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A Food Lover's Guide to Knoxville: Must-Try Dishes and Local Eateries

By Alex Dormer, Posted on 28 Apr, 2023 at 09:46 am

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If you're a food lover visiting Knoxville, Tennessee, you're in for a treat! Knoxville's vibrant food scene offers a delightful mix of Southern comfort classics, innovative culinary creations, and diverse international flavors. From beloved local eateries to upscale dining establishments, this comprehensive food lover's guide will take you on a gastronomic journey through Knoxville's must-try dishes and the best places to eat.


1. Southern Comfort Classics: A Taste of Tennessee

No visit to Knoxville would be complete without indulging in Southern comfort classics. Start your culinary adventure by sampling some mouthwatering barbecue. Head to Sweet P's Downtown Dive for tender pulled pork and smoky ribs that will leave you craving more. Don't forget to try their famous sides like mac and cheese and collard greens.

For a true taste of Tennessee, make your way to Chandler's Deli, a local institution serving up soul food at its finest. Feast on crispy fried chicken, buttery cornbread, and flavorful greens, all prepared with love and served with a side of Southern hospitality.


2. Innovative Cuisine: Pushing Culinary Boundaries

Knoxville's culinary scene is not just about traditional flavors. The city is also home to innovative restaurants that push the boundaries of taste and creativity. Make a reservation at The Plaid Apron, where Chef Drew McDonald showcases his culinary expertise with seasonal ingredients and unique flavor combinations. From locally sourced farm-to-table dishes to adventurous tasting menus, this cozy eatery is a must-visit for food enthusiasts.

If you're in the mood for an upscale dining experience, look no further than Emilia. Led by acclaimed Chef Matt Gallaher, this restaurant takes inspiration from Italian and Appalachian cuisines, resulting in a delightful fusion of flavors. Indulge in handmade pasta, wood-fired pizzas, and exquisite desserts that will satisfy even the most discerning palates.


3. International Flavors: Global Cuisine in Knoxville

Knoxville's culinary landscape goes beyond local and American fare, offering a range of international flavors to tantalize your taste buds. For a taste of Mexico, head to Babalu Tacos & Tapas and savor their mouthwatering tacos, fresh guacamole, and flavorful sangrias. The lively atmosphere and vibrant flavors will transport you to the streets of Mexico.

If you're craving Asian cuisine, Nama Sushi Bar is the place to be. Known for its top-quality sushi and innovative rolls, this local favorite offers a wide selection of fresh seafood and creative flavor combinations. Whether you're a sushi aficionado or a first-time sushi eater, Nama Sushi Bar is sure to impress.


4. Hidden Gems: Local Eateries Worth Exploring

While Knoxville has its fair share of well-known dining establishments, don't overlook the hidden gems that offer unique culinary experiences. A perfect example is OliBea, a charming brunch spot that serves up delicious Southern-inspired dishes with a twist. From fluffy biscuits and gravy to shrimp and grits, OliBea's menu is a testament to the creativity and passion of its owners.

Another hidden gem is K-Town Tavern, a local gastropub known for its elevated comfort food and extensive beer selection. Try their famous pimento cheeseburger or indulge in a plate of loaded sweet potato fries while enjoying the laid-back atmosphere and friendly service.


5. Sweet Treats: Desserts to Satisfy Your Cravings

No food lover's guide is complete without mentioning desserts, and Knoxville has plenty to offer in that department. Visit Cruze Farm Ice Cream for a scoop of their famous homemade ice cream, crafted from the milk of their own dairy cows. With unique flavors like roasted strawberry buttermilk and brownie batter, you're in for a sweet treat.

If you're a fan of all things chocolate, make a stop at the Knoxville Chocolate Company. From hand-dipped truffles to artisanal chocolate bars, their delectable creations are sure to satisfy your chocolate cravings.


With this food lover's guide to Knoxville, you're equipped to explore the diverse and delicious culinary landscape of the city. From Southern comfort classics to innovative cuisine and international flavors, Knoxville's food scene has something to please every palate. So, come hungry and get ready to embark on a gastronomic adventure in Knoxville, Tennessee!

About Author

Alex Dormer

Alex is a successful travel blogger; he gives great tips to travel enthusiasts regarding how they can save money on their vacations. He's been to 40 + countries, and he mainly focuses on how to cut down costs during travel. 

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