Last month, we took a trip through the Carolinas and stopped in Knoxville along the way for some breakfast at a thirty year-old diner that I was pretty sure Marie would enjoy. Here’s what she had to say about it…
Breakfast is a meal that I’ve run hot and cold on for years, and Grant and I have a longstanding disagreement on whether hearty cereals with nutrition in them are or are not superior to bowls full of multicolored sugar bombs.
Actually, my preferred breakfast for years was and still is very Continental: toast, jam, cheese, hot tea, fresh fruit, maybe some yogurt – all that was far tastier to me than just about anything protein-related other than soft boiled eggs. I gradually warmed up to one other breakfast foods to a degree, but then realized that an egg fried over easy is almost as good on toast as a poached or soft-boiled one, and you can actually obtain that in an American restaurant. This year, that’s been my go-to diner breakfast.
That said, I do break out of my habits occasionally. This time, it was for the special we saw on entering the door of Pete’s Coffee Shop: pumpkin spice French Toast (with sausage and eggs).
This warrants a diversion on the topic of the Scourge of Autumn that is Pumpkin Spice. I personally like pumpkin exclusively in the form of baked goods. Yes, pumpkin pie is on my top three pie favorites. Yes, pumpkin bread and muffins are among the things I have made many, many times and gorged upon with great damage to my waistline. No, I will not eat Pumpkin Spice cookies or candies, burn Pumpkin Spice candles, drink Pumpkin Spice Chai, or in any other way consume the crazy. I realize this may result in some disagreement from a segment of our readers, but I do think it’s possible to go overboard on some things, and this particular trend is not merely overboard, it’s rowing away madly towards open water while waving a cinnamon stick in the air and screaming something unintelligible about coffee creamer.
Nevertheless…French toast counts as a baked good, and I hadn’t had any pumpkin anything since last spring, so I ordered it. And it was good. While it’s there and if you’re anywhere in the area, you should try it out too.
Pete’s has won a number of awards in the Knoxville dining scene, in categories like best breakfast and best diner. It was opened by Pete and Rita Natour and has been around since 1986. Even though our son selected a table right next to both the door and the cash register (he was delighted that this particular table had a booth which he prefers, and also chairs, which Grant prefers – thoughtful child, to a degree…) we still had great service, a pleasant atmosphere, and a really good view of the wall of the recognition plaques they’ve received.
Our food was excellent, quite living up to their reputation, but the service was really the high point. They even apologized very sweetly to my son when he gauchely requested a refill of his orange juice. To be fair, he’d not had it in restaurants often enough to know it isn’t like soda or tea!
Pete’s Coffee Shop
540 Union Ave
Knoxville, TN 37902
You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s a terrific resource for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!