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Recs for a conference in Knoxville in April

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Big Bad Voodoo Lou Jan 21, 2014 02:11 PM

I just found out I might be attending a conference in Knoxville in April, so I was hoping for some good general restaurant recommendations. I've never been there before, don't know where I'll be staying yet, and probably won't have a car.

How is Knoxville as far as getting around town easily? As a college town, is there a good public transportation system, and are there hip/funky neighborhoods with lots of awesome restaurants clustered together (possibly near a hotel that would host a conference)? What about markets with lots of good food vendors concentrated in one place?

I'm from Florida, and I'm always on the lookout for the best burgers and sandwiches, gastropubs (even though I don't drink), and any local specialties and landmarks that everyone tends to agree on. So help me out, Knoxvillains, and thank you in advance!

  1. Brawny Jan 21, 2014 04:31 PM

    You are coming to Knoxville...not New York. Public transportation is slim to none...but we do have cabs and city buses. Your best bet would be heading to downtown Market Square. This is right down town and there might be a few special treats in store for you. Other than that...you will need your private car to go anywhere else. Welcome to Knoxville....Home of the Sunsphere!

    1. b
      Big Bad Voodoo Lou Jan 27, 2014 10:14 AM

      So no specific recommendations?

      1. b
        Big Bad Voodoo Lou Mar 9, 2014 11:25 PM

        Any other recommendations for a car-less visitor in early April? My trip is a few weeks away, so I'm all ears.

        1. s
          shallots Mar 10, 2014 07:46 PM

          What part of town will you be in? It's easier to give suggestions that would be closer to one part of town.

          2 Replies
          1. re: shallots
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            Big Bad Voodoo Lou Mar 10, 2014 08:06 PM

            Sory about that! I'll probably be staying at or near the Crowne Plaza Knoxville Downtown University, at 401 West Summit Hill Drive.

            1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
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              shallots Mar 11, 2014 10:47 AM

              From West Summit Hill Drive, it's a short walk (south, but at the same elevation) to a lot of restaurants at Market Square.

              My favorite Mexican Restaurant, Soccer Taco, has a place there and their food is always fresh and well made. If you don't know Carnitas, theirs are excellent. They also have a good choice of vegetarian entrees.

              The local Pizza chain, Tomato Head, are much loved there.

              A regional (bit more expensive) favorite, Tupelo Honey started in Asheville NC and their first foray out of state is to this part of Knoxville.

              Now for Hamburger fans, it would take a bus ride or a taxi ride out Broadway to Littons. Littons grind their own meat and it's so much better than most hamburger meat that it deserved to be eaten medium rare (which is allowed since they grind their own daily.) If you don't know the southern delicacy Pimento Cheese, this is the place, as well. Then you could just sit there and gaze at their desert display (three or four display cases with cookies, cakes and pies.) Litton's would be worth a group because surely someone will have a car.

              Hope this helps.

          2. b
            Big Bad Voodoo Lou Apr 8, 2014 03:22 PM

            Well, I ended up going to Tomato Head, Stock and Barrel, and Tupelo Honey Cafe for my three Knoxville meals out, and they were all good.

            At Tomato Head, hungry after two flights that morning, the lamb sausage and sundried tomato slice was my favorite.

            The "Hurt Locker" burger I got at Stock and Barrel was excellent, cooked medium-rare with pimento cheese, bourbon-caramelized onions, thick peppery bacon, and a fried green tomato slice. The onion rings I got on the side were probably the best I've ever had (or at least tied with one restaurant here in Orlando, the Rusty Spoon), and I also tried the duck confit fries and fried pickles. They were great as well, and I've never even liked fried pickles before.

            For dinner at Tupelo Honey that same day, I got a grilled cheese sandwich that also happened to have pimento cheese, caramelized onions, that same bacon (Benton's?), and a fried green tomato, plus ham. It was as awesome as you would expect, and my side of macaroni and cheese (the one thing I missed trying at Stock and Barrel) did not disappoint. For dessert, I got to try the blueberry cream cheese pie, another fantastic choice.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
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              grundoon Apr 9, 2014 10:00 AM

              Thanks for the report BBVL!

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