For coffee, baked treats, and sandwiches, grab a table at Old City Java (109 S. Central St., 865/523-9817, Sun.–Thurs. 7:30 a.m.–midnight, Fri.–Sat. 9 a.m.–midnight, $4–9). Hardwood floors, plenty of cozy tables, and wireless Internet make this a popular place to while away a few hours.
Market Square’s  most celebrated restaurant is
The Tomato Head (12 Market Sq., 865/637-4067, Mon. 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Tues.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10:30 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–9 p.m., $4–9), which opened its doors downtown long before it was cool. Originally a pizza joint, the Tomato Head now serves soup, sandwiches, salads, burritos, and pizza using only the best organic and otherwise pure-at-heart ingredients. The results are way above average. Vegetarians and meat-eaters can rejoice, for options range from a vegetarian sandwich made with meaty and flavorful tofu to a roast beef sandwich heaped with meat.
The pizza is still mighty popular, and for good reason. They offer 15 official varieties but you can build your own pie from a list of 45 different toppings (homemade lamb sausage anyone?). The Tomato Head is generally crowded and noisy. You step to the counter, order and pay, and then one of the low-key staff members will bring your order to the table. It’s a good meeting place, or also a great place for a quick solo lunch.
The Downtown Grill & Brewery (424 S. Gay St., 865/633-8111, Sun.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–midnight, Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–3 a.m., $8–18) is as popular for its selection of handcrafted brews as it is for its easy bar-style menu. Mesquite-grilled steak, jumbo pasta plates, pizza, and fajitas all come with a recommendation from the chef for the right beer accompaniment. With outdoor sidewalk seating and a prime location on Gay Street , this is a popular restaurant to meet and mingle.
Pete’s Coffee Shop (540 Union Ave., 865/523-2860, Mon.–Fri. 6:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.–noon, $4–10) is the best downtown destination for diner-style breakfast and plate lunches. Located in a storefront a few blocks from Market Square , Pete’s attracts a loyal following among downtown office workers and new residents. It is the type of place that offers you a bottomless cup of joe and no-nonsense food like club sandwiches, fried chicken, and omelets.