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Knoxville’s Top 7 Absolute Best Restaurants

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Welcome to Knoxville, home of the University of Tennessee. Knoxville is home to those looking to enjoy southern cuisine and exciting new tastes. If you're looking for the best restaurants that Knoxville has to offer, look no further!

1. Holly's Gourmet Market

Interior of Holly's Gourmet Market. It features many seating selections and a hospitable environment.

Holly's Gourmet Market is a unique dining experience for those visiting Knoxville. This charming restaurant offers a wide variety of culinary delights, from classic Southern comfort food to international dishes. The menu is constantly changing, but you can always find fresh, seasonal ingredients and locally-sourced produce. In addition to a delicious menu, Holly's also offers a well-stocked gourmet market, complete with a bakery, deli, and fresh produce.

Dine inside the cozy, rustic interior or enjoy the beautiful outdoor patio, surrounded by lush greenery. Holly's is the perfect place for a romantic date, a family gathering, or a casual brunch with friends. With its warm atmosphere and delicious food, Holly's Gourmet Market is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the best of Knoxville's food scene. Whether you're in the mood for a hearty breakfast, a light lunch, or a decadent dinner, Holly's has something to satisfy every craving.

2. The Plaid Apron

The Plaid Apron's bar, featuring its amazing drinks and service.

The Plaid Apron is a charming restaurant located in the heart of Knoxville. Upon walking in, visitors are immediately impressed by its warm and inviting atmosphere that's perfect for a casual lunch, intimate dinner, or a special occasion. The menu at The Plaid Apron features a range of classic comfort foods, with a focus on locally-sourced ingredients and seasonal flavors. They are determined to bridge the gap between farmers, restaurants, and mouths. You can be in the mood for a juicy burger, a fresh salad, and a hearty pasta dish. You're sure to find something you love at The Plaid Apron.

The interior is inviting, with comfortable seating, elegant lighting, and a welcoming bar. The restaurant also features an outdoor patio, perfect for enjoying a meal on a beautiful day. The Plaid Apron knows its guests enjoy the beautiful southern scenery. Well known for its delicious food and exceptional service, The Plain Apron is a popular choice among locals and tourists alike. This restaurant caters to everyone, from people looking for a quick bite even to a leisurely meal.

3. Litton's Market & Bakery

Exterior of Litton's Market & Bakery.

Litton's Market & Bakery has a comforting, southern-styled atmosphere. With a focus on locally-sourced ingredients and homestyle cooking, the menu features a range of classic comfort foods, including breakfast favorites, hearty soups and stews, fresh salads, and hot sandwiches. In addition to the restaurant, Litton's Market & Bakery also operates a well-stocked market, offering fresh baked goods, specialty products, and gourmet grocery items.

The interior of the restaurant is well decorated, with comfortable seating and a rustic feel. The outdoor patio is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a meal on a sunny day. Litton's is well known for its friendly staff and excellent food, making it a popular choice among locals and tourists alike. Looking for a delicious meal and to satisfy your sweet tooth? Come by Litton's Market & Bakery today!

4. The Half Barrel

The Interior of the Half Barrel, which features a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

The Half Barrel is a unique dining destination in this part of Tennessee. With a wide selection of artisanal cuisine and handcrafted drinks, the menu features a range of creative dishes, including fresh salads, gourmet sandwiches, and flavorful entrees. Built into the restaurant, The Half Barrel also operates a well-stocked bar, offering a range of craft beers, specialty cocktails, and fine wines.

The interior of the restaurant is stylish and modern, with comfortable seating and an elegant bar. The Half Barrel is popular among tourists, as it is commonly known for its innovative menu and exceptional service. Experience a hearty and southern dinner paired with a creative cocktail at the Half Barrel! It truly is one of Knoxville’s most prominent restaurants that will be sure to make you want to come back to this historic city.

5. Tulepo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar

Exterior photo of the Tulepo Honey Souther Kitchen & Bar.

Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar is an iconic bar located on a corner in the heart of Knoxville. With a theme centered on classic Southern cuisine and hospitality, it creates a cozy environment for everyone who dines there. The menu features a range of homestyle dishes, including fried chicken, slow-cooked barbecue, and fresh seasonal salads. While enjoying its delicious southern food, you can also check out Tupelo Honey’s well-stocked bar, which offers a range of craft beers, specialty cocktails, and fine wines.

Inside, local vendors’ products are on display. You can find honey, chapstick, clothing, and all sorts of locally-sourced Knoxville goods. Looking to enjoy the Tennessee weather? Head upstairs to the outdoor patio where you can relax and enjoy your chicken and waffles. It’s the perfect destination for anyone looking to experience the best of Knoxville's dining scene. Come and see what all the fuss is about at Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar!

6. Cafe 4

Interior photo of Cafe 4, depicting its modern decoration and unique environment.

Perhaps Knoxville’s most eclectic dining destination, Cafe 4 displays a modern environment, with a focus on contemporary cuisine and innovative flavors. The menu features a plethora of special dishes which are sure to leave you satisfied. Visitors to the restaurant are always impressed with the food’s exceptional flavor and presentation. Mixing urban flavor with southern hospitality, Cafe 4 is Knoxville’s go-to downtown restaurant location. Need a coffee? Cafe 4 has you covered. Looking to stay longer and try a delicious meal paired with a handcrafted cocktail? Look no further!

7. Five Thirty Lounge

Five Thirty Lounge's Spectacular view over the Knoxville skyline.

Five Thirty Lounge is one of Knoxville’s most chic and sophisticated dining destinations. It offers a sleek and modern atmosphere, with a high-rise view of The Smoky Mountains and the Knoxville skyline. Surrounded by 15ft tall panes of glass, become starstruck by the view without even having to leave your seat at the bar. Additionally, if you’re in town on Wednesday nights, stop by Five Thirty Lounge to enjoy their new live music series!

Rooted in history, the Five Thirty Lounge was built on top of the former and historic Farragut Hotel. Now, it resides at the top of the Hyatt Place. Featuring delicious seafood entrees, visitors at the Five Thirty Lounge have a wide variety of fresh options to taste from. Whether you’re eating their Salmon Poke or their Wagyu Beef, any entree goes great with their select whiskeys, wines, and cocktails. Look no further for Knoxville’s premier dining experience. Five Thirty Lounge has the sophisticated dining experience you’ve been looking for.

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