The Tomato Head
12 Market Square
Knoxville, TN 37902

The Tomato Head
211 West Broadway
Maryville, TN 37801

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The Tomato Head reviewed by GREG

There are some true gems in Knoxville, and among them is the ever-popular Tomato Head.

In the past few years Tomato Head has expanded into Maryville and is rumored to be spreading elsewhere in East Tennessee, and for just cause.  The venue’s laid-back, hippie-esque attitude clicks with this area’s patrons.  It’s classy but by no means upscale.  It has environment but the focus is on the food.

And their food is unparalleled.  They specialize in vegetarian cuisine, meaning their entrees require more creativity and originality.  It boils down to two main genres:  sandwiches and pizza.

Tomato Head makes their own dough which has a rich quality lacking in other pizza.  All pizzas are made on site and made to order so there’s never even a hint of over-cooked crust or sogginess.

Given that it’s a veggie-friendly venue, their toppings pop with freshness and that crisp, organic taste.  There isn’t even a trace of grease or globby cheese.  The tomato sauce never bulks up.  The achieve the perfect balance all across the board.

Secondly, they place strong emphasis on sandwiches, which contain original mixtures of ingredients coupled with original names such as the “Oh, Boy,” “Kepner Melt,” and “Roger Roger.”

The best of which: the Kepner Melt.  Consisting of baked tofu, sprouts, spinach, pineapple, walnuts and mustard seed (among a few other goodies), the Kepner Melt may sound unconventional but the taste is so elating you’ll wonder why you never thought to try that combination earlier.  Those afraid of tofu should reconsider—it features almost a chicken-esque presence in the sandwich, but lighter.  It absorbs the flavor of the ingredients it’s surrounded by.

Although their menu doesn’t advertise it, their sandwiches are available on pita (which always serves as the best host for the Kepner Melt).

Carnivores still have plenty to choose from—the restaurant includes organic beef and chicken, and even offers a popular ham and cheese sandwich.

Although Tomato Head functions greatly as a lunchtime stop (the downtown Knoxville venue is packed between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.) dinner is no less popular, with lengthy waits during typical dining hours.

Despite its excellent cuisine, Tomato Head’s laid-back attitude often causes the service to suffer.  Be prepared to deal with them being out of some ingredients, and you should always assume you’ll spend at least an hour per meal (if not longer).

However if you’re able to deal with these two obstacles, you’re in for a mind-blowing treat.

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