Knoxville is a sweet little town on the Tennessee River. Everywhere you look, someone or something is dressed in orange and white, which was overwhelming at first, but has really grown on me. Being a mere 3 hours from Atlanta makes Knoxville great for a weekend trip destination. There is virtually no traffic by Atlanta standards and getting anywhere is a breeze.
OliBea: 109 S Central St, Knoxville, TN 37902
$$ – Breakfast, Brunch
Named for their two kids (at the time), Oliver and Beatrice, Olibea opened in 2014 in Knoxville’s Old City, with a menu that changes with the seasons as their meat and produce comes from local farms. They caught me by surprise by offering pork belly in the form of thick, tasty bacon like slices and square potato cubes in their OliBea plate. Neat drink options include Jarritos, horchata, and tamarind that easily complement your brunch. The walls are lined with eclectic decor and there’s an arcade cocktail table where you can demolish your opponent while enjoying your eggs.
The French Market Creperie: 412 Clinch Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902
$$ – French
They offer sweet and savory French crepes, baguette and croissant sandwiches, and various soups and salads in downtown and west Knoxville. The amount of delicious sweet and savory crepe combinations are overwhelming and I had a difficult time choosing just two. Their traditional and buckwheat flour is imported from France and they make everything fresh, what’s not to love?
Balter Beer Works: 100 S. Broadway, Knoxville, TN 37902
$$ – American, Brunch
Since opening in 2016 in a renovated service station, Balter has been serving craft beer and food made from scratch. Portions are generous and delicious enough to induce a food coma. Entree prices are a tad high because they include unlimited trips to the brunch bar, which includes cakes, cookies, brownies, salad, pasta salad, and many other things I was too full to consume. There is pet friendly patio seating as well as indoor seating and my favorite part is that a mimosa is $1 and a carafe is $7!
Stock and Barrel: 35 Market Square, Knoxville, TN 37902
$$ – Burgers
Bourbon. Burgers. Beer. All the appetizer options are delicious: fried pickles, pan fried feta cheese, fried green tomatoes, and duck fat fries! The cheeky named gourmet burgers are all drool worthy. They even offer an Elvis style burger with peanut butter and banana. The bourbon list is quite extensive, ridiculously extensive.
Sweet P’s: 410 W Jackson Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902
$$ – BBQ
I visited their second location that opened in downtown Knoxville in 2015. The Sweet P’s BBQ plate ($11) includes smoked pork or chicken BBQ served with 2 sides: mac n’ cheese, pinto beans, tater salad, coleslaw, green beans, sauteed greens n’ things, and banana pudding.
This spring, they added The Trailer Park, an outdoor wine and beer bar that garnered inspiration from the 60/70s trailer park era and the modern beer garden aesthetic, complete with colorful umbrellas and string lights. It can be accessed by either going upstairs from inside or up the ramp behind the building.
Yassin’s Falafel House: 706 Walnut St, Knoxville, TN 37902
$ – Falafel, Greek, Mediterranean
Knighted by Reader’s Digest “The Friendliest Place in America”, Yassin’s Falafel House is a safe space for everyone. No one is turned away here and they hope to provide more opportunities for other refugees and those experiencing homelessness. Yassin’s, the owner, altruism is the cherry on top of a great selection of falafel sandwiches, salads, and hummus that is made daily in house.
SoKno Taco Cantina: 3701 Sevierville Pike, Knoxville, TN 37920
$$ – Tacos
SoKnos is a street style taco bar with 24 beers and house margaritas (so many flavors) on tap. I had a SoKno Salad with tofu, a spring mix, pico, and cheese in a crispy fried dough bowl. There is indoor and pet friendly outdoor seating. I didn’t make it to dessert because of the large portions, but I didn’t have to to know that churros and choco tacos are a great way to end any meal.
Myrtle’s Chicken and Beer: 13 Market Square, Knoxville, TN 37902
$$ – Southern
Southern comfort food right in the middle of Market Square. I came to Myrtle’s on a Saturday morning in October and was surrounded by families dressed from head to toe in orange and white. As I ate my Chicks in a Blanket and Chicken & Waffles with football on the TV screens playing in the background, I began to realize just how southern Knoxville was. Myrtle’s really captures the essence of modern southern hospitality.
Drinks and Things:
Honeybee Coffee: 10716 Kingston Pike, Knoxville TN 37934
$$ – Coffee, Tea, Baked Goods
The west Knoxville location is a modern, minimalist coffee bar located in a renovated garage with plain white walls and high ceilings. Sitting by the opened garage doors basking in the plentiful natural light while sipping an iced honey lavender latte is my perfect sunny day. Behind the marble countered bar is a small room with fun plant print wallpaper and couches and attached patio for additional study spaces. They offer dairy alternatives such as almond, soy and macadamia nut milks for my fellow lactose intolerant pals out there.
K Brew: 1138 N. Broadway, Knoxville, TN 37917
$$ – Coffee, Tea, Baked Goods
Since opening in 2013, K Brew now has 3 locations. The spacious north Knoxville location has an attached pet-friendly garage area with indoor single person hammocks. Coffee sipping, hammock swinging, and pup petting is a recipe for a sweet time.
Pour Taproom Knoxville: 207 W Jackson Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902
$$ – Bar
In 2014, the OG Pour Taproom opened in Asheville to showcase local craft beers. In 5 years, they’ve expanded throughout the southeast to Charleston, Durham, Greenville, Knoxville, Wilmington, Charlotte, and now in Atlanta right on the Beltline.
Enter and grab a bracelet. Then tap, pour, and pay by the ounce with 68 different taps of craft beers, ciders, meads & wines. Pour also offers bar snacks, sandwiches, and nachos to accompany your alcohol. I love this set up because it allows you to sip and sample a diverse selection to help you find what you really like instead of paying for a whole drink to find out you don’t like it.
Things to Do:
Market Square Farmer’s Market: From May to November, vendors set up shop from 9 AM-2 PM on Saturdays and 11 AM-2 PM on Wednesdays in Market Square to sell soaps, candles, art, cheese, veggies, and local homemade goods. Pets are not allowed sadly.
Ijams Nature Center: 2915 Island Home Ave, Knoxville, TN 37920
12+ miles of pet friendly trails for hiking and biking. The nature center also has places to paddle, climb, or simply enjoy nature. The River Boardwalk is an easy, shady stroll along the water.
Fort Dickerson Park: 3000 Fort Dickerson Road, Knoxville, TN 37920
From atop the 350 ft deep turquoise water in the quarry, there are views of the skyline as well the Smoky Mountains. Bring your swimsuits and floaties as you can swim in the water, but be careful because it gets really deep really fast.
Look Rock Tower Trail: Maryville, Tennessee
The short 0.9 mile trail leads to an observation tower with spectacular 360 views of the Smokey Mountains. It’s family and leashed dog friendly.
High Ground Park: 1000 Cherokee Trail, Knoxville, TN 37920
This historical landmark in South Knoxville was my favorite place to watch the sunset. To get here, park in the dirt lot and follow the gravel trail to the River Bluff Wildlife Area. Take a right at the first fork, and take your pick at the second fork—either will bring you to the overlook and the park’s famous swing. The golden hour light here is truly something.
The heart and soul of Knoxville. The UT campus is beautiful, spacious, and has many many stairs, so be prepared. The Thompson Boling Arena parking lot isn’t a bad place to watch the sunset either.