), spanakopita (spinach pie), baklava (sweet pastry), and more. Alongside the delectable eats, you can explore booths featuring Greek crafts, learn traditional dances like Zorba or catch performances by local dance troupes.
It truly feels like a mini trip to Greece! If you’re a fan of fiery flavors and want to ignite your taste buds with some heat, the Latin Fest is the place to be.
This vibrant celebration of Latin American culture takes place at Market Square and offers an array of authentic Latin dishes from various countries, such as tacos, empanadas, arepas, and ceviche. Salsa music fills the air as you savor your spicy delights and dance to the infectious rhythms.
The festival also features live performances by top Latin bands, cultural displays, and workshops where you can learn salsa or merengue moves. It’s a lively fiesta that transports you straight to the heart of Latin America.
For those who appreciate good old-fashioned Southern comfort food with a twist, the Bloomin’ Barbecue & Bluegrass Festival will satisfy your cravings. Held in nearby Sevierville but drawing crowds from Knoxville and beyond, this festival celebrates two things Tennessee is known for: finger-licking barbecue and soulful bluegrass music.
Picture yourself strolling amidst a sea of smokers wafting tantalizing aromas of slow-cooked ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, smoked chicken wings, and all things smoky and succulent. As you savor these mouthwatering creations, talented bluegrass musicians fill the air with toe-tapping melodies.
It’s a weekend of pure indulgence for barbecue enthusiasts and music lovers alike. These food festivals are just a taste of what Knoxville has to offer throughout the year.
From celebrating biscuits to embracing international flavors or enjoying Tennessee’s rich traditions with barbecue and bluegrass – each event immerses you in its unique atmosphere while enticing your taste buds with a world of culinary delights. So mark your calendar for these annual celebrations because they promise an unforgettable experience that will leave you wanting more!
Hidden Gems: Hole-in-the-Wall Eateries
Uncovering Litton’s Market: A Local Favorite
When it comes to hidden culinary treasures in Knoxville, Litton’s Market is a gem that locals hold dear. This family-owned establishment has been serving up delicious eats since 1946.
Walking into Litton’s feels like stepping back in time, with its vintage decor and cozy atmosphere. The walls are adorned with old photographs and memorabilia, telling the story of this beloved spot.
One of the must-try dishes at Litton’s is their famous Litton Burger. This juicy masterpiece is made with a blend of ground chuck and sirloin, grilled to perfection, and topped with all your favorite fixings.
Pair it with their hand-cut fries or onion rings, and you’re in for a treat. If you’re craving something lighter, their salads are equally delightful, featuring fresh ingredients sourced from local farms.
Gus’s Good Times Deli: A Delightful Culinary Hideaway
Tucked away in the heart of Knoxville is Gus’s Good Times Deli—a hidden gem that satisfies both your cravings for delicious food and a laid-back atmosphere. Established in 1981, this charming deli has become synonymous with mouthwatering sandwiches packed with flavor.
The menu at Gus’s offers an array of tempting options to choose from. Their Reuben sandwich is a classic must-try-stacked high with thinly sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and tangy Thousand Island dressing on grilled rye bread.
For vegetarians or those looking for lighter fare, their Mediterranean Veggie Wrap filled with fresh vegetables and feta cheese will surely hit the spot. As you step inside Gus’s Good Times Deli, the aroma of freshly baked bread envelops you—a delight for the senses.
The walls are adorned with quirky decor, creating a cozy and welcoming environment. Whether you’re grabbing a quick bite or enjoying a leisurely meal, Gus’s is the perfect hideaway for food enthusiasts seeking memorable flavors.
Exploring the History and Atmosphere
Both Litton’s Market and Gus’s Good Times Deli have deep roots in Knoxville, each with its own unique story to tell. Litton’s has remained a family-owned establishment for over 70 years, passing down recipes and traditions from one generation to the next. The nostalgic decor transports visitors back in time, allowing them to experience Knoxville’s history through its culinary delights.
Gus’s Good Times Deli has also become an integral part of Knoxville’s dining scene since its opening in the ’80s. Its laid-back atmosphere attracts locals looking for a relaxing spot to enjoy great food while catching up with friends or simply taking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Must-Try Dishes: A Culinary Adventure
At Litton’s Market, besides their famous burgers, don’t miss out on their comforting Southern-style breakfast served all day. Indulge in their fluffy biscuits smothered in homemade sausage gravy—true comfort food at its finest. For dessert lovers, their pie selection is outstanding, with classics like pecan pie and coconut cream pie stealing the show.
Meanwhile, at Gus’s Good Times Deli, venture beyond sandwiches and try their homemade soups of the day—a perfect accompaniment to any meal. And if you have room for dessert (which you absolutely should), indulge in one of their mouthwatering cookies or brownies freshly baked by Gus himself.
Visiting these hidden gems not only provides an opportunity to savor incredible dishes but also allows you to immerse yourself in Knoxville’s rich culinary heritage. So next time you find yourself craving delicious food with a side of nostalgia, venture off the beaten path and discover the unforgettable flavors awaiting you at Litton’s Market and Gus’s Good Times Deli.
Craft Beer & Distilleries in Knoxville
The Thriving Craft Beer Scene
Knoxville is not just a haven for food enthusiasts; it also boasts a thriving craft beer scene that is sure to delight beer connoisseurs. Among the numerous breweries that have gained popularity, Pretentious Beer Co. stands out for its unique and creative approach to brewing. Located in the Old City neighborhood, this brewery offers an eccentric selection of beers with playful names like “Unicorn Farts” and “Don’t Hop on Pop.” Their commitment to quality and innovation has earned them a loyal following among locals and visitors alike.
PostModern Spirits: Distilling Unique Experiences
For those looking for something stronger than beer, Knoxville offers an array of local distilleries that push the boundaries of spirits craftsmanship. One such gem is PostModern Spirits, known for their distinctive approach to distilling and their dedication to creating unique tasting experiences.
Situated in the historic Old North Knoxville neighborhood, this artisanal distillery focuses on small-batch production using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. At PostModern Spirits, you can embark on a journey through their carefully crafted spirits lineup.
Whether you prefer gin, vodka, rum, or even amaro-style liqueurs, they have something to suit every taste. What sets them apart is their innovative use of botanicals and flavors that bring complexity and depth to each drink.
A Tasting Experience Like No Other
Visiting PostModern Spirits is not just about sampling their exceptional spirits; it’s also about immersing yourself in an unforgettable tasting experience. Their tasting room provides an intimate setting where you can learn about the distillation process while savoring expertly crafted cocktails made from their own spirits. The knowledgeable staff at PostModern Spirits are passionate about sharing their expertise with visitors.
They will guide you through the nuances of each spirit, offering insights into the production methods and flavor profiles. This interactive experience allows you to truly appreciate the artistry behind their creations.
Supporting Local Craftsmanship
What makes Knoxville’s craft beer and distillery scene truly special is the community that supports these local establishments. Residents take pride in their city’s craftsmanship and are eager to share it with others. Many breweries and distilleries host regular events, including tastings, tours, and collaborations with local food vendors.
By supporting these local businesses, not only do you get to enjoy exceptional beer and spirits, but you also contribute to the growth of a vibrant community of artisans who are passionate about their craft. So next time you find yourself in Knoxville, be sure to indulge in a pint of Pretentious Beer or raise a glass at PostModern Spirits – it’s an experience you won’t want to miss!
Sweet Treats: Dessert Destinations
Showcasing popular dessert spots such as Cruze Farm Ice Creamery & Magpies Bakery
When it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth in Knoxville, you’ll find an array of delightful dessert destinations that are sure to leave you craving more. Two stand-out spots that locals and visitors alike rave about are Cruze Farm Ice Creamery and Magpies Bakery.
Cruze Farm Ice Creamery is a charming family-owned business located in the heart of downtown Knoxville. Known for their rich, creamy ice cream made from milk produced on their own dairy farm, this place is a must-visit for any ice cream enthusiast.
With flavors ranging from classic vanilla and chocolate to creative options like lavender honey or coffee caramel, there’s something to please every palate. And don’t forget to try their famous ice cream sandwiches made with homemade cookies!
Magpies Bakery is another beloved establishment that has become a staple in the Knoxville dessert scene. This cozy bakery offers an array of decadent treats, including cakes, pies, cookies, and pastries.
Whether you’re craving a slice of their famous chocolate silk pie or indulging in one of their beautifully decorated cupcakes, Magpies Bakery never disappoints. Their commitment to using high-quality ingredients shines through in every bite.
Detailing their delectable treats
At Cruze Farm Ice Creamery, you can expect a delightful variety of flavors that change with the seasons. Imagine indulging in a scoop of strawberry basil sorbet on a warm summer day or savoring the creamy goodness of brown butter almond brittle during the colder months. Their attention to detail extends beyond flavor choices; they also offer vegan options made with coconut milk for those with dietary restrictions.
As for Magpies Bakery, prepare yourself for an assortment of heavenly creations baked fresh daily. Sink your teeth into a slice of their famous Hummingbird Cake, a moist and flavorful combination of pineapple, banana, and pecans.
Or perhaps you’d prefer a flaky croissant filled with almond cream? No matter what you choose, each bite will transport you to dessert heaven.
In Knoxville, TN, the food scene extends far beyond savory delights. From the creamy indulgence of Cruze Farm Ice Creamery to the tempting treats at Magpies Bakery, this city knows how to satisfy even the sweetest cravings.
Whether you’re a local or just passing through town, make sure to treat yourself to these delicious dessert destinations. Indulging in the culinary wonders Knoxville has to offer is not only a feast for your taste buds but also an opportunity to experience the passion and creativity that drives this vibrant food scene.
So go ahead – take a bite out of Knoxville’s sweet side and discover the magic that lies within these dessert havens. With each delectable treat enjoyed, you’ll not only satisfy your cravings but also gain a deeper appreciation for the culinary treasures this city has to offer.
So why wait? Treat yourself today and experience firsthand why Knoxville’s sweet treats are truly something worth savoring!
Knoxville, TN offers a diverse food scene. You can enjoy Southern cuisine, BBQ, farm-to-table restaurants, international fare, and more. It’s a great place to explore a variety of dining experiences.
Knoxville has many family-friendly dining options, such as casual eateries, pizzerias, and restaurants with kids’ menus. Places like The Tomato Head and Pete’s Coffee Shop are popular choices for families.
Knoxville hosts several food festivals and events throughout the year. The Knoxville Brewers’ Jam, International Biscuit Festival, and Taste of Knoxville are just a few examples where you can savor local flavors and culinary delights.
To discover local food producers and farmers’ markets in Knoxville, you can check out the Knoxville Farmers’ Market, Nourish Knoxville, and websites like Visit Knoxville, which provide information about local food sources and markets.