Knoxville Dive Bar Guide

College Town Dive Hopping

Nothing hits quite like a college town friendly to a neighborhood dive bar.
Painted Lady Lounge - Detroit Dive Bar - Interior
Back Door Tavern

While it can be easy to lump Knoxville into a general “college town” label (as our own headline does), there’s something a little extra going on here. Maybe it’s the river that snakes through the heart of the city, the towering bridges that cross it or the tight integration between campus and city that is not always true of a typical college town.

Regardless, college campuses and dive bars have long been friends, the affordability required to cater to a surging student population the perfect push for dive bar proliferation. Local favorite Back Door Tavern is a good example despite its decidedly off-campus location west of town, the walls covered in photos of locals and yes, a Peyton Manning autograph or two.

From Yacht Club on campus to the rustic Y-Not Tavern a bit further north, all corners of the city offer dive bar options. Take note that Tennessee laws do allow smoking in bars, creating a dive bar divide between those that allow it and those that do not. Our reviews call out the presence of smoking when possible, but be sure to check before rolling up with your decidedly non-smoking drinking partner.

Dive Bar Map

Our Knoxville Dive Bar Recommendations

While we’ve done our fair share of drinking, we haven’t yet hit every Knoxville Dive Bar. The recommendations below are sorted into tiers to help guide your choices depending on how much time you have to explore Knoxville. Where we’ve reviewed a location, a score is given.

SFG Reviews

We’ve been lucky enough to visit the locations below in Knoxville. Each location includes a full review and SFG score to help you decide on how to prioritize your travels.

Back Door Tavern

SFG Rating: 9 out of 10
A very Tennesse-flavored indoor-outdoor dive bar space difficult to beat.

SFG Recommendations

We have not yet been lucky enough to visit the Knoxville options below, but research, word of mouth and reader submissions have led us to recommend these must-visit options.

It's About Time Tavern

On the outskirts of Knoxville, as classic as a semi-rural, locals-heavy dive gets.
Google Map

Marie's Olde Towne Tavern

Be sure to check the hours, but finding the time is worth it for Marie's.
Google Map

Y-Not Tavern

Smoking-friendly and crawling with skeletons in an attractive nook of Knoxville.
Google Map

Other Options

Below you’ll find the truly deep cuts, gems in waiting that we have not yet been able to visit. Let us know if you find a particularly potent destination.

Just 1 More Bar & Grille

9355 Kingston Pike #5, Knoxville, TN 37922
Google Map

Paul's Oasis

8021 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919
Google Map

Pint House

815 Merchant Dr, Knoxville, TN 37912
Google Map

Roger's Place

8817 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37923
Google Map

The Stillhouse Tavern

4921 Homberg Dr Suite E, Knoxville, TN 37919
Google Map

Twisted Mike's Tap Room

7125 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919
Google Map

Union Jack's

124 S Northshore Dr, Knoxville, TN 37919
Google Map

Yacht Club

721 S 17th St, Knoxville, TN 37916
Google Map

What Did We Miss?

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