East Tennesee has lots of great places to eat ranging from roadside stands to fine dining and everything in between. BBQ, country cooking, and all types of pies are some of our specialties. Not only are there lots of great restaurants, but there are many that are not available anywhere else and several popular restaurants got their start here. In this article, we’ll look at our favorite restaurants in East Tennessee before starting this website.
Buddy’s BBQ is a fast food restaurant with good quality BBQ. They specialize in pulled pork, ribs, chicken, and brisket. They have lots of dinner plates and family meals to choose from. All-you-can-eat ribs are available most Saturdays. They also have one of the best hot fudge cakes available anywhere. All locations we’ve been to have a drive-through and they also do catering. There are 19 locations across East Tennessee. You can see their menu and order online. See our review.
Gondolier Pizza & Steakhouse
Gondolier Pizza & Steakhouse is a family-style restaurant with17 locations in East Tennessee. They specialize in Italian and Greek food. This is a favorite place to get chicken livers for a couple of our family members. They have lots of entrees, meals, and desserts. Their menu is available online as a PDF and you can order online.
City Cafe Diner
City Cafe Diner is a diner-style restaurant with two locations in Chattanooga and one in Cleveland. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert and are open 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Portions are large for most things, so it’s best to go when you’re hungry. Catering is also available. You can see their menu online.
Because of Covid precautions currently only the Downtown Chattanooga location is open 24 hours a day. The other two are open 7 AM to midnight 5 days a week and 7 AM to 1 AM on Friday and Saturday.
The Patio Italian Restaurant
The Patio Italian Restaurant is a casual dining restaurant in Madisonville specializing in all types of Italian food and a few American dishes. When dining-in you can choose a table in the dining room or out on their covered patio. They serve lunch, dinner, and lots of desserts. They cater and do private parties. Gift cards are available. You can see their menu online.
Dinner Bell is a country-style restaurant off i75 in Sweetwater serving country food. We usually go for the breakfast or lunch buffet (currently being dished up by gloved workers). They have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They have a large gift shop, a front porch with rocking chairs, and gift cards. You can see their menu online. They also do catering.
Jenkins Grille & Market
Jenkins Grille & Market is a casual dining restaurant with locations in Athens and Cleveland. They are well known for their chicken salad. They serve lunch, dinner, and desserts with dine-in and curbside pickup options. Their website is currently being expanded and online ordering should be available soon.
Mexi-Wing has multiple locations in Chattanooga, Athens, Sweetwater, Madisonville, and Etowah. They specialize in authentic Mexican food, hot wings, and south-of-the-border seafood. Our family tends to orders wings, fajita nachos, or Michoacan grilled chicken. They serve lunch and dinner. You can see their menu and order online. They also have a mobile app.
Cancun Mexican Restaurant
Cancun Mexican Restaurant is a family restaurant in Foothills Mall in Maryville with indoor and outdoor seating. They have high-quality authentic Mexican food and serve lunch and dinner. We’ve had their steaks and chimichangas. They also do curbside pickup. You can see their menu and contact information on their Facebook page.
Ruby Tuesday began in 1972 in Knoxville across from the UT campus. They’re a family restaurant with multiple locations across East Tennessee (and a few other places). They serve lunch and dinner and they’re well-known for their family dining including BBQ and steak. Their salad bar is one of our all-time favorites. They provide catering, gift cards, and have an email loyalty club. You can see their menu and order online.
Tellicafe is a family restaurant in Tellico Plains. They serve lunch and dinner and specialize in prime rib, BBQ, fish, and have some of the best hamburgers we’ve ever had. They have an all-you-can-eat menu with several options to choose from. You can see their menu online. See our review.
Rib & Loin
Rib & Loin has a location in Chattanooga and one in Hixon. They specialize in all types of BBQ and are well-known for their pulled pork stuffed potato. They do catering for 10-10,000 people and private parties up to 100 miles away. You can see their menu online. They have a drive-through and serve lunch and dinner. See our review.
Ending Thoughts on Our Favorite Restaurants in East Tennessee
That’s our favorite local restaurants in East Tennessee before we started our travel blog. Of course, there are more restaurants that we enjoy and so many we haven’t tried yet. We plan to review every one of them, or at least as many as we can manage. We’ll focus mostly on local restaurants with the occasional chain that has an East Tennessee connection.
Have you tried any of our favorite restaurants in East Tennessee? Are there any restaurants in East Tennesse you would like us to visit soon? Let us know what you think of our favorites or suggest new places in the comments.