Get ready for an epic summer of food and fun on Knoxville’s outdoor patios
The top three things you can do 10 months out of the year in East Tennessee are golf, ride motorcycles, and dine outside. Knoxville restaurant patios are open and thriving with diners flocking to bust out of their cocoons and dine in the sunshine. From serene lake views to street-side bustle, let’s grab a menu, soak in some rays, and enjoy the fresh air.
Cheers at Choto
If you’re looking for the beach bar feel, visit Cheers at Choto. Conveniently located just past Choto Marina, the cozy three-level deck and amenity-filled indoors makes this a hot spot for the whole family. Every frosty beverage imaginable is prepared to take you away to Margaritaville with live music on frequent weekends and an extensive bar grub menu which includes fish tacos and peel-and-eat shrimp. I almost expected to see a pesky seagull nearby. Pro Tip: Buy a houseboat and live at Choto Marina so you never have to be far from Cheers.
Choto: 2600 Whitten Lane | (865) 392-6311 | cheersatchoto.com
Daddy Mac’s Down Home Dive
Comfort food may be splashed across the menu at Daddy Mac’s, but it’s the comfy patio that brings ‘em in. High-top tables, a full-service four-corner bar, and plenty of room to mingle keeps people flocking to sample the tasty Burnt Ends Mac and Cheese, the innovative Aunt Di’s Salad Bar in a Jar, or a burger made with the special Daddy’s burger blend. When the sun sets in the west behind Daddy Mac’s, the breeze blows in over “Lake Farragut” and cools down the deck as the night heats up with live music and loads of drink specials.
Farragut: 11335 Campbell Lakes Drive | (865) 288-0088 | eatatdaddymacs.com
When I first walked into Lakeside Tavern years ago, I thought I was terribly underdressed in shorts and a T-shirt. Yet, as soon as I was seated at one of the many lakeside tables, I felt at one with those who had docked at the marina and walked in off their boats for lunch. It’s upscale, but comfortable. Incredible 180-degree views of Fort Loudoun Lake make Lakeside a popular spot. A room with retractable windows yawns open when the birds start to sing, offering gaping views while comfortably under cover. And the food? If you’re from Knoxville, you already know! Pro Tip: Southwest Egg Rolls should be on the main menu, not just an app. Delish!
Concord: 10911 Concord Park Drive | (865) 671-2980 | lakeside-tavern.com
Can you get truly authentic German food in Knoxville? You bet your sweet mustard pretzel you can. At Schulz Brau Brewing Company, you’ll come for the beer, you’ll stay for the food. Pro Tip: The Wurst Pizza is the Best Pizza to transport you straight to the heart of a Munich ratskeller. Limited indoor seating propels you into the spacious and communal outdoor biergarten with fire pits and a stage that, if you’re there on the right night, has international live music for you to enjoy with your Helles or Hefeweizen. From knackers and schnitzel to the authentic and potent German beer brewed on site, you might think you’ve arrived in Bavaria.
North Knoxville: 126 Bernard Avenue | (865) 415-3845 | schulzbraubrewing.com
No two words are more synonymous with Sunspot than Wine Night. Which is also Wine Day, with half-price bottles starting at 11 a.m. on Wednesdays. Do not let me sell Sunspot as just a place for vino, as the menu is locally famous and exquisite. (You may recall my interest in the Black Bean Burger.) Nestled right on the Cumberland Avenue strip, two levels of outdoor dining can bring you back to your college days at UT. Sunspot is where tie-dyes and neckties unite and is undoubtedly a Knoxville institution.
Knoxville: 2200 Cumberland Avenue | (865) 637-4663 | sunspotrestaurant.com
If you are a Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating that shares a courtyard with a “beerstro”, you have built it, and they will come. Soccer Taco consistently wins awards for its authentic Mexican food and during the pandemic, they took outdoor dining to the next level, surviving with carry-out food and margaritas and parking lot parties when people weren’t allowed in the building. It’s that spirit that has hoards of hungry and thirsty people congregating in the area between Soccer Taco and The Casual Pint. Sometimes it is hard to separate which establishment customers are frequenting, but the fiesta feeling pervades the entire area. Get your beer or margarita on!
Northshore: 2031 Thunderhead Road | (865) 691-3503 | soccertaco.com