The Tomato Head, 12 Market Square, Knoxville, TN
Karisa: In the interest of full disclosure, there was a period of time not so long ago in my life that I ate at Tomato Head every Sunday for brunch. I frequented a different (and I'd argue superior) location, but the menu was the same. I was a regular, and proud of it. A few meals were comped for frequent patronage, and when I moved away to Virginia, they gave me a t-shirt to remember them by. I loved the place; leaving it was like leaving a dear friend. I haven't been to Knoxville since moving, so when I found myself in Market Square on a Saturday morning, I knew I had to brunch at Tomato Head. It would have been wrong not to.
It was a busy morning in Market Square, bustling with the Farmer's Market and the excitement for the impending UGA v. UT football game (go dawgs!) With so many people around, I was surprised when my dining and football-going friend and I were seated immediately. There was a waffle bar that I'd never seen before, but aside from that, everything felt familiar, even in a different location. Local art on the walls, hippy have-they-showered servers, and an inventive menu with tons of options for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
I started with my standard coffee, water, and a mimosa. The coffee was fantastic and local (of course); I had several cups. The mimosa was served in a wine glass with a good ratio of bubbly to quality OJ. I've started to enjoy the tartness of a poinsettia more than a standard mimosa, so I had one of those too. I do love sparkly drink options.
In my every Sunday at Tomato Head days, I ordered the same thing practically every week, a take on Huevos Racheros, Zipolite. I never did learn how to properly pronounce it, but I loved it every week. Not wanting to ruin my Zipolite memories and branch out just a bit, this time I tried another Huevos derivative, Eva. In hindsight, I'm not sure why Eva wasn't part of my typical rotation, as it contains lots of things I love, most notably apples, spinach, and avocado. The mole was a wonderful base for the tortillas, eggs, veggies, and cheese; the spicy apple salsa just spicy enough. I ate half of it and was immensely sad to be full and that I couldn't take it with me. Luckily it did not go to waste, as my friend finished it up, along with his thoroughly enjoyed Rosita (another type of Huevos.) It was a perfect meal to start a fantastic day.
Food - Very good. We both really enjoyed separate takes on huevos rancheros. Truly delicious with great portion size, not too big and too small.
Service - Good. She was exactly as she should be, a little hippy and perfectly pleasant. Water and coffee were always refilled promptly and she never left us looking for her.
Atmosphere - Good. Local art on the walls, comfortable seating, and a little loud, with good people watching inside and out. Just as you'd expect from a college town.
Coffee - Very good. Locally roasted at The Golden Roast which we were told is near campus. It was a very smooth blend, and I felt no need to doctor it up with milk. Several cups were happily enjoyed.
Mimosa - Very good. My first mimosa love. Served in a wine glass, but I didn't even miss the Richmond style. Excellent bubbly to orange juice ratio that left me wanting more, a feeling I happily indulged.