every year or two our kids make the finals of a problem solving competition called destination imagination. we stay in the dorms at university of tenn @ knoxville and eat terrible dorm food. This year my wife and I vowed to eat all our meals off-campus, here's what we found:
copper cellar on cumberland - they have an expensive steak house in the bottom, we ate pub menu on the main floor. It happened to be $5 burger night, the burgers were delicious, service was great. I tried the spinach maria and fried okra as my sides, both were perfect. I like the way they cut the okra into smaller pieces, to form crunchy, salty fried bits. Later in the week my wife took some people to this place to mixed reviews but I think they were expecting something a little fancier.
golden roast - A nice, quiet place to hook up to their wifi and get some work done while sipping cappuccino. They seem serious about their coffee, however, I found too much foam and not enough flavor. Still, a nice place to hang and maybe the coffee is what to have here.
Chesapeake's - it was late, we were in the area, didn't know much about the place but decided to give it a try. we split an order of calamari with an asian sauce which I thought very good, my wife declared it a near miss. for entrees I had crab cake sandwich, I've been to some of the best places in maryland and I thought this rendition held it's own. My wife had red snapper with cole slaw, it was expensive for knoxville ($28) but she received a huge portion of perfectly fried, greaseless red snapper. We liked this place, it was a little expensive for a thursday night meal but will be back if we visit again.
french market - this is a well-reviewed creperie, not sure what the fuss is, it's very good but I dunno, would never put it on a list of must-visit places in knoxville.
farmers market in market square - Now here's the place you must visit if you find yourself in knoxville on a saturday morning. Parked off on a side street are 3-4 food trucks serving great southern breakfasts. I had aged cheddar cheese grits with a farm fresh egg on top. I skipped the artisinal bacon but I'm a little embarrassed to admit I said "go for it!" when they asked me if they could cook the egg in the bacon fat. The grits were perfectly cooked, the fresh egg had a little bacony goodness...actually, it was so good that after my first bite I had to find a quiet place to savor the meal. Without a doubt the best four dollars I've ever spent for food.
It was tough, but I skipped the fresh biscuits with homemade jam, I skipped the bakery stall that had boxes of fresh pastry and cookies, some the size of my face and hardest of all, I skipped the fresh fried southern pies. But I have something to look forward to next time I'm in knoxville.