Everyone knows that when you come to Tennessee, you always leave with a full stomach. That goes for every Tennessee city you can think of, including Knoxville—the home of the Volunteers. Knoxville may be known for something of the weirdest things out there, like the world’s first Forensic Anthropology Center aka The Body Farm. But let’s not go there. In fact, you can totally skip that on your next visit and do the three things that Knoxville knows to do best: listen to music, shop, and eat to your heart’s content. Here are the 10 best places to eat in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Nothing is better than Tennessee BBQ other than Tennessee BBQ on the river. Calhoun’s offers that and so much more. The waterfront views are nice, but the menu is just as satisfying. Just to start off, the bread you get with your meal consists of bread, muffins, and cornbread. It’s enough to fill you up, but make sure you leave room for their Original Wet Wings. They’re the perfect match to go with beer form the Smoky Mountain Brewery.
2. Stock & Barrel
It might sound like another famous restaurant chain, but Stock & Barrel is nothing like that at all. Their food has been described as loud plenty of times, and that’s a great thing. The flavors hit you in the face once you actually make a choice on which to eat. Stock & Barrel currently has 20 burgers on their menu, and we’ve got to say that they’re all pretty good. So yeah, Stock & Barrel is the best burger joint in Knoxville—hands down. If you’re craving some meat between bread, you really shouldn’t go anywhere else.
3. Connor’s Steak & Seafood
You can’t go wrong with the classic steak and seafood combo. It pretty much means that they serve everything under the sun. However, Connor’s does it with just a little more flair. It’s not exactly fine dining, but the food you’d get will be sophisticated, tasty, and good-looking too. After all, we first eat with our eyes, don’t we? Connor’s offers great steak cuts, incredible fish options, chicken, sandwiches, dessert, and more. Come hungry—that’s for sure.
4. The Tomato Head
Located on Market Square, you won’t think much of The Tomato Head at first glance. But locals will tell you that you need to check this place out, and you ask why. The brand tagline is this: Food gotta cook. Don’t come out of can. It might get your attention enough to sit in for a meal, but you’ll get convinced as soon as you come in. The smell alone will get your taste buds rolling. Pizza is the game here, but their sandwiches are just as great. We suggest visiting The Tomato Head during lunch hours, and bring the kids. The kids’ menu offers mac and cheese pizza. Enough said.
5. Café 4
Restaurants with numbers on their names can sometimes feel random and sketchy. No need to worry here. The 4 from Café 4 stands for their street address number. You can describe Café 4’s menu as a modern-day Southern food. You might think that’s impossible, as Southern food thrives on its rich culture and history. But Café 4 does this seamlessly that you might not even notice. The fried green tomatoes, for example, gets a fresh update with the addition of red pepper relish and balsamic. Don’t say no until you try it.
For classic seafood fine dining, there’s no better place than Chesapeake’s. Fresh oysters, Maine lobster, Maryland crab cakes, shrimp and grits, fried shrimp, shrimp scampi, and should we go on? I’m sure we don’t have to at this point. Chesapeake’s has all the classic seafood dishes we all crave, but don’t worry. They also serve a solid filet for land lovers.
7. Puleo’s Grille
Have you ever had Southern American and Italian together? It makes perfect sense. Both cuisines go for comfort and family-size servings. Puleo’s Grille blends both cuisines seamlessly, and it has become some of the locals’ favorite go-to place for dining. There are times when you just want something hearty and homey to eat. Puleo’s Grille will remind you of mom’s cooking, and you’ll feel it in your heart and in your belly.
8. Corner 16
Corner 16 offers good old American fares—you can’t go wrong with that. It’s casual dining that’s perfect for the family, especially for nights when nobody really wants to cook. They’ve got wings and burgers, but we highly recommend ordering from their comfort food menu. You’ll find old favorites here such as chicken and dumplings, roasted turkey and dressing, country fried steak, and so many other good things. As a bonus, you can treat yourself to the soda shop menu afterwards. Care from some egg cream soda, anyone?
9. Tupelo Honey
Scratch-made Southern food is what Tupelo is proud of. We really wouldn’t want Southern food any other way, so Tupelo’s is a go. With fried okra, fried green tomatoes, and scrumptious biscuits to start off, you’d be surprised you have room for anything more. But you really should stretch your stomach a little here because they’ve got fried catfish and Southern-style fried chicken on the menu.
10. The French Market Creperie
Feeling French lately? You can satisfy your sweet cravings at the French Market Creperie, for sure. But they don’t just serve delectable Nutella crepes the way they do on the streets of Paris. The French Market Creperie also offers a selection of savory crepes that’ll make you trade your hand-eating sandwich habits to that of fork and knife use. They also have a selection of delicious sandwiches that are not served on white, whole wheat, or rye. Instead, you’ll get a baguette or a croissant instead. There’s a reason why the French are considered culinary gods; they just make everything sound so fancy and good.