Yassin’s Falafel House
706 Walnut St., 865-387-8275
If you walk past the Walnut Building at the right time of day, you’ll be struck by a sudden craving as the spicy aromas issue from Yassin’s. The falafel here gets high marks and has many fans, as it should; but my favorite food here is the baba ghanouj. This eggplant spread is silky, smoky, and addictive—even if you don’t love eggplant (and I’m decidedly iffy on the subject), you will be pleasantly surprised.
Holy Land Market & Deli
3601 Sutherland Ave., 865-525-4659
Walter and Denise Ajlouny may be the most famous denizens of Sutherland Avenue, and the pastrami sandwich may be what everybody likes to talk about—but don’t bypass the menu of daily Middle Eastern specials. If you miss the chance to try Holy Land’s mansef, you’ll be doing yourself and your palate a major disservice. It’s a Jordanian dish of lamb served over rice and under yogurt sauce and a sprinkle of pine nuts.
Aladdin’s Time Out Deli
1428 N. Central St., 865-673-8145
This corner spot at Woodland and Central is not much more than a convenience-store deli. And while the food can be inconsistent, it’s generally pretty good for what it is. One of my best foodie friends swears by the falafel here (which I like, too, mainly because I can order it with French fries), but I’m fond of steak in a sack. The meat is tender, flavorful, and sometimes a little greasy—in a good, guilty pleasure way.
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