This college town in east Tennessee boasts big flavors.
Top-Rated: Le Parigo
This newcomer blows the knobs off every other oven in townand brings a grand dash of France to this college city. Just abouteverything I tried here was far beyond good. I began with a foiegras appetizer special--a buttery delight of Hudson Valley foiegras, fresh pears, plump berries, and a light vinaigrette. I don'tnormally recommend ordering scallops in a landlocked state, but thepan-seared scallop entrée was amazing. The salty, seared crustgave way to flaky meat. Finish with a delicious chocolatesoufflé. 5803 Kingston Pike; www.leparigo.net or (865)584-7744. Entrées: $18-$35.
Family Spot: The Tomato Head
If you're traveling with children or just trying to find aplace for a healthful lunch, venture to this Market Square eatery.Oak tables, schoolhouse chairs, and the aroma of fresh bread createa warm atmosphere. The menu is divided among pizzas, sandwiches,burritos, and quesadillas. This mix is somewhat odd, but it works.For the best light option in town, start with the spinach salad,which comes with a fabulous mushroom-sesame-and-soy dressing atopfresh broccoli, carrots, red cabbage, mushrooms, and baked tofu.Yes, tofu. It's quite good. The pizzas are tasty too. A light,crunchy crust complements The Tomato Head's many sauce and toppingchoices. 12 Market Square; www.tomatohead.com or (865)637-4067. Entrées: $6.25-$11.50.
By the Tracks Bistro
It is a masculine-looking and modern meeting spot forKnoxville's in-the-know crowd and serves traditional Continentalfare with a Southern twist. Take the BLT Napoleon--a crunchy towerof fried green tomatoes, goat cheese, and smoked bacon atop anelegant bed of mixed greens. Portions aren't froufrou: The porkchop, for instance, looks like a Steinway leg and comes with mashedpotatoes, apple marmalade, fresh corn chutney, and spinach. Bistrois one of those small places you don't tell your friends about soyou can always get a table. 5200 Kingston Pike; www.bythetracks.com or (865)558-9500. Entrées: $14.95-$29.95.
Local Favorite: The Orangery Restaurant
Welcome to Miss Havisham's house, though better lit and withfresh cake. Vivaldi plays on the mansion's sound system; tablesbrim with roses; and a large menu of soups, salads, and sandwichesattracts the beauty parlor crowd. I'm not kidding about the cake. Itried the tart four-layer lemon cake, and it alone was worth thetrip. 5412 Kingston Pike; www.theorangeryrestaurant.com or (865)588-2964. Lunch entrées: $8-$15.
Had a Great Meal Lately?
E-mail me about it at email@example.com, orbetter still, send a copy of the menu to Restaurant Editor,Southern Living, P.O. Box 523, Birmingham, AL 35201.
"Food Finds: Knoxville" is from the February 2007 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.