There’s something happening in Knoxville’s food scene. Something that, from what I’ve gathered, has been happening for a while. The food scene is exploding. I’m a relatively new Knoxville resident, and wouldn’t pretend to know the whole backstory, but in the interviews I’ve conducted for Blank Newspaper thus far, I’ve heard from people who know what they’re talking about that the Knoxville food scene of 2017 is miles ahead of where it was a decade ago.
For Blank’s 10-year anniversary here’s a look back at the evolving Knoxville food scene as told through 10 restaurants previously reviewed in Blank.
1) Ye Olde Steakhouse
What’s the Scoop: Ye Olde Steakhouse isn’t a new restaurant, opened originally in 1968, but the fact that it was featured in Blank earlier this year (and in 2015 was listed in Blank’s Knoxville’s Finest awards for the Steak category) is symbolic of the growing interest in the South Knoxville area. The business is family-owned and currently run by the three children of the original owners. For steak, you can’t go wrong with Ye Olde Steakhouse, who create the exceptional flavor of their steaks by cooking them first on a grill, then on a cast iron, before finishing them on the grill and seasoning to perfection. There’s also chicken and seafood if that’s more your style.
In Their Words: “I’m just trying to please the people. I just think our customers for coming back, that’s the thing about it. We’ve got generations of help and customers that are repeats. It’s just kind of been a family thing, and the community as a whole has been supportive. God’s blessed us with good customers and good help.” – David King, one of the three children of original owners Bunt and Helen King
Don’t-Miss Dish: Porterhouse steak with Southern green beans and baked potato
Ye Olde Steakhouse
6838 Chapman Highway, Knoxville, TN 37920
2) Bida Saigon
What’s the Scoop: There aren’t many restaurants like Bida Saigon in Knoxville. According to Yelp, there are just six Vietnamese restaurants in Knoxville and the surrounding areas (and Bida Saigon holds the top spot with four stars and over 180 reviews). It might not be on every corner, but Vietnamese food is well worth trying if you haven’t yet. Bida Saigon, open since 2010, offers several Pho variations, a traditional Vietnamese soup often featuring rice noodles and meat in a flavorful broth with bean sprouts, basil and other garnishes on the side, in addition to other authentic Vietnamese dishes, including vegetarian options.
In Their Words: “I have received a lot of good compliments.from people in Tennessee. All the food, I keep it fresh and clean for my customers and I provide the best food and service for my customers, that’s what I’ve been doing.” – Dong Tran, Owner
Don’t-Miss Dish: Pho of any kind. Try it once, and you’ll be hooked.
8078 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919
3) Lonesome Dove
Photo Credit: Aimee Wenske
What’s the Scoop: I first went to Lonesome Dove Western Bistro for dessert during a bachelorette party. Blank Editor Rusty Odom visited in 2016 to check out the then-new restaurant and interview Chef Tim Love, also a UT graduate and TV personality. Love previously opened a Lonesome Dove location in 2000 in Fort Worth, and the Knoxville location is his third Lonesome Dove. The cuisine has a rustic, Southwest tinge to it, with dishes like pheasant and rabbit enchiladas and catfish a la plancha.
In Their Words: “Knoxville was such a great fit for Lonesome Dove and I am thrilled that we have been received so well since opening a little over a year ago. I have a ton of history here – go Vols! – and really feel connected to the city, its people and culture. It’s an ideal time to be in Knoxville, with so many great farmers, restaurants and talented chefs on the rise and I couldn’t be prouder of the attention it’s getting from the food community within and beyond the South.” – Chef Tim Love
Don’t-Miss Dish: Churros and creme brulee
100 N. Central St., Knoxville, TN 37902
4) Northshore Brasserie
Photo above courtesy of Northshore Brasserie
What’s the Scoop: Knoxville’s food scene encompasses multiple different cuisines, and French is no exception. Family-owned restaurant Northshore Brasserie has more than a decade of history serving Knoxville with classic French dishes. This gem, with options ranging from pan-fried trout to veal to escargots, seems the perfect place for special occasions and date nights, and it made Blank’s 2017 article “The Treasures of Knoxville’s West Side.”
In Their Words: “One of the best things about having a restaurant in Knoxville is that Knoxvillians are very loyal. They love and support their regular spots, and having been in business now for 12 years, it’s such a great feeling to know most everyone in the restaurant on any given night… The dining scene has changed tremendously since we opened in 2005… People aren’t waiting for a special event anymore to enjoy a good meal. We love that because it has always been our philosophy that eating well should be enjoyed every day of the week, not just on the weekend or a holiday.” – Stephanie Balest, Owner
Don’t-Miss Dish: Mussels & Pommes Frites (Shown Above)
9430 S. Northshore Dr., Knoxville, TN 37922
5) Restaurant Linderhof
Photo above courtesy of Restaurant Linderhof
What’s the Scoop: Restaurant Linderhof was another restaurant featured in Blank’s “Treasures of Knoxville’s West Side” roundup, and offers a biergarten, in addition to a sizable lineup of sausages and other Bavarian dishes. For filling meets delicious, this is the place to go; not to mention you’ll easily be able to try something you’ve probably never had before, such as Herringsalat (an appetizer featuring pickled herring) or Veal Rouladen (bacon-stuffed veal).
In Their Words: “Restaurant Linderhof is one Farragut’s older and established eateries clocking in at 20 years. The restaurant specializes in authentic Bavarian Cuisine with an experience to go with it! We are proud to be a part of the ever changing foodie climate of Knoxville and aim to continue what we do best for years to come.” – Aaron Schmissrauter, Managing Partner
Don’t-Miss Dish: Jager Schnitzel and Schweinhaxe
12740 Kingston Pike #106, Farragut, TN 37934
6) Five Bar
What’s the Scoop: I haven’t been to Five Bar, but after reading Blank’s original review in my research, I know I have to go. The concept is stunningly simple: they have five each of drinks, mains, sides and dessert options. (Fewer choices equals less stress.) At the time of the initial review, dishes included an avocado appetizer with bacon and shrimp, and paneed chicken, both of which are still listed on their website, alongside other Southern-inspired dishes such as stuffed shrimp and deviled eggs.
Don’t-Miss Dish: Fried chicken, the Sunday special
430 S. Gay St., Knoxville, TN 37902
Photo above courtesy of OliBea
What’s the Scoop: In a piece published on Blank’s website courtesy of the blog Inside of Knoxville, Blank readers got a preview of OliBea back in 2014. The breakfast spot located in Old City, is known for the quirky name (a mashup of the chef’s children’s names) and the delicious a.m. offerings. If you haven’t had a chance to go yet, this scratch-made and local-focused restaurant should be next on your list.
In Their Words: “I love Knoxville (Old City) because of the support and love in my community. It’s a family kind of feel. We all help and hold each other up a lot. The food scene is booming! And I hope it keeps moving in the non-franchise direction downtown. More the chef/owner direction. That’s the only way to keep the heart/family feel that keeps me in love with Knoxville!” – Chef Jeffrey DeAlejandro
Don’t-Miss Dish: Chicken Biscuit
119 S Central Street, Knoxville, TN 37902
8) Willy’s Butcher Shop
What’s the Scoop: Many of us buy meat from the local grocery store, grabbing a pack of chicken breasts or hamburger without giving a second thought to where it came from or who handled it along the way. At Willy’s Butcher Shop, excellent customer service, fresh products and culinary training are par for the course from William Carithers, business owner. If you’re looking for a change from the grocery store and fancy knowing more about where your meat comes from, check out Willy’s Butcher Shop.
Don’t-Miss Product: Pretty much anything. Check out their Facebook page for specials.
Willy’s Butcher Shop
5115 Homberg Dr., Knoxville, TN 37919
9) Naples Italian Restaurant
What’s the Scoop: While the explosion of unique restaurant concepts and chic new chef-driven spots in Knoxville is fantastic, there’s something to be said for restaurants that have been here the whole time. One of those is Naples, located on Kingston Pike in a location that previously housed Wayside Inn and Albertis. Since the late 70s, it’s been Naples, and Bob and Becky Luper have owned it since 1998. If you’ve been craving Italian food, this is the place to get your fix.
Don’t-Miss Dish: Pesce Putanesca
Naples Italian Restaurant
5500 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919
10) Seasons Innovative Bar and Grille
What’s the Scoop: Last, but definitely not least, on this list is Seasons Innovative Bar and Grille, located in the Turkey Creek Shopping Center. Opened in 2013, Seasons’ menu offerings include upscale American meals such as salads, soups, pasta, fish and more. Overall, Seasons is a great value for the price and was featured in Blank’s 2017 roundup of restaurants out west.
Don’t-Miss Dish: Maple Leaf Farms Muscovy Duck
Seasons Innovative Bar and Grille
11605 Parkside Dr., Knoxville, TN 37934
Consider this a challenge: 10 of the best restaurants and culinary establishments from multiple different cuisines and styles in Knoxville (and you know they’re good because they were featured in Blank). Here’s to many more years of Knoxville’s food scene and Blank’s coverage of it.
Have an idea for a restaurant I should write about? Know of a new one on the horizon? Opening a restaurant or working on a culinary project yourself? I’d love to hear about it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.