10 Best Restaurants and Cafes in the Knoxville Area

Knoxville's restaurant scene has been evolving, and a number of newcomers have caused quite a stir by offering quality southern comfort food and pizza, with craft beer to match. Visitors will find a wide variety of options, including barbecue, Thai, sushi, Italian, new American, and seafood.

Market Square is a hub for a number of popular eateries such as Cafe 4, the urban-style dining "hang out" that serves gourmet comfort food, or the Tomato Head for outstanding pizza pies and sandwiches.

Stock and Barrel is drawing crowds with its farm-to-table concept, huge selection of bourbons, and an equally-impressive list of of burgers. For breakfast, Pete's Coffee Shop is a long-time favorite that offers a classic diner setting and traditional items like pancakes and omelets. Down on the waterfront, Calhoun's serves up some mouthwatering barbecue with beautiful views of the river.

A Taste of Thai and Nama sushi serve up Asian dishes, while Chesapeake's is the go-to place for fresh seafood. Those seeking an elegant evening out can try Bistro by the Tracks, or  head to Ye Olde Steakhouse for a more casual night on the town.

The experts at 10 best have sampled Knoxville's finest and present their list of favorites to help with the dining decisions.



New chef Jeff Carter brings sophistication to this small, upscale bistro that surrounds guests with a warm, contemporary decor. Tapestry-upholstered booths and chocolate-brown carpet add visual warmth to the appetizing menu selections. Mere...  Read More

Airport - Tys


If you're in the mood for seafood, Chesapeake's will satisfy your desires. Although Knoxville is landlocked, this restaurant is one of a small number in Tennesee that fly their seafood in fresh daily. Shrimp, crab, lobster, a variety of fish,...  Read More



This sushi spot offers a fusion of traditional Japanese with an American twist. There are vegetarian options with tofu, unusual appetizers like wasabi hummus and jerk-seasoned calamari, and a wide variety of rolls and entrees. The "Bahama Mama"...  Read More

Calhoun's on the River
Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan


Calhoun's on the River is just good eatin'. Popular with anyone associated with the university, it has also become a favorite for travelers to Knoxville. It is known for wood smoked barbecue that you can smell way before you see it and signature...  Read More

Ye Olde Steak House


When you crave a great steak, there's no place like Ye Olde Steak House. They've been selling their sizzling sensations for more than 35 years. Whether you choose rare, medium, or well done, the food is consistently cooked the way you like with...  Read More



You wouldn't expect it from the location in the middle of a strip mall lot, but this modern-looking building serves some seriously authentic Thai cuisine. Prices are extremely reasonable, around $10 to $14 (on average) for dinner entrees. In...  Read More



In business for more than 25 years, Pete's is a favorite breakfast and lunch spot. This casual, family-owned restaurant serves up home-style cooking at reasonable prices. Specialty lunch sandwiches include lamb gyros, chicken wraps, Greek wraps,...  Read More

Airport - Tys


In a brick building on Market Square sits this unassuming restaurant, a favorite of the locals. Its interior is contemporary, with light wooden tables and chairs. Sparse and funky, it's known for delicious gourmet pizzas (sold by the pie or by...  Read More

Cafe 4
Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan


Cafe 4 puts a spin on classic southern comfort food: like fried green tomatoes with red pepper relish and balsamic, a Tennessee cheese steak with white cheese sauce, or low country shrimp and grits with andouille sausage and goat cheese. A mac...  Read More



This newcomer announced its arrival in Knoxville with the loudest burgers around. With around 20 options to choose from ranging from $8 to $15, each comes with a clever name and some seriously creative toppings. The "Hurt Locker" has pimento...  Read More


Meet Amber Nolan

Originally from upstate New York, this restless traveler has a knack for befriending interesting characters. You can usually find her just about anywhere that has a hammock. Amber's favorite...  More About Amber