I love cooking.
I love food.
I love restaurants.
My favorite meal to enjoy in a restaurant is breakfast…because I don’t do it often.
Weekdays, you stumble out of bed; grab some coffee, cereal, or a breakfast bar because it’s quick and easy.
But the weekends are different. You have a chance to sleep in and ease into your day with a REAL breakfast and with people you enjoy. It’s even better when you don’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning up.
So, here is my list of Knoxville’s five must-try breakfast restaurants.
1. Nick and J’s Cafe: 1526 Lovell Road
If you are a traditionalist, then Nick and J’s is for you! Located in West Knoxville, Nick and J’s serves up a fantastic breakfast. The service is top notch. The atmosphere is homey. And the staff is friendly.
When you go, I recommend the Western Omelet or the Biscuits and Gravy! You can never go wrong with biscuits!
This leads me to my next recommendation…
2. Maple Street Biscuit Company: 9314 Kingston Pike
A couple of miles east of Nick and J’s you’ll find Maple Street Biscuit Company. Normally, I would not recommend a chain restaurant, but this one is different…in a good way.
There is a lot of community seating…on purpose. It encourages you to chat with strangers. I’ve discovered that a good conversation starter is Maple Street’s “Question of the Day.” Instead of asking your name, the staff asks you a quirky question. When your order is ready they call out your answer instead of your name. And there can be some hilarious answers.
My usual is the “Squawking Goat.” It’s a fried chicken breast with goat cheese on a flaky buttermilk biscuit. It is delish…and means I’m going to have to work off the calories on the treadmill.
3. The Plaid Apron: 1210 Kenesaw Ave
Tucked away in Sequoyah Hills, The Plaid Apron is a cozy, laid-back spot.
You’ll enjoy great coffee and some of the best-scrambled eggs you’ve ever eaten! If you’re jonesing for something sweet, the fresh jam is yummilicious. With outdoor seating, you even bring your dog(s) when the weather is nice.
It’s a little tricky to find if you aren’t familiar with Sequoyah Hills. If you end up taking a couple of wrong turns, you will enjoy the drive.
Seriously. You need to check out this place.
4. Pete’s: 540 Union Avenue
Every city has that one breakfast/lunch spot that’s a mainstay. In Knoxville, it’s Pete’s Cafe.
Family owned and operated, Pete’s has been feeding downtown workers since 1986. When I worked downtown, I could count on a group of co-workers going to Pete’s. Not because you didn’t want to deal with parking; but because you would need to walk off the meat and three you ate.
I LOVE Pete’s breakfast. I always order the blueberry pancakes. (They are about as big as your head… no joke.) Hands down…they are the best I’ve ever had. If the restaurant is a little crowded…don’t stress. Once you’re seated and ordered, your food will arrive FAST.
These days, I visit Pete’s when I’m going to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday…so I’m in no rush. But, if you’re late for work, you can order online and either pick it up or have it delivered to the office. Easy peasy… and YUM!
5. OliBea: 109 S. Central Street
OliBea may be the best breakfast spot in town. Located in the Old City, Olibea is named for the chef’s children, Oliver and Beatrice.
Olibea uses regional, farm to table seasonal ingredients. The menu features made from scratch Southern favorites and traditional Mexican fare.
The Tennessee Benedict (my go to since I can’t poach an egg to save my life) is to die for! You won’t need to eat for the rest of the day after this meal.
You won’t go wrong with the chicken biscuit, the Olibea Plate or the Olibea pancakes. And be sure to order some hand-squeezed orange juice along with your coffee. O.M.G.
It’s not only the food that makes Olibea’s a must. The restaurant is in a turn of the century building. It’s flooded with sunlight that highlights the gorgeous hardwood floors. Check out the artwork from local artists. It is a fun and friendly place.
Parking can be a bit of a challenge; but you can park for free at the lot under the James White Parkway Bridge. You may need to walk off a few calories after you visit, after all.
There are several other places I could have mentioned. I feel guilty that I didn’t mention Rankins, Wild Eggs, or a couple other places.
Well… guess that means I’ll have to tell you about those places a little later…