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
- 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.
Best Knoxville Cocktails:
There are a couple of rooftop bars now to try for the heck of it. One in the Hyatt and the other in the Hilton, both on Gay St.
- Tern Club – 135 S Gay St. – The best bar in Knoxville. Drinks are somewhat rum-centric, but they make anything well.
- 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.
- Maple Hall – 414 S Gay St. – Bowling alley and bar in the basement. The Parlor in the back is cocktails, but you can get drinks at the alley too. Quality and good prices.
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.
- 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 – 1008 E Woodland Ave – Best soul food in town and best hot chicken.
- Chez Guevara – West – They don’t have a website, or even a sign, but there’s always a line when they open, even though the host is rude AF. Awesome vintage décor, great food and drinks. An institution.
- Kaisen – 416 Clinch Ave downtown – Great Asian fusion with big portions.
- Central Filling Station – 900 N. Central St. – Food Truck Park
- 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. Often busy, but it turns over quickly.
- OliBea – 211 S Central St. – Fancier breakfast everyone raves about.
- Paysan Bread & Bagels – 804 Tyson St. – We LOVE their breakfast bagel sandwich. Next to Remedy Coffee, which is great, and Old Gray cemetery which is great.
- Wild Love Bakehouse – 1625 N Central St. – Noted as making the best croissants anywhere, and just about everything else is also great. Next to Mid Mod Collective.
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.
Best Knoxville BBQ:
The other food we eat a lot of. There are 2 places we recommend:
- Oakwood BBQ Foodtruck – Often at Southside Garage Food Truck park. We love their brisket and ribs.
- Calhoun’s on the River, and other locations: Downtown – 400 Neyland Dr. – A big place that’s sort of an institution. Consistent good ribs.
Best Knoxville Coffee:
Some good local choices:
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.
- Alliance Brewing – 1130 Sevier Ave. –
- Shulz Brau – 126 Bernard – A “castle” with a great courtyard, good pretzels, brats and beer, plus cocktails.
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. 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.
- East TN Historical Society and Museum – 601 S Gay St. – A great local centered museum with fun, funky and eclectic exhibits.
- 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…
- Outdoors… Tons of this stuff from SUP on the river, to tons of trails and mountain biking, canoeing, etc. The visitors center can help, we can’t but, explore.