Top 5 Downtown Dinners in Knoxville, Tennessee

Downtown Knoxville offers a wide variety of mouthwatering dishes under a backdrop of city charm.

Knoxville, Tennessee: mountains, lakes, college sports…. and a foodie’s paradise? With praise from Southern Living and Buzzfeed, the “Scruffy City” has undeniably gained a new title as a food lover’s haven. In particular, downtown Knoxville offers a wide variety of mouthwatering dishes under a backdrop of city charm. As a visitor so many feasting options can leave you dizzy, so I’ve done the dirty work and narrowed down my favorite downtown dinner spots here:

1. Lonesome Dove

Located in the Old City, Lonesome Dove is frequently publicized as one of the best fine dining restaurants around. Chef Tim Love has mastered the creation of unique, elevated western fare. The exposed brick interior of the 130-year-old building, formerly a saloon, is ideal for a date night or special occasion dinner. The menu is one of a kind: Wild Game Fettine (thinly-sliced, Carpaccio style meats), Lobster “Hush Puppies”, Stacked Duck and Rabbit Enchiladas… are you drooling yet? Don’t miss the lunch special: a 16 oz. Prime Rib for $16 (Fridays only). And if you’re not feeling all that adventurous, sit on their attached patio and grab a burger at The Love Shack. Insider tip: if you wait around long enough, you can also snag late night donuts outside the kitchen around 11 PM.


100 N Central Street, Knoxville,

(865) 999-5251 

2. J.C. Holdway

It’s hard not to recognize this restaurant by name, as it has been declared one of the best new restaurants in America by Southern Living, Esquire, and Eater. Step in and you’ll find yourself in a euphoric dream of wood fire aromas and Le Creuset dinnerware. James Beard Foundation winner and Knox local, Chef Joseph Lenn, prepares farm-fresh food, harvesting southern gourmet in style. This restaurant is located around the corner from Market Square. Might I suggest the cornbread skillet with sorghum-butter?


501 Union Avenue, Knoxville, TN

(865) 312-9050 

3. Kaizen

It’s been a while since I’ve had authentic Asian food quite like Kaizen. With an ever-changing menu and daily specials, Jesse Newmister’s restaurant lives up to its name, meaning “continuous improvement”. The low-lit “locals-only” vibes here inspire feelings of exclusivity. Order the Crow’s Nest Noodles Version Two for incredibly layered flavor (ask for a fried egg on top). Their steamed buns are also a must-try! When you see Knoxville’s finest waiters dining here, you’ll know that you are in good company.


416 W Clinch Ave, Knoxville, TN

4. Knox Mason

Situate yourself at Knox Mason for seasonal grub and select seating with unrestricted kitchen views. Chef Matt Gallaher’s passion for locally sourced ingredients truly makes his restaurant spotlight-worthy. Experts like The Travel Channel and Food 52 have hailed Knox Mason an eater’s paradise. Gallaher has also previously prepared cuisine for celebrities like Tim McGraw, The Eagles, and Kings of Leon. This is a cozier joint so DO make a reservation. For dessert get the flambéed Knox Mason Banana Pudding. Is house made pasta more your thing? Try their equally amazing sister restaurant, Emila. Both restaurants are located in the Market Square area.


131 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN

(865) 544-2004 

5. Maple Hall

Bringing your family to town? Then getting your eat, drink, and game on at Maple Hall is right up your alley. Although sometimes outshined by its activities, the food here is also consistently a strike! Located in the heart of the city, the basement bowling area has 11 lanes, boutique armchairs, and crafty cocktails. Know that you can’t make bowling reservations ahead of time here. If there’s a wait, head upstairs to The Parlor for large-scale Scrabble and Pictionary. Snack on the Meat and Cheese Board or the BBQ Nachos. If tossing pins leaves you famished, they also serve up a mean Pimento BLT.


414 S. Gay St, Knoxville, TN

(865) 249-8454 

About Lindsey Watson

Lindsey Watson is a freelance writer, red wine enthusiast, and lover of all things local. She believes everything in life can be made better with a rescue dog or a fried egg. See more Knoxville eats on her Instagram @865foodie.

Published April 23rd, 2018