The friendly staff at Cloud 9 stockpiles a variety of different tobacco and tobacco-free shisha flavors, alongside a menu of fingerpicking fare and craft beers. Guests can pack regular ($12) or large ($18) hookah bowls with tasty fusions such as the apple, cherry, and coconut blend of Al-Fakher, or add extra zest with flavor bases more juicy than grape-juice gossip ($5). Their collection of comestibles unveils the tomato bruschetta atop a toasted baguette ($4) and the stuffed pita a la jones ($5), which delivers bite-size packages of house hummus and feta to oral doorsteps. Cool off a piping-hot palate with bottles of Avery Ellie's brown ale and Yuengling lager ($3.50 each), or take a swig from your own bottle of spirits ($8 cork fee).
For more than 70 years, jewels used to fill the African mahogany cases lining Sapphire's walls. The dark wooden cabinets remain, although they now brim with more than 40 kinds of vodka, Tennessee and Kentucky whiskeys, and rums from Central and South America. Sapphire may no longer drape its customers in precious gemstones, but it does aim to preserve the sense of elegant refinement that characterized the historic building for decades.
This commitment is readily apparent in the menu of upscale southern cuisine, which includes Tennessee cheeses from Sweetwater Farms, bacon and ham from nearby Benton's, and seasonal produce from local farms. These ingredients appear throughout the selection of regionally inspired dishes. Some dishes, such as the Louisiana-crawfish-stuffed hushpuppies with cajun remoulade, assertively announce their southern roots, whereas others show a bit more restraint, such as beef-tenderloin medallions, which arrive with a simple southern succotash.
On Thursday through Saturday evenings, the elegant environment in the long, narrow room becomes livelier as the night progresses and DJs begin their sets. Upbeat rhythms echo off the high ceilings and the vintage mahogany woodwork while patrons enjoy one of the martinis that earned Sapphire a spot on Metro Pulse's Best of Knoxville 2012 list.
You can squeeze a lot of jokes into a decade—and even more into two. The masterminds behind Side Splitters use more than 20 years of experience in the comedy industry to create rich experiences for audiences and comics alike. A jam-packed roster of performers with credits as impressive as Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Comedy Central file onto the Knoxville club's stage to explain in great detail exactly how the audience's refrigerator is running and what they might wish to do in order to catch it. Regular open-mic nights let budding and established stand-ups hone their skills and sets, and a menu filled with drinks, sandwiches, and snacks provides visitors on both sides of the mic with sustenance.
Since opening its doors in 1985, the recently renovated Comedy Catch has induced giggle fits with performances helmed by famed jesters such as Bobcat Goldthwait and Jerry Seinfeld. The main showroom comfortably seats up to 250 guests, with a crystal-clear audio setup preventing punch lines from getting lost in the laughter. Downstairs, the Giggles Grill serves a savory menu of steak, fried shrimp, and tall drinks to replenish calories lost chuckling or trying to huff, puff, and blow the venue’s brick walls down.
Deemed the "Best Night Out" in Chattanooga by US Travel and Attractions for two years in a row, Vaudeville Cafe is an entertainment chameleon. On some nights, the tables at the spacious dinner theater are packed with families savoring Italian feasts as they try to solve original murder mysteries. Weekend nights have a more adult slant as headlining standup comedians seen on HBO and Comedy Central garner guffaws while guests enjoy a full bar of cocktails, wine, and frozen specialty drinks. But regardless of the event, every evening brims with jolly vaudeville spirit, and every seat in the house offers stellar views of the stage and napping spotlight operator.
The Bijou’s origins stretch back through American history, but it didn’t become a theater until relatively recently: 1908. For nearly a century prior to its dramaturgical reinvention, the building was a high-class hotel that housed high-ranking military commanders, influential civic leaders, and even President Andrew Jackson for a spell in 1819. When General Ambrose Burnside took the town of Knoxville during the Civil War, the hotel was converted into a hospital, makeshift war room, and oil-wrestling arena for Generals William Sherman and Phil Sheridan. The latter portion of the 19th century showed the building more favor, and during the lavish 1870s another president—Rutherford B. Hayes—paid call, and delivered a speech from the hotel’s balcony.
The early 1900s saw the hotel’s biggest renovation to date when it was purchased and upgraded by the Auditorium Company. The newly rechristened Bijou Theatre opened to a sellout crowd, and was a major outlet for vaudeville from 1913 to 1926. Hard times began to pile up soon afterward, and the lapsed theater would have been demolished in 1975 were it not for its eleventh-hour listing on the National Historic Record. Since its most recent renovation in 2006, the stage has hosted pop stars and musical blockbusters.