5 Vegan Restaurants in Knoxville, TN

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In my last post about Knoxville, I mentioned that this city isn’t known for any particular style of food. There isn’t a signature dish—instead I found the food scene here to be generously diverse and inclusive. There’s something for every foodie in Knox, and as a vegan, I can always appreciate that! Here are 5 vegan and vegan-friendly joints I tried during my 48-hour Knoxville getaway.

*NOTE: I didn’t get a chance to visit Sanctuary Vegan Cafe, Knoxville’s FIRST vegan restaurant. They serve 100% plant-based comfort food that I sadly didn’t have time to check out. However I wanted to be sure to mention it! If you try it, lemme know what you think (and what I missed)!

1. JAVA JUICE BOX

The Type: Vegan-Friendly

The Hood: North Knoxville

The Grub: Smoothie bowls, cold pressed juices, smoothies, toast, coffee

The Vibe: Colorful, healthy, and cozy

Before you even walk into Java Juice Box, you’re hyped up from the chalkboard signage outside that boasts “Voted Best Acai Bowl in Knoxville” – so expectations are set upon arrival. A++ for décor and presentation too. They have a flower wall that an Instagrammer can appreciate.

I ordered an acai bowl, avocado toast, and raw smoothie, all of which hit the spot. The food is colorful, healthy, and great to kickstart your day. My *only* critique is that I would love to see them swap out the plastic they use for their smoothies, and switch to a recyclable option to reduce their environmental impact.

2. SUNSPOT

The Type: Vegan-Friendly

The Hood: Campus

The Grub:  Southwestern, Caribbean, and Latin American dishes

The Vibe: Easygoing. A place where tie dyes and neckties unite.

Sunspot was actually my introduction to the food scene in Knoxville. I had lunch here about an hour after I arrived, and y’all—so good. The restaurant was packed, mostly with college kids, so I had a seat at the bar. The bartender was fantastic—and no I didn’t even have a drink. He was just friendly and spot on with his food recommendation. He suggested I try the vegan chili mac and it was magnificent. The dish consists of beyond burger, black beans, green chili, plant-based mac & cheese, and roasted tomato. Drool.

3. KAIZEN IZAKAYA

The Type: Vegan-Friendly

The Hood: Downtown

The Grub: Japanese cuisine plus other Asian cuisines and influences including Szechuan and Thai

The Vibe: Fun, casual and communal

We grabbed dinner at Kaizen before our Lion King movie date and the best word I can find to describe what I ate is flavorful! I ordered Sichuan tofu with toasted chili oil and fermented black beans. I think it was that toasted chili that set the flavor bomb off for me. I’m not even a big fan of spiciness, but this was a spicy I could handle. The menu changes frequently and they have daily specials.

Vegan Restaurants in Knoxville

4. KOPITA FALAFEL & HUMMUS

The Type: 100% Vegan

The Hood: Downtown

The Grub: Mediterranean-inspired falafels, pitas, hummus bowls, salads

The Vibe: Fresh, friendly, local, everyone felt like family

New vegan restaurant alert! KoPita just opened this summer and it was conveniently located right next to the hotel I stayed at—Hyatt Place. I walked out my hotel, veered to the right, and ducked into KoPita, Knoxville’s second 100% vegan restaurant to open in the city.

The food here is super fresh and they make everything within your line of sight. Their dishes feature local, farm fresh produce that give your meal that extra refreshing feel. Oh and they have FREE fresh mint lemonade! I’m a diehard water fanatic, but I couldn’t resist trying their limonána. What can I say. I’m a sucka fa free ish.

5. THE TOMATO HEAD

The Type: Vegan-friendly

The Hood: Downtown

The Grub: Pizzas, calzones, salads, and sandwiches

The Vibe: Family-friendly and just all-around friendly

Traveling as a vegan with a non-vegan companion shouldn’t be difficult. I’m vegan and my hubby isn’t. The Tomato Head was perfect for us. Located in Market Square, this was a short walk from Hyatt Place. They are well-known for their vegan and vegetarian fare, but they’ve got your carnivorous friends covered too so you can both eat and enjoy yourselves. They also have vegan desserts! I was a little greedy and got both a vegan cupcake AND a vegan sugar cookie with glaze. The cookie was so good even my hubby wanted a bite.

Vegan Restaurants in Knoxville

So thassit! These are just a few of many vegan-friendly restaurants you can find around Knoxville. The American South isn’t exactly synonymous with vegan living. But over the years I’ve seen that change. Knoxville is a southern city that’s making an effort to be inclusive. While there are only two fully 100% vegan restaurants at the moment, I’m confident more will pop up. For now, happy to report there are tons of inclusive restaurants here that welcome vegans with open arms.

Now head on over to my Knoxville 48-Hour City Guide to plan out your itinerary. You’ll see my top 10 favorite things to do in the city.

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5 Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Knoxville

One Reply to “5 Vegan Restaurants in Knoxville, TN”

  1. Your title is misleading, there are only two 100% vegan restaurants in Knoxville. Also, over about six years the KTown Vegans Meetup Group ( now disbanded) endorsed about a dozen more local restaurants as vegan friendly. Did you talk to any Knoxville vegans?

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