Best Restaurant: The Tomato Head

Best Restaurant Runners-Up: Café 4, Downtown Grill & Brewery, Nama

Back when the original Flying Tomato opened on Market Square in 1990, it didn't exactly seem like a sure thing. There'd been other hip pizza parlors in Knoxville, but they hadn't lasted very long (oh, Vatican... oh, ACME....). Plus, Tomato Head owner Mahasti Vafaie was doing unheard of things like using fresh produce (bean sprouts?!) and making sandwiches with tofu. How could you possibly run a restaurant around here without a deep-fat fryer? Insanity! But besides introducing Knoxvillians to vegan options that taste good, she also created a sense of community for certain locals who didn't really have a place to call their own—one that now welcomes a sizable portion of the populace in both Knoxville and Maryville.

See Also: Best Brunch, Best Lunch Spot, Best Pizza in Food and Drink