There are plenty of reasons to visit Knoxville, Tennessee, Gateway to the Great Smokies. And Knoxville is home to many good restaurants and great cooking. But sometimes it is nice to stray off the beaten path a bit, and explore the out of the way, individual and unusual little places to eat.
The Lost Savant is one of those places. Part bookstore, part restaurant, part coffee bar, part music/healing/gathering place, this lunch spot is situated in an unlikely venue: between a gun and knife shop and a fundamental independent Baptist church at 5703 N. Broadway Street in North Knoxville. The place looks innocuous when you first walk in, with a counter featuring a coffee bar, and a refrigerator full of cold drinks. But the dining area just down the hall is private, intimate with a clubby atmosphere where one can feast on such items as “The Happy Hippie Salad” or munch on sandwiches with names like “Odyssey” or the “Ham-Let Club”. An assortment of dessert items are all baked locally. Gourmet coffees, teas, smoothies and milkshakes round out the menu at this out of the way lunch meeting place.
But the Lost Savant has more to offer if you have the time. The bookstore has all the usual sections such as biography, science fiction, children’s books, classics, spiritual and New Age books; and also includes an extensive regional interest section that includes local authors. Friday and Saturday nights at the Lost Savant feature regional musical acts and the occasional open mic musician night. The Lost Savant really is one of Knoxville’s hidden treasures.
Way on the other side of town, in West Knoxville, sits a little log-cabin looking building that houses a favorite lunch spot, The Apple Cake Tea Room. The dÃ?Â©cor is overwhelmingly country (the log-cabin exterior is a big clue) but so warm, inviting and friendly that this is a great spot to lunch and spend some time with your friends. The Apple Cake Tea Room, however, is not a tea room, and does not serve “high tea” that our United Kingdom counterparts would recognize. The menu stays light and traditional with such classics as chicken salad, quiche, open-faced sandwiches and patty melts. A few kinds of tea are served with individual teapots; and dessert includes, of course, apple cake. The Apple Cake Tea Room is located on the far west side of Knoxville, in Farragut, at 11312 Station West Drive. You can call the folks at the Apple Cake Tea Room at 865-966-7848. This place is really bustling during the week at lunch time, but if you can take a late lunch and hit it in the afternoon, this is a delightful place to “sit a spell” and enjoy yourself.
For a completely different change of pace, you can try Ali Baba’s Time Out Delicatessen at 8361 Kingston Pike. Far from being a traditional delicatessen, Ali Baba’s serves a variety of Middle Eastern dishes. For a different lunchtime treat, try one of the hummus platters; spicy gyros; or the Ali Baba specialty steak in a sack (pita sacks that can be filled with falafel, grilled meats like steak, or vegetable dishes). Ali Baba’s of Knoxville also serves the expected Time Out Delicatessen selections. Homemade desserts, snack items, and a selection of soft drinks and exotic or traditional beers round out the menu. Ali Baba’s is a little tricky to find, though. Located just east of the busy Gallaher View/Kingston Pike intersection of Knoxville, Ali Baba’s is surrounded by pawn shops, mattress stores, and other small businesses. There is a parking lot, but it is small. And while seating is available inside Ali Baba’s, and a television is usually on to keep one company, it’s a great place to pick up a lunch to go as well. Ali Baba’s can be reached at 865-693-1446.
Knoxville, Tennessee is located in the South, known for its hospitality. These three lesser known, interesting places to grab a bite are great examples of Knoxville’s hospitality.