Five Favorite Restaurants

Linking up with Heather at Mama Knows, Honey Child today with my third Five Favorites post!
Five Kids
Oh, wait a minute . . . those are the WRONG five favorites!
Today I am writing about my five favorite restaurants.
Now, I don’t mean the five best restaurants I’ve ever been to, I mean my tried and true favorites, the ones where they know our names and what we like to order.  You know the kind.  Or at least I hope you do!
1.  Sitar

Photo from Trip Advisor

The observant among you may notice that Sitar is an erstwhile Captain D’s.  We did not come to love this restaurant for aesthetic reasons.  Actually, though, they’ve redone the inside very nicely.  My little kids especially like the pictures of peacocks.  All our kids love this place–they’ve all been eating Indian food since they were very small.  One of William’s first words was naan!  The waiters know and like us and don’t seem to mind our noise and our mess.  We all have our favorite meals here–mine is Chicken Tikka Masala.
2.  Hashi Japan
Photo from Yelp

This is a tiny little place in a strip mile three miles from our house.  It’s also practically right next to Knoxville Catholic High School, which was how we started going there, while waiting for our kids to finish things, or to grab something to ear before heading home.  Now that we live right down the street, it’s our go-to spot, especially since super-picky William  (I mean really, he is WAY pickier than your kid) loves Asian food.
Another nifty thing about this place is that it is really two restaurants.  There are two doors, two names, and two menus.  The other half is a Chinese place called The Lotus Garden.  We eat on the Hashi side when we come with the kids, and on the Lotus side when we leave them at home.  We’re weird that way.
This is another place where we can . . . ahem . . . be ourselves without fear of being ejected from the restaurant.  And another place where they know our preferences without our having to explain them every time.  My usual order here is Garlic and Black Pepper Beef.
3.  Kaya
John’s best friend from childhood is Korean, and John grew up eating home-cooked Korean food.  He started taking me to Korean restaurants in Virginia when we were dating and I was hooked.  When we go to Kaya, it’s almost always my idea.
What I love at Kaya are the Korean side dishes.  I could make a meal on those alone.  I love kimchi so much I always have a jar in my refrigerator.
We always order the same things at Kaya:  bulgogi, pictured below.  If we are very hungry we order two, but usually we just get one and split it, and fill up on side dishes.
photo credit: foodspotting.com

4.  Naples
Photo from Trip Advisor

Surprised you, didn’t I?  Yes, we eat other cuisines besides Asian.  Although I admit I am drawn to restaurants that prepare dishes I cannot make at home.  Naples is a family-owned Knoxville tradition.  Just look how inviting it is!  It’s the kind of place where people come to relax, hang out for the evening, and enjoy excellent food and wonderful service and stimulating conversation.  I don’t have just one favorite meal here, but I do have a favorite dessert:  creme brulee.  I love love love creme brulee, and they have different special flavors on their menu each night.
5.  Panera Bread
One of these things is not like the others, one of these things doesn’t belong . . .
I know, I know, I’m spoiling my list by including a big, bad chain restaurant.

But, y’all, everyone has to have a place to go to be comfortable and relax, right?  Different places have served this need for me over the years.  I’m a creature of habit and back when I went out every Monday night while John did something fun with all three big (little at the time!) kids, I always went to the Golden Roast on the UT campus.  I still love it, but tend to feel just a tad out of place there almost 20 years down the road.  When we lived in North Knoxville, I used to frequent a tiny coffee shop near the Duck Pond called Cafe Noir.  But it went out of business.
There wasn’t a huge variety in North Knoxville, so when the first Panera was built we were all excited and I thought I would give it a try.  And you know what? I love it.  I just feel myself kind of relax the minute I walk through the door.  I try to get there by myself every couple of weeks, and I always get a You Pick Two, changing my soup and salad selection depending on my mood.
That’s my Five Favorites for this week!  You can visit the other links here.

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