Lifestyle Travel

Top 4 Brunch Spots in Downtown Knoxville

September 5, 2019
Portrait Downtown Knoxville

So, I have a confession –

I have an intense love for brunch and mimosas.  Actually, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t go to brunch at least once a week – regardless of how much my bank account hates me for it. Knoxville has so many great options that it’s hard to choose which one to pick on a given Knoxville weekend morning. So, I’ve tried to do the hard work for y’all by describing four of my favorite brunch spots in downtown Knoxville.

Whether you’re a fellow Knoxville native or someone planning on visiting the downtown area, I’m hoping this compilation of popular brunch spots will make your choice a little easier (and also hopefully make me feel better about my brunch addiction).

1. Cafe 4

Three words – mimosa punch bowls!  I was a little late to the party on this restaurant, but I’m so glad I finally gave it a shot, because it is one of the best brunch spots in downtown Knoxville (in my opinion).

Located in the heart of Market Square, it’s an urban / modern restaurant that still has retained that southern, Knoxville feel. 

They have a great selection of fresh pastries, healthy greek yogurt bowls, and amazing hash bowls – just to name a few options. They have a really cute patio area that looks out to Market Square (and is pet-friendly). 

Cafe 4 also has an upstairs area called “The Mezz”  – a quaint balcony area / cocktail lounge where you can enjoy a quieter atmosphere and see all the keepsakes and memorabilia from various musical artists and concerts. 

It’s definitely a sought after place in Market Square, so expect a wait during brunch hours. While you’re waiting, you can enjoy a nice iced latte from their cute coffee bar and stare at their pastries and French-style macarons. 

Once seated, you can try your hand at their punch bowls, which come in either orange or pomegranate (they used to have an apple punch bowl, which was amazing, but the bartender will still sometimes make it for you upon request).

Fun Fact

After coming here so much, Kevin and I became inspired to create our own mimosa punch bowls when we’re feeling froggy enough for our own Sunday Funday.  

My Go-To Brunch Menu Choice:

Market Square Breakfast (two eggs, choice of cheese grits or roasted potatoes, bacon or sausage and served with toast)

This entree definitely gets my award for “Best American Breakfast” in Knoxville.  Their roasted potatoes are amazing! I’ll generally substitute their toast for a biscuit with fresh jam.  Oh, and did I say they have a mimosa punch bowl?

Pro Tip

I mentioned that the wait can be long for weekend brunch.  If you’re willing to order your food at the coffee bar, you can bypass the line and head upstairs to “The Mezz” – if there’s seating available (“first come first serve”).

Reservations

To plan ahead, make reservations through the Resy app

2. Balter Beerworks – 

This is one, if not the best, brewery / restaurant combos in Knoxville. 

Located on the corner of South Broadway and West Jackson Avenue (and down the hill from the Lincoln Memorial University Law School), this place used to be an old service station that has since transformed into this awesome hangout for anyone in Knoxville – not just for brunch but throughout the week. 

Balter brews several different beers on location (my go-to is the Firebelly IPA – so good!). They have a complimentary cold bar that comes with every entree order – complete with pasta salad, fruit, muffins, and more.

They have a huge outdoor seating area / beer garden (also very pet-friendly!) for those good weather days.  As far as mimosas go, they have the BEST DEAL IN TOWN! You can order $1 mimosas (double for $2) and a full carafe for $7. Like all of these places on this list, it gets pretty busy during brunch hours, and parking can be an issue if you’re not in walking distance. However, there is additional parking adjacent to the restaurant – both across the street in an overflow parking lot and also in a public parking lot just a short walk down the hill on West Jackson Ave.

Fun Fact

This was the first brunch Kevin and I had together!  They’re basically the root cause of our brunch addiction and relationship!  Also, the building used to be Kevin’s go-to dive bar in law school. RIP to “The BP.”  It’s definitely much improved now IMO!

My Go-To Brunch Menu Choice

We’ve got a tie here between The Breakfast Bowl (crumbled buttermilk biscuit, breakfast potatoes, ham, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, eggs, roma tomatoes, sweetwater farms buttermilk cheddar, side of house made sausage gravy) and The Breakfast Tacos (scrambled eggs, sausage, charred salsa, pico de gallo, crema, breakfast potatoes)

Pro Tip

Don’t get too full on your brunch entree.  Save room for the muffins (or eat them before your meal). You’ll thank me later! 

Reservations

While Balter uses Yelp for reservations, it doesn’t take reservations during brunch hours.

3. Bistro at the Bijou – 

This brunch spot is such a hidden gem in Knoxville! 

Nestled right beside the historic Bijou Theatre off Gay St., it’s normally a go-to spot for professionals working downtown during lunch hour or for a meal before a concert at the Bijou.  It has that old school, laid back, speak-easy type feel.

When we generally go for brunch, it’s relatively easy to get a table. It’s SO good – and even better for the price! Once you walk into the building, it’s evident how much history and tradition is held between their walls.  Between the building itself dating back to the early 1800s, the beautiful “Ms. Lil” painting on the wall, or the occasional live music being played in the front of the restaurant, it exudes so much character and definitely should be on every Knoxville visitor’s itinerary. Plus, the food is amazing! 

Their entire menu – including brunch – has seasonal changes throughout the year. Generally, you’ll find various brunch sandwiches, seasonal scrambles, and steak and eggs. They also have a special on cocktails for $3.50.

Fun Fact

Kevin actually met my parents for the first time at this restaurant!

My Go-To Brunch Menu Choice

They always have really good specials, so I actually switch things up here (very out of my element as I generally order the exact same thing everywhere I go lol).  If you’re an omelet fan, try the 10-egg omelet aptly named the “Cool Hand Luke!”

Another option that’s great for breakfast or lunch, is the Burrata Salad pictured above. Although, this makes for a great summer salad, it’s delicious any season of the year.

Pro Tip

It’s not on the menu, but you can ask the server for a mimosa carafe.  Also, not brunch related, but you HAVE to see a concert at the Bijou next door.  It’s an unbelievable venue.

Reservations

You can use Yelp to make a reservation.

4. Tupelo Honey – 

This restaurant isn’t a Knoxville-based company, but it absolutely belongs on this list because it’s so good! 

This Southern style restaurant has great franchises in places like Asheville, NC; Greenville, SC; and Virginia Beach, VA.  However, its Knoxville location (found in the Market Square area – across from Urban Outfitters) is no exception.

According to their website, the company is big on sustainable agriculture and commits to the use of “forever free” proteins (no antibiotics or hormones) in many of their dishes.  And their biscuits… OMG.

They’re a big reason for finding themselves on this list. They have a small outdoor patio (pet-friendly!) and a neat bar area.

Their food selection has anywhere from omelets, shrimp and grits, amazing benedicts, and a “choose 3 to 4 breakfast combo” option.

Regarding mimosas, they have various options like your traditional orange to flavors like grapefruit/blueberry and peach/pineapple – all available in regular and mega sizes!  This is also the place to choose if you’re looking for a great bloody mary to start the day off – made with house-made bloody mary mix and several flavor options as well.

Fun Fact

This was the first place my family and I ate when I visited Knoxville for the first time!

My Go-To Brunch Menu Choice: 

Try the Old School Breakfast Bowl (two sunny-side up eggs*, potato cracklins, salsa verde black-eyed peas, cheddar cheese, bacon & sausage crumbles, goat cheese grits). This is definitely one of my favorite items on the menu, but if you’re like me and love avocado toast, you should definitely try their Avocado Toast & Eggs (farmer’s cheese, aleppo pepper, sriracha honey drizzle, two fried sunny-side up eggs*, salt-roasted beets & greens).

Pro Tip

Try sitting at the chef’s counter.  It’s first-come-first-serve, and you can get a front row seat of the action in the kitchen.  It’s a little snug but worth bypassing the line and getting to see how everything’s made!


Reservations

You can either make reservations through the restaurant’s website or with the OpenTable app.


So whether it’s pancakes, avocado toast, biscuits, or scrambled eggs (or all of the above), sometimes a girl just needs to indulge in a hefty breakfast with a mimosa or two (or three). If you live in Knoxville or ever find yourself visiting the city for a weekend getaway, I recommend at least checking out one of these brunch spots in downtown Knoxville for Saturday or Sunday brunch – and call me if you do… 

Are you a bloody mary or mimosa drinker? OR both? Let me know in the comments below 🙂 

Xo,

Jenna

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