When we were in town last year for a food tour, we agreed that the highlight was an amazing sandwich shop catty-cornered across from the Bijou Theater. I decided then that our next trip to the city, we were stopping here before we did anything else.
The original plan for our trip was to leave very early and take a long and meandering path off the interstate to Pigeon Forge, and get there right when a specific attraction opened. Then I’d grab some barbecue and go to Knoxville for lunch at Frussie’s. Our son didn’t feel good the night before, though, and we scrubbed the trip. That Saturday morning, however, he was feeling so much better, so we modified it. With a late start, we could go straight to Knoxville for an early lunch, then go to Pigeon Forge and come back to the city.
Marie was very much in favor of this plan, because I say early lunch and she hears late breakfast, and Frussie’s has a downright excellent Saturday brunch menu.
Frussies was opened by James Dick in 1986. His old friend Jay now runs the place, James having passed away some years back. We first visited this restaurant briefly last fall when East TN Tours invited us to come eat with them. We went to five very good downtown restaurants on that walking tour – and so should you, if you’re ever in Knoxville – but Frussies was our favorite. It seems to be one of the city’s best-kept secrets. I’ve spoken to almost a dozen people either from Knoxville or who went to school there since taking that tour. About half of them, their eyes pop open like dinner plates, delighted that somebody else knows where to get the best sandwiches in that city. The other half never heard of it. I guess if you’re in, you’re in for good.
So while our son dug into a short stack of pancakes, Marie had a couple of eggs, some pineapple, toast, and some of the best corned beef we’ve ever had. They cure the corned beef and the pastrami in-house and whatever your benchmark for good corned beef, this stuff will raise the bar. I went in ready for one of the best sandwiches in Tennessee, enjoyed it tremendously, and still had a bad case of menu envy.
Frussies calls their Italian sandwich “The Usual,” but there isn’t anything ordinary about it. The bread – they bake eleven different varieties daily – and the dressing really elevate this into something special. This is honestly one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in ages, and it has me wondering just how good their Dirty Bird is. That has their house-cured pastrami and turkey with Swiss cheese. We’ll need to try a couple of new places on our next trip to Knoxville, but maybe on the one after that…
Frussies Deli & Bakery
722 S Gay St
Knoxville, TN 37902
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