The Swank Pad Knoxville Visitor’s Guide
Vintage Knoxville Google Map is a way to tour various remnants of the 50s and 60s in town. There are neighborhoods with Mid-Century Modern homes, vintage neon signs, shopping, and other mid-century points of interest.
Knoxville is becoming a destination and visitors want to plan their trip. So for those who are interested in vintage shopping, vintage touring, great cocktails, fun destinations and good food, we’ve put together this guide. If you are a fan of the Swank Pad, this is what we recommend for you.
Best Knoxville Vintage Shopping
- Mid Mod Collective: North of downtown on Central Ave. 1621 N Central Street Higher end stuff and bigger items.
- Retrospect Vintage: North of downtown on Central Ave in Happy Holler 1121 N Central Street A wide variety and lots of smaller things.
- Pop Weasel: Near downtown, north 611 N. Gay St. Great collection of vintage, oddities, and pop culture ephemera
- Nostalgia McCalla: East, near downtown 1401 McCalla Ave A wide variety with lots of booths. Big place.
- Bargain Hunters Antiques and Flea Market: South, over the river from downtown 4006 Chapman Hwy It is a large indoor flea market, and a weird mix of people and stuff, but there are interesting things to be found at good prices. This is a big place and really hit or miss.
- Nostalgia Homberg: West 5214 Homberg Drive Not as good as the other Nostalgia. Lots of booths. Big place
- Four Seasons and other stores: West near Nostalgia 5710 Kingston Pike This is one of 3 or 4 shops in this plaza that are hit and miss. Some good stuff in with the regular old antiques.
- Coldstream Market: Market Square downtown 521 Union Ave.. More crafty and shabby chic, but interesting.
Best Knoxville Cocktails:
- Oliver Royale – 5 Market Square – Our current favorite, they serve excellent cocktails and great service.
- Public House – 212 W. Magnolia Ave. – A variety of generally good and interesting cocktails and appetizers, but they struggle with consistency.
- Peter Kern Library – 407 Union Ave inside the Oliver Hotel – Entrance is via the alley beside the hotel, you may need the buzzer. Small and interesting “speak-easy” with craft cocktails. Can get really crowded on weekend evenings. Drink list is short.
Unique and Great Knoxville Eats:
Bounded by Clinch, Market, and Union Ave. Tupelo Honey is highly rated, but not by locals. Best restaurants here: Stock and Barrel has the best burgers, Flying Tomato for pizza. Inside the lobby of the Hotel Oliver is a speakeasy called the Peter Kern Library. Good craft cocktails Entrance is via a buzzer in the alley between the parking garage and the hotel. First entry on the right. The Oliver Royale on the square is our current favorite cocktails.
- Sticky Rice Cafe – 120 Jackson Dance St. – Laotian food made by the family. Very popular and for good reason. Their hot food really is hot.
- Jackie’s Dream – 2223 McCalla Ave – Best soul food in town and best hot chicken.
- Kaisen – 416 Clinch Ave downtown – Great Asian with big portions.
- Central Filling Station – 900 N. Central St. – Food Truck Park
- Babalu – 412 S Gay Street – Very recently opened and great reviews. Taco, Tapas, tableside guac, and oddly, great burgers.
- Knox Mason – 131 S Gay Street – Higher end southern food.
- Nama Sushi Bar – 506 S Gay Street – Best sushi in town
- Pete’s Coffee Shop – 540 Union Ave. – Good simple breakfast diner. Great value.
- OliBea – 119 S Central St. – Fancier breakfast everyone raves about.
Various Great Mexican Restaurants:
We seem to subsist on tacos lately and try them all over town. These places are cheap and anti-fancy, but good.
- Senor Taco: North – 3325 N Broadway A real restaurant with generally good food, beer, and liquor.
- La Esperanza: North – 2412 Washington Pike Restaurant in a large market. The cheapest and very good.
- Mi Pueblo: West in Downtown West Shopping Center – 1645 Downtown West Blvd. Downtown West shopping center Sister store to Esperanza.
- Sabor Catracho: North near Merchants Dr. – 4705 Central Avenue Pike Really out of the way and always a bit odd. Papusas and tacos, but also whole fish.
Best Knoxville BBQ:
The other food we eat a lot of. There are 3 places we recommend:
- Full Service BBQ: North at Merchants Dr. – 104 Cedar Ln. – Really smoky good brisket, ribs and chicken. Yes, the shredded chicken is exceptional.
- Calhoun’s on the River, and other locations: Downtown – 400 Neyland Dr. – A big place that’s sort of an institution. Consistant good ribs.
- Smokin’ J’s: East a mile off the interstate – 5200 Rutledge Pike – 1 word: Pigburger. A Knoxville invention and this is the last place serving them. Get the sauce mixed, and with onions. A huge sandwich on white bread. Unfortunately they changed the sauce recently and it is for the worse.
Best Knoxville Coffee:
Some good local choices:
- K Brew: North – 1138 N Broadway –
- Remedy Coffee and Makers Donuts: north up Central from downtown – 800 Tyson St. – They are side by side
- Artisic Bean inside Breadshed Café: North – 1328 N Broadway –
Best Knoxville Beer:
We don’t drink much beer, so our opinions are based a lot more on the service, location, aesthetics, and other qualities that a more hard core beer drinker may not care as much about.
- Trailhead Beer Market – 1317 Island home Ave –
- Alliance Brewing – 1130 Sevier Ave. –
- Last Days of Autumn – 808 E Magnolia Ave. –
- Hops and Holler – 937 N. Central St. –
Knoxville Things To Do:
I’d suggest going up in the Sunsphere observation deck. Also the Museum of Art is free. Lots of stuff along Gay Street, Market Square, and down in the Old City.
Up Central there is Magpie’s on the right for great sweet treats. At Baxter Ave. is Three Rivers Market on the right. A Coop with a salad and hot bar and all the organic and local stuff you could want. We eat there several times a week. Sort of across Central and on the left it Retrospect Vintage, and just past it is Friends Antiques. Raven Records on the right. Central Flats has great wings, baked. Further up is Timewarp Tearoom on left, then XYZ, the top gay club in town with a fun campy drag show. About another ¼ mile up on the left is Mid Mod Collective with higher end vintage and a good coffee shop next door.
There is a walkway all along the river near downtown. Park at Calhoun’s and walk around.
- Knoxville Visitors Center – 301 S Gay St. – More than a visitors center, it is also home to the Blue Plate Special, a near daily live noon show, usually in the Bluegrass vein also broadcast live on WDVX radio. The website is also a decent guide.
- Old Gray Cemetery – 543 N Broadway – near downtown – If you like old interesting cemeteries…