You may have lived in Knoxville all your life or just arrived, but there are few things you need to know about this small-town city to enlarge your life, have more fun (two ways), pay less for amazing finds, eat better, and the life-improvement coup de grace (don’t you love it when I speak French in my really bad American, slightly Southern accent!): get out of town at rush hour going West, young (young-ish) captive driver, without tearing out your hair!
Enlarge Your Life
- Go to an eye-popping art-house movie at Downtown West (especially if it is subtitled and takes you on your own mini vacation to another culture) and reflect on how the bathroom floor tiles are black-and-white checked just like art film houses in New York City and London! Yes, it’s true!
- After the aren’t-we-enlightened movie, go to Sitar–the locally owned Indian restaurant in Bearden–and have Vijay (the nicest guy you will ever meet) tell you what you should eat.
- Extra points: go to Sitar for Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve or after UT football games when nowhere else is open or the wait is longer than waiting to open your presents when you are 5 years old! Then pat yourself on the back for knowing where to eat in Knoxville when everywhere else is closed or mobbed! Ahhh.
Have More Fun #1–With Chocolate
- Knoxville isn’t just for square chocolate boxes any more. Check out Knoxville’s hand-made chocolatier with goodies as yummy as the chocolate we used to bring home from Belgium. And it is made right here in Knoxville by Sharif Harb, who also couldn’t be a nicer guy!
- Now with two downtown locations to tempt us (remember dark chocolate is good for you!): the original Coffee and Chocolate shop just off Market Square on Union Avenue is intimate and perfection. But I love the new location on Clinch beside the Knoxville YWCA that gives a trip-to-Paris feel and has amazing jazz music mix playing in the background, great salads, sandwiches, cheese plates, and brunch!
- Tip: my two favorite chocolate flavors are Sharif’s curry/coconut and blood orange, but you can try the champagne flavor if you are feeling celebratory!
Have More Fun #2–With Guerrilla Warfare
- Practice guerrilla warfare life actions by thinking the Third Way. There is the conventional way, there is the too-radical, you-didn’t-just-do-that, stupid way, and there is the whimsical, wild-joys-of-living, off-beat, be-a-nerd-and-do-your-homework-kinda way that just may work.
- Remember Vietnam? Well, it was a guerrilla war where an indigenous force with less firepower, money, and technology went up against the world’s reigning superpower, the U.S. On the surface, few would have bet money in Las Vegas that the small Asian country with triangular hats and rice patties would have outlasted our more technologically equipped soldiers, but they did.
- Insights: when you are on your own territory, as Vietnam was, you know the terrain. Use the grubby means at your disposal that the more mighty and powerful would not consider. Remember the British Empire came to America with their Hessian mercenaries and guys marching out in the open in their gaudy red coats. The colonial American army whipped their butts by not following the usual rules of war. And we had the help of our friends, the French. Motto: Be grubby and have friends. So when you feel you are losing, loosen up and outlast the jackasses sent by the metaphorical King George!
Pay Less for Amazing Finds, Secret Sale Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
Did you know that Knoxville has its very own fabulously cool jeans designer/manufacturer named Marcus Hall? His Marc Nelson Denim line is Made in America and Tennessee (actually in Bristol) and his headquarters is in a warehouse on Randolph Street, just northeast of Knoxville’s Old City.
Did you know July 25-27, from 11:00 to 6:00, Marc Nelson Denim and my favorite Knoxville shoe store, Sole in the City, are participating in a big Boutique Blowout at The Gallery in West Knoxville beside Tomato Head West and near Chili’s? Well, items at this secret sale will be up to 75% off. Participating boutiques are: Barre3, Diana Warner, Lola B, Twig, Janice Ann’s, Val’s Boutique, Dragonfly Boutique, Kristi, Obligato, Jonesy Wood Designs, Me & Mommy to be, Elle Boutique, Euphoria, Tula, Southern Gamedays, Boyd Thomas, and Salon Visage. Check it out!
- Tip: these boutique blowouts happen several times a year, so like one of these boutiques on Facebook to keep up on where and when they will happen.
Amazing Finds–All the Time
The best consignment shop in all the U.S. and the world (according to me who has traveled many places) is Reruns in downtown Knoxville on Union Avenue.
- This boutique has designer clothes–and usually my favorites Anthropologie and J. Crew–for a song! My personal style and pocketbook have been zinging for the last 20-something years of shopping smart because of Reruns.
- Jewelry, scarves, purses, belts, and designer wear to die (or kill) for in much less time than wandering around the mall/ Reruns has unbelievable prices, and the most imaginative, creative group of women to help you reimagine yourself into something you would not have considered on your own, but you look fabulous! I’m the best dressed person I know, and I don’t have the money to look as great as I do. Live and learn: it is Reruns.
- And dance on next door to Reruns’s neighbor, Union Avenue Books, the happeningest independent bookstore in the Southland! Or at least the parts of it that I’ve been to! I always see 10 books I want every time I go. Read on!
Eat Better With Atmosphere, Jazz, and Apps (not that kind!)
Local food, fresh from the owner’s garden, free jazz in the evening, the best atmosphere in town, and a nekkid-lady’s picture over the bar! What could be better than a lunch, dinner, or brunch at Bistro at the Bijou?! Nothin’.
- Martha Boggs is sassy, she has real standards about certain state legislators who will be eating elsewhere, the food is great and the price is amazingly low, and the wait-staff are the nicest in town!
- In your ear: my husband Kurt and I got married at the K-town courthouse in fall 1995, with the blessed event witnessed by my sister who came with our babe-in-arms, niece Abby just a few weeks old. Lisa and Abby had to retire after the service, but the wedding party of two shimmied on over to Bistro at the Bijou, just one block away, for our “reception” of appetizers and champagne for three: bride, groom, and our friend Debbie who joined the celebration. And we were not disappointed. We have been married–do the math–for 18 years in a month or so. I rest my case.
Beat the Going-west Traffic at Rush Hour Coup de Grace
- You come blazing out of the downtown or UT area, hell-bent for leather going west on I-40/75 and see a back-up on the interstate from the town to the ‘burbs and in between. You think you will have plenty of time to reflect on the utter stupidity of whoever decided it was a good idea to have two major interstates on the same highway going through the middle of Knoxville, and then let’s add the I-640 Knoxville bypass right outside town. Yeah, that’s going to work real well. If you want to spend some quality time sitting in traffic.
- But noooooo. Follow my advice and you can skootch on out to the west, my friend, in record time. Counterintuitive your Chevy Malibu, Ford Explorer, or Honda Accord (I know which one I choose to drive!!) into the far left lane as soon as is humanly possible through all the semis and RVs from Ohio.
- Being a native of this fine city, I know that the slow-down coming out of Knoxville usually only lasts until the Papermill Road exit, a few miles down the road just past the dastardly 640 interchange. If you can keep your cool and move to the left, left, left, you can leave some disgruntled drivers in your wake.
- Extra Credit Points: turn on rocking music, sway back-and-forth behind the wheel, and sing at the top of your lungs with the sunroof open. That’ll show them who’s boss!!!
Now you are a happpppy, well-informed, well-dressed, full belly Knoxvillian, going West in your Marc Nelson Denim, singing” Crystal Blue Persuasion”.. Don’t you have the cutest butt?! Yes, you denim do!