KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – What culinary experiences should you visit in Knoxville? A recently published Forbes article highlights seven “exciting” restaurants noted as go-to stops for locals and visitors.
The article titled, “7 Reasons Why Knoxville, Tennessee Is A Hidden Culinary Gem,” highlights eateries ranging from Italian food to popular bakeries.
“But here’s a little-known fact about Tennessee’s third-largest city. It’s also home to an exciting and ever-growing culinary landscape,” Katie Chang wrote in Forbes. “From Knoxville natives celebrating their love of Italian food and drink in historic Old City to a Syrian refugee making one of the country’s best falafels in a wonderfully inclusive space, there’s something enticing for every appetite and occasion.”
Here’s what made the list:
The Tennessean Hotel
Chang wrote about the Tennessean’s atmosphere and “distinctive dining options” in the article, citing the hotel’s Maker Exchange, afternoon tea and brunch.
“The Tennessean Hotel opened its doors in 2017, ushering in a new era of design, culture, and culinary offerings,” Change wrote.
Brother Wolf and Osteria Stella
Chang described these two side-by-side locations as bold, energetic, dark and romantic. Both locations, run by Jessica King and Aaron Thompson, are inspired by Italian cuisine and drinks.
“Both honor the couple’s deep love of Italy through and through with extensive classic cocktail offerings (including nine Negronis and eight spritzes), over 250 Italian wines by the bottle, and made-from-scratch dishes by Milanese chef Amalia Brusati,” Change wrote.
A Dopo Pizza
A Dopo Pizza is all about the basics, Chang wrote. Owners Brian and Jessica Strutz use a dough that’s made with a starter that has been kept alive for years and simple ingredients like crushed tomatoes and salt for their marinara sauce.
Looking for a recommendation? Try a marinara with uncooked mozzarella.
J.C. Holdway
“You’d be hard pressed to find a spot that feels more quintessentially Knoxville than J.C. Holdway,” Chang said. The location features both regional southern cooking and some global options, like owner Joseph Lenn’s favorite, the pasta.
“A wonderful take on a non-southern dish featuring a regional product I could eat pretty much every day,” he told Chang.
Yassin’s Falafel House
A Knoxville staple! Yassin’s is owned by Syrian refuge Yassin Terou. The restaurant features chicken shawarma, gyros and, of course, falafel. There’s now two Yassin’s locations in Knoxville – one near Cedar Bluff and one downtown – with a third on the way for Alcoa.
Wild Love Bakehouse
“Meg and Shaun Parrish, whom also have Old City Java, a popular Knoxville coffee house, put plenty of time and care into everything they make,” Chang wrote. The bakehouse features treats like croissants, which take four days to make from scratch.
“While the plain versions are sublime, branch out and try a seasonal one. ‘These are special because the seasons move so quickly,’ explains Meg. ‘We have a lot of fruit and vegetable-focused pastries spring through fall, and during the cooler months we use warm spices, apples, nuts, chocolate, and citrus,’” Chang wrote.
Sticky Rice Café
“This is one of the few places practically every Knoxville local raves about,” Chang wrote. The unassuming café, which sells everything for under $12, resides in a strip mall on Kingston Pike and offers homestyle Laotian food like sticky rice, Laab and Siin Haeng. Be sure to give the porkchops a try too.
Copyright 2022 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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