Our guide to new Knoxville restaurants can help you pick something fancy, fresh or fiery

·5 min read

It's an argument as old as time: What do you want for dinner?

Food should be fun, and that's why Knox News is making your decision a whole lot easier with a guide to Knoxville's newest restaurants.

Whether you are in a crunch for a quick business lunch or are down to dine with wine, we have you covered.

So, let's dig in!

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Start your day with something sweet

Ditch that drip coffee and start your day with something sweet at Hello Tea House on Gay Street. Whether it's bubble tea or a crepe in a cone, owner Echo Liang has you covered. And if you're feeling dangerous, make your breakfast a bomb cake.

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But if you insist on getting caffeinated coffee-style, Dustin Cochran is planning to bring a full coffee shop to Marble City Market in the Old City after purchasing The Donut Theory, which has its own sweet, gluten-free treats to get your day started.

A two-for-one experience

Knoxville's first food hall has more to offer than just doughnuts, from Detroit-style pizza to fried fish that's delish. But the true shining star is Frank & Geroge's bar.

I recommend enjoying a two-for-one experience by grabbing a gin-based Chain Across The Tracks from the bar before heading around the corner to the new Potchke deli, brought to you by the same people behind the buzzy Hi Baby pop-up.

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Another great two-for-one experience? Brother Wolf and Osteria Stella, located just next door to each other on Jackson Avenue in the Old City. Start out with a pre-meal aperitivo at Brother Wolf before heading next door one of the most authentic Italian restaurants you'll find in the city.

Shop until you drop

Downtown Knoxville doesn't have a monopoly on crafty culinary concepts. Whether you live in Farragut or just do your shopping there, you're bound to be hungry for something unique among a sea of chains in West Knoxville.

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We have you covered, starting with Loco Burro at West Town Mall. No, this isn't some glorified food court stall. The Tex-Mex concept has its own entrance and a rooftop bar, with some delicious dishes and dashing donkey décor.

For an out-of-this-world dining and drinking experience, head to Space Bar near Cedar Bluff. Owners of the spaceship-themed bar steered away from the cheesy side to build a space that legitimately feels intergalactic, with offerings that seem suitable for alien life but that are tasty, nonetheless.

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Arts, eats and entertainment

Not that food can't be an art, but sometimes you want a side serving of entertainment. Ale' Rae's north of downtown is a place for elevated pub food and plenty of fun, with live music nearly every night of the week in a homey environment.

But just because Knoxville is your home doesn't mean you can't enjoy a local hotel. In fact, the downtown Marriott encourages locals to come experience the new Maker Exchange, "a space to discover and celebrate Knoxville makers and artists" over food, coffee and cocktails.

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And for those who felt most at home in the 1980s, that's OK. There's a place for you, and it's called Fountain City Social, a retro hangout for local drinks and throwback karaoke.

Asian sensations

Yes, I am an unbiased journalist. But I can't help but ask what's wrong with anyone who doesn't like Asian food.

Knoxville has some new options that are to die for, including the authentically delicious Fai Thai Kitchen on Gay Street. I can only speak on the pad thai because, honestly, I would eat any version of this dish every day for the rest of my life. But I will say Fai Thai's version is especially tasty.

Then there's Koyo, located at the former Kaizen location on Clinch Avenue. The restaurant offers a variety of Japanese small plates that, when combined with signature cocktails, can create a full, fresh and flavorful meal.

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The fresh, the 'Fat' and the fishy

OK, I'll admit these three businesses are lumped together purely for the alliterative sub-headline. But there is one thing they share in common: flavor (another F-word).

Redbud Kitchen has been making a name for itself through its soups, salads and sandwiches on Sevier Avenue in South Knoxville.

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Fat Tuesday has been making a name for itself on Gay Street because, well, isn't it obvious? This frozen daiquiri chain is a haven for anyone who has ever called Louisiana home and, if you've never tried it, you have some catching up to do. But pace yourself; these drinks are strong!

Also strong is my opinion that downtown Knoxville had been lacking when it comes to seafood, but not anymore. The long-awaited Brass Pearl is a "fresh catch for Market Square," according to the Grub Scout, and its oyster bar has filled a void in the downtown culinary scene.

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Well-worth the drive

If you can't find anything new and tasty in Knoxville, you're crazy (or a well-seasoned diner). Nonetheless, here are a few suggestions that are worth going out of your way to try.

The first is Bella, from Jim and Lori Klonaris, who recently sold their Café 4 business on Market Square. The fresh Italian concept is looking to elevate the dining scene in downtown Maryville with delicious dishes, from wild mushroom rigatoni to veal milanese.

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Last, but certainly not least, is Seasons 101. Skip the cheesy chains in Sevier County and choose what's quickly become a Sevierville standout, with an American Bistro menu that's filled with flavor. You can have blue crab benedicts for brunch and filet mignon for dinner.

Are you hungry yet?

Knox News is the best place for new business and restaurant news. Check back regularly at knoxnews.com for the latest in the Knoxville and East Tennessee dining scenes.

Ryan Wilusz: Knoxville's downtown explorer and urban reporter
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This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: New Knoxville restaurants and bars downtown and beyond