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December 6, 2010

Road Trip America- Pit Stop #1: Pizza Palace, Knoxville, TN

As you may know I'm in the middle of moving across the country to San Francisco.  What better opportunity to see (and taste) the country than a cross-country road trip?  After packing up our house into a moving van and packing our dogs into a tiny mazda hatchback, we were off.

We left yesterday morning and drove from Silver Spring to Nashville with some minor pit-stops along the way.  It was an easy drive of about 11 hours, mostly up and down mountains with stretches of 40 miles between rest areas.  What surprised us the most is the cold.  It seems the further southwest we traveled the colder it got.  We hit some snow, but thankfully nothing that really stuck.  The wind was pretty brutal, though.  I was thankful we decided to drive the Southern Route.

Our friends Suzi and Eric got us Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives book before we left.  What a great idea!  We decided we were going to hit as many stops as we could along the way from that book

Our first DD&D stop was the Pizza Palace in Knoxville, TN.  Three immigrant brothers from Greece opened this drive-in in 1961 after buying a pasta sauce recipe.  The "secret sauce" is now a star attraction at this joint.  They are known for their pizza, pasta and onion rings. 

We pulled the car up to the little menu speaker box and ordered a pizza and onion rings (recommended by Guy.)  When the woman brought out the tray, she exuded that southern hospitality one would expect in Knoxville.  She proclaimed "we have the best pizza in the world, ya know! we're famous!"  Love her.  She doted on our cute dogs, remarked what a giant head Lelu has (she really does have a big noggin') and handed us the hot tray of artery-clogging food.  The pizza had thick layers of mozzarella oozing from each slice like hot lava.  They do have something about their sauce.  That was the first thing I noticed.  I almost regretted getting ham and pepperoni because I didn't want to mask the sauce.  It was pretty good pizza, but I wouldn't run out and say "the best in the world."  You have to love her spirit though.  The onion rings are hand battered, giant sweet vidalia onions.  Not bad.  I would recommend stopping if you're ever passing through.  There isn't much else around there...really.  There is nothing.  It's a quick stop off the highway though so not too much of a hike.  It's really all about the old school drive-in experience with southern hospitality and charm.

So what's next?  I'm not sure exactly.  I'm pretty sure lunch today will involve some Memphis BBQ though.  More to come...


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