Culinary Adventures in Knoxville With East TN Tours
We have been living in the Knoxville area for a little over a year and there is still so much that we haven’t seen or done. I enjoy learning about the local history and discovering new restaurants. Downtown Knoxville is full of so many restaurants that it is often hard to decide which one to try next. That is why I was excited to go on a culinary adventure last week with East TN Tours. They run bi-weekly food tours provide you with a sampling of great cuisine and a wonderful walking tour (with history) of Gay St and Market Square.
We met up with our tour guide, Lauren, at Visit Knoxville. Visit Knoxville is the official convention and visitors bureau for Knoxville and Knox County. The center is open seven days a week and is located at the corner of S. Gay St and W. Summit Hill Dr SW. It provides information for visitors to the area and a unique place to shop for local gifts and products. We headed out from Visit Knoxville down Gay St to the first stop on our tour. Along the way, Lauren provided us with a brief history of the buildings and even shared some pictures she had of Gay St. back in the day. It was really interesting to see what buildings were still present and how the landscape has changed over the years.
Our first stop on the tour was at Frussies Deli. Frussies Deli has been around since 1986 in East Tennessee and they relocated to Gay St in 2015. Here you will find many sandwiches to chose from, all which are served on bread that is baked daily in house. The sandwiches are top notch and I credit this to the local produce and meats which are cured in house. On Saturdays, they expand the menu to serve brunch. Don’t forget to try one of the scrumptious brownies or cookies to end your meal on a sweet note.
Our culinary adventure continued with a stop at Clancy’s Tavern. It is located next to the historic Tennessee theater. Lauren pointed out that the Tennessee Theater signs had undergone renovations over the past few months and had recently been reinstalled. The marquee and vertical sign have been rehabbed and now contain 5,700 led bulbs to light up the front of the theater.
Clancy’s Tavern is downtown Knoxville’s premiere Irish pub and serves up amazing Irish Fare. The building they are located in is over 100 years old and was originally a bank. They are open daily and are a great place to stop while visiting the downtown area for some fabulous food in a relaxed atmosphere. Make sure to check out their menu before dining to discover their daily special.
While we walked to our next location, Lauren pointed out the newly opened Maple Hall. Located in the heart of Gay St., Maple Hall is a boutique 11-lane bowling alley located in the historic J.C. Penney Building. This is bowling like you have never seen it before and I glad that she took the time to show us this amazing new location.
Our culinary adventure took us to the home of the best barbecue in Knoxville, Archers BBQ. They recently opened up this fifth location downtown and boast some of the finest meats. They believe the barbecue can stand on its own and serve it without sauce. This allows you to decide which sauce if any you would like to add. The meat was unlike any I have ever had. I was able to cut my brisket with spoon. Besides a selection of meats, you can also indulge in fresh, homemade sides.
We continued our culinary adventure down Gay St and arrived at FIVE. Here you will find a simple menu that has been perfected. They believe that dining out doesn’t have to be complicated and their menu focuses on the #5. There are 5 appetizers, 5 entrees, 5 beers, etc. This allows them to provide the best food possible and provide you with amazing cuisine. Along with the amazing cuisine you can dine in a relaxed atmosphere underneath their chandelier collection.
Our tour continued down Gay St. to the 100 block. The 100 block is home to “Underground Knoxville.” The 100 block of Gay Street was elevated about 100 years ago in order to allow a viaduct over the rail yards making passage easier for cars. At the same time a viaduct had to be constructed for Jackson Avenue to cross Gay Street at its new elevation. With this change, several floors or so, depending on the spot on the block, became submerged beneath the new structure, thus creating “Underground Knoxville.” This was a really neat area and if Lauren hadn’t told us about we would never have known it existed. Some of the buildings are used for housing and some are still left not renovated.
Our last stop was Sugar Mama’s Bakery which is located in the 100 block of Gay St. Sugar Mama’s Bakery started out selling their delicious baked goods at local farmer’s markets and expanded to a storefront location. Here you can discover delicious, fresh made desserts. They also offer a breakfast/brunch, lunch, and pizza menu, all of which are made in house for you to enjoy.
We truly enjoyed our culinary adventure through East TN Tours and liked that Lauren provided us with pictures while telling us about the history of the area. It is truly amazing to see how much of the original architecture is still present even with the growth of the area. This tour is perfect for visitors and locals who are looking for a fun way to enjoy delicious food and take in the downtown area.