If you have visited the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, chances are you passed through or very close to Knoxville. Placed beautifully at the foothills of the Smokies, Knoxville is now actively establishing itself as a destination all its own. From the Urban Wilderness in south Knoxville to the water sports on the Tennessee River and Fort Loudon Lake, more people are visiting our charming, yet “scruffy” city every year, and brunch is an ever-growing offering at local restaurants all over the city.
1. Knox Mason
Downtown on the 100 Block of Gay Street, sits the restaurant food lovers in Knoxville have been waiting for. Using a myriad of local ingredients, Chef Matt Gallaher has created southern inspired dishes with a unique twist. They serve brunch on Sundays and you should start with a Beermosa or Mason Bloody Mary. If you are hungry, try the Griddled Honey Bun with fresh whipped cream then move on to the Steak and Eggs from Strong Stock Farms or the Falls Mills Shrimp and Grits. You will not be sorry.
Nestled in the heart of Sequoyah Hills neighborhood lays a true treasure when it comes to brunch. Drew and Bonnie McDonald work hard to provide their patrons traditional and unique brunch dishes based on the most fresh and locally available ingredients. If you are in a breakfast mood check out the Sourdough French Toast topped with seasonal fruit and an anglaise or whipped cream. For a more savory breakfast you have to dig in to the Eggs Benedict with house cured Canadian bacon and local veggies. If lunch is more your thing, try the Burger topped with a sunny up egg and Benton’s Bacon mayo. You will certainly not be disappointed in any selection!
On Saturdays from late April through October Market Square in Downtown Knoxville comes alive with local farmers, artisans and food trucks. Food Truck Row, located on Market Street from the square toward Gay Street, is home to some of the best food Knoxville has ever seen. First, grab yourself a cup of hand poured coffee at the Old City Java tent then head towards Gay Street to pick up a breakfast burrito or Go Big Orange biscuit from the Savory and Sweet Truck. The Tootsie Truck offers up braised pork belly with creamy cheese grits and a made to order egg that will stop you in your tracks. After filling up on the savory options, do not leave without trying the truck raised spelt doughnuts at Mister Canteen.
This is a recent addition to the favorites list. Located in the heart of the District in Bearden, Cosmo’s extensive menu of breakfast and lunchtime offerings makes it hard to decide what to eat. If it’s your first time there, try the Toad in a Hole, grilled sourdough bread with cooked to order eggs and local sausage, or the Breakfast Bowl, buttermilk biscuit covered with sausage gravy, scrambled eggs and cheese. These two plates are well worth the visit. For the coffee lover in your group, try the Hammerhead coffee or any one of their espresso based beverages.
5. Cafe 4
A few years ago, brunch was hard to find in Knoxville. One of the first to jump on the trend was Cafe 4 in Market Square. This trendy spot offers an industrial feel interior and a heated patio perfect for people watching on Market Square. Cafe 4’s seasonally changing menu offers you options ranging from lighter fare such as Yogurt Granola Parfait and salads to more comforting dishes like the Tennessee Cheesesteak with shaved sirloin and Lobster-Bacon Flatbreads. A personal favorite is the Grilled Cheese Dipper with a rich grilled cheese and hearty tomato bisque. It is an excellent balance of breakfast and lunch food.
About Eric McNew
Mandee and Eric McNew have been blogging about cooking and dining since 2013 but have been living the life of food lovers for much longer. You can read about their travels and adventures in their own kitchen at Gather with ME and also on Twitter and Instagram