Spoiler alert: This is basically a love letter to the town I adore:
Heath and I tend to eat out on the town quite a bit, mainly due to our weekday exhaustion. There are many places we frequent depending on if we are in a good mood or bad mood. I will not share which ones are which. Join us!
Rankin’s: This quaint diner is somewhere we have made it a tradition to go on weekends. The breakfast basics have been mastered by the staff here, and they’ve had a head start in doing so. Open since 1953, they’ve been doing solid business ever since they day they opened their doors, and now they are the oldest restaurant in Knoxville. The biscuits are what keeps Heath coming back, but I would argue that the magic is their prices. For less than 7 dollars, you can get: 2 eggs any style (I like scrambled with a slice of american cheese), 3 strips of thick bacon, their special crispy homefries, and multiple from-scratch biscuits and savory sausage gravy. Oh, and unlimited cups of some JFG coffee. They have lunch as well, but I’ve never made it past their breakfast items.
Sweet P’s Barbeque and Soul House: Sweet P’s is one of the best secrets of Knoxville. Well, it has been on the Travel Channel’s “Man Vs. Food”…so I’m not sure you can call it a secret once it has been on national television. It’s located down Maryville Pike in South Knoxville and downtown on Jackson Ave. Their BBQ nachos are only sold on Tuesdays, but they are worth the wait. They make traditional BBQ, and–in my opinion–one of 3 places in Knoxville that make decent BBQ. Fresh, fried tortilla chips slathered in their homemade “thick” BBQ sauce, topped with jalapenos, pimento cheese, and either BBQ pork or chicken. So good. They have sides that are classic with their own twist, like chipotle mac-n-cheese, loaded baked potato salad, and spicy green beans. And if you’re a fan of banana pudding, do it. It is a real treat.
Harby’s Pizza & Deli: This place is close to my heart. Within walking distance from a previous rental home I had, Harby’s stole my heart with their desserts. They have pizza and a deli, but their desserts are to die for. Lemon cookies, fresh bakalava, brownies, cookies…anything your sweet tooth could want. You must try their bacon chocolate cookie. The picture on the left is of our favorite pizza, the Maui Wowie. Designed by the two young gentlemen who have worked under Harby himself for years, the Maui Wowie has a BBQ sauce underneath its melted mozzarella cheese, jalapenos, juicy pineapple, crispy bacon, and–of course–some pulled pork BBQ. It’s a true weakness. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
Central Flats & Taps: We tend to offer this place up as a “hey, look! Knoxville has cool places to eat” when we want to impress people. Plus, it’s really close to home. Their “flats” are pizzas on flatbreads, and they are all fresh ingredients. Their Margherita, Kluckin-n-Kickin Chicken, and Crazy Cajun flats are some of my favorites. Their appetizers are also solid, complete with black bean hummus and sun-dried tomato dip. And it’s completely affordable. All flats are under 12 dollars, and there would be plenty to take home if it wasn’t so delicious.
Crown & Goose: This tends to be a celebration spot for us and our friends. Fingers crossed that any given celebration lands on a Tuesday in hopes of enjoying the all-day happy hour (3 dollar highballs and house wine, dollar off drafts, and half price appetizers!), which is “the bomb”. The traditional London cuisine is absolutely heavenly, specifically the bangers & mash. The smashed potatoes have spicy mustard swirled in, which is music to my taste buds. My friend and I who tends to accompany me here gets their cheeseboards. They are complete with house-made jam, local honey, and roasted nuts. Their beergarden out back is whimsical after dark with all of its twinkle lights and greenery. Because of that, many a night has been spent there sipping wine and chatting aimlessly.
*edit: I have recently tried their brunch. KILLER. Absolutely a must. I had their Bangers and Hash. Totally recommend.
Hops & Hollers: I have a new found love for craft beer, and it is changing my world. I have also gained about 10 pounds since said discovery. Nevertheless, I am really enjoying trying what is out there. There have been lots of breweries popping up in Knoxville, and this place celebrates them all. I have fallen in love with two breweries through my tastes and trials here, but that’s for another post, another day. I also appreciate that they coined the phrase “Statriot”. I like to meet friends here to catch up, and there is always something going on. Trivia nights, movies in their biergarten, Bocce Ball…it’s very easy to have a good time. Just a very versatile, relaxing space for me and I can’t say that about many places. Oh, and they have food trucks almost EVERY night [insert church choir here].
Barley’s: A Knoxville staple, in my opinion. All of their food is dynamite. And with my newfound love of beer, they have the most
beer on tap in town. I believe I’ve read 40…? Anyways, all food is very affordable, and they have tons of live (and good) music. This was one of my first places to eat at in Knoxville when I moved to East Tennessee, and I fell in love with my first Knoxville local band (stream their enchanting jazz tunes here). Yes, I’m biased. But sentimentality is worth a lot.
Stock & Barrel: Recent flavor of the week of mine, but definitely a lifelong romance for Heath. Their “about us” page on their website will make you drool. Worth a read. There’s not enough space for me to write a love letter to burgers and what they mean to me, so I’ll channel it in this description. I have had many burgers in my life, and my top 3 have been devoured here. The Bernie, The Elvis, and The Hurt Locker. The first name I mentioned changed my life. It’s a thick, juicy (and local) beef patty topped with homemade blackberry perserves, fried (sliced lengthwise) jalapeños, and bleu cheese. If you don’t like flavor, don’t be my friend and also don’t order this burger. The flavors danced around my mouth to the point I wanted to hum an Adele song to the flavors. I’m obviously not a poet, so I’ll just end this. If you haven’t gone, just call a fellow food lover and GO.
Magpies Bakery: I adore this bakery to the point it physically pains me. I want to live in this store front. Their cupcakes are hands down the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted, and I will debate this to the death. Their creative flavor combinations are unmatched in this area of Tennessee. Take a peek at their “super deluxe” flavors (my personal favorite) here. My personal guilty pleasure is getting their mini versions in packs of 12. Absolutely sinful.
Personal secret I’ll share: They have delicious and discounted inventory on Tuesdays that were baked a couple of days prior. Uhh, worth it.
K Brew: I am proud of this coffee shop slightly more than the other amazing coffee shops in Knoxville only because, well, Alton Brown went their and sang their praises. AND it only proves that I have good taste. Is that narcissism? Hard to say. But I did love this place before the attention from Alton lovers, and that is something I will just hold onto. Their coffee is absolutely delicious, and all of their tasty drinks and treats are the remedy for whatever ails you. Their artisan sandwiches and biscotti are my go-to personal treats. You can take a look at what their current roasts are here.
Taste of Thai: This is in an area of Knoxville I do not frequent and am not very fond of, personally, but I venture there from time to time. I brave the constant river of cars that is Kingston Pike to stuff my face with some Pad Thai. That love is strong. They have so many dishes that are flawless, and I sometimes get anxiety trying to pick. Pad Prik Beef and Rama Curry Chicken with some of their ice cold Thai Tea made with coconut milk would possibly be a contender for my last meal if I were on death row. Oh, and maybe a small, yet generous side of Pad See-Ew. Anyways, now I’m hungry.
There are more, but I’m tired of typing. To be continued…