A Knoxville Dinner Guide – my favorite restaurants

Cover picture provided by J.C. Holdway.

Who of you loves to go to a nice restaurant for dinner? Even though I don’t see you right now, I’m pretty sure most of you have just raised your hand. And honestly, I even raise both because dining out is one of my favorite things in the world. We enjoyed eating out in Aschaffenburg with our friends and family and Knoxville makes it so easy for us to continue to indulge in beautiful restaurants. Dinner in Knoxville is just awesome! The food scene is growing like crazy and I cannot wait to see what the city has in petto for us in 2019.

All those amazing restaurants offer what your heart desires: from classic American to European to Asian. To make the search and the decision for your dinner in Knoxville a bit easier, I created a little list with six of my favorite restaurants (plus some really great extras ?).

For all of you who, unfortunately, don’t live in the area Knoxville will find a great tip on how to find nice restaurants in your area and some news to be excited about. Find the tip and the news at the end of the post.


Kaizen is one of those places you’ll fall in love with right away. It’s relaxed and cozy, and each of the Japanese-inspired dishes taste really fantastic. Everyone is eating here, from the busy business man to the cool hipster girl. Extremely well known and popular are the Steamed Buns which the Kaizen team serves with different fillings. I can really recommend the Pork Belly Steamed Buns with Lychee Mustard: to kneel down! Should you be able to not eat ten of those divine dumplings (which is relatively difficult for me), then expect more, delicious rice and noodle dishes, which will make every lover of the Asian cuisine start to drool. Kaizen is an insider tip that is not that secret anymore because the food is just too good.


pictures provded by Kaizen

Japanese-inspired dishes with influences from Thailand and the Chinese province of Sichuan, lunch + dinner, vegetarian options, cool bar, $$ – $$$

Downtown – 416 W Clinch Avenue – Knoxville, TN 37902 – knoxkaizen.com


Right now, I’m suffering a bit! Knox Mason is moving and will be closed until mid-2019. As soon as the exact date of opening is known, a calendar will be hung up in our kitchen to mark the days off until the re-opening. The Knox Mason is one of the pioneers of the food scene in Knoxville. The team of chefs, bartenders and waiters definitely know how to win excited Europeans (as well as their fellow Americans) over with amazing Southern dishes. I just fell in love with their modern interpretations and I’m pretty sure you will, too. That’s why this restaurant is in my guide, even though the doors are currently closed. I’m so looking forward to spending more time at the Knox Mason again, especially with our visitors from good old Europe. At Knox Mason, it’s just such a pleasure to start the evening with an aperitif and slowly enjoy your way through all those courses: from the starters (always deviled eggs) to the main course (local fish, local meat, seasonal vegetables, …) to dessert (banana pudding !!!). I am absolutely sure that the new Knox Mason will be just as cozy, fantastic and impressive as they have been at their old location. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the chefs to be able to start cooking soon.

Knox Mason

Modern Southern dishes with a focus on Farm to Table, dinner, vegetarian + vegan options, great appetizers, $$$ – $$$$

Downtown – knoxmason.com


You’re looking for a beautiful place for a date? Choose J.C. Holdway and fall in love with the person right next to you and this amazing restaurant. They have a beautifully designed location in an old brick building and offer dishes which reflect the ambience: well thought out, lovingly arranged and absolutely tasty. Like Knox Mason J.C. Holdway offers Southern dishes at their best and everything on the menu is inspired by all the goodies that grow and thrive in East Tennessee. My favorite dish is one of the starters: the Smoked Catfish Onion Dip with BBQ Potato Chips. A taste that surprised and captured me. In my opinion, this dish is so J.C. Holdway and shows of their innovational spirit, amazing skills with everything food and the fun they have in the kitchen. If you live, visit or stop by in Knoxville and are looking for a fantastic place to eat (or for a date), J.C. Holdway should really be on top of your list.

pictures provided by J.C. Holdway

Modern Southern dishes with a focus on Farm to Table, dinner, vegetarian + vegan options, great wines, $$$$

Downtown – 501 Union Avenue – Knoxville, TN 37902 – jcholdway.com


My husband “lived” in Tennessee already one and a half years before we actually moved to the US (he flew back and forth between Germany and TN). So, he already knew the area. On my first visit he wanted to show me that Knoxville is a great place. Therefore, we booked a night at the beautiful Oliver Hotel and, thanks to the location right on market square, enjoyed a great day in the city. And of course, we had dinner at the restaurant of the hotel, the Oliver Royale. That was pretty much the first moment I realized: the food here in Tennessee is not just BBQ and burgers. The Oliver Royale has shown me that Knoxville has restaurants and chefs who are interested in ingredients, want to create an experience with their food and welcome their guests in a great ambience. Even after two years we still like to sit on the comfy chairs of their small outdoor area, enjoy the Pan Roasted Chicken and watch what’s going on on market square. This is a such a great place to enjoy a relaxed and delicious dinner in the heart of Knoxville!

pictures by Margaux Photography – pictures provided by Oliver Royale

Modern American dishes, lunch + dinner, vegetarian + vegan options, great Bar (Peter Kern Library) and available for private events , $$$ – $$$$

Downtown – 5 Market Square – Knoxville, TN 37902 – oliverroyale.com


Amazing French-Belgian food in the middle of East Tennessee?!? YES YES YEEEEEEEESSSSS … Every time I think about the Northshore Brasserie, the French-Belgian diamond of this area, I start to clap my hands euphorically. This stops relatively quickly since I need my hands for my knife and fork. We have spent really nice evenings there and I definitely hope for more. The Northshore Brasserie offers everything the francophile foodie desires: snails, moules & fries, Belgian beer, oysters, onion soup, creme brulee, … And the décor with the beautifully set tables, ball lamps and large mirror surfaces always remind me of the French counterparts. The contrast that forms with the rural environment of the Smoky Mountains, the cowboy boots (yes, people actually wear cowboy boots here) and the pickup trucks makes it even more charming than it already is.

PS: The chefs of Northshore Brasserie cooked up a storm at the Lacewing Farms dinner last summer and we had the pleasure to enjoy all their creations. If you ever have the chance to go to a Farm dinner, don’t hesitate! Buy tickets (buy two more for your best friends) and celebrate those rare as well as amazingly beautiful events with all your heart.

pictures provided by Northshore Brasserie

French-Belgian bistro dishes, lunch + dinner, great bar, $$$ – $$$$

West Knoxville – 9430 S Northshore Drive – Knoxville, TN 37922 – northshorebrasserie.com


If you are looking for a really cool restaurant in Knoxville you should visit A ​​Dopo Pizza. This place is absolutely hip. Some of you will love that I call it hip others might say: another hipster restaurant, no thanks! To each of you who reacts like this I have to say: get over yourself (no offence ?) because this restaurant is really worth visiting. The interior is lovingly designed, the ingredients selected with great dedication (and knowledge) and the woodfired stone oven is a beautiful piece of Italian craftsmanship. In each bite you can taste all the love that is put into the preparation of their house-made sourdough pizzas. And the A Dopo team even makes its own gelato!!! With all that said I think we can agree that pizza, ice cream and a great interior are three things that everybody loves (ok, some of you might not care about the interior but pizza and ice cream: I mean, who doesn’t love those two!). So, stop by and enjoy their signature dish: pizza with spicy greens. I promise, if you’re having a scoop of cherry ice cream with goat’s milk afterwards you will, like all Knoxvilleans, fall for the charm of A Dopo Pizza.

pictures provided by A Dopo Pizza

Italian, high quality products and produce, house-made gelato, $$$

North Knoxville – 516 Williams Street – Knoxville, TN 37917 – adopopizza.com


Here are even more great restaurants for your dinner in Knoxville:


Downtown, Italian inspired dishes, vegan + vegetarian options, delicious cocktails, $$$ – $$$$


Old City, modern, experimental dishes, vegetarian options, Old City Wine Bar connected with the restaurant, $$$$


Old City, modern Southern dishes, vegetarian options, great bar, $$$$ – $$$$$


Old City, Mediterranean dishes, vegetarian options, delicious cocktails, $$$ – $$$$


If you are looking for a good restaurant in your own area start asking the people around you. Torture your colleagues with questions where they like to go for dinner, ask your acquaintance what their favorite restaurant is, and above all, talk to the vendors in the small shops (butcher / baker / fish monger / …). Especially the latter have good connections to the gastro scene and are a great source of information when it comes to the best restaurants in your city.


I am currently remodeling my newsletter and will, hopefully very soon (keep your fingers crossed), fill your inbox with exciting information on my three favorite topics: FOOD – GARDEN – LOCAL. For everything LOCAL I’m planning to have a monthly challenge that will help you to get to know your own food scene a bit better. Stay curious and keep your eyes open for more!