El Charro Mexican Restaurant, a family restaurant since 1982, has been voted the city's best Mexican eatery for four consecutive years in the Metro Pulse Best of Knoxville readers’ poll. The spot's perennial popularity is due to dishes such as carnitas pork tips in salsa verde and taco salad with chicken tenders and grilled red and yellow bell peppers. Cooks fill burritos with hefty portions of vegetables or beef tips, causing their tortillas to bulge like a burlap sack packed with a thousand burritos. Cold Mexican and domestic beers wash it all down.
Rick Verastegui is a jack-of-all-trades. As a kid, Rick could be spotted marching around his yard holding a trashcan above his head, imitating either bodybuilder Charles Atlas or the neighborhood's most muscular garbage man. Although he eventually set the trashcan down, Rick never lost his passion for health. He carried that into adolescence and adulthood, earning a black belt in karate, playing football, and becoming a certified personal trainer.
In between all of that, Rick found time to earn his master's degree in business, plus degrees in Spanish, government, and economics—all of which he taught at some point. Still, fitness remained an integral part of his life. Rick expanded on his already lengthy resumé by becoming a nationally certified massage therapist, a skill he practices extensively at Unearth the Power. Rick also provides weight-training, stretching, and bodywork services, all while using his diverse background to connect with clients.
Led by the husband and wife team of James and Beverly Black, JB's Ribs & More's barbecue masters slow cook pork, ribs, and poultry before plating the meat with hearty sides of comfort fare. As described in a feature from the Daily Times, the Blacks' culinary career began in James' mother's backyard, where he learned to whip up succulent chicken and ribs by barbecuing on the weekends. The barbecue pros soon outgrew their home-based business' finite supply of wet wipes and opened a full-time restaurant that could sate Maryville's hunger for soul food such as five-cheese macaroni and pulled-pork slow cooked for 14 hours. Patrons can lick their fingers while browsing the eatery's free WiFi, or carry out one of JB's family-size meals and feed all their novelty cookie jars some much-needed protein.
Inside La Parilla, bright sunflower-colored walls stretch from the rustic tiled floor to the lofty ceiling and overlook a spread of hearty Mexican dishes and fruity, top-shelf margaritas. In this light and airy eatery, chefs spin out all the south-of-the-border favorites, from cacophonously sizzling fajitas and fish tacos to seven types of enchiladas teeming with liberally spiced meat and floods of melted cheese. At the full bar, mixologists update the classic margarita with mango and strawberry flavors, imbuing drinks with a tropical essence usually achieved only by puréeing a box of miniature umbrellas.
The chefs at 3 Amigos Mexican Grill forge meaty and vegetarian versions of such classic south-of-the-border dishes as tacos, chimichangas, and burritos. At the full-service bar, a troupe of bartenders shakes up salty margaritas and pours beer and wine to quench thirsts of any caliber. The eatery's textured yellow walls, curved archways, and carved wooden chairs swaddle patrons in Spanish-mission style, and an outdoor patio hosts edible enjoyment beneath clear blue skies and unchained tanks of helium.
A full-tilt explosion of Mexican flavors, Agave Azul Mexican Grill sizzles up more than 30 different lunch and dinner combinations for patrons with a penchant for meat, guacamole, and hot sauce. Nachos fajitas ($8.39) loosen tense taste buds with a mouth massage of beef or grilled chicken, tomato wedges, bell peppers, onions, and tortilla chips. The signature Speedy Gonzales lunch plate ($5.09) animates inanimate forks with a taco, enchilada, and either rice or refried beans. Evening enthusiasts can choose from 20 dinner-specific combos (starting at $8) or nibble on something from the vegetarian or quesadilla menu. Those looking to drink more than dine can belly up to Agave Azul's full bar, where bartenders make use of more than 75 tequilas to craft tasty margaritas and sangria that refresh the palate and fuel desires to tap dance while seated. Outdoor patios give diners a chance to catch fresh air in between a cappella rounds of Linkin Park songs.