Best Burger in Knoxville: Litton’s, a Knoxville Institution

Suzy Trotta Local Flavor 11 Comments


The Best Burger in Knoxville series is our attempt to find the best local burger joint. Follow us on our taste testing journey.

In the two plus years we’ve been around, we here at Knoxify have dedicated ourselves to bringing our readers everything we can find that makes Knoxville a great place to live. So far that’s included music reviews, local business spotlights, neighborhood information and some very cool photos of our scruffy little city. But just like the rest of you, we get hungry too, so we thought it was high time the Knoxify crew stepped away from our keyboards and hit the town to try to find the best eats K-Town has to offer. From burgers to pizza to steakhouses and beyond, we plan on leaving no stone unturned and no plate half full in our search for Knoxify’s favorite Knoxville eateries. And after we’ve finished each taste test, we’ll be posting a review right here for your reading pleasure. The eating part is up to your discretion.

First up in our culinary quest is our search for Knoxville’s Best Burger and what better place to start looking than Litton’s Market and Restaurant in the heart of Fountain City. Founded in 1946 by Elridge Litton, Litton’s is not just a burger joint, it’s a Knoxville institution. Burger lovers can enjoy the regular Litton’s Burger, with or without cheese and bacon, or they can ramp it up a few — ok, several – notches and take on the Thunder Road burger, which comes complete with pimento cheese, sauteed onions and jalapenos. Hooowee! Litton’s also has some pretty tasty hot dogs and some mighty fine deserts, but our bellies simply didn’t allow us to include those good eats in our review.

The Knoxify team sampled several different types of burgers at Litton’s and we each reviewed our individual burger and dining experience on a scale of 1-5 (five being the best) in the following categories:

  1. Burger size (How big was that burger?)
  2. Taste (How did that burger taste?)
  3. Cheese (How was the cheese on that burger?)
  4. Bun (How was that burger’s bun?)
  5. Fries (How were the fries that came with that burger?)
  6. Service (How was the waitperson who served that burger?)
  7. Atmosphere (How was the atmosphere of that burger joint?)
  8. Value (What kind of bang did I get for my buck with that burger?)
  9. Returnability (How likely am I to come back and eat that burger again?)

After gathering our ratings together and furiously watching Casey tabulate the results, here is how Litton’s fared on average, according to our Knoxify taste test team.

Litton’s Burger Size – 4.25
The Litton’s burger, while not the biggest we’ve ever seen, is definitely big enough to fill up most anyone’s belly, especially when pared with some fries. Size also seemed pretty uniform from burger to burger.

Litton’s Burger Taste – 3.88
We sampled lots of different kinds of burgers with different toppings and different types of cheese, so there was a little discrepancy in this category. Testers gave their burger’s taste anywhere from a 5 all the way down to a 2, with most giving it somewhere around a 4. So, while the overall taste of a Litton’s burger might not absolutely pop your socks off, it’s still pretty downright yummy.

Litton’s Burger Cheese – 4.06
Cheesewise, Litton’s burgers seem right on target. Each burger seemed to have a good amount of good quality cheese, but not so much that the burger was overwhelmed by it. Again, the taste might not blow you away, but it’s definitely above average.

Litton’s Bun – 3.69
The Litton’s bun is a good size match to the burger and it’s lightly toasted, which is nice. However, there was nothing about it that was absolutely awesome.

Litton’s Fries – 3.64
The fries were good but as you can see from our rating, not great. To go from good to great we’d like to see their fries coated with some type of seasoning.

Litton’s Service – 3.44
We went on a Thursday night, and while Litton’s is almost always busy, it wasn’t nearly as busy as a weekend night can be. That said, our service, while, well, serviceable, wasn’t spectacular. A few of us had to ask for drink refills or condiments more than once and our waitperson was a little hard to flag down.

Litton’s Atmosphere – 3.81
As previously mentioned, Litton’s is almost always busy, so it’s almost always quite lively. We were a large party, so we got sat in a back room, far away from the normal hustle and bustle of the front restaurant. We were also sitting right by the restrooms and next to banquet room where a wedding shower was in full swing, so all of these factors may have decreased our overall atmosphere rating.

Litton’s Burger Value – 3.44
At $6.99 for a regular Litton’s Burger and $8.99 for a Burger Platter (burger + fries), plus $1.29 each for cheese and bacon, some Knoxify testers felt that they had seen better burger values elsewhere in town. But overall, a night out at Litton’s certainly isn’t going to break the bank either.

Litton’s Returnability – 3.88
All things considered, it looks like most of us would go back and throw down another Litton’s burger in the future. Thunder Road, anyone?

So, one burger joint down, and several more to go. If you have suggestions of burger places the Knoxify test team should visit, send them on to

Photo by: Jody Collins

Comments 11

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  2. I couldn’t disagree more with what seems to be the prevailing sentiment around K’Town- that Litton’s has the best burgers. After waiting for a table for the better part of an hour, I looked at the menu and my eyes bugged out at the prices (which do not include fries) I assumed that I would indeed be getting one of the best burgers ever. Nope. Dry, dull, tasteless – whether or not it’s from frozen is hard to tell because it certainly tasted like it. I’ve never been so disappointed. My money is on Hardee’s – juicy, beefy, squirts when you bite into it, and under five bucks. Elsewhere, Rotier’s in Nashville and In-and-Out when in Southern California.

  3. @southernskirts We’re definitely not saying Litton’s has the best burger in town – it was just the first stop in our taste testing journey. And some of our taste testers agreed with you and scored their Litton’s burger taste down around a 2. In the meantime, I may have to go check out that Hardee’s burger – you made me hungry!

  4. Two faves of mine that you must check out (one at a local “chain” and one at another chain restaurant) are Ruby Tuesday’s Triple Prime Cheddar Burger and Chili’s burgers. Ruby Tuesday’s Triple Prime Cheddar Burger is soooo yummy! It’s usually what I get if I’m craving a good burger. And, Chili’s now hand pats all their burgers and doesn’t use frozen beef at all … we had some mini sliders the other day and they were delish! My hubby loves Five Guys, but personally I just don’t get the obsession, as I’ve never had a “knock my socks off” burger there yet.

  5. Have always gotten a good burger from Littons, well worth the $$ I spend, unlike the review even on a busy weekend I have always had excellent service. Frys might be a little crisper, but that’s just my taste. Also VERY exceptional dessert.

  6. Litton’s is a legend, but you know who else has a bitchin’ burger? Big Fatty’s in Bearden. Check it out with a side of fried okra instead of fries … yumms!

  7. Am I the only one in Knoxville who thinks Litton’s burgers are *way* overrated. I’ve given them a fair shot at least a half-dozen times and I’ve never been happy with their burgers. Give me a Big Fatty’s or Brasserie burger any day.

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