To the casual “Panera-holic,” the fact that Knoxville is home to some of the best bakeries in the country might come as a surprise. If Panera is your go-to, I guess I can’t stop you, but here’s my advice: why set the bar so low and settle for so little?
Now don’t get me wrong, chains like Panera have lots of different food and drink options, their prices are somewhat reasonable, and they are certainly convenient (they’re basically overtaking Knoxville). But have you every looked behind the shelf of pastries and into the kitchen?
It should be a little more than off-putting if you see them hoist up a big plastic bag filled with their “authentic” tomato soup or see the large food trucks delivering all of their “homemade” bagels and pastries. I maintain that there are better places to spend your money for a good eat. Take advantage of the local gems hiding amongst us. Here’s a list of my favorite four bakeries in Knoxville. Trust me, they will not disappoint.
Mer-Mer’s is a small bakery shop located downtown, and it offers delicious cakes, thumbprint cookies, and brownies. They also bake amazing birthday cakes that both look and taste delicious. Mer-Mer’s is my family’s go-to bakery for all birthday cake needs. Check out their website here.
Location: 617 N Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37917
Hours of Operation: Mon-Wed 9am-12pm, Thurs-Fri 8:30am-4pm, Sat-Sun 9am-12pm
Seriously, Litton’s has it all. Cool diner-like atmosphere, tantalizing dessert showcase, best burgers in Knoxville, and delicious hand-cut fries. Litton’s is an amazing place to eat even if you don’t have a sweet tooth. However, you’d really be missing out if you didn’t try out at least one of their many choices of decadent desserts. Check out their website here.
Location: 2803 Essary Dr, Knoxville, TN 37918
Hours of Operation: Mon-Thurs 10:30am-8:30pm, Fri-Sat 10:30am-9:30pm
Ham ’n Goodys
When my friends tell me they’ve never heard of Ham ’n Goodys, something inside me feels compelled to drive them there right then and let them taste what they’ve been missing out on for so long. This bakery (also a deli) is truly perfection. Try out their iced almond teacakes, lemon cookies, or red velvet cake. Be warned though: after you’ve eaten here, you’ll wonder why the hell you’ve ever settled for less. Check out their website here.
Location: 314 N Northshore Dr, Knoxville, TN 37919
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-2pm
Buttermilk Sky is owned by the same woman who owns The Cup, a small cupcake bakery that certainly gave force to the recent cupcake fad. Buttermilk Sky, however, is a bakery specializing in pies. They sell family-sized pies, but best of all, they sell individual little pies, perfect for sharing with someone special (or not of course). You have never had pies like the ones here. Sorry, but even Grandma can’t compete with these pies. They come complete with a flaky, buttery crust and a warm, rich filling of your choice. My favorites are pecan, I-40, and strawberry. Believe me, you really need to try this place out. Check out their website here.
Location: 5400 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919
Hours of Operation: Mon-Thurs 8:30am-7:30pm, Fri-Sat 8:30am-10pm
With this arsenal of secret bakeries in your possession, you should no longer be caught dead at chain “bakeries.” Go to an actual bakery such as these, instead. If you like any of these bakeries, or if you feel very upset about my leaving a better one off the list, let me know. Enjoy!