Best of Knoxville 2014: BEST OF THE BEST


Butch Jones
Well, that didn't take long. Despite a mediocre—and losing—first season, University of Tennessee head football coach Butch Jones is our readers' choice for Best Knoxvillian already. And we get it—he's a popular guy. That "brick by brick" thing and "Butch, please" caught on like wildfire last season. He's doing a good job recruiting. The Vols (mostly) looked better at the end of the year than at the beginning. If Jones really can turn around the team, and do so quickly, he's set for legendary popularity. (Cari Wade Gervin)
Runners Up: Tim Burchett, Gloria Johnson, Pat Summitt


In general conversation, McKay's is a used-book store. Technically, it's McKay Used Books, CDs, Music and More—or it was until management recently acquiesced to its customers' most common reference and officially renamed itself simply "McKay's." But even that previous mouthful of a name failed to do justice to the gargantuan scale of Knoxville's industrial-scale pre-owned media emporium. The building is huge, the inventory is huge, and the range of products available seems to get bigger all the time. Books, of course, and DVDs and Blu-rays and CDs and LPs, but also VHS tapes, comics, MP3 players and e-readers, video games and consoles, role-playing games, action figures, music instruments, T-shirts, smartphones and tablets … Pretty much anything you want to read, watch, play, or listen to, and the tools to do it, are available here. Just make sure you give yourself a full Saturday or Sunday afternoon to go through it all, and you'll find weeks of entertainment on these West Knox shelves. (Matthew Everett)
Runners Up: Bliss, Nothing Too Fancy, Three Rivers Market


Tomato Head
Tomato Head is, of course, the all-time champ of the Best of Knoxville, garnering Best Pizza Restaurant in 1994 and steamrolling its way to numerous victories since then. Such success might breed complacency in other businesses, but owners/partners Mahasti Vafaie and Scott Partin keep their fresh food fresh with an ever-expanding menu and unpredictable daily specials. And just recently, they even freshened up their original location on Market Square with a full-fledged makeover, expanding into the space next door to accommodate a countertop and new bathrooms, while moving the pizza ovens out of the main dining room and into, well, the kitchen. The much-needed changes make for a more orderly dining experience, but not at the cost of in-house funkiness, courtesy of those distinctive murals in the new entrance and local art on the walls. (Coury Turczyn)
Runners Up: Aubrey's, Central Flats & Taps, Stock & Barrel


Preservation Pub
Maybe it's impossible to compete. You want to smoke? Preservation Pub has you covered. You don't want to smoke at all? You can find fresh air there, too. You want to sit outside, on the patio? You can do that at Pres, of course, and watch the never-ending pageant of Market Square, Emi Sunshine, skateboarders, a teenage old-time band, whatever movie or jazz or orchestral performance is on the stage, and thousands of passing pedestrians of literally all sorts. Prefer to get away from all that on a rooftop deck, perhaps with soothing horticulture? Preservation Pub has a place for you, too. Like live music? It's one of Knoxville's most dependable places for interesting touring bands. Loyal to local bands? They've got them at Pres, too, sometimes at the same time as the traveling bands. Do you need to do your drinking in a place with a lot of history? True to its name, Preservation Pub is in a quirky 1880s brick building, and the ground floor of Preservation Pub evokes the old-fashioned saloon better than anywhere else in town. Prefer something altogether new? Ever see a magical beer-giving tree? We hadn't, either, until we saw it on top of Pres Pub. Also, if you can't enjoy a bar unless it includes an interesting and ever-changing art gallery, they've got one for you. A three-level fantasy with a friendly staff, and, typically, hundreds of interesting people to talk to, Preservation Pub is not much like any other bar in the world. (Jack Neely)
Runners Up: Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria, Central Flats & Taps, Downtown Grill and Brewery


The Dirty Guv'nahs
The Dirty Guv'nahs have dominated this category like no other Knoxville band before them—this is the seventh victory in a row for the Southern/groove/jam/roots rock band, extending their own record for both overall wins and consecutive years in the top spot. With the release of their latest album, though, the Guv'nahs are expanding their dominion. The band's new record, Hearts on Fire, topped the Billboard Heatseekers chart, which measures artists who have never reached the magazine's top 100 album rankings, when it was released in March. There's every reason to expect there's more to come from these local boys done good—every year seems to bring them to a bigger audience, and every album so far has been a creative step forward. It's just too bad there's not a bigger MP award for them to win. (M.E.)
Runners Up: 10 Years, Black Cadillacs, Black Lillies