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New to Oak Ridge/Knoxville

My boyfriend just relocated to Oak Ridge, TN after living in Los Angeles. Quite a culture shock, and I know he'll miss the variety of food we have here. I am looking for recommendations in the area, something besides pizza and Calhoun's BBQ. Haven't seen anything on this board about the area in the last year. It's not just for him, I'm also thinking of when I go to visit!

Any of the following:
good coffeehouse
great bar, especially sports bar
"gourmet" market, or ethnic food market (to buy cooking supplies)
local bakeries or restaurants with great desserts or cakes
Best local, non-bbq, non-chain meal

Any recommendations within an hour's drive are okay.

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  1. by the way, I'm also keeping an eye on Chatanooga recs in case we take a trip there.

    1. Knoxville, and to a lesser extent Oak Ridge, suffer from having a huge population of folks not from these parts who live to eat out. A new restaurant opens and is packed for the first six months and then, often regardless of quality, the place is abandoned and closes in a year and a half. Also, there are more chain restaurants there than there ought to be.
      Knoxville was home to the first Ruby Tuesday's and the area is still the corporate HQ; this isn't a recommendation.
      Sports bars.....during football season be prepared to wear orange and root for the Vols. Too many to choose from.
      "gourmet" market, or ethnic food market (to buy cooking supplies)
      early summer onwards a great drive to the northeast will take you to Ritter Farms on 11-W in Grainger County with home grown produce and such wonderful products as Sorghum (you may never go back to Mollasses.) There is also a once a week farmer's market in Oak Ridge in the old city downtown.

      local bakeries or restaurants with great desserts or cakes
      Sadly most bakeries are in Kroger's. Try the local chain restaurant Puleo's for their Fried Green Tomato appetizer and a good selection of not run of the mill entrees and then good and different deserts. (Dreaming about a particular mocha cake....)
      Best local, non-bbq, non-chain meal....Puleo's for value and freshness. The Orangerie for pretentious but good pricey meals. Regas for old time elegance (and Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's had his first job working at Regas, before (well before) it went upscale).

      In Oak Ridge, Big Ed's Pizza is a local institution. Big Ed gave jobs to hundreds of kids who might not have matured into good adults, but for his influence. It's a loved place with fair pizza, heavy on cheese.

      The local specialty desert you are not likely to find is Apple Stack Cake. there are several versions, but all resemble douberge cakes, but with fillings made from dried apples. In the old days, they were the wedding cakes, and each guest would bring a layer. The esteme in which a couple were held by the community was measured by the height of their stack cake.

      "nuf for now.

      2 Replies
      1. re: shallots

        I recommended the Farmer's Market to him, and he said there were 2 trucks in a lot. Typical?

        1. re: CookieEater

          That's typical for winter and it is still winter here.
          Spring crops are in the ground, but produce isn't local yet.
          The only foodstuffs I know of that are being sold right now are Grainger County tomatoes that are greenhouse grown and sold at two locations ni Grainger County.

          This is why some of us fight major feelings of envy when we watch shows from California with year round markets.

      2. Thanks! will definitely let him know about the Farmers Market. Driving to nearby farms sounds really interesting. Do you (or anyone) have more recommendations for that?

        How Knoxville for bakeries? I thought the "South" would be big on the sweets. pies? cobblers? Maybe this isn't far enough South?

        There's gotta be some good local creameries then. For cheese? ice cream?

        1. Best local, non-bbq, non-chain meal:
          There are very few indeed, but my favorite is Northshore Brasserie.

          3 Replies
          1. re: FoolBart

            Alright, I am going to visit next week. Will try to hit at least a few of these recs, and maybe look for more in the area. I'll report back if I find anything exciting.

            1. re: CookieEater

              For super fancy (impossible in K-town): Northshore Brasserie or Parigo

              Others (dives except tomato head):
              Tomato Head (sandwiches > pizzas)
              Pizza Palace (Magnolia Ave.)
              Mary's Hot Tamales (Magnolia Ave)
              Phillipine Connection (Magnolia Ave)
              Scrugg's Barbecue (Magnolia Ave)

              For coffee place (check Old City Knoxville)

              Big Ed's Pizza in Oak Ridge is "historic" and reasonable

              Sports bar????

              1. re: Jeff C.

                "CookieEater" just moved there.
                It sounds as if you had some bad experiences in Knoxville.
                I am sorry. Keep in mind it is a small city in the south. I found it more open than say, Pinole- 45 minutes outside of SF.

                Anyhoo, more importantly as this is a food site: any comments on my suggestions?

                I would also throw in Ali Baba's "special," especially if lamb, peas, and rice.

                Carousel was quite the place in my day.

                K-town ain't so bad.

                Knoxville is home. I like home for what it is.


          2. My husband & I moved here (Sevierville) about a year ago and are still trying to find good restaurants too. We tried Cha Cha's on Kingston Pike in Knoxville last week. We enjoyed it. It is a tapas restaurant and decided to order several different tapas to comprise our dinner. We like Indian food and eat at Sitar (also on Kingston Pike)-- we especially like to eat there for their lunch buffet. We also tried Lemongrass (Thai & Sushi) in Maryville. We thought it was good as well. I have had better sushi, but we didn't try a whole lot of it. About 2 weeks ago I found somebody who put together a list of their favorite restaurants around Knoxville. If I can find the site I will post it here. Let me know if you have found any info on ethnic food/ gourmet stores. FYI as we were eating at Cha Cha's I noticed some sort of Gourmet store directly across the street, but they were closed by the time we were done so I can't tell you a darn thing about it!

            1. I found the link... it is www.oit.utk.edu/macvolplace/goodeats.... Whoever posted it puts up a little description and it says that the rules are that they can't be a chain restaurant. Hope this helps you & your boyfriend. My husband & I plan to try some of these places in the near future....

              1. I’m not from Knoxville, but frequently visit transplanted family there. Usually we cook in, but Bistro by the Tracks is a favorite for local, non-bbq, non-chain dining out. (I believe I heard it was recently sold, but the new owners did not intend major changes???). Tomato Head (mentioned by Rowdy above) is also good, and in Market Square, a fun area of downtown K’ville that hopefully continues on the upswing.

                There is a Fresh Market on Kingston Pike that, while a chain, tends to offer more exotic produce, proteins, pre-prepared items, and breads than Kroger or Food City. Pricey but sometimes worth it (I was happy when we got one where I live). It probably is not the “gourmet store” Jilly was referring to since it’s about a half-mile east of Cha-Cha’s.

                If I may mention an event that is not strictly food-related, but which you and your SO might enjoy, check out the Dogwood Festival, which is going on this weekend, and apparently is happening in Oak Ridge April 28-29. http://www.dogwoodarts.com/. There are special events, but you can also just drive along the streets painted with “dogwood” pink arrows. Too bad it’s apparently raining this weekend, but spring is a lovely time there, and the pink arrows take you through some areas that, when the weather cooperates, treat you to lots of blooms.

                And for whatever it’s worth, in surfing for a website for Bistro By the Tracks, I came upon this blog by someone else who is dealing with relocating to Knoxville from a major city (NYC, apparently): http://www.knoxvilleyankee.com/. They’re organizing a picnic for like-minded individuals April 22. Sounds fun.

                And thanks for the link you posted, Jilly. I’ll have to look into that.

                28 Replies
                1. re: intuitive eggplant

                  The Gourmet Market is ok for specialty items I suppose. The best part about the Gourmet Market (across from Cha Cha) is the restuarant inside. It is pretty darn impressive.

                  The best "specialty type" market is the Shrimp Dock on Kingston Pike. They will also special order anything. Great place for all your seafood needs.

                  Carruther's on Bearden Hill is the best butcher by far.

                  Hogan's on Bearden Hill may be the best bakery.

                  The dives I mentioned above on an earlier post would be considered great in any city. Tomato Head probably qualifies too. The French restaurants and Cha Cha would not qualify.

                  BTW, Pizza Palace on Magnolia Avenue will be on the Food Network's new show "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives." Also, the owner is a CIA-trained chef. Try the onion rings, meatballs and spaghetti, steak sandwich, and greek salad.

                  Magnolia is the hidden dream.

                  Korea House is a good suggestion. Wright's is good southern cafetaria food, probably intriguing from a L.A. perspective.

                  HolyLand is an interesting middle eastern store. There is also a new middle eastern grocery beside Ali Baba's Time Out Deli (but unrelated to Ali Babas).

                  There are some Indian Markets. Small and usually temporary. I got stuff from Rama imports at one point.

                  Savelli's on Sutherland is a small quaint Italian place that is inconsistent but still a treat.

                  Check out Todd Steed if you are into music. He defines the local music scene.


                  1. re: Rowdy Food

                    Philippine Connection? Filipino food? seriously?? Honestly I'm nervous about trying Asian food in Tennessee but I'm just too curious. We'll have to check it out.

                    1. re: CookieEater

                      Phillippine Connection is a total hole in the wall. All the Magnolia restaurants mentioned above by me are withing 1/2 a mile of each other. All are ultra dives. Take the Magnolia tour and get a sample of each. If you are hardcore, you will love the experience.

                      BTW, my best friend growing up in Knoxville was from the Phillipines. His mom cooked killer food for us every weekend. Lumpia, oh lumpia.

                      I almost forgot, Soccer Taco on Bearden Hill is fairly good. I really liked the Menudo (soup with intestines). Food is not unbelievable but very good and definitely the best Mexican in Knoxville IMO. If you find better let me know.


                      1. re: Rowdy Food

                        Sounds like you've got a strength in one of my favorite genres:Beat up dives....any recs on places due north of Knoxville up I-75?I'll be vacationing in Kentucky soon and would love to know of some dusty old joints between Knoxville and Corbin Kentucky.

                        1. re: scrumptiouschef

                          Unfortunately I am not familiar with that area. Louisville has some winners reportedly,

                          You let me know if you find some places. I will check with my pal from KY.

                          Check my Nashville post itoday if you are go through that area.


                          1. re: Rowdy Food

                            I can tell you right off the bat if you ever find yourself in London Ky definitely stop in at Burger Boy,it's a homespun diner,been there over 40 years.The fried chicken is topnotch as is the salty ham...they handcut their ribeyes and the griddle is well seasoned.Best part:their hours:24/7/365

                            1. re: scrumptiouschef

                              Sounds perfect. Thanks a ton. London is pretty close to Knoxville right? Fried Chicken gets me every time. Andy salty ham! Handcut ribeyes. 24/7/365! Nice call.

                              You have to check out Pizza Palace. Tell Charlie, Rowdy from ATL sent you. Sit inside. He chops his own meat and makes his own meatballs. He cuts his own ribeyes for some great sandwiches on the grill. He makes fresh onion rings. Greek salad with anchovies. It has been around over 40 years as well.

                              I can't wait to check out Burger Boy. I go to Knoxville several times a year. All the family (and many friends) are there. Sometimes "you can't shake Knoxville" - Scott Miller

                              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                It's also the home of the first Kentucky Fried Chicken. (And some year I'm going to make it to the Chicken Festival in May.)
                                The Daniel Boone Inn at Berea KY is a bit farther north and is historic and culturally important. (Students at the college at Berea earn their way through college and some work at the Inn.)
                                And even farther north is Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill.

                                1. re: shallots

                                  Just got back from Oak Ridge! My thoughts:
                                  Calhoun's on the river- I'm not a big bbq eater, but YUM! sooo good. Had the pork ribs and he had already brought me some cornbread on an earlier trip so I was already a fan. Loved the scenery on the river, the bridges, the geese.
                                  Puleo's- great service, you were right about the food being fresh. Even with something simple like the unlimited spaghetti I could tell the tomatoes were fresh. How do they make the fried green tomatoes spicy? I tasted the breading, but it wasn't just that. It seemed like the tomatoes themselves were spicy, but that doesn't make sense.
                                  Magpies bakery in Old Town Knoxville- though in general I think trendy cupcakes are way overpriced, I love that the entire store smells like sugar and vanilla. The mini cupcake assortment was yummy, except for the chocolate cake-strawberry frosting combo. blech.
                                  Chick-Fil-A- never had it before, had to try it. Good for what it is! Wish they had them here. Everything tasted so much fresher than I'm used to from fast-food.
                                  Big Ed's- I love how the only thing on the menu is pizza and 8 toppings. Simple, and yummy though on the greasy side. Usually don't like thin crust, but I liked this. Is Ed Italian? because his last name isn't.
                                  Fountain City Creamery- really yummy neighborhood ice cream parlor, though filled with noisy teenagers on a weekday afternoon. I wish I could have tried all the flavors. Not the best best ice cream I've had (that award goes to the bowling alley ice cream parlor in Hyde Park, MA) but charming location and good selection

                                  Did lots of research on ethnic restaurants, but didn't actually get to try any. But at least we know he has options nearby. I'm so curious about the Polish place, Homeland.
                                  And my favorite meal by far was at Bea's Restaurant in Chattanooga--a great unique experience where I tried many typically Southern dishes for the first time.

                                  1. re: CookieEater

                                    Did you have spinach maria at Calhoun's?
                                    About Puleo's Fried Green Tomatoes: I think some of the zing comes from the tomatoes they use. My guess is that they use the locally grown (greenhouse at this time of the year, out of doors will start ripening in June) tomatoe of choice, a cultivar called Celebrity. It travels poorly. But the taste and shape and wonderfulness of Celebrity as an eating tomatoe has no equal. Not the overfleshyness of a beefsteak or roma but just the right combo of seeds and flesh with a (doesn't travel well) skin that you can ignore as you eat it.

                                    1. re: shallots

                                      no, I probably should have tried it but I was in the mood for baked potato.
                                      I was hoping for mac and cheese somewhere. Is that not a Tennessee thing?

                                      1. re: CookieEater

                                        DH usually chooses mac and cheese as one of his vegetables at most meat and three restaurants. I've never seen a mac and cheese on his plate that would make me sneak a bite.
                                        For the ultimate mac and cheese, Rocky and Carlos in Chalmette LA is my standard for restaurant versions and Martha Stewart's recipe is my choice for home.
                                        There are two things, though, that are oddly east Tennessee. One is tamales, and the love of same goes way earlier than the recent immigrant restaurant craze, as in goes back to the 1846 Mexican war (even names of towns like Buena Vista commemorating the battle).
                                        And we haven't got a ghost of a notion where the addiction to banana pudding came from, but it seems to have become genetic.

                                        1. re: shallots

                                          No wonder they had banana pudding ice cream at Fountain City Creamery. It was good. It had vanilla wafers in it.

                                          1. re: CookieEater

                                            Shallots, I grew up in Knoxville eating banna pudding all the time. It was my fave... and still is when Mamaw is around. It always had vanilla wafers in it. It tastes better the next day too.

                                            Cookie Eater, Big Ed passed away but continues to be a legend. Everyone in Oak Ridge and Knoxville would meet at Big Ed's after soccer games, etc. Everyone I knew owned a Big Ed t-shirt at some point. I still have one (with the toothpick in his mouth).

                                            Shallots, Mary's Tamales on Magnolia is the best IMO.

                                            Mac and Cheese is the best. Wright's Cafeteria does it right.

                                            Cheers to Knoxville and Oak Ridge!

                                            1. re: Rowdy Food

                                              My husband, with the banana pudding gene, all but insists that it be made with the cooked boxed pudding mix. One time I made the (IMO considerably more elegant and finer tasting) version from Emeril's New New Orleans Cuisine cookebook and he was so not impressed.
                                              We need to do a back search and find out the why of banana pudding.
                                              And the local (out the country) coolks' choices of how they make their tamales.
                                              I will try Mary's, thanks for that lead.
                                              Yesterday we went to Ritter Farms (I was out of Sorghum) and they also had sourwood honey. And we had one of the best meat and four lunches for $5 I'd ever had. one of the veg choices was fresh (greenhouse grown) tomatoes and they were Celebrity and they were the right taste....none of the blech Floramericas that the rest of the world eats at this time of the year. Next time we'll add a plate of fried green tomatoes for $2.

                                          2. re: shallots

                                            Tamales piqued my interest. I'm an Arizona and Texas transplant to Knoxville and, must admit, am surprised to hear that anyone around here even knows what a tamale is! Please tell me, where can we get our hands on some authentic, by the dozen, tamales?

                                            1. re: BaseballNut

                                              I assume shallots and I are talking about the same type of tamales. They are "Knoxville soul tamales" to me. They are different than Arizona and Texas. Mary's is a shack. Pick 'em up to go or better yet, eat 'em on the fly. Get one of her little pies too. If you find other place, please post 'em. Mary's Tamales does have interesting hours. They also have 'em by the dozen. I used to go there all the time. It has been a while. This thread makes me want to make a trip back up to go to Mary's (and my parents ofcourse).

                                              Shallot, 'tis a great idea to further investigate the origins and evolution of tamales and banana pudding.


                                              1. re: Rowdy Food

                                                Banana pudding: can someone post an authentic recipe?

                                                1. re: CookieEater

                                                  Our family favorite Banana Pudding:
                                                  A box of vanilla wafers (a big box)
                                                  A bunch of banannas at just the right stage of ripeness
                                                  Two or three boxes of Jello Vanilla Pudding, the kind that you cook on the cooktop.
                                                  Layer of wafers
                                                  Layer of sliced banannas
                                                  Pour on pudding.
                                                  Shake gently
                                                  Layer of waters
                                                  Layer of sliced banannas
                                                  More pudding
                                                  Shake to work pudding in.

                                                  Repeat as assets allow.

                                                  And it makes my husband very happy.

                                                  1. re: shallots

                                                    why the cooking kind? I already have instant pudding boxes. Are those ok?

                                                    1. re: CookieEater

                                                      My husband is not a dedicated foodie; but one of his demands is for the cooked pudding (that does come in a box) rather than the add milk and chill. It is a difference he can notice. He has also approved of the vanilla pudding recipe in Joy of Cooking that uses corn starch as thickener.

                                                    2. re: shallots

                                                      Buy a box of Nilla Wafers (by Nabisco) and follow the simple recipe on the box.

                              2. re: Rowdy Food

                                Do not go to Phillippine Connection looking for Filipino food. My husband and I went there while in town to visit my mother. He is very familiar with Filipino food, and he spoke at length with the owner. She serves standard Chinese takeout fare and no real Filipino dishes. She told him this is because none of her customers would order it. They want General Tso Chicken, fried rice and the like. There are a few Filipino style dishes on the menu, but they taste just like greasey Chinese takeout.

                                1. re: LED

                                  "Do not go to Phillipine Connection," yet you recommend Krystals on another post below?

                                  Everybody has their preference, so cheers. Did you try Pizza Palace across the street? Did you try Mary's Hot Tamales? Are you into dives?

                                  There is beauty in Magnolia Avenue, specifically regarding the locally owned Pizza Palace, Mary's Tamales, Scruggs Barbecue,and Phillipine Connection. All are locally owned and offer a wonderful eating and cultural experience in the context of being in Knoxville, TN. I lived in Knoxville for 25 years and many of my closest friends love these places. It ain't for every body, but you can definitely taste the love at these places .


                                  1. re: Rowdy Food

                                    I completely agree with you about the food on Magnolia. It's one of the most interesting and tasty stretches of road in Knoxville. My post was simply meant to clarify that Philippine Connection does not in any way serve authentic Filippino food. The owner would tell you that herself.

                            2. re: Rowdy Food

                              Have any of you Knoxvilee Chowhounds eaten at the BleuHound Grille in oak Ridge? Does it handle large groups well?

                              Opinions on Billy's Time Out Deli vs Big Ed's for pizza?

                              How close is Chez Guevera (la paz?) to Oak Ridge?


                              2 dozen of us are coming up 2nd week of August for a regatta. Probably limited by transportation and very causal dress codes (ie, shorts and jeans) and some desire to stay as a group.

                              Looks liek some interesting place in Knoxville based on these posts.

                              1. re: crewsweeper

                                Is your regatta on Melton HIll Lake (next to Oak Ridge) or on Lake Loudon (next to the University of Tennessee and Knoxville)?

                                1. re: crewsweeper

                                  I can't say about Bleu Hound Grille food now (name has changed now), but when it still had that name, I was able to fit a rehearsal dinner in the front part of it (probably 20-25 people), and the side part could hold more than that. I would make reservations anywhere you go with a group of that size. Possibly more fancy that you might be expecting but since I have not been since the name changed, I do not know.

                                  I have heard both pizza places are decent. Big Ed's is where you want to go for atmosphere (dive style).

                                  Che Guevera is west of the West Hills exit in the Toys 'R Us shopping Center in West Knoxville. Really good Black Bean Nachos and some interesting quesadillas can be had there (Apple and Brie with almonds).

                                  For sushi, it depends. For a large group I would say Wasabi (chain, but pretty good sushi nonetheless, though I am not a true sushi snob). For smaller groups, I can say Nama (I believe at the north end of Gay Street in downtown Knoxville), Tomo (east of West Hills on Kingston Pike; SLOW service, but good sushi), Sakura (Walker Spring's exit, Kingston Pike in the Books A Million shopping center; really only 1 sushi chef and more limited choices, but good for the price; only crowded on certain nights such as Tuesday night for all-you-can-eat sushi for $17.99, and think Monday has special prices too).

                                  I hope this helps!

                            3. I have lived in Oak Ridge all my life, so I'll throw in my two cents. I will try to add some Knoxville suggestions later.

                              Homeland is great - just make sure you call ahead. It's a small facility and they can only serve so many. Listen to their recommendations, and you're sure to enjoy.

                              Also check out 80 East, in Oak Ridge - used to be Bleu Hound Grill. It's located at 80 East Tennessee Avenue, behind Jackson Square and near Big Ed's, and it's delicious. Really contemporary menu. I had a panko breaded salmon with a mushroom sauce that was out of this world. I suggest you try their special fruit tea.

                              There's also a new place on Melton Hill Lake Drive, the Flatwater Grill, in the oft unoccupied location at the tip of the greenway. It's beautiful, and I have heard great things about the menu and service, but I haven't been yet.

                              I also love the Chinese at New China Palace, also on Melton Hill Lake Drive. The owners are so friendly. Speaking of Chinese, you really can't go without trying the "Magic Wok," also near Jackson Square. It's a tiny little place, run out of a converted trailer type building. I suggest you get your food to go, and your entree choices are limited. But I love the egg rolls and the chicken cashew.

                              I would be remiss to not mention Billy's Time Out Deli on the turnpike. True, it's just about like any other time out deli you've ever been to, but that's good stuff! I love just about everything here, and they recently went smoke free. They also serve beer, and the owners are also super friendly.

                              Everyone has already spoken about Big Ed's, and I am a pizza fanatic, and I do love Big Ed's. It is a little pricey in my opinion, but its probably worth it for the experience. I try to go to just about every pizza joint that I can, and it is still very near the top. Little Joe's in Farragut is different and gives them a run for their money, in my opinion. But Big Ed's gives you a free t-shirt on your birthday, and that's hard to beat.

                              1. I have only skimmed the replies, but Homeland Foods at the corner of Tennessee and New York Avenues is to be recommended. It's only crowded on weekends, usually. It isn't open Saturday noon or on Sunday.

                                Flatwater Grill on Melton Hill Lake is so-so, and very hard to get in, as it has just opened. They care, but they don't kow how to cook grouper and corn, to name a few. Also, their cornbread is "Yankee", made with too much flour and sugar.

                                Buffalo Grill on the east end of Oak Ridge Turnpike is a good change of pace if you want a buffalo burger or "buffalo" wings. It isn't open on Sunday. Used to have a bar; haven't really looked lately.

                                Nature's Pantry, next to Buffalo Grill, has excellent sandwiches and the best potato salad you can find. It isn't open very late or on Sunday. Definitely no bar.

                                The Magnolia Tree, west of Illinois Ave. on Oak Ridtge Turnpike has decent Italian and Greek style dishes, along with enough southern and European choices to keep your interest. It is a favorite of elder customers, because you always get enough for two meals.

                                Our favorite places in Knoxville are mostly local chains. Almost all of them have bars.

                                You can almost always get in The Parkside Grill on Parkside drive when Turkey Creek is jammed. They're flat-out good.

                                If you like meat (lamb chops, pork chops, steaks, Ritz-Cracker-Breaded-baked Scrod), try the Chop House on Kingston Pike, just a block or so east of Calhoun's Silo.

                                If you like Italian, try the Sunday brunch at the Italian Market and Grill about a block east of the Chop House. You can have all three meals at one sitting.

                                We just had a pleasant experience at the Bridge View Grill on Neyland Drive at the Womens Rowing Facility just past the football stadium. Decent food. Nice view. Excellent Service. Park across the street in the lot accessed at the cross-walk traffic light.

                                Ali Baba Timeout Deli on Kingston Pike at Gallaher Rd (near Sam's in Knoxville) is a different experience. Authentic Mid East, we like the "No. 7", which is fried falaffel, egg plant and cauliflower with a sauce in a rolled pita. (Go to the restroom somewhere else first).

                                And the least-known of all the restaruants in Knoxville, M-K's in the Cumberland House Hotel. This is a new hotel, known affectioately as "Peyton's Place" because he was one of the underwriters of the hotel and restaurant. M-K's has a really fancy, small menu, resonable prices, locally roasted coffee (Vienna Coffee Company in Maryville) and is not crowded unless there is a sporting event near by. Their menu can be found at www.cumberlandhousehotel.com

                                Most of the following don't have bars.

                                In Maryville (35 miles south of Oak Ridge) you will find one of the remaining Aubrey's Restaurants in the "Target Shopping Center" on HWY 411 bypass near Home Depot. Aubrey's is an excellent family restaurant with excellent food, excellent service, and you just feel like they care. Aubrey's chain manages M-K's mentioned above.

                                While you are in the area, across from Aubrey's is the only Unos (Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and Italian Entrees) in East Tennessee.

                                And while you are standing there looking, you will see the Lemon Grass Restaurant just across the other street. It has excellent Thai cuisine.

                                And, supposedly, the best kept secret in the Smokey Mountains is the Foothills Milling Company. It is at the corner of Washington and Old Sevierville Hwy (streets) in Maryville. Check out this review at: http://www.knoxviews.com/node/4097.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: tobytubby

                                  Try Casa Don Gallo in the Westmoreland/ Bearden area on Northshore...its the best Mexican I've had in Knoxville (The "especial don goyo is good and really big so easy to share); Hogan's Bakery has good desserts, but haven't been in over a year; Magpies in the Old City has the best cakes and cupcakes!!!; Gondolier (several locations) had good pizza, pasta, and a great caesar dressing and they are also really fast; Bravo and Bonefish are also good; try Wasabi sometime, but bring your appetite

                                  1. re: mbs329

                                    I did go to Magpies and got a mini-cupcake sampler. I nearly ate the whole thing.

                                2. Has anyone been to Captain Tom's BBQ?
                                  I'm going back for another visit next week and am wondering if it's worth checking out. In addition to all these other places....

                                  1. I am surprised that no one has recommended Jefferson Drug's lunch counter in Oak Ridge, just off the Turnpike. I believe they are open for breakfast and lunch every day but Sunday. Both meals are great there. Everything is homemade. I dream of their pimento cheese sandwiches. I grew up in Oak Ridge but now live in NYC, and Jefferson Drug is one of my favorite places to go back to. Wrights Cafeteria in Knoxville is also an excellent place for real East TN style southern cooking.

                                    Another great Oak Ridge lunch place is the Soup Kitchen on Tennessee Ave not far from Big Ed's. They make all their own soups, salads and breads.

                                    I really miss eating in East TN and plan most of my trips home around eating, but I think it would be a strange place for an outsiders. There are far too many chains in OR and Knoxville. If you liked Chick-Fil-A there are two other chains you could try: Krystal for steamed mini-burgers, kind of like White Castle but in my opinion better, or try their Chili Pups. Buddy's is a local barbecue chain. I like it, but 'cue is a very personal thing and it may not appeal to everyone. Happy eating!

                                    1. Here's my stab at a few answers to your questions (in Knoxville):
                                      Coffee is not my thing, but I think there is at least one place down in the "old city", and I have never been sure whether "Cool Beans" which is a block away from Cumberland Avenue ("The Strip") is a coffeehouse or a bar (Could be both for all I know).
                                      I know it's a chain, but my friend loves Panera Bread as her coffeehouse (one on North Peters Road in W. Knoxville at the Cedar Bluff exit, and I think Oak Ridge has one too).

                                      Bailey's off of Cedar Bluff (Kingston Pike/Trucker's Lane? in a shopping center with the "dollar" movie theater) is a pretty good sports bar with lots of pool tables (unfortunately for me, too much smoke), and some folks like Rookie's for wings (same area and same smoke, North Peters). Soccer Taco is the best small sports bar and very good mexican food to boot (don't be afraid of the recycled Pizza Hut storefront).

                                      Other folks have mentioned the Gourmet Market (great for lunch) and the Fresh Market (2 locations, 1 near campus and 1 in the Farragut area - which is closer to Oak Ridge). For an oriental market, I recommend the Far East oriental market in the Cedar Bluff area in a strip mall just north of the interstate (tiny, smells authentic and good prices). There is also a mexican market very close to it but I have not been in to check it out.

                                      For local bakeries, I like Ham 'N Goodies for their lemon cookies and sandwiches (Papermill area) and Eva's To Go for fabulous cakes and good sandwiches, quiche and take-home casseroles (2 locations in upscaled strip malls, 1 on Kingston Pike between Papermill and West Hills; 1 somewhere further west on Kingston Pike possibly in the Cedar Bluff area).

                                      I wish I had better ideas for local restaurants as Knoxville suffers from a habit of flocking to the newest restaurants and leaving the lately new to languish and eventually close. But if you like fine dining, I like Northshore Brasserie. Puleo's is good for more casual dining, but service can be spotty. And Cha Cha for tapas and wine. Pasta Trio is a great small place for a romantic date (in the old city). As is Baker Peters Jazz Club at the intersection of South Peters and Kingston Pike.

                                      And I have to throw in my favorite local chocolatier is Bradley's Chocalates on North Peter's. When they have the Strawberries sign up, hurry in as the chocolate covered strawberries will go fast. They sell them in season (mostly on Friday's until sellout, usually the same day) and around special occasions such as Valentine's Day. And I love their caramel domes (milk and dark), covered caramels (all chocolate flavors) and dark chocolate orange creams.


                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: pacw808

                                        WOW!! Thanks for all the suggestions!.

                                        Shallotts, we on Melton Hill Lake. Staying at the Jameson Inn.
                                        Flatwater Grill, that's the other place mentioned. Maybe we'll hit 80 East too.
                                        will be there 4.5 days and can't live on JI breakfasts and power bars all that time.

                                        Will report back where we wind up and what we thought.
                                        Thanks again.

                                        1. re: pacw808

                                          TRIP REPORT!
                                          I really should've listened to you and tried the lemon cookies at Ham n Goody's because the red velvet cake and pecan pie were not good.

                                          I LOVE BIG FATTY'S! Big Fatty's Catering is also a yummy restaurant. Their red velvet cake was awesome (not soaking with red food coloring, great gooey cream cheese frosting, not super sweet), the chili was good, the fried okra was yummy, and I really wish I had packed some of their desserts for the airplane. I ate there yesterday.

                                          I also ate at Louis' Restaurant. I love these local Southern places with their comfort food. I had the spaghetti which I found highly recommended on other sites. Definitely not L.A.-style al dente, regional Italian, but just good comfort food and super polite service.

                                          Tried Northshore Brasserie, which I would recommend. For half the price of a dinner that size in L.A., I had French onion soup (just OK, would've liked more cheese and extra time under the broiler), shared an order of mussels, the "duck two ways" and just a scoop of butter pecan ice cream for dinner cuz I was so full. My BF had the GIGANTIC creme brulee which was pretty good.

                                        2. I just returned form a second trip. Did a couple places in Nashville, plus finally tried Johnson Fountain and the Waffle House in Oak Ridge. I know Waffle House is a chain, but I had never been and I did like that the bacon was generously-sized. I really really want one of those mugs they use for coffee. Can I buy one somewhere?

                                          We woke up too late to make Johnson Fountain for breakfast (missed it by 6 minutes!) but I enjoyed the Little Boy Bacon Burger. I'd recommend placing your order before the lunchtime rush of ORNL and Y-12 workers; the regulars get more attention. I was too full to try the soda fountain stuff, maybe next time.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: CookieEater

                                            Does anyone know the phone number for 80 East? The ones on the web/yellow pages are not in service.

                                            Also, anyone eaten at Sitar, the Indian place in Knoxville? I thought I saw something about it in this thread but on refresh looks like it was a Chattanooga place. My crew is salivating for chicken tikka and naan. We'll do Flatwater Grill one night because their deck is right next door to the rowing venue. If we leave lat on Sunday, may make a run through Marysville for the Aubery or Lemon Grass.

                                            1. re: crewsweeper

                                              VERY sorry to report that 80 East closed this summer. Business just wasn't good enough. There is a sports bar there now that I have not been to, so can't suggest one way or the other.

                                              It was really a gem so, like all good things, it had to go!

                                          2. Fountain City has some incredible food. Take I-640E and Exit onto Broadway North. Go Rt onTazewell Pike and left to Rita's Bakery-decorated Gingerbread Men and Women for any event. Peanut Butter cookies for .35-yes 35 cents. Pratt's Market has old fashioned apple and peach fried pies from the pie man delivered still warm for only.59-yes 59 cents. Then there's Littons-incredible burgers served on homemade buns and red velvet cake, Italian cream cake, plate sized cookies. Kitts Cafe is at the Mall Exit off I-640 across from the new Target. Only open Mon-Fri for breakfast and lunch. They have the homemade Apple Stack Cake ( but not every day). also haved pineapple upside down cake, great cornbread and chicken salad sandwiches. Kitts never scores less than 99 on the health department inspections.

                                            1. Just back from 4 days in Oak Ridge. Very hot. Unfortunately we were usually too exhausted by the time we got off the water racing or practicing that we didn't venture too far. Lunch was mostly on site. Flatwater Grill, Soup Kitchen and Razzleberry had booths there. Decent cottonwood IPA from Flatwater's beer graden. Did hit Big Ed's on Friday night, pizza was okay, far better than the chains, but didn't catch where all the excitement came from unless it was the ambience. Flatwater Grill sponsored the Athlete Dinner on Saturday night. Buffet line past the open kitchen. Standard stuff, grilled chicken, pulled pork shoulder with favorful "Carolina" style sauce. Pasta salad had a slight kick. Bread pudding was somewhat moist but needed more sauce, or I should say needed sauce to help it out. Great views of the lake from every seat though. It was someone else's bright idea to try Sagebrush. My advice to others---DON'T! Sorry, never got close to any of the Knoxville places. We're planning on hitting Sitar or India Majal in Chattanooga when we're back up this fall.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: crewsweeper

                                                Big Ed's is important because of its longevity and because Ed gave jobs to so many kids to start them out right in life.
                                                The pizza is good, but the feel-good vibes are priceless.

                                              2. Unfortunately, there's not alot here in Oak Ridge.....In fact, I expect to see tumbleweed bushes blowing by any day now. I just moved here almost 2 years ago from Pittsburgh, and I'm very disappointed in the food choices, however Knoxville, does have far better choices. I like the Soup Kitchen ok, but it's noisy, also Big Ed's is really good. I'm Italian and really picky with pizza, but I like Big Ed's, but it too, is noisy. They also serve beer there. Why they don't serve wine is still a mystery. Mostly everything else are chains (ewww). There is a place on Charles Sievers Blvd. in Clinton called Perkideli's that serves both lunch and hot meals. It's really small inside, but the food is homemade, and they also serve home-brewed coffee (I think). I know they serve breakfast (hot) and also awesome muffins and sweet rolls and all of their cakes, pies and cookies are homemade. I know alot of people that go there to pick up breakfast before work. A few good places in Knoxville, are Puleo's, The Chop House (excellent), Carrabba's Italian Grill is excellent and also has a bar.(No. Peters Rd.) A Good Bakery, but nothing like the bakeries in Pittsburgh, is VG's in the Kohl's Shopping Center on Kingston Pike in Farragut. Tomato Head in Market Square (downtown) is really really good! The Mellow Mushroom in Farragut is also really good. They have excellent white pizza there. For the longest time I couldn't find white pizza in this town....nobody and I mean nobody knew what it was.....Everyone looked at me like I was asking for something alien. They have lots of vegetarian pizza choices too. I lived in San Diego for almost 20 years and then moved back to Pgh for 10 and now I'm here and all I do is cry everyday.....Not too happy here. Hopefully your boyfriend is here temporarily and will be able to move back to LA. sometime in the future. I've been there many many times and absolutely LOVE L.A. I can't imagine leaving that city to come here. I hope the pay was well worth it. I don't plan on staying in TN forever. Please do not move here.....you will hate it! Knoxville's isn't too bad, but it aint L.A. Hope my post helped you guys !

                                                1. I grew up in Oak Ridge, and when I go back to visit, there only two places that I insist on visiting: Magic Wok and Big Ed's (both already mentioned here). Big Ed's is world famous. I have been stopped by strangers in several states just because I was wearing my Big Ed's T-shirt. Now, there may be better pizza around, but it is still the best known restaurant in Oak Ridge.
                                                  If there is any other restaurant that competes with Big Ed's as an Oak Ridge institution, I guarantee it is Magic Wok. If you have not been, go there for lunch or early dinner, order cashew chicken (the standard dish), spicy chicken (a spicier version), or K-25 chicken (the hot version) and eat it there. Talk to Betty to runs the place and is usually the one cooking. You will not meet a nicer person. In high school, my friends and I would go there for lunch (with little $) and she would give us all we could eat for a dollar each.

                                                  The attached photo is not mine.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: casey_jones

                                                    I'll have to agree, if you're in Oak Ridge for any length of time, a trip to Big Ed's is pretty much mandatory (as well as getting a t-shirt from there).

                                                    Honestly, I don't really care for the pizza there all that much by my Connecticut-style pizza trained palette, but it's pretty good for the area, and has a lot of history.

                                                    (And it's been a long time since I've heard the phrase "K-25" chicken).

                                                  2. Thanks for this forum I am new to Oak Ridge/Knoxville from Southern California. I am finding all the attempts at foreign food to be lacking. Overall finding something non fired had been a challenge that I am up for.

                                                    I went to Bailey's Sports bar which i found lacking in beer and food, I mean it was ok if i was watching a game. They have 23 beers on tap but 20 domestic. Anybody know of any other sports bars. I am most looking in the West Knoxville/Farragut Area.

                                                    I also went to the Stir Fry Cafe and had the worst Curry i ever had. I would have sent it back in any other city.

                                                    Connor's Steak & Seafood made a tasty Lobster Bisque and while i should have had a steak i opted for a sandwich which was ok but not as good as the steak.

                                                    I am willing to try most places and will be going through this forum so any other suggestions would help.

                                                    8 Replies
                                                    1. re: mendoznr

                                                      I'm going back again and this time it's Northshore Brasserie for Valentine's. It better be good! ;)

                                                      BF has been subjected to one too many overpriced mediocre meals at Wasabi by his coworkers. I gotta know what is THE best, most authentic ethnic restaurant in the area? Asian, Mexican, whatever.
                                                      Maybe I'm aiming too high. Is there at least better Japanese food than Wasabi?

                                                      1. re: CookieEater

                                                        For Oak Ridge I am surprised there hasn't been mention of Razzleberry's Ice Cream. The owner makes it all fresh and experiments with flavors he creates. During June he even makes Lavendar Ice Cream for the Lavendar Festival. His shop is located in Jackson Square, the shopping center across the street from the farmer's market. Also, Hot Bagel Company in Manhattan Place Shopping Center is locally owned and has excellent panininis, quiches, and a variety of baked goods in addition to fresh bagels. Gourmet Cafe is a new place in Oak Ridge. It has fresh, organic ingredients and sinful desserts. Also, Venice Pizza, near the Oak Ridge Pool, has some good selections although I haven't tried the pizza. For take out there is Mediterranean Delight. You'll have to look it up in the phone book as I can't even begin to describe it's location in the back of a shopping center. However, they have wonderful Mediterranean fare. Homeland Foods has good Polish. Authentic. If you happen to visit the Flat Water Grill try the Tarragon Carrots. Yummy! By the way, if you want a great hamburger try the K-Mart Cafe. Don't laugh! I haven't had one in a while as I'm cutting back on the fat, but they are tasty.

                                                        1. re: CookieEater

                                                          Cookie, it's been a long time since I've read this thread, so this may have been mentioned already above, but I finally found a Mexican resto that quenched my need for some authentic Mexican dishes. Try SoccerTaco on Kingston Pike near Bearden Hill. Now, I think I remember that you're from SoCal, so don't get your hopes up. It's not a taco truck like you can find all over the place out there, but after you've been in Knoxville for awhile, and you have tried enough of the Cancun's, Pelancho's, and El Charro's that Knoxville has to offer, SoccerTaco is like oxygen.

                                                          1. re: BaseballNut

                                                            Thanks to BaseballNut, we were near Bearden HIll and I dragged Mr. Shallots into SoccerTaco for a late lunch.
                                                            It was really good. Foods were fresh, well seasoned and what was supposed to be cold, was. What was expected to be hot, was.
                                                            (None of the luke that comes out of so many late lunch kitchens.)
                                                            We'll be back to work our way through their menu.

                                                            1. re: shallots

                                                              Just checked on this thread after a long break. Shallots, glad you were able to check out SoccerTaco. Since we discovered it last year, I don't think we have gone anywhere else for Mexican...well, except Mexico. :)

                                                          2. re: CookieEater


                                                            Just read the board here, would like to suggest a good Cuban place to try when you are in the area: A Taste Of Havana 3018 Tazewell Pk
                                                            Knoxville, TN 37918. I am from Florida and really missed Cuban food, was glad to find this place... my wife and our little girl love it. My favorite dish is ropa vieja! Though the Ox tale was good not sure still on menu. Another good place is Restaurant Linderhoff in Farragut one of my co-workers is from Germany and she said best German food she has tasted here...

                                                            1. re: jnk226

                                                              Thank you for telling us about Taste of Havana. It's on our side of town and we had missed it.
                                                              We tried to go to Linderhoff one night but they were at least 25 minutes late in opening. That was a turnoff as all the Germans I know would be agast at not having everything perfectly timed so that at the exact time, the doors open. It was just so...ungermanic.

                                                            2. re: CookieEater

                                                              Wasabi is very popular here, but I personally don't like it.

                                                              You might try Nama, Sakura, or Gohan-Ya if you want something more serious than hibachi.

                                                              If you are okay with hibachi restaurants, but would like to go to one that is not so disappointing, IMO Misaki and Kanpai both do everything that Wasabi does, but leagues better, and with more expansive menus. (No krinkle-kut carrots fried with maple syrup, either.)

                                                              There is a website that might help you--knoxmenus.com--which supposedly compiles the menus for all Knoxville restaurants online. If it's updated (and I mean ever) it's news to me; so if you ever want to use it to pick a place to go, then by all means call first. It still lists places like Ginza and *cough* Quizno's that don't exist anymore, and many places have changed their prices or their offerings. But it can at least give you a better idea of what some restaurants are about than you could get by just seeing their name in the phone book. Most of the time, it can at least tell you accurately what they have, and it links to official sites if they exist.

                                                              Others mentioned Restaurant Linderhof and Sitar--I highly recommend them. Both serve outstanding made-from-scratch food in huge portions.

                                                              Also, there's a spot out west called Taste of Thai that has crispy hand-made spring rolls and great lunch prices. The curry is good, but the off-menu specials are really delicious.

                                                          3. The Sitar restaurant on Kingston Pike is run by an Indian family. Their lunch buffet is ok. But I recommend ordering from the menu. Their lamb korma is really good, as is their coconut soup.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: larylyn

                                                              I had the pleasure of transporting some older friends to Knoxville this last weekend for a 103rd birthday party for an amazing lady. Sixteen of us gathered for dinner Friday evening at Aubreys' on Lamar Alexander Blvd. All but two of us were well into their eighty's. I was immediately impressed by the patience and attentiveness of our waiter as he helped each of my companions with their order. Difficulty seeing and/or hearing was common at our table, but Steve demonstrated a unique sense of service as he assisted each and everyone in their selections. He continued this caring throughout the meal with quiet and kind efficiency. The food was very good - prepared and presented well. The portion sizes allowed me to sample a number of dishes - I can recommend the citrus glazed salmon, the salads, the peanut crusted catfish, and the baked sea bass was much better, twice the size and half the price of a similar dish I had enjoyed a week earlier in one of my favorite restaurants in Winston-Salem. The mac & cheese was my one disappointment. However, my sincere appreciation to Aubrey's - to Steve for his exceptional and kind service - and to Andre, for running a great "front of the house." If good quality, good service and good value appeal to you, Aubrey's in Knoxville is worth a try. I know I will again - and I'll ask for Steve.

                                                              1. re: larylyn

                                                                where is The Sitar on Kingston Ive been hearing of it but I can't find it.. Kingston is just too long lol

                                                                1. re: sunnycakes

                                                                  Sitar is very close to the intersection of Kingston Pike and Northshore Drive.
                                                                  It's in the southeast quadrant of that intersection on the south side of the road just past the Amoco gas station (the one that's NOT self serve) and it's in a modest building that probably started as a Captain D's fish place and only the exterior paint has changed. The inside is definitely no longer a fish place.

                                                              2. Hey folks - are there any farmers markets in this area that will be open in mid-March? We are planning an upcoming trip and would love to visit one or two. Thanks.

                                                                1. A place I love to go is Tomato Head in market square (which market square and tomato head have a website), Aubrey's Cafe, Golden Roast for coffee, Bonefish for seafood, Bailey bar and tavern good food and people (in the old city).. Palo's and Naples-great itialian. oh yeah Bistro by the Tracks.. one of the oldest places in town with food that I would just shout for.. my list is endless of places. Everyone here loves to eat and you can tell by the restuarants. Also don't be scared to go to knoxville.org I've lived here for 14 yrs basically grew up here and I do to find a good hip place

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: sunnycakes

                                                                    Hopefully this chain is still alive a bit - Shallots, I'm wondering how your BF's relocation is going in Knoxville/Oak Ridge. I'm being recruited by a company in Knoxville and I'm a Los Angeles native, having lived here most of my life, but have also lived in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area.

                                                                    I generally like change, but I'm very curious to hear about another Angeleno's experience moving to Eastern Tennessee.

                                                                    1. re: tkquan

                                                                      I actually originated the post and I tried to answer your question but it's not food-related. So, can't help you on this board unless you're asking about food. Actually I was surprised your post wasn't deleted as well.

                                                                      In terms of ethnic food, you might find just one or two places for each type of cuisine that's authentic enough, and it'll take some trial and error. Very different from anywhere you've lived. As a foodie, you would be fortunate to develop a deep love for Southern food (veg casseroles, puddings, cakes, bbq, cornbread) that would make you forget your ethnic food cravings. Most of the time.

                                                                  2. Happened to see your post. Hope you found some places in Oakridge. One place you may not be aware of is the Soup Kitchen over by the Hospital off of E Tennesee. They make several fresh soups each day along with fresh baked breads. I have been going up to Oakridge for the last three years and know what it's like having only chains to select from.

                                                                    In Knoxville, you might want to try Chessapeaks a seafood place in downtown Knoxville. Baker Peters Jazz club probably is also a nice dinner place

                                                                    1. i would love everyones input on this too!

                                                                      1. Alright some of these places are good but you gotta check out:
                                                                        Chandler's (magnolia ave)
                                                                        Pizza palace(magnolia ave)
                                                                        M&M's BBQ (Middlebrook pike)
                                                                        Oscar's(cumberland ave)
                                                                        Blue Chips(next to west town on monday nights 25 cent wings that are amazing)
                                                                        Niro Gyro's
                                                                        wing zone
                                                                        pennstation subs
                                                                        firedogs subs
                                                                        Can't go wrong with Olive Garden or Red lobster
                                                                        Alot of the Asian places are good but im not a fan of sushi so im more of a hibachi eater
                                                                        Honestly I would prob just try whatever you think looks good cuz more than likely it will be unless u know instantly its going to suck

                                                                        1. Ok...you have been here for a couple of years now....report back on what you found good!!

                                                                          1. ust got back from the rowing Club Nationals in Oak RIdge TN. My group had 2 dinners catered at the Flatwater Grill and they were a huge hit! We also catered a lunch and had fruit salad and pasta salad at our tent site the last day.
                                                                            The Flatwater is located on lLake Melton right on the starting line. They accommodated our group of 115 easily and can hold more in their function rooms. After the buffet,our club went out on the deck,happily chatting and watched some teams practice.
                                                                            The chef/owner,Dean,has made a rowing package that worked great and made me the most popular parent coordinator our group has ever had-the food was that good!
                                                                            They have a wood grill and their cooking times are down to a science because everything was moist and perfect. We had their Salmon,Grilled chicken and Pork along with Pasta w/veggies,salad and great cheesecake. Thanks to them,My daughter will now eat Squash,I grill it like they do although I have not managed quite the right mix of seasonings.
                                                                            FYI-don't try to book the Saturday or Wednesday of next year's Club Nationals. I have beaten you to it!