I used Chowhound when I first moved to Knoxville in August to get some suggestions for places to try. I thought I'd give my feedback on the places I've enjoyed and some others that weren't mentioned for all of you living in/ new to/ passing through Knoxville.
-King Tut's-- This is probably my favorite place in Knoxville. There are other entries on the Chow Hound site that describe the wacky owner, the eccentric decor, the impromptu karaoke that breaks out. Their Greek salad, babaganoush, and hummus are wonderful.
-La Esperanza-- This small Mexican grocery store on Whittle Springs has a little restaurant in the back with amazing chorizo tacos for $1.50 each. You can't beat it. If they had margaritas, I'd never go to Senor Taco (the more popular Mexican place in this neck of the woods).
-FATS BBQ-- This is right across from La Esperanza and is equally small, unassuming, delicious, and reasonable.
-Benton's-- This isn't a restaurant and isn't in Knoxville, but it's worth the hour drive there. I've had their bacon, prosciutto, and ribs and they are all delicious- smoky and rich and meaty. He ships his stuff to restaurants all over the country.
-Hong Kong House-- I tried this after I read about it here and was glad I did. It's in a strip mall on Kingston Pike and looks like nothing special from the outside, but is the best Chinese I've ever had. The best dishes are the crispy shrimp and spicy young chicken. And get the scallion bubble pancakes for an appetizer. Their buffet (lunch and weekend brunch) is OK, but I recommend ordering from the menu.
-Sitar-- This certainly isn't the best indian food you'll ever eat, but their lunch and weekend buffet is decent for the price and is better than Taj, the newly opened Indian place in town.
-Crown and Goose-- This place is a little pricey and sometimes hit or miss. The "Best Deviled Eggs You've Ever Tasted" do not live up to the name, but the fish and chips are great (and half off on Mondays), as is the dessert sampler. Weekends it can get a little loud and obnoxious (the Beatles cover band that regularly plays there doesn't help, in my opinion, but lots of folks seem to enjoy them). They've got a lovely beer garden.
-Cafe 4-- This isn't the best restaurant in town but bears mentioning because it's new, because it is a beautiful venue, because the adjoining concert space hosts great musicians, and because I really like their fried calamari.
-Le Parigo-- Just moved downtown from out west. The meal I had wasn't worth the money, but they have half price desserts and appetizers after 10 pm on weekends, so would be a nice after-concert place to go for a swanky dessert or snack, I suppose.
-Nama-- Other posts mention that the sushi is the best in town. I agree and would add to go there on Monday for half price sushi.
-Northshore Brasserie-- Upscale American/French done well. Nothing crazy inventive or mind-blowing, but worth what you pay, I think.
-Chandler's-- Best meat and 3 in town.
Thanks for this report. I've only eaten at one Knoxville restaurant--Hong Kong House. I look forward to checking out some of your other recommendations when I next travel to Knoxville.
Sometime we need to make a Knoxville to Chilhowie Virginia trip just to do a big tasting at Town House; it's that good.
Along the lines of King Tut, have you tried Ali Baba on Kingston Pike just east of the turn to Sam's?
Sunspot on the strip.
SoccerTaco on Bearden Hill.
(Does Fats still have an even better price on Tuesdays?)
And, to be truly of this place, have you had totally fresh Krispy kreme donuts at the base of Bearden Hill? You may hate them for being too sweet, but you need to try just one, because.
I've never heard of Town House... details?
I've not tried Ali Baba, but see it often and hear it's good.
I like Sunspot, but I've gotten a few things there that weren't the best. But their chips and tomatillo salsa are addictive.
I've been to SoccerTaco only once, because Senor Taco and La Eseranza are so close to my house, and I think I wasn't that hungry so I ordered a shrimp salad or something, which I don't think is really indicative of what they serve. You recommend it?
Fats has deals every day on something... not sure about Tuesdays, but if it's cheap, I'm there!
And I don't hate Krispy Kremes at all... even if I wish I did...
Please give Wright's Cafeteria a try. It is on Middlebrook Pike and serves lunch 5 days a week. one of the few places where the food is still similar to the Southern food of my childhood. I recommend the fried chicken. The deviled eggs and the yeast rolls are delicious. Their pies and banana pudding are made on site. You see everybody from Congressmen to Mayors to ordinary folk like me eating lunch there.
Here's the Town House website. Right now they are having specials every Tuesday night. We would have gone this week, but my head cold has messed with my tastebuds, and their food is complex enough that I don't want to miss part of the experience.
SoccerTaco: Lunch Special #1 fresh beef taco, guacamole salad on real fresh shredded lettuce, good refried beans, and then a chili relleno, not deep fried, but baked with superb filling and a light chili-tomato sauce on it. For $4.95.
Mr Shallots wanders among their lunch burritos: he is most addicted to the Philly Cheesesteak Burrito (with sides) (same price); a burrito made with Carnitas and very, very generous with the pork and the chicken burrito.
Their in house mole makes me realize how important a flavor trip a mole can be.
I will be trying your grocery recommendation; we're northeast of Knoxville and it's the right side of town.
Have you been up to Ritter Farm on the far side of Grainger County for fresh produce and things like Sorghum, etc.? In season they were doing lunches as well, real simple but good and cheap.
And do you have a place to put in some tomato plants?
How can any mention of best Knox places be made with no mention of Sam and Andy's? Great burgers and sandwidches, but I never get past their daily speacial. What a deal!
Just a note -- I just was there and tried S&W Grand, the newly restored downtown cafeteria (not a cafeteria any more, though). I was warned that it was not that good and overpriced, and indeed, it was REALLY not that good, although not so overpriced for someone who lives in Atlanta. Ugh. Ugh. UGH. Agree that Nama, down the street, is great. Wasabi -- just happened to try it for lunch, terrible.
Moved here from NY a little over a year ago. I have discovered a few gems:
Dancing Bear Lodge
Nama or Wasabi for sushi
Gourmet's Market for lunch
Pups or Melrose Station for best BBQ
Sitar - pretty good Indian
Have not found any good Italian. Tomato Head is okay for pizza.
Looking forward to trying Echo and Foothills.