Friday, July 22, 2011

Sunspot (Knoxville)

1909 Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN

We did a lot of eating on our road trip! I'm ready to get back to Memphis food, but I figured a little info on our Knoxville stop might prove useful to some Memphis friends. When we left Blacksburg, Virginia we knew that we'd stop in Knoxville for lunch--a late lunch. I turned to Urbanspoon in the hopes of finding a nice place to stop. Using the "Most popular" and "Talk of the town" features I came across Sunspot. It was on a major thoroughfare near UT and it's tagline "Where tie-dyes and neckties unite" intrigued me. A quick scan of the menu and website and I was sold.

"Sunspot caters to vegetarians and carnivores with with a unique and multicultural blend of Southwestern, Caribbean and Latin American cuisines."


It was 4:30pm on a Thursday when we rolled in, so I guess it was more of an early dinner than a late lunch. There seemed to be college kids eating and working there. There were a few tables, but it was far from crowded. There was a bar and a second dining room so I imagine it gets pretty crowded when school is in session.

I had to immediately go to the restroom, of which there were several, but I noted that the one I chose had a changing table. That made me feel even better about our choice. Clearly children were welcomed, or at the very least expected.

When I got back to the table, the waitress was taking drink orders. I was there in time to stop Jiro's (age 7) de facto Sprite order, but when he asked, "Do you have any cheese dip?" I let him proceed. (I love that he isn't afraid to talk to adults and order what he likes.)

The waitress had already brought us a basket of chips and green salsa, so the cheese dip was a nice addition.


Jiro was bummed to learn that the dip was actually spinach con queso. When the waitress returned he asked her if they had any "normal" cheese dip. (They did not.) Three out of the four of us enjoyed the dip and the haikus on the table (each table had a different theme or gimmick) while we decided what to order.


As you can see from my photos, a sunspot was definitely present throughout the meal. (However, I'm pretty sure the name is referencing the Knoxville sunsphere.)

There wasn't a kid's menu, so we had to do some research to figure out what the monkeys might eat. Once our order was in, we tried to keep everyone calm. Jiro wanted to draw, but I had no pen in my purse. The paper I had offered him soon turned into a paper airplane. Luckily the food came out fairly quickly.

I ordered the Sunspot’s celestial tofu salad with mixed greens tossed with corn salsa, mandarin oranges, mango jalapeño vinaigrette, goat cheese, spiced peanuts, and blackened tofu. I was thrilled with both it's looks and taste. I was even a little sad that I had agreed to share it with Warren.

189. Sunspot salad

Warren's Orion’s belt sandwich was made with their blackened tofu qnd topped with hummus and sprouts. He got a side of broccoli rather than fries.


He liked the sandwich, but thought it was a little bland. Luckily Jiro's tofu corn dogs (a special that day) came with two fancy dipping sauces (spicy mustard and Sriracha BBQ sauce). Once he fixed it up, I was happy to have my half.


When ordering the tofu dish for Jiro, I imagined hot dogs made of tofu, but it was actually fried tofu on a stick.


Cute idea, but the execution was a bit of a mess. The sticks were just skewers and could not hold the tofu up. Jiro tried in vain to eat these, but ended up with a lap full of tofu. And for whatever reason, he didn't seem too into the homemade chips. They were a little on the soggy/greasy side.


Satchel wanted a burger, but we convinced him to get soup as a side rather than fries. It was a shrimp curry that was a little spicy but good. He ate the shrimp and broth while downing a huge glass of water.


Warren and I ended up helping Satchel polish off his burger. (Eating vegetarian sometimes leaves us hungry!) It was grilled and very YUM. Again we took advantage of Jiro's fancy dipping sauces.

There were a few candy machines by the door that the kids were bugging us about, so I made them eat some of Warren's broccoli to earn a quarter each. (Luckily, we didn't discover the foosball table until after we paid and were on our way out.)

Our bill came to $49, and that was with waters all around. Satchel said he definitely wants to go back.

Sunspot on Urbanspoon

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