OliBea

Coffee House | Eclectic | New American | Vegan-Friendly
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Worth driving from anywhere!
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So many modern restaurants purport to be virtuous: natural, sustainable, organic, fresh, local, etc. But good intentions don’t necessarily yield a good meal. All the virtue in the world is no substitute for talent in the kitchen.

Talent in the kitchen: these are words that well describe the allure of Olibea’s, a storefront cafe in the up-and-coming Old City part of Knoxville. In this hip eatery, staffed and patronized by the food-savvy set, all the current culinary virtues reign. Just about everything served is local; farms that supply provender are listed by name on the menu. Continue reading

So many modern restaurants purport to be virtuous: natural, sustainable, organic, fresh, local, etc. But good intentions don’t necessarily yield a good meal. All the virtue in the world is no substitute for talent in the kitchen.

Talent in the kitchen: these are words that well describe the allure of Olibea’s, a storefront cafe in the up-and-coming Old City part of Knoxville. In this hip eatery, staffed and patronized by the food-savvy set, all the current culinary virtues reign. Just about everything served is local; farms that supply provender are listed by name on the menu. From duck or chicken eggs (your choice) to sourdough bread, the kitchen contains nothing, absolutely nothing delivered by Sysco food trucks. Everything made from the good groceries is four-star delicious.

Each week, chef and proprietor Jeffrey DeAlejandro butchers a hog, from which he smokes strips of pork belly that become bacon of the gods. When I stopped eating long enough to tell Mr. DeAlejandro that his biscuits are the best I’ve had  in recent memory, he jokingly called them “Number 7,” meaning that they were the seventh version of a recipe he had been toying with. I gulped, worrying that he might toy more with the recipe and these perfect biscuits — creamy, tangy, and crisp-edged — might be supplanted by something else. I can’t imagine any better; but then, having had a few of the inspired items that come from his kitchen, neither can I imagine Number 8s being anything less than stellar, too.

Breakfast and brunch, until 1pm, are the only meals served. I have loved the biscuits, a daily special of pork cheek tacos (topped with a brilliantly sunny duck egg), cute little “squared potatoes” (elegant home fries), and espresso. I long to return for Tennessee Benedict with local ham, for a confit Cheshire pork shoulder tostada, for pancakes, for local sourdough, and for grilled cheese made with Sweetwater Cheddar. Heck, I suspect even the vegan tofo chorizo and vegan tempeh bacon are tasty. But as long as Chef DeAlejandro is smoking pork belly, that’s the meat for me.

Dishes to try
OliBea, Pork Belly
Pork Belly
Must-Try
Chef Jeffrey DeAlejandro butchers a pig a week and from that pig makes pork belly that is simply the most scrumptious breakfast meat imaginable.
OliBea, Biscuit
Biscuit
Must-Try
If this crisp-surface, creamy-center tangy biscuit has a flaw, that flaw is fragility. OK, then, it has no flaw. It's as perfect a biscuit as I've had in a month of Sundays.
OliBea, Pork Cheek Tacos
Pork Cheek Tacos
Must-Try
Day's special: pork cheek tacos with chili 'taters, kohlrabi slaw, a scene-stealing duck egg, crema, and, on top, a doot of fiery chili de arbol salsa.
OliBea, Squared Potatoes
Squared Potatoes
Must-Try
Squared potatoes are cubes of crisp fried spud just barely big enough to have a creamy heart inside their crust.
OliBea, Espresso
Espresso
Mochas, lattes, and cappuccinos all are available; I was delighted with this potent double-shot espresso.
Directions and Hours
open now
Sunday8am - 2pm
Monday7am - 1pm
Tuesday7am - 1pm
Wednesday7am - 1pm
Thursday7am - 1pm
Friday7am - 1pm
Saturday8am - 2pm
Roadtrips
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
4 stops | 46 min total driving
Information and Policies
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No
Reservations Accepted
No
Delivery Available
No
Takeout Counter
Yes
Website