First Meal


Whether sitting down or taking to go, you won’t be able to get enough of Knoxville’s breakfast scene

You can debate if breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But what’s indisputable? Breakfast. Tastes. Good. From sweet to savory, East Tennessee loves first meal and rises early to partake in delectable choices from newcomers and kitchen legends throughout the area. Let’s swing our legs over the edge of the bed and head out for some tasty vittles while the sun is still rising in the sky.

The French Market Creperie

The French Market Creperie

My last vacation before the world shut down was an 1,800-mile drive around France. I ate some form of crepe daily. The French are known for their crepes, but not necessarily their coffee. That’s why I was happy to find my favorite Italian coffee, Lavazza, served fresh at the French Market Creperie. The Parisian décor transports you to a corner shop in the 7th Arrondissement. I ordered a Parisian-Style Ham and Cheese buckwheat crepe, called a galette, and a Strawberries and Cream crepe with sweet ricotta, cream cheese, and almonds. You can tell owners Allen and Susan Tate have a love affair with France, as the flavors are authentic and transportive. C’est Magnifique!

Downtown: 412 Clinch Ave | West Knoxville: 161 Brooklawn Street

Gourmet’s Market and Cafe

The sign may say Gourmet’s Market and Cafe, but everyone knows it as Holly’s. As in Holly Hambright. Like you might, I get into ordering ruts at restaurants, always getting the same thing for fear of getting something I won’t like. This has never been the case at Holly’s. Since my first visit, I have never once been let down with my choice, even if it’s out of my food comfort zone. That’s why this day’s table had a Raspberry White Chocolate Scone, Ribsticker Breakfast Bowl, and Chef’s Whimsy French Toast—because, you know, moderation. I don’t have to tell you that Knoxville is lucky to have this place, even if Holly refuses to sell me an antique coffee maker from one of the beautifully appointed and kitschy shelves. 

West Knoxville: 5107 Kingston Pike | (865) 584-8739

Scrambled Jakes

Scrambled Jakes

You know you’re in trouble when Scrambled Jakes spells cinnamon roll “SIN-O-MAN”, and it comes out of the kitchen on a flatbed truck. Portions are huge up and down the menu, and you’ll leave this place completely satisfied. From “Benny’s” to scramblers to breakfast classics, Scrambled Jakes has earned its long lines. Two large rooms, a lovely fireplace, bar seating, and exquisite French Press coffee have had me at Jakes since it opened in 2017. The Knox Lox bagel I enjoyed was the perfect combination of schmear and salmon and is perfect for a change of breakfast pace. Pro tip: get yourself on the waiting list as you’re leaving the house.

Rocky Hill: 7428 S. Northshore Drive | (865) 540-6199

Paysan Bread and Bagels

If you want to spend a morning mountain climbing and don’t have time to get to the Smokies, order a bagel sandwich at Paysan Bread and Bagels. This might be the biggest breakfast sandwich in town, and it all starts with an authentic, hardy choice of bagel, from Asiago to Cacio e Pepe. Climbing to the foothills of this ascent, you encounter an egg so thick and dense, it is the shelf on which your protein resides. Capping this amazing breakfast sandwich is a peak of bagel to plant your flag. Paysan provides no seating but shares a building with Remedy Coffee, rounding out this breakfast experience.

Emory Place: 804 Tyson Street | (865)  394-9840

Matt Robb’s Biscuits and Brew

Matt Robb’s Biscuits and Brew

Matt Robb is just a guy who wants to make you breakfast. He’s not a chef nor does he have a background in restaurants; he’s a former barista with a dream. He’ll tell you he started this place on Kickstarter, borrowed some kitchen equipment, and started whipping up breakfast a few years back. There is probably not another breakfast in town that tastes and feels more homemade than this. I had a mouth-filling garlic and cheddar biscuit with bacon, egg and cheese that had me picking up every crumb for fear of missing a morsel. A word to the wise: Matt Robb’s One Man Show is only open while the food lasts…which is never much past 11 a.m.

Downtown: 800 Market Street | (865) 804-0278

1 Comment
  1. Jay Hill says

    Breakfast with no mention of OliBea is wasted space. Best breakfasts and early day food in town!

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