Knoxville's first super-size BaconFest was in 2010, but three years later, the love affair with all things bacon-y still sizzles. In the forefront: local chefs' and diners' affection for Allan Benton's products lovingly tended a short ways down the road in Madisonville. Brunch is the ideal showcase for this bacon of modern love and Appalachian heritage, and brunch chefs all around town are happy to do the honors:
The Pig and the Fig Sandwich
Just Ripe, 513 Union Ave., 8:30 a.m. Sat. and Sun., justripeknoxville.com
The sweet little cafe downtown gets serious with fresh apples, bacon, light cheddar, and arugula sandwiched on sourdough and grilled—plus the namesake fig-onion compote to tie it all together.
Kentucky Hot Brown
Puleos Grille, various locations, Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., puleosgrille.com
The Brown Hotel in Louisville made this open-face sandwich the hip dish for flappers in the Roaring '20s, and it's just as jazzy now: bacon, turkey, tomatoes and sautéed mushrooms served over toast. Oh, yes, and then the ladles of rich cream sauce and Parmesan—savory.
Fried Egg BLT
Tupelo Honey Cafe, 1 Market Square, Sat.-Sun. 8 a.m., tupelohoneycafe.com/knoxville
Two diner-style oldies but goodies get combined and freshened up a bit. Tupelo serves up two free-range eggs over hard, maple pepper bacon, and the traditional "L" and "T" tucked into sourdough with a dollop or two of smoked jalapeño aioli. As a side, we aggressively suggest the goat cheese grits.
Shelton Farm Cornmeal Griddle Cakes
Knox Mason, 131 S. Gay St., Sunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m., knoxmason.com
A celebration of local and regional ingredients, this is, including Shelton Farms cornmeal; the sultry, smoky crisp that is Benton's bacon; Muddy Pond sorghum; and Knox Mason's own house-churned cream-and-sour-cream butter. Fork up the best of Appalachia!
Bacon Cheddar Grits
Chesapeake's, 500 Henley St., Sundays 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., chesapeakes.com
This delicacy is creamy and lightly smoky, and with both corn and bacon, it's a perfect foil for the many seafood entrees at Chesapeake's brunch, like salmon, eggs, and spinach, or the Crab Cake Benedict.