Staff picks: Best local restaurants

Litton's and their burgers may be Knoxville dining's biggest claim to fame (and it DID make our list), but our staff proves you can eat well throughout the area.

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Litton's and their burgers may be Knoxville dining's biggest claim to fame (and it DID make our list), but our staff proves you can eat well throughout the area.

With dozens of acclaimed local eateries, Knoxville is a great place to chow down on some delicious grub. This week, our staff dishes out the beef on the most delectable restaurants in town. Chew it over, then go get yourself some food – and support local business in the process!

Though it may be contradictory to its name, West Knoxville’s Dead End BBQ is actually an intersection. The restaurant, consistently voted Knoxville’s best for barbeque in the prestigious Metro Pulse readers’ poll for the past few years, sits at a crossroads of the old and new. It’s rooted in delicious barbeque tradition, but it’s also not afraid to try some forward-thinking ideas (see the Mac-Attack, a hefty sandwich starring pulled pork embellished with mounds of pimento mac-n-cheese), and as a result, the saucy, meticulously prepared dishes are astoundingly good. The atmosphere follows suit: Dead End’s walls are adorned with artifacts from local high school and collegiate sports, but with a sleek, clean, modern layout, it avoids being kitschy whatsoever. [Jack H. Evans]

Knoxville has no shortage of great restaurants, and I enjoy a number of them regularly, but I have to say that Altruda’s Italian Restaurant holds a special place in my heart. It has some of the best classic pasta dishes in Knoxville and an even better atmosphere. Walking through the doors is like walking into another country. It’s been here for 30 years, so I know I’m not alone in my love for it. Also, it would be a crime against humanity if you went there and did not eat a whole bowl of their delicious homemade garlic rolls and salad. [Kelsey Kinzer]

Anaba on Northshore easily has the best sushi in Knoxville. The restaurant used to be named Kalamata Café; though it was bought out and renamed, it kept a similar menu – Sushi and Greek food. Sounds like a weird combination right? But somehow it works. Anaba has authentic Japanese dishes and sushi that will blow your mind. It’s always fresh and delicious and relatively cheap compared to other sushi restaurants. [Hannah McElroy]

If you are looking for great local burgers, then look no further than Litton’s. In my opinion, Litton’s has the best burgers in East Tennessee. Plus the atmosphere is a lot of fun and is a hotspot for travelers and locals alike. [Graham Benefiel]

Food! I love food and I hope you do too! But as far as the best restaurant in Knoxville goes? I am going to have to go with Fuji’s Japanese Restaurant. I know it’s not good old American food –  but, really, what is good old American food? Fuji’s is a small, sit-in restaurant where the waitresses are always friendly and the huge portions will always leave your stomach happy and satisfied. When nothing else sounds good, Fuji’s is the place to go. I dare you to try it. [Litza Craig]

Pete’s Coffee Shop is a sweet local joint with a relaxed diner feel. It’s open for breakfast and lunch hours only, so it’s a great way to start the day. The service is quick and the food is awesome. Another great thing about Pete’s is the price of the food, which is incredibly reasonable. If ever you get a chance to go, you ought to check it out. [Ed Dudrick]

Since it is in a somewhat hidden place just near West Town mall, my family and I seem to be the only ones who have heard of a Korean restaurant called Kaya. Kaya has all kinds of Korean dishes and flavors that I would have never even known about (bulgogi?) which are part of the experience. I never thought I liked Korean food (or squid, or kimchi, or dolsot) until this place. [Allie Gruszkiewicz]

Tomato Head is a classic display of a good bakery and great food. There are two unique Knoxville locations, each with its own dining experience. Everyone I talk to about it only has positive things to say. From fabulous pizzas to amazing pitas and sandwiches, Tomato Head has an extremely diverse menu. Everything tastes fresh and interesting. Tomato Head has become a favorite place in Knoxville, for all ages. Also, pick up something from the cookie selection (I’d recommend the sugar cookie). [Taylor Johnson]

For this staff pick, I actually had to do field work. When told to pick from the vast list of local Knoxville restaurants, I became suddenly aware of my lack of adventure because I had never visited any of these places. So I chose the only one I knew of, Chez Guevara, and visited over the weekend. Chez Guevara is tiny and rests in the little corner of a shopping strip, between Barnes & Noble and Trader Joe’s. The place is typical of most Mexican restaurants, with extensive, colorful wall decorations of South American style and also devotion to Elvis Presley. (I still don’t understand why so many Mexican restaurants have such a huge fixation with Elvis Presley; I don’t know what relation he has to Mexican food.) Speaking of the food, I ordered a salmon enchilada while my parents ate burritos. All of the dishes were excellent, not any more special than what you can order at most homey Mexican restaurants but satisfactory none the less. You definitely receive what you paid for. [Helen Law]

I love fried chicken. What better place for this perfect food than the one and only Sullivan’s? This fine establishment has the best fried chicken in Knoxville. I often pair it with a side of creamy mashed potatoes topped with melted cheese. What makes the food experience even better is its family friendly atmosphere. My favorite location is right in the middle of the Rocky Hill area. The outside seating is beautiful: it’s a large deck with a giant tree coming through the middle covered with twinkling lights. It’s the perfect place to sit, relax, and enjoy delicious food with your family. [Zoey Line]

Sam and Andy’s is a cute little Knoxville restaurant that serves amazing food (my favorite is the baked spaghetti) and has a great atmosphere. The walls are covered in UT memorabilia and many pictures of people associated with the university. The staff makes everyone feel like they are a part of the family, and that’s one of the many reasons this place is great. [Katie Matthews]

There aren’t many restaurants I would voluntarily go to at any point. Soccer Taco, however, definitely falls into that category. Not much is better than their somewhat affordable, yet always-worth-the-price Mexican food. Absolutely nothing tops their flawlessly cooked shrimp chimichangas. [Emily Price]