Knoxville is excited to be hosting the 50th DPS Meeting. The meeting is being held in Knoxville Convention Center, which his situated on the western boundary of downtown. The convention center is a short walk from the Hilton Knoxville (3 min walk), the Four Points by Sheraton Cumberland House Hotel (8 min. walk), and the Crowne Plaza Knoxville (10 min. walk). The beautiful 1982 World’s Fair Park, with Knoxville’s most iconic building, the Sunsphere, surrounds the convention center.
All of downtown Knoxville is easily accessible and walkable from the convention center and the hotels. The downtown area is a thriving, pedestrian friendly, area with a multitude of restaurants, bars, and shops. The core of downtown is Market Square with a large open pedestrian area lined with some of Knoxville’s best restaurants and shops. As the locust of much of the city’s activity, expect the restaurants to have wait times on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The main street through downtown is Gay Street, which is home to the picturesque Tennessee Theater, the historic Bijou Theater, and its own range of notable restaurants, bars, and shops.
If you are looking to explore beyond the downtown area, be sure to check out Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness (LOC member Sean Lindsay highly recommends Ijams Nature Center and Meade’s Quarry) with a range of outdoor sites and activities within the city limits. Ranging out further, Knoxville is in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the most visited national park. If you are spending an extra day or two in the area the beautiful and popular tourist destination city Asheville, NC is about an hour and forty-five-minute drive away.
You can find more information about Knoxville and the surrounding area from Visit Knoxville. This map shows some of the LOC's favorite spots and activities in Knoxville and the surrounding area, including vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants.
Tennessee Open For Business
Tennessee Open For Business is a free program for Tennessee businesses that pledge not to discriminate against their employees or customers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. That means that member businesses do not discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individuals or couples.
Visit the Tennessee Open For Business webpage and scroll down to "Knoxville" to find a list of Knoxville restaurants and business that have signed on.
Food & Restaurant Options
Knoxville is a foodie’s kind of city. It has no shortage of restaurants, and most of the ones you find downtown are worth trying. To help narrow down the options, the LOC has put together a Google Map of their recommended restaurants, bars, area attractions, etc. On the map, you can select to view the recommendations by category or view them all at once. Please note the special layer for vegetarian and vegan-friendly locations. To qualify for vegetarian or vegan status, the menu must have at least two options within the designation.
Below the LOC lists a bit of information on Knoxville dining that extends just a map and list of locations. Restaurants marked with TOFB are on the Tennessee Open for Business list mentioned above.
- The Tomato Head (12 Market Square) TOFB
With an original mission to be a seed of downtown revitalization, Tomato Head has become one of Market Square’s cornerstone restaurants. Offering an amazing selection of food options, they cater to vegetarian, vegan, and omnivores alike. With a great atmosphere and a nice selection of unique and delicious sandwiches, pizzas, salads, and burritos, the Tomato Head is a Knoxville must.
- Yassin’s Falafel House (706 Walnut Street)
Owner Yassin Terou came to Knoxville in 2010 as a refugee from the ongoing conflict in Syria. With him, he brought an unendingly friendly attitude and his recipe for absolutely amazing falafel. Currently, in the running for “Nicest Place in the US, the honor is well-deserved with the motto, “All people are safe here.” They are vegan and vegetarian friendly, and are happy to provide gluten free options as well.
- Stock and Barrel (35 Market Square)
Stock and Barrel focuses on two things: burgers and bourbon. It does each exceedingly well with arguably the best burger in Knoxville (LOC member Sean Lindsay says best burger in the US, but he might be biased) and nearly 150 bourbon options, which can be sampled via flights. The atmosphere is eclectic and comfortable. While only one vegetarian option barred this restaurant from being on the Vegetarian category on the map, they do have a scrumptious black bean quinoa burger on the menu. This restaurant is farm-to-table with locally sourced meats and locally baked buns. Wait times can be very long, especially for the few large table (8-10 people) options. Put your name down well before wanting to eat.
- Kaizen (416 W Clinch Ave) TOFB
Focusing on a laid-back Asian restaurant atmosphere, Kaizen specializes in Japanese-style cuisine, but features other Asian cuisine and influences including Szechuan and Thai. They try to emulate the izakaya atmosphere and make the place feel like a small Japanese-style pub. They fully adopt the practice of Kaizen, or continuous improvement, and features an ever-changing menu. This is LOC member Sean Lindsay’s favorite Asian-cuisine restaurant, and he recommends trying the Nashville bun, which mixes Asian and Tennessee cuisine into a unique steam bun.
- The French Market (412 W Clinch Ave) TOFB
A great place to stop by for a coffee, crepe, or a glass of wine. The French Market creates traditional and delicious savory and sweet crepes. The indoor décor makes it a pleasant place for everything from a snack and coffee break to a place to stop for a meal.
- A Dopo Pizza (516 Williams St.)
This dinner-only, wood-fired pizzeria specializes in sourdough Neapolitan style pizzas. The pizzas range from traditional to inventive, but they all have one thing in common: being uncommonly delicious. They also feature an amazing, hand-selected list, of Italian wines to compliment your pizza. The LOC highly recommends this establishment. If you encounter a long wait, you can reserve ahead of time, or walk over to the nearby Public House and have a drink while you wait.
- Calhoun’s on the River – The Deck (400 Neyland Drive)
The Deck is the outdoor patio seating at Calhoun’s on the River. Calhoun’s is Knoxville restaurant with several locations in the area, and many consider it a must visit restaurant while in Knoxville. The LOC, however, recommends this place for the amazing patio rather than the food. The food is good to be sure, but the patio offers one of the best views of the Tennessee River in town. Head out to “The Deck,” and enjoy a meal or a round of their own craft beer with a spectacular view of the river and the iconic Henley Street and Gay Street Bridges. The menu for “The Deck” is different than inside at the main restaurant. The LOC notes that inside accommodates parties up to 25.
- J.C. Holdway (501 Union Ave.)
The J. C. Holdway was named one of the US’s best new restaurants by Eater.com. This upscale restaurant features Chef Joseph Lenn’s wood-fire grill creations that have achieved local and national acclaim. Chef Joseph Lenn won the 2013 James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast.
- Balter Beerworks (100 S. Broadway)
Balter Beerworks is a popular local brewpub that has a nice fenced off patio for outdoor seating. It also makes this special mention list for the best happy hour food offerings with $1.50 sliders and $1.50 street tacos.
- Blackhorse Pub and Brewery (430 S. Gay Street)
With a brand-new location on Gay Street in downtown, Blackhorse is a local brewpub with great beer and food offerings. With 1-day advanced notice, they are also happy to accommodate parties of 12 and larger.
- Market Square Restaurants (Market Square)
Uncertain of what you want? The LOC recommends heading to Market Square and perusing the various restaurants menus. Including restaurants already mentioned in this list, Market Square restaurants include Café 4, Emilia, Myrtle’s Chicken and Beer, Not Watson’s, Oliver Royale, Stock and Barrel, Tomato Head, Tupelo Honey, and Uncorked. Each one is worth having a meal at, so find what best fits your groups cravings.
- Gay Street Restaurants (Gay Street)
General: Gay Street is the busiest street in downtown with a large array of restaurants and shops. All of the following restaurants are worth visiting, and many should likely have their own spot on this list that has already grown too long: Nama, Chivo Taqueria, Blackhorse Pub and Brewery, Bistro at the Bijou, Frussies Deli (lunch only), Clancy’s Tavern, and Dazzo’s Pizzeria.
The 100-Block: This newly revitalized section of Gay Street offers several notable restaurants and bars to have a meal or drink at. The LOC recommends Cru Bistro (for their general all around goodness and great weekday & weekend brunch specials), Knox Mason (for many of the same reasons), and Sugar Mamas (for being the best place to try local beers).
NOT Vegetarian Friendly
The LOC feels that it is important to note which restaurants around downtown have NO VEGETARIAN options. These are still great places to visit, but they don’t have any vegetarian options on the menu:
- Sweet P’s BBQ & Downtown Dive
- Calhoun’s on the River – The Deck
- The Lonesome Dove
- The Love Shack
- Crown and Goose
Good for Group Dinners (for greater than 8 people)
The following restaurants can accommodate larger crowds. If you do have a large group, please notify the restaurants ahead of time so they can be prepared.
- Calhoun’s on the River
- Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria
- Blackhorse Pub and Brewery
- Chesapeake’s Seafood House
- Elkmont Exchange
Local Night Life
As with restaurants, downtown Knoxville has no shortage of bars. Taste in such establishments is many and varied, so here the LOC offers a list of some of their favorite spots with the reason they are on the list.
- Maple Hall
A bowling alley with style and a stunning wrap-around bar. Put your name down early for a lane and enjoy the downtown sights.
- Scruffy City Hall
A three story music venue and bar. The second floor has a open-air patio overlooking Market Square. The top floor is a whimsical rooftop bar overlooking Market Square. Check the schedule to take in some local music in the large music hall.
- Suttree’s Tavern + Harrogate’s Lounge
Specializing in what Tennessee called “High Gravity” beer (ABV > 6.2%), Suttree’s Tavern is named after the famous Cormac McCarthy, who grew up in Knoxville. You may never guess it, but Suttree’s serves up some amazing ramen. Attached to Suttree’s is the barcade: Harrogate Lounge.
- Hyatt Rooftop Bar
A new rooftop bar located on the new Hyatt Place hotel on Gay Street. This rooftop bar offers a stunning view of Knoxville nestled into the foothills of the Smokies. The view alone is worth taking time out of your day to see.
- Sugar Mama’s
Sugar Mama’s makes the list for being the one place you can try the most Knoxville beer. Most of their taps are dedicated to serving local brewery creations. If you want to try the breweries, but you don’t have the time or wherewithal to see them all, stop in to Sugar Mamas.
- Pretentious Beer
The only place in the world serving beer brewed on premise in glassware made on premise. The glassware is unique and for sale. The beer is unique and for sale (on premise). When open, be sure to stop by the glass-making workshop.
- Hops and Hollers
Featuring a large outdoor seating area, Hops and Hollers features local and regional beers, has bocce ball courts, corn hole boards, and a ping-pong table. There is also a gas firepit to enjoy on cool nights.
- Barley’s Pizzeria and Tap Room
Barley’s makes the list for being a Knoxville institution and also being the place to go to play pool with many full-sized tables upstairs. Barley’s also has a large outdoor patio and is one of the locations listed for large groups. Many nights, there will be a local band playing at the downstairs stage.
LOC’s Favorite Breweries/Distilleries
- Crafty Bastard Brewery (6 Emory Place)
Rated on Untappd as Knoxville’s best brewery, Crafty Bastard offers a large range of amazing, brewed on premise, beers. Their beer is as inventive as it is delicious. Any fan of breweries should give Crafty Bastard a try. This is LOC member Sean Lindsay’s top pick for brewery.
Crafty Bastard has also agreed to brew a special beer for DPS50: The Dragon Palace Stout (DPS). Named in honor of the success of JAXA’s Hayabusa2 mission, this beer is certain to be a DPS highlight. Only available on premise. See write upon this special offering on the DPS50 meeting website.
- Alliance Brewing Company
- Abridged Brewing Company
- Pretentious Beer Company
- Balter Beerworks
- Blackhorse Pub and Brewery
- Post-modern Spirits
- Knoxville Whiskey Works
- Planetarium Shows at the UTK Physics Planetarium (see DPS Block Schedule for dates and times)
- Telescope Observation Nights on the Rooftop Observing Platform (see DPS Block Schedule for dates and times)
- Tennessee Theatre
Knoxville's iconic Tennessee Theater is a popular destination for music, plays, symphonies, etc.
- Bijou Theatre
- The Mill & Mine
- World’s Fair Park & The Sunsphere
- Knoxville Urban Wilderness
With over 50 miles of trails and greenways, Knoxville's Urban Wilderness is an outdoor adventure area to fit everyone’s needs. All within the city, you can hike, bike, climb, paddle, or wander in the woods.
- Knox Brew Tours
Are you a fan of local craft beer? If so, these tours are for you. Sign up for a tour and be picked up in a “Brew Bus” that will take you to a selection of Knoxville area breweries. At each stop, you get to sample the beer, learn some of the history, and interact with the people creating the beer. General sign-up tours and private tours offered. LOC highly recommends for a unique Knoxville beer experience.
- Knoxville Museum of Art
- The Star of Knoxville TN Riverboat
- Zoo Knoxville
- The Muse Knoxville
- American Museum of Science and Energy
Recently redesigned, the new AMSE opens 18 October, so stop in to see the re-imagined museum in the heart of the secret nuclear city, Oak Ridge.
- Gatlinburg, TN
- Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Get out of town and experience the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Mid-October is a great time to see the fall colors. For a more detailed guide to the Smokies see the Local Information & Tips page on the DPS 50 Meeting website.
- Asheville, NC
- Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
- Ozone Falls
- Middlesboro Impact Crater
- Frozen Head State Park
- Smoky Mountains
- Knoxville’s Free Downtown Trolley
Pick-ups right outside most hotels and the Convention Center
- Pace Bike Rentals
Rent a bike with the app, and leave at a Pace or any public bike rack
- Uber and Lyft are both readily available in Knoxville with
Knoxville Area Activities
Getting Around Downtown Area
There are several great options for getting around the downtown area. The downtown area is 100% walkable. When going farther outside the main downtown area, the LOC Recommends that you avoid walking down N Broadway between W Jackson Ave. and E Fifth St. Other methods of getting around include:
Crafty Bastard Brewery: The DPS 50 Beer
The LOC and Untappd agree that Crafty Bastard Brewery is Knoxville’s top brewery. This isn’t just because they have agreed to make a special beer for the 50th Anniversary of DPS. This comfortable and minimalist, dog-friendly, nanobrewery offers up some of the most inventive, and always delicious, craft beer offerings in Knoxville Owned and operated by the ever-delightful Aaron and Jen, this brewery was established in 2016[15?] in the up-and-coming nexus of Fourth and Gill, and Historic North Knoxville neighborhoods. Inside, you’ll find a constantly set of rotating taps are constantly rotating through some of the most inventive beers in the Southeast as well as always purveying some of their flagship staples, such as the Hop Candy IPA and Tessellation IPA. Don’t let those two selections lead you to think this is just another IPA-crazy brewery. Crafty, as we call it, makes everything from gose to stouts to their own ginger-ale (free to expectant and nursing mothers). Head brewer Aaron McClain isn’t afraid of trying unexpected brews as well. Examples of his creativity include the White Arrow Pale Ale (made with white pine sprigs), the Earl Gray Pale Ale, several chile beers (best chile beers the LOC has tried), coffee-infused ales, occasional British cask ales (they have a beer engine with handpump), and milkshake-style IPAs. If you are a lover of craft beer, Crafty Bastard is a must stop. Keep a look out for the D. P. S. beer on tap. It won’t last long!
Introducing Crafty Bastard’s Dragon Palace Stout (DPS):
In recognition of JAXA’s contributions to planetary science and the Hayabusa2 mission to asteroid Ryugu, head brewer and owner, Aaron McClain, will be making a special release beer named the Dragon Palace Stout that will be on tap ONLY at the brewery during DPS. Asteroid 162173 Ryugu refers to Ryūgū, the name of an undersea dragon’s palace visited by Urashima Taro, a fisherman, who in a Japanese folk tale returns from the dragon’s palace with a mysterious treasure. Hence, Ryugu is the dragon’s palace where Hayabusa2 will retrieve a wonderful treasure. At Crafty Bastard Brewery, the wonderous treasure will be this one of a kind limited Stout! Stop in and give it a try (and their amazing complement of other beers) before supplies run out.