The Best of Knoxville

How do you define a city?

In the case of Knoxville, Tenn., the outside world may think of certain iconic structures involving wig shops—but we believe it's the people who make our city what it is. The things they create, whether it's policy or parks or shops or culture, form our civic life here and make it a place worth staying. With our annual Best of Knoxville Readers' Poll, we aim to celebrate those people who make our fair city so distinctively Knoxville-esque. So please join us in expressing gratitude for their efforts at making life here enjoyable. We've written mini-tributes to new winners and to some old favorites. And just to make sure Knoxville doesn't get a big head, we've included a few staff “worsts” to keep things balanced.

Please Note:

Many of us love chain stores and restaurants, otherwise they wouldn’t exist. But aside from a few locally created ones, they don’t often say much about Knoxville itself. This year, we wanted our Best of Knoxville Readers’ Poll to truly reflect the best of Knoxville, not necessarily the choices made by a corporate headquarters thousands of miles away. So we decided to level the playing field a bit by asking you to name specific locations if you were voting for a chain store or restaurant. That way, a local business with one address could at least have a chance of winning against a chain with six locations in the same category. And you’ll notice that we did indeed name more local businesses as “best” this year. But we must also note that in a few categories, many of you did not list the street locations as directed. So we divided those votes by the chains’ total number of metro locations and allocated them to each one, as we stipulated in the ballot rules. We applied this rule to all chains, both national and local.

* All runners-up are listed alphabetically, not in order of votes.