At Lenny's Sub Shop, named Best Sandwich Shop in 2010 by CityVoter Knoxville, team members bake fresh loaves of bread every morning and slice deli meat to order for each sandwich. Lenny's Sub Shop has been active in Knoxville for 14 years and it has grown to reach diners in more than 15 southern and midwestern states. Its signature 7.5-inch sandwiches cradle a half-pound of meat and cheese, the 10-inch holds 3/4-pound while its 15-inch Heroic subs hold up to a full pound. On the lighter side, the 5-inch holds 1/3-pound. Hot pepper relish blended from diced cherry peppers is available to add zing to deluxe clubs, roast-beef sandwiches, and veggie subs. New items include the chopped BBQ sub, potato salad, wraps, coleslaw, and a large variety of chips. In addition, the shop also serves kids' meals.
Hot Rods 50's Diner’s checkered linoleum floors, white countertop, and automotive-themed decor transport guests back to a simpler time, when cars were red and shiny. Tunes drone from the jukebox as chefs whip up a sock-hopping menu of burgers, beer-battered onion rings, hoagies, and other midcentury classics. At the soda-fountain counter, staff members blend shakes and malts while gossiping above the bells and pained cries of pinball machines, Servers carry plates of classic American fare to the outdoor patio or formica tables surrounded by booths, all suspended in time by a collection of vintage photographs, license plates, and gas-station signs.
Anaba Japanese Cuisine's skilled chefs roll up more than 90 types of sushi, which beckon hungry stomachs from an eclectic menu of diverse Japanese dishes. Rice rolls stuffed with crunchy shrimp ($6 full; $4 half) represent traditional touches, and exhibitionist samplers such as mackerel sashimi ($3) shed rice robes to flaunt protein-packed forms. More conservative specialty rolls, such as the rainbow roll ($12), encase a variety of underwater treasures, including whitefish, yellowtail, shrimp, and salmon, and can only be won over by the touch of chopsticks or a love note written in soy sauce. Across the kitchen, hibachi grills goad kimchi pork, green pepper, and scallions ($13) into proving their taste-bud-worthiness by walking barefoot over open flames. In between savoring sushi rolls and altering the consistency of soy sauce with wasabi, guests can quench thirsts with an array of spirited sakes. Anaba’s cheery ambiance employs a juxtaposition of sumptuous dark wood and leather booths against neon signs and flat-screen TVs, creating a delightful fusion of elegance and fun, just like the karaoke bar in the basement of the White House.
Crowned Best Overall Restaurant by the Knoxville News Sentinel in 2010, Puleo’s Grille takes tongues on a whirlwind taste tour with its eclectic menu of Southern and Italian classics. Circle tooth wagons around scrumptious orders of fried green tomatoes partnered with a savory side of stone-ground cheese grits and country gravy ($6.99), or lay a delectable claim on Italian mainstays such as lasagna ($11.99) or artichoke- and caper-flecked chicken piccata, which gets its beauty sleep atop a bed of linguini draped in lemon wine sauce ($14.99).
Continuing the Italian tradition of pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice), Pizzeria Venti hand-tosses a handful of oven-baked, circular pies teeming with trans-fat-free toppings. Like a repertory theater, Venti's homespun crust acts as a stage for more than 20 pizza performances. The pillowy crusts are pedestals for varieties such as house-made italian sausage, seasoned with fennel, fresh basil, and herbs ($3.50 for a slice) or chicken vesuvio which touts a roasted breast of chicken, mushrooms, black olives and garlic ($4.75 per slice). Though pizza prevails as Venti's main attraction, the menu is also stocked with baked pastas ($6.50+), salads ($6+), and soups ($3+) to create a culinary lineup that is more well-rounded than a reconstructed Humpty Dumpty.
Though water is the world's most abundant resource, white water is a bit more difficult to find. The guides and adventurers at Nantahala Outdoor Center have traveled as far as Panama to find the best rapids—a dedication to the thrill of the outdoors that has attracted the attention and awe of such publications as National Geographic. Still, despite the churning siren calls of international waters, the American South's Smoky Mountains offer plenty to explore. When not leading regular white-water expeditions down seven local rivers—including the Chattooga, Pigeon, and Nolichucky—Nantahala's guides set out for off-water adventures in the surrounding hills, zipping along the scenic Nantahala Gorge—formed over several millennia from fossilized rapids—and setting out for waterfall hikes among mountain trails. In addition to their guided explorations, Nantahala Outdoor Center also conducts outdoor classes, equipping students with kayaking know-how as well as skills to survive among the wilderness' feral park rangers.