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.
It's hard to imagine a restaurant that epitomizes the great American diner better than Huddle House. Since 1964, the restaurant—which has locations scattered prominently throughout the southern states—has warmed bellies with burgers, hearty breakfasts, and heaping helpings of friendly hospitality, available 24-hours a day. Even the moniker is All-American: founder John Sparks came up with the name after a football huddle, hoping it would inspire his customers to gather round a table and swap stories over a warm meal.
Over the years, Huddle House's menu has expanded and adapted to changing tastes, but its focus has remained the same: old-fashioned, American comfort food. No matter what time it is, guests can order up biscuits smothered in gravy and cheese or dig into the shop's signature waffles, whipped up using a secret recipe and waffle irons that can't read. Afternoon eats include chopped steak burgers served with regular or sweet potato fries and sandwiches with a southern twist, like a Philly cheese steak stuffed between slices of thick-cut Texas toast.
At each of The Shrimp Dock's three locations, you can reap the fruits of fishermen's labors, inspecting market catches ranging from salmon and snapper to mussels, lobsters, and scallops. Their fresh Gulf shrimp comes in five sizes, ready to quell hungers ranging from petite to gargantuan. True to their origins, the markets also stock Cajun favorites, with recipe-ready meats including alligator and catfish. With shipments arriving straight from three coasts six days a week, their stock stays as fresh as it is delicious. In addition to filling area kitchens with just-caught seafood, The Shrimp Dock also specializes in prepared fare; lunch specials from the kitchen, served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., include Knoxville's beloved Gulf shrimp and oyster po boys and homemade soup.
The Captain enthusiastically touts the potential benefits of a diet rich in fish, including regular doses of omega-3 fatty acids, reduction in risk of heart disease, and a conversation-starter with pelicans.
Locally grown fruits and vegetables fill Aubrey's Restaurant's menu across seven locations in eastern Tennessee. In addition to Southern recipes for buttermilk fried chicken and pulled pork, the kitchen also stirs housemade pimento into a savory dip and marinates chicken in lemon and lime. Old-fashioned patty melts and other sandwiches join pastas such as the Rattlesnake linguine, with grilled chicken, spinach, green peppers, and Southwestern alfredo that are charmed into stillness with the twirl of a fork. Desserts, such as the chocolate turtle cake with Hershey's chocolate and Breyers ice cream, help top off each meal.
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.
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.