Tennessee's famous barbeque style may have originated a few hundred miles to the West in Memphis. But that doesn't mean that Knoxville, Tennessee doesn't have plenty of delicious BBQ to offer.
Knoxville is home to a variety of spots perfect for digging into your favorite barbeque. Whether you're looking for a full-service sit-down restaurant or a food truck, you have plenty of options to choose from. You'll also find a variety of styles of barbeque, with Memphis-style ribs being a popular menu option at joints across the city.
If you're looking to treat a friend or family member to some delicious Tennessee barbeque, a virtual gift card can help. With a virtual GiftYa card, you can choose from any of Knoxville's top barbeque joints. Choose your restaurant and an amount, add a personalized note, and hit send. They'll be digging into smoked ribs, pulled pork, and more in no time.
Are you ready to find the perfect BBQ restaurant to purchase a gift card to, or to enjoy yourself? Keep reading to learn 5 of the top barbeque restaurants Knoxville, Tennessee has to offer.
Sweet P's Barbeque Downtown Dive specializes in their slow-smoked meats. Image courtesy of Yelp.
410 W Jackson Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902 (https://www.sweetpbbq.com/downtown-dive/)
Started as a catering company in 2005, Sweet P's BBQ specializes in a variety of types of Southern fare. But their slow-smoked meats are their specialty. Because of the time and care that goes into each of their dishes, their meats are first come, first serve. Show up late in the day, especially on busy weekends, and they might just be out of their sausage or ribs. Speaking of ribs; their dry-rubbed ribs are one of their most popular menu items.
Sweet P's is far more than just a local favorite — they've also been featured in travel and food magazines and on TV. They even appeared in an episode of Man Vs. Food. Sweet P's actually has two locations; the Downtown Dive and Uptown Corner. The latter opened in 2021 and is the brand's first full-service restaurant, a unique concept for a barbeque joint.
"The real deal. Exceptional brisket and ribs. Try the homemade sausage if they have it (it's a special). Casual atmosphere." -Yelp Review
You don't have to go to Memphis to try out its unique and delicious BBQ style. Image courtesy of Yelp.
6714 Central Ave Pike, Knoxville, TN 37912 (https://www.archersbbq.com)
This is as close to Memphis barbeque as you'll get without going to Memphis. That's because Archer's BBQ was started by Archer Bagley, a Memphis native who grew up sampling the best barbeque the city has to offer. When he got older, he took his barbeque obsession to Atlanta, where he invested in another BBQ chain. Then, ten years ago, he decided to bring his passion for slow-smoked dry and wet rubs, to Knoxville, Tennessee.
Today, Archer's has five locations across the city. They pride themselves on choosing the best meats and taking the time and care to properly smoke them. Their sauces and rubs are delicious too, and there's plenty to choose from.
"Amazing bbq! I got the pulled pork loaded potato salad and Mac and cheese. My husband got the half rack of ribs green beans and Cole slaw so I can safely say we've tried most of the menu. We were happy with all of our choices!" -Yelp Review
Dig into barbeque nachos covered in fresh toppings. Image courtesy of Yelp.
10248 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922 (https://fullservicebbq.com)
Don't let the exterior fool you; Full Service Barbeque might be housed in a converted gas station, but this is no gas station fare. When chef Anthony DiFranco III arrived on the property, the gas station was abandoned. Since 2007, though, he's been using it as the home base to a BBQ operation that rivals that of the likes you'll find in Kansas, Texas, or Memphis. The smoker sits right out front of the restaurant, and you'll see the tell-tale smoke rising from it every day as the restaurant cooks its daily offerings.
Alongside your choice of meats, you can also order styrofoam cups of your favorite classic Southern sides, like mac and cheese, beans, or homemade chips. Their BBQ nachos are a unique and popular menu offering. Today, Full Service Barbeque has one additional location Knoxville, as well as a traveling food truck.
"Wow! This is hands down the best bbq I've had outside of Texas! I'll be back! Incredible and not over Smokey or over saucy!" -Yelp Review
No frills here — just classic and delicious barbeque. Image courtesy of Yelp.
1901 Maryville Pike, Knoxville, TN 37920 (https://www.facebook.com/LoveThatBBQSouthKnox/)
This simple, no-frills barbeque joint flies under the radar. But if the locals are any indication, it's a must-see — or must eat — during your next visit. The menu features simple, straightforward barbeque favorites, like pulled pork, brisket, and ribs. Their sides follow the same trend. Enjoy homemade potato salad, fresh-cooked fries, and classic coleslaw.
One popular option at Love That BBQ is their party platters. These are perfect for picking up ahead of a football game or family get-together. Another thing that makes this restaurant a favorite among locals is its friendly service. Whether you have questions about the menu or are looking for a recommendation, just ask — the staff here will be more than happy to help you find the perfect dish.
"We had the ribs and pulled pork! Ribs fell right off the bone! I loved it with the smokin hot bbq sauce they had available! The little hush puppies, holy crap, so good. I even liked the Slaw! The ladies who were behind the counter were really friendly and patient with us as we trying to figure out what we wanted." -Yelp Review
Whether you're in the mood for barbeque or something else, you'll find it here, alongside awesome views. Image courtesy of Yelp.
400 Neyland Dr, Knoxville, TN 37902 (https://calhouns.com/menus-and-locations/tennessee-river/)
Calhoun's is the perfect destination for families who have some BBQ lovers and some who prefer something else. Their extensive menu features shrimp, fish and chips, and more alongside smoked brisket, pulled pork, and other barbeque favorites.
Calhoun's is actually a BBQ chain. But their riverside location is certainly a standout for its incredible views. One unique feature of this location is their private dock; you can drive your own boat up the river and dock right outside. There's also a covered patio with sweeping views of the river and downtown Knoxville.
Looking for a socially distanced meal or the perfect way to feed a group? Calhoun's Family Feed Packs can feed 5 or 10 adults, and feature all of their BBQ favorites. Choose your protein, including BBQ pork, brisket, or hickory-smoked ribs. You'll get a generous portion, as well as beans, BBQ sauce, plates, and napkins — everything you need for a picnic, tailgating, or an easy meal at home.
"I really like Calhoun's on the River. What keeps me coming back are the ribs - I think I might be physically unable to order anything else when I eat there, they are so good!" -Yelp Review
Knoxville, Tennessee may not have its own unique style of barbeque. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't have plenty of delicious BBQ spots to enjoy. While the influences from nearby Memphis are strong, you'll find a variety of styles of barbecue in this Southern city.
Whether you love oversized racks of ribs, juicy smoked brisket, pulled pork, or any other classic barbeque dish, you'll find it at these top East Tennessee destinations. Try one for lunch today, or make time to try all five and choose your favorite.