11 Knoxville Restaurants You Can't Miss

From OliBea to Knox Mason, here’s where to eat and drink in Knoxville.

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Knoxville is a small, unsuspecting city, but don’t let that fool you. When it comes to eating out and drinking, locals will quickly tell you who is dishing up the best. From OliBea to Knox Mason, here’s where to eat and drink in Knoxville.
1. OliBea
olibea, breakfast, restaurant, knoxville, tennessee

olibea, breakfast, restaurant, knoxville, tennessee

Photo by: OliBea

OliBea

A new favorite, OliBea — named after the owner's children, Oliver and Beatrice — is open only for breakfast every day from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., OliBea serves Southern gems such as the OliBea Omelet, which has house-smoked trout, arugula, pickled onion and creme fraiche (pictured above). Other favorites include the chicken biscuit and the stuffed acorn squash with quinoa, Brussels sprouts and a fried egg.

2. The Tomato Head
the tomato head, restaurant, sandwiches, knoxville, tennessee

the tomato head, restaurant, sandwiches, knoxville, tennessee

Photo by: The Tomato Head, Justin_Fee

The Tomato Head, Justin_Fee

One of the original restaurants on Market Square, the Tomato Head offers brunch, lunch and dinner. The décor is simple but homey, and the bread is baked fresh every day at the Flour Head Bakery in downtown Knoxville. Whether you’re a carnivore, vegetarian or vegan, the Tomato Head has something for everyone. If you’re going for breakfast (a popular choice), try the Annabelle sandwich, served with scrambled eggs, roasted onion, chorizo or soysage (awesome), roasted potatoes, Sweetwater Valley smoked cheddar and spicy apple salsa. It will start your day off right.

3. Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop
buttermilk sky pie, shop, knoxville, tennessee

buttermilk sky pie, shop, knoxville, tennessee

Photo by: Buttermilk Sky Pie

Buttermilk Sky Pie

Are you craving the sweet and savory? Buttermilk Sky has you covered. Sample classics such as Granny’s apple pie and chocolate meringue pie, or choose from daily flavors and seasonal pies. Homemade biscuits and ice cream are on the menu as well. Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop has 2 locations in Knoxville — Kingston Pike and Parkside Drive. Not in Knoxville? No worries. They will ship either an I-40 pie or a Nanny’s pecan pie to your front door! What’s not to love?

4. Five Bar
five bar, breakfast buritto, knoxville, tennessee

five bar, breakfast buritto, knoxville, tennessee

Photo by: Five Bar

Five Bar

The concept is simple and true: Choose from 5 appetizers, 5 entrees, 5 desserts, 5 red wines, 5 white wines and 5 beers. No muss, no fuss. Five Bar has perfected its menu, which changes according to what’s fresh and in season. One of its sister restaurants in Destin, FL — Harbor Docks — receives fresh seafood daily, and what’s shipped there is also shipped to Knoxville, so you know you’re getting the best of the best. Try the stuffed shrimp or the Five Burrito (pictured above), which has sausage, bacon, eggs, onions, peppers, queso, pico de gallo and a side of hash browns.

5. Knox Mason
knox mason, fine dining, restaurant, knoxville, tennessee

knox mason, fine dining, restaurant, knoxville, tennessee

Photo by: Beall + Thomas Photography, Heather Anne Thomas

Beall + Thomas Photography, Heather Anne Thomas

Knox Mason offers Southern cuisine at its best. Chef Matt Gallaher serves classics such as Shelton Farm cornmeal-crusted Mississippi catfish with Falls Mill grits — oh, my! For dessert, all the options are grand, served in mini mason jars and packed with heavenly sweets. Order the Cruze Farm buttermilk panna cotta or the Knox Mason banana pudding.

6. Holly's Homberg
holly's eventful dining, restaurant, beet salad, knoxville, tennessee

holly's eventful dining, restaurant, beet salad, knoxville, tennessee

Photo by: Holly's Eventful Dining

Holly's Eventful Dining

Like Knox Mason's Matt Gallaher, Holly Hambright is another Knoxville celebrity chef. Wherever she's cooking, her fans will be dining. What started off as a catering business in 2010 quickly broke the mold into 2 full-fledged restaurants. The first, Holly's Homberg, is known for Holly’s special melt-in-your-mouth quiche, including the Lurleen, which consists of Benton’s country ham and Sweetwater Valley Farms smoked cheddar. Other options include homemade soups, "sammitches" and sweets from local bakery Magpies. Holly’s Homberg is open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner (starting at 5:30 p.m.) on Friday and Saturdays only. Her second restaurant, Holly's Corner — proud of its "Go to the Corner!" slogan — serves homemade soups, "sammitches" and "halfsies" (half sandwich and soup) and opens at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Both locations are vegetarian- and vegan-friendly.

7. Cru Bistro & Wine Bar
cru bistro & wine bar, filet, knoxville, tennessee

cru bistro & wine bar, filet, knoxville, tennessee

Photo by: James Chiarella/Cru Bistro & Wine Bar

James Chiarella/Cru Bistro & Wine Bar

A dining experience of small plates and a wine bar — a first for Knoxville — Cru Bistro offers a wide variety of cuisine by land or sea, with an impressive drink menu to match. From shrimp quesadillas and pesto grilled chicken club sliders to wild mushroom stone-fired pizza and a filet mignon sandwich, the dishes are a must-try in Knoxville. In 2014, Cru Bistro received an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. There are 2 locations: at Pinnacle at Turkey Creek and in the 100 block of Gay Street.

8. Chandler's Deli
chandler's deli, fried chicken, knoxville, tennessee

chandler's deli, fried chicken, knoxville, tennessee

Photo by: Rani Robinson

Rani Robinson

Chandler's Deli, aka "Pink Taco Bell," serves Southern food that you’d normally find only at grandma’s house. The completely unsuspecting restaurant in East Knoxville is owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Charles and Gwen Chandler, who opened Chandler’s after Charles retired. The couple work nearly every day at the restaurant, cooking for and serving their guests. Known for having some of the best barbecue in Knoxville, the Chandler’s menu is packed with lots of Southern love: fried chicken, ribs, fried green tomatoes and okra, collard greens, broccoli and cheese, macaroni and cheese, and lots more.

9. Sweet P's
sweet p's bbq and soul house, knoxville, tennessee

sweet p's bbq and soul house, knoxville, tennessee

Photo by: Sweet P's Barbeque and Soul House

Sweet P's Barbeque and Soul House

Ask anyone in Knoxville for the best place to get barbecue, and everyone will tell you: Sweet P’s. Open every day except Monday, Sweet P’s prides itself on its smoked foods, cooked slow and low — the Southern way. Choose from a variety of smoked meats, such as Tennessee beef brisket, chopped pork and chicken wings. Other options include smoked turkey club sandwiches, BBQ burritos, salads and more. Look for Sweet P’s newest location, coming soon to downtown Knoxville.

10. Chivo
Chivos Tacos

Chivos Tacos

Dig into a plate of tacos at Chivos Tacos in Knoxville.

Photo by: Courtesy of Chivo Taqueria

Courtesy of Chivo Taqueria

Need a place to go on #TacoTuesday? Look no further than Knoxville's new Chivo restaurant. Perfectly situated between downtown's Knox Mason on Gay Street and Tomato Head in Market Square. You'll love the ambience, tequilla and catchy taco names like Limp Brisket, Frying Nemo (Sorry, Finding Nemo fans) and Piggy Small, to name a few.

11. Stock and Barrel
stock and barrel, french fries, knoxville, tennessee

stock and barrel, french fries, knoxville, tennessee

Photo by: Rani Robinson

Rani Robinson

The french fries and burgers at this local favorite on Market Square were voted the best in Knoxville for 2014 in Metro Pulse. But at Stock and Barrel, they pride themselves on not just what they eat, but what they drink as well. There are more than 70 bourbons to choose from, which pair perfectly with a juicy burger, such as the classic bacon burger or the Black & Blue, a burger with buttermilk blue fondue, Benton’s bacon, crispy onions and blackening spice. Grab a stool at the bar or, if you can find a seat (the place fills up fast), at a table and order a bourbon to accompany your out-of-this-world beef burger and duck confit french fries. Yes — french fries cooked in duck fat. They’re pretty amazing.

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