Monday, July 20, 2009

Cornucopia of Goodness: Horn of Plenty

Passing by Horn of Plenty, most people are likely to assume that it is just a lawn and garden store. Rightly so I must say. If the piles of mulch and flower beds outside weren't convincing enough, then the inquisitive epicurean might venture inside. That is when they would discover a delightful meat and three that is truly Knoxville's best kept secret.

Horn of Plenty is located on Middlebrook Pike just east of Cedar Bluff Road. I stumbled upon this gem when Tom, my coworker and frequent lunch companion informed me of its hidden treasure. Even their own website does not boast of the culinary offerings at HOP, so you must go to get the full grasp of its tastiness.

As far as atmosphere goes, I cannot think of a single restaurant I have ever been to that is as unique as this one. Half restaurant, half produce market, HOP is rustic and open and makes me reminisce of sitting around the table at Grandma's house.

The cuisine is just like what I grew up on- fried chicken, meatloaf and turkey and dressing are just a few of the entrees. Each day offers up a different host of specials and you can pick up a schedule for your reference as you leave. The side dishes are just as comforting as the entrees- the cream-style corn takes me back to my childhood, fried okra and mac and cheese- just to name a few. (On another note, at the urging of Ashley, another lunchtime companion, I must note that the mashed potatoes are instant, not homemade. This is one factor that hampers the charm of HOP).

You definitely want to save some room for dessert. They have a delicious cherry-pineapple dessert as well as the Southern staple banana pudding.

So drive by, give it the once over, and convince yourself that there is a restaurant in that building. HOP is across the street from Brewster's Ice Cream shop and it really looks the part of a lawn and garden store. So let your curiosity take over and head on down to the Horn of Plenty!


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Float on Down the River to a Cajun Hideaway: Bayou Bay

Walking into Bayou Bay, you may briefly think you are in a shack amidst the swamps of Louisiana. But in fact, you are on Chapman Highway in the heart of South Knoxville. If the atmosphere doesn't make you feel like you were there, the food will.

As the back of the menu will tell you, Bayou Bay opened in the early 1990s after its owner, a Louisiana-native, married a Seymour girl. Ever since, Bayou Bay has been serving up traditional Cajun-style cuisine in the hills of Southern Appalachia.

For seafood lovers, there are several offerings. From clams, catfish and crab to scallops, frog legs and even alligator (great for Gator Haters everywhere), Bayou Bay has plenty of tasty options. Many po' boys as well as some signature Cajun dishes like red beans and rice (my favorite) and jambalaya are also sumptuous selections.

As my father would say, 'If it don't moo, it don't do.' A Tennessee farm boy at heart, he just doesn't have much love for anything that can be referred to as 'seafood.' So for those of you like my dear old dad, try the Lucy Burger. There are also some other pork, chicken and steak items on the menu. But if you are going to a Cajun place, eat something you can't find elsewhere, like a nice crawfish etouffee.

Visiting Bayou Bay is as much a cultural experience as it is a culinary one, so broaden your horizons and your palette. Bayou Bay is located at 7112 Chapman Highway. Be sure to take your time soaking up the surroundings, and make sure to ask about all the dollar bills at the bar.


Thursday, July 16, 2009


As part of my tasty journey, I will attempt to locate the best destination for consumption of many types of cuisine. Today begins our quest to find the best pizza pie in the area. Now, I know we can get heated easily as we all have our own favorites. But I hope the fruit of our discussion will be that you will reject the monstrosity that is our nation's pizza chains.

So let the discussion begin! I want to hear from Knoxville pizza lovers. Where should I make sure to visit on my quest? I have a few favorites of my own, and several on my schedule to grab a slice at soon. I will give you a quick rundown of what I know about pizza in K-town.

DaVinci's New Jersey Style Pizza, S. Central (in the Old City):
I stumbled upon this gem after visiting Barley's around the corner on Jackson. What a find it turned out to be. Some quality of their crust has pleased my palette and I will definitely add it to the list of my frequent pizza stops.

I Love N.Y. Pizza, Chapman Highway (in the Rush complex)
If someone didn't tell you about this place, you would probably never know it was there. But it is totally worth the trip out to South Knoxville. For cheese lovers, this is a pizza parlor you must visit. Since my first taste, I have often found myself craving it.

Pizza Palace, East Magnolia (near Chilhowie Park)
Knoxville's first pizza place is still serving up the good stuff. Since Guy Fieri's FoodNetwork show 'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives' recently reminded Knoxvillians of the Pizza Palace, it has been even more of a destination for pizza lovers. And rightly so I must say. That hand tossed crust is tantalizing to your tastebuds!

Louis', Old Broadway:
I recently visited Louis' and I will be honest. The next time I go, I am probably not going to order pizza. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan, but of the times I have been there, the pizza does not compete with the other entrees I have had.

Snappy Tomato, Hardin Valley Road:
I have, admittedly, not the best knowledge of West Knoxville pizza places. But the Snappy Tomato does it right. I am pretty sure there is another Knoxville location, but regardless, the pizza is quite delicious.

As a UT student, I, of course, have been to all Strip staples: the Mellow Mushroom, Oscars, Stefanos and Trinos. The Mellow Mushroom is rather tasty and is a fun environment, but I am a promoter of locally owned businesses, so I will move on to Stefanos. I am going to go ahead and say that Stefanos is my favorite place for a slice on the Strip. Their wheat crust is very unique and I am a big fan.

Of course, no Knoxville pizza discussion can eliminate Barley's Taproom, a multiple winner of the MetroPulse Best of Knoxville award. I am a fan, but not yet convinced it is the best.

Big Ed's in Oak Ridge is on my list of places to visit. At the urging of UT legends Haywood Harris and Gus Manning, I will be hitting it up in a few weeks. I have heard of Haywood's famed culinary exploits and trust that Big Ed's is a contender.

I think I have uncovered the best of South Knoxville, Downtown/UT, and East Knoxville. The vast expanses of West Knoxville must possess many wonderful pizza establishments, and I am confident there is some great pizza on the north side of town. But I don't have a great knowledge of them. That's why I need your help.

If I have missed your pizza mainstay, let me know. I want to hear all of your favorite pizza places! Let PizzaQuest09 begin!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bonafide, Certified and Dixie Fried: Chandler's Deli

Do you need some South in your mouth? Then Chandler's Deli is undoubtedly for you. Traditional Southern dishes and hearty portions have been a trademark of the East Knoxville establishment since its opening in 2000. No questions asked, Chandler's comfort food will tickle your fancy.

If you are hungry for fried chicken, sweet potatoes or collard greens, then head on over to Chandler's at 3101 East Magnolia Avenue. The small dining room provides a cozy atmosphere, the urn in the corner is filled with Kool-Aid, and the gospel music that whispers through a few overhead speakers completes the ambient appeal of this family-owned eatery.

But let's talk about the food. Their hand-breaded fried chicken is cooked to perfection everyday and if you are watching your waistline they also offer equally tempting slow-roasted rotisserie chicken. As a barbecue enthusiast, I wouldn't say that I go to Chandler's for their pulled pork or ribs but they are okay. In addition to these entrees, there are several kinds of fried fish, turkey, chicken 'n' dumplings, chicken livers and chitterlings (if you can stomach them).

Once you have ordered your entree, you get your choice of several mouth watering compliments. If you make the trek to Chandler's and don't order mac and cheese, then you may as well have stayed home. I have tried to recreate their recipe several times in my own kitchen and have never even come close. Barbed wire and gunfire could not keep me away from this stuff.

But after ordering the mac, I will leave the other side dish to you. My staples are green beans, fried okra or sweet potatoes- each just like Mama made it. You can choose from collard or mixed greens, black eyed peas, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn (on or off the cob), broccoli cheddar casserole, and fried green tomatoes that would make Idgie Threadgoode proud.

If you have room for dessert, there are several options here, as well. I cannot testify to them all, but when I can make room, I always go for the banana pudding.

My only complaint for this delight of Southern cuisine is the lack of a traditional Southern bread. They offer corn muffins and rolls, neither of which fry my cheese. I need a homemade biscuit with some honey or a tweak or two in their cornbread recipe.

Perhaps the best things about Chandler's is the value it offers. For under $10, even the biggest of appetites will be provided with more than enough comfort food to fill their bellies. I
f you leave hungry then you should take on Kobayashi, the Nathan's hot dog eating champ.

The charming owners of this place are almost always there. Charlie and Gwen Chandler opened their restaurant nine years ago to answer Knoxville's call for a traditional family-style restaurant. Since then, Chandler's has been K-town's ultimate destination for traditional tastes of Dixie.

But don't take my word, check it out on your own. Maybe I'll see you there!

Check out Chandler's Deli at


Welcome to EatingOutKnoxville!

Welcome one and all to EatingOutKnoxville, a blog dedicated to uncovering hidden gems of culinary delight in the Knoxville, Tenn., metropolitan area. It has become an interest of mine to find little known eateries of merit and inform the masses of the tasty treats available in our town. So fasten your taste buds and hold on for a tour of Knoxville's finest dining destinations.

My qualifications to recommend restaurants to you are based on passion and experience. I can acknowledge that my tastes are as unique as any and what appeals to me may not appeal to you. My passion for food is perpetually developing and I enjoy uncovering restaurants, which may celebrate hordes of customers, but may not garner much awareness of the general public. My tastes stem from my heritage. Southern born and raised, my entire life has been spent in the mountains, hills and valleys of East Tennessee. Southern influence invades my own kitchen and seeps into every dish I produce. The hearty palette most Southerners share is the basis for my taste but I enjoy the many different options available for my digestion.

Please feel free to compare, contrast or be critical of the descriptions of my exploits. I am equally passionate about self-improvement and betterment so I welcome a hearty discussion of ideas. If I miss a locale you love, please recommend it so I can enjoy it, too. So I welcome you to my blog; may you find useful and relevant information about where to dine in our fine city of Knoxville, Tenn.