Rooftop spaces in East Tennessee offer a unique environment to kick back, relax with a drink, and enjoy the view
To see and be seen. A view from the top is a summertime fave in East Tennessee, but with only a handful of rooms with a view, those that sit high above and look down upon us all are inviting, comfortable and welcoming for visitors and residents alike.
Five Thirty Lounge
You know I call it like I see it, and this beautiful spot atop the Hyatt Place on Gay Street makes the top two for rooftop bars. And it’s probably number one on many lists, including mine. Historically, this building is a Knoxville treasure, and the Five Thirty Lounge respects the legacy of the Farragut Hotel. Ten stories above the city and glass everywhere, cuddle up next to the fire pit, order a crafty little cocktail and feel like you’re sitting in a chic, Manhattan bar. So order a Manhattan and call it a night…you need go no further. Pro tip: Ever had beef sushi? How about a little Wagyu roll to start the night!
Downtown | fivethirtylounge.com
Radius Rooftop Bar and Lounge
Now, I’ve been to Radius a dozen times and yet, I’m still waiting to see someone take a dip—intentional or not—in the centerpiece pool. Another downtown showcase, Radius sits 14 stories above the Embassy Suites and offers the most expansive view of the city, the Smokies, the Sunsphere, the Tennessee River, and probably your house. The clientele I’ve rubbed elbows with in my many trips here are always dressed to the nines, while I’m solidly around a 5.3. That’s the thing about these rooftop gems; you treat your visit like people of the 1950’s treated air travel… Looking great and ready to fly!
Downtown | radiusrooftopbar.com
101 Sky Lounge
Open from May through October, this new hidden treasure in Sevierville sits atop the same building as Deron Little’s Seasons 101. Similar to the downtown Knoxville locations, here you’ll find the best views in Sevierville, not to mention the best of the Great Smoky Mountains. Snuggle up by the fire pits while sipping a cocktail, and take in the view. Live music—and often karaoke—shows up here on Friday and Saturday nights. And of course, if you’re feeling hungry, you can pop down to Seasons 101 for lavish apps at the bar. Sesame seared ahi tuna, anyone?
Sevierville | 101skylounge.com
A college town and something called “Wine Night” means you’d better hurry to beat the Gen Z’ers to Sunspot on the strip. Bottles line up high on Sunspot’s “battlements” like small soldiers looking down upon the passersby. As an older patron of Sunspot who can’t get enough of their Black Bean Burger, I can’t say I’ve ever been there later than 7pm, so I can’t necessarily comment on the convivial atmosphere for which Sunspot is known, but some say the emanating noise as the night progresses is “Neylandian” in its volume and cheer. Enjoy!
Cumberland Ave | sunspotrestaurant.com
Scruffy City Hall
A perch from Scruffy City Hall provides us a look down upon the proletariat shuffling through Market Square. The only two-level rooftop bar in our survey, SCH has the Local Loggia with gothic brick arches serving the finest in local craft beer and the “Scroof” from which you’ll be as close to the papacy as you’ll ever get in “Knoxville’s Cathedral of Entertainment and Libations”. Come for the beer and stay for the Cinepub Cinema Under The Stars, one of the coolest things in Knoxville. Food epiphany? It’s surprising that a sandwich called the “Cas Walker” is not made of ham, but the roast beef on cheddar is a mouthful, just like Cas!
Downtown | scruffycity.com
Preservation Pub and Bernadette’s Crystal Garden
Two bars, one rooftop experience. And seeing that this is a review of rooftop havens, I don’t have the word space to tell you how fascinating the Crystal Garden is, so let’s head upstairs. Labyrinthine paths from separate doorways from PP and BCG lead you to the same place in two different parts of the same rooftop bar. It’s a bit confusing, and I suggest rested legs before the journey to the top no matter from which entrance you start your trek. Scott and Bernadette West have built a unique and kitschy space as eclectic and freewheeling as they are. Food energy? Eat at Bernadette’s amongst the amethyst and citrine or Preservation Pub amongst the revelers from the extensive combined menu highlighted by my fave, the Jack BBQ Chicken Nachos!
Downtown | scruffycity.com
I’ve already told you about Loco Burro’s newest location at West Town Mall in one of the more recent Dining Guides, so there’s no need to convince you that the food is worth the trip. (But seriously, have you tried the mesquite grilled corn with the garlic lime aioli and cotija cheese, yet?) What you might not know, is that this location also boasts a lively rooftop bar and entertainment space. You can enjoy the space for a boozy brunch or for a “Rita” while listening to some live music on the weekend. Either way, it’s worth the night out.
West Knoxville | kennedy-concepts.com/restaurants/loco-burro-knoxville
If you thought the East Tennessee rooftop scene is stagnant, you’d be mistaken. Just this spring, two rooftop locations were announced, expecting to call East Tennessee their home very soon.
Monday Night Brewing announced it would open its first location in Knoxville at the upcoming Kern’s Bakery Food Hall in South Knoxville. If you haven’t kept up on Kern’s, the former iconic bakery is being redone as a mixed-use community space with food, event space, and now not one, but two rooftop patio bars featuring Monday Night’s brews.
And if you’re itching to get out of town, you should know that Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar will be opening its second location in Gatlinburg soon, which will be great if you’re looking to feel like you’re on vacation, but also want to make it back to home base for bed. The restaurant and bar will be on Parkway.
South Knoxville | mondaynightbrewing.com
Gatlinburg | jasonaldeansnashville.com