As legend has it, Spain’s King Alfonso X, struck with a severe illness allowing him only to have food in small servings paired with wine, introduced tapas as small plates of food to accompany his meal. After his recovery, he made a decree stating that no wine should be served at inns unless it was served with food. You may not feel compelled by a 13th century royal decree, but if you’re searching for a good pairing, why not celebrate a long-standing tradition and seek out restaurants that offer tapas and other small plates to accompany your wine choice. This small plate phenomena is slowly growing in Knoxville. Here are some of our favorite local tapas spots.
Cru Bistro & Wine Bar
Looking for a date night spot or simply somewhere to catch up with a friend over an exceptional small plate? Cru Bistro and Wine Bar offers a warm ambiance to anyone who enters. The menu is designed for guests to experience a wide range of wine pairings. Not only does Cru have delicious food, but this one-of-a-kind bistro also offers over 70 different wines by the glass. Enjoy their tapas-style dishes such as the Seared Scallops served over basil cream corn. If that doesn’t strike you, try their Tenderloin Sliders with sautéed mushrooms and Boursin cheese. Have a sweet tooth? Try the Frozen Salted Caramel Mousse.
141 S Gay St, 37902; (865) 544-1491
Water into Wine
Further west, we suggest swinging by Farragut’s Water into Wine and checking out their various tapas selections and cozy atmosphere. Choose from over 100 wines, but keep abreast of their offerings as the menu changes monthly. We suggest the Charcuterie Board: poached button mushrooms topped with onion relish, andouille sausage, pulled short rib beef, smokey boursin crostini, red dragon cheese, pickled vegetables and chefs seasonal fruit jam, relish or compote. For a more substantial dish, try the Ahi Tuna Filets, served with sweet sriracha glaze base, sesame encrusted seared ahi tuna, all topped with an Asian relish. The bistro offers Live Jazz every Saturday from 7-10pm.
607 N Campbell Station Rd, 37934; (865) 392-1586
Found in a former antique store on Kingston Pike in the heart of Bearden, this more casual establishment takes its name from Bearden’s roots as a railway locale—the owners named their place after the original railway brickyard, which hosted a variety of restaurants and bars. The Brickyard features large windows facing the sidewalks of one of Knoxville’s hotspots and has a small outdoor dining section. Try the roasted garlic Bruschetta, served with asiago, garlic oil, balsamic & fresh basil. For mores sustenance, go with the Midtown Pastrami Panini, served with grilled onions, dijon, fig jam, granny smith apples, and sharp cheddar.
5121 Kingston Pike, 37919; (865) 804-8927
Don’t let the name fool you, drinking isn’t the only thing that is encouraged at this local hotspot. Claiming to have the best wine list in town, Drink can guarantee a wide variety of wines to accommodate the most eclectic of tastes. Brought to you by and located right next to Bistro by the Tracks, this atmospheric bar serves delightful small plates in an intimate setting. We recommend the Lamb Lollipops, served with spring greens, mint, and blood orange. If this doesn’t appeal, we suggest the Reuben Toast, served with thousand island dressing, corn beef, sauerkraut, and gruyere cheese.
215 Brookview Centre Way, 37919;
Old City Wine Bar
Located on Jackson Avenue in the heart of Knoxville’s historic downtown district, the Old City Wine Bar provides customers with a relaxing atmosphere. Serving 48 wines by the glass and over 150 bottles, this gathering spot encourages you to develop your wine palate. But don’t stop there—Old City Wine Bar also features an abundant, delicious small plate menu for you to accompany your selection. Try the Smoked Salmon Sandwich, served with baby spinach, table cheese, bacon, and fig preserves on ciabatta. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Stuffed Banana Peppers which come with whipped feta, balsamic reduction, and bacon crumbles.
108 W Jackson Ave, 37902; (865) 851-7676