Knoxville's dining and bar scenes have gained national recognition, propelling the city into the spotlight as a previously overlooked "culinary gem." Esteemed publications such as Yelp, Reader's Digest, the New York Times, and Food & Wine have all featured Knoxville establishments in their prestigious rankings. As a result, both patrons and industry professionals have taken notice of the city's rise in the food and travel industry. Here are some noteworthy highlights that will appeal to those seeking exceptional dining and drinking experiences:
Knoxville Bakeries Spotlighted by Food & Wine and Afar
- Wild Love Bakehouse: Truly one of the Shannon Foster-Boline Group's absolute favorite places in town; many team meetings and celebrations include their croissants and other baked goods! Formally regarded as "the best bakery in America" by Afar magazine, Wild Love Bakehouse, situated at 1625 N. Central St., has captured the hearts of customers and critics at Food & Wine alike. Owners Shaun and Meg Parrish prioritize local and regional ingredients and devote ample time to crafting pastries, flatbreads and selecting the perfect coffees to accompany their treats. Their exceptional croissants have even won over skeptics, earning high praise from Food & Wine. With indoor and outdoor seating options, Wild Love Bakehouse has become a beloved spot for coffee and pastry enthusiasts, offering a welcoming environment to study or unwind.
- Paysan Bread and Bagels: Never fear you don't have to go to New York City for an amazing bagel! Located at 804 Tyson St., Paysan Bread, and Bagels received accolades from Food & Wine magazine as one of Knoxville's culinary highlights. Known for their outstanding bagels and baguettes, Paysan often sells out quickly. Take advantage of their online ordering to savor their popular bagel sandwiches and a delightful selection of other baked goods.
Best Date Night Restaurants in Knoxville
A Dopo Sourdough Pizza: A Dopo is a casual environment with an upscale pizza; get ready for a true treat! Located at 516 Williams St., A Dopo Sourdough Pizza has established itself as a must-visit romantic spot since its opening in 2016. Known for their Neapolitan-style pizzas, which have gained immense popularity, A Dopo ranked 19th on Yelp's 2023 list of best pizza places in the U.S. and Canada, climbing from its previous position at No. 38. The restaurant's wood-fired oven, prominently displayed in photos, adds to the allure. Savor their delectable sourdough pizza crusts adorned with authentic Italian ingredients like Soppressata salami, Castelvetrano olives, and Calabrian chilis. Vegan options such as mozzarella and pepperoni are also available. Reservations are essential and online ordering is available.
J.C. Holdway: Situated at 501 Union Ave., J.C. Holdway gained widespread acclaim upon its opening in 2016. Chef Joseph Lenn, a Tennessee native, and James Beard Award winner, brought his culinary expertise to his hometown with this upscale regional restaurant. Garnering attention from outlets like Eater, J.C. Holdway offers a blend of local and international ingredients prepared over a wood fire. Dishes like parmesan pasta with Benton's bacon and a cornbread crumble showcase the restaurant's fusion of Southern influences and globe-trotting creations. We here at the Foster-Boline Group think this is a perfect place to celebrate birthdays, Anniversaries, and maybe even a proposal!
Best Casual Eats in Knoxville
Potchke Deli: Since this deli opened it has been Shannon Foster-Boline's obsession (meaning she visits at least once a week). Located at 318 N. Gay St. #103, Potchke is a Jewish deli that has garnered a loyal customer base since its opening in 2022. One of the owners, Laurence Faber, was the head pastry chef at the flagship restaurant, "The Barn" at the ultra-luxury resort Blackberry Farm in Walland Tennessee. He brings attention to detail, culinary skill, and a teamwork mentality which shine through in all of the unique offerings at Potchke. Laurence said he set the decor of the restaurant to meet the fun and flavor of the food in a "Miami meets Jewish culture" vibe. Recognized by The New York Times for its owners' commitment to fundraising for Ukraine during a time of conflict, Potchke offers traditional Jewish fare with international inspirations. Indulge in dishes like the whitefish bialy, matzoh ball soup, homemade challah bread, and mushroom reuben. Don't forget to check out their specials and ask about their "secret sandwich" offering!
- Yassin's Falafel House: Voted Nicest Place in America by Reader's Digest in 2018, this restaurant embodies its owner's inclusive motto, "All sizes, all colors, all ages, all sexes, all cultures, all religions, all types, all beliefs, all people, safe here at Yassin's Falafel House." While the accolade pertains to the welcoming environment, the passion and care of the owner are also evident in the culinary delights. Yassin's Falafel House, with its locations in downtown Knoxville, Alcoa, and west Knoxville, serves up some of the finest falafel, baba ghanoush, and shawarma in Tennessee. The Foster-Boline Group's hands-down favorite is the spicy falafel and baba ghanoush, but whatever you order expect a great meal. Whether you opt for a quick sit-down meal or takeout, the casual, friendly ambiance blends seamlessly with the delectable flavors and high quality of the dishes.
Best Places to Get a Drink in Knoxville
Brother Wolf: Situated at 108 W. Jackson Ave., Brother Wolf is an Italian-inspired bar that serves as a perfect pre-dinner drink destination for those dining at its award-winning sister establishment, Osteria Stella. Recently named one of the 25 best bars in the country by Esquire magazine, Brother Wolf boasts an extensive menu of 41 variations of the classic Italian cocktail, Negroni. The bar's local charm and focus on bitters make it an inviting spot to socialize. The bartenders here are also game to whip up inventive mocktails for those who choose to enjoy their drinks sans alcohol. We highly recommend eating next door at Osteria Stella after having the drink of your choice; their handmade buffalo mozzarella and bread appetizer is Shannon's favorite dish (she advises to just go ahead and order two)!
Abridged Beer Company: Looking for an amazing burger and brew combo? Look no further than the delicious selection at Abriged. With multiple locations, Abridged Beer Company emerged as the winner in a local beer bracket, receiving high praise from Knox News readers. Founded in 2015, this brewery showcases a diverse range of beers, including their selection of sour beers at the upscale barrel-aged beer bar, The Oak Room, and a full kitchen restaurant at the World Headquarters in Cedar Bluff. Their Abridged Burger and carefully crafted appetizers and sandwiches perfectly complement their exceptional beers.
With Knoxville's burgeoning culinary reputation, these recognized restaurants, bars, and bakeries offer exceptional experiences for those seeking remarkable dining and drinking options.