I ran into the Kingston Pike location this week for lunch. I had never been there and was just driving by from an appointment and was hungry and saw the sign. I honestly did not even know it was there so had no predisposed bias. I hoped to grab a couple of bean burritos and go. I quickly realized it was going to be a sit down place where you have to go through all the motions of being waited on and waiting for your food, which isn't good when you are grabbing a quick lunch and have to get back to work. I immediately noticed that all the staff were really depressed looking. None looked happy and the guy that waited on me was morose, like that guy "Lurch" from the Adams family show. There were waitresses standing around the bar looking depressed and with the waiter I found myself asking why I was paying for people to look so unhappy that I was there spending money.
They at least brought a basket of nacho chips to kill the time. As usual, I found myself thinking why do these people bring enough chips to feed four families to one guy? I am sure that gets passed on in the prices. The chips were rough feeling and no fun to eat.
I am a vegetarian and while I realize I am in the minority in this area of the country, and therefore don't expect much accommodation, I found the menu to be unnecessarily meat heavy and would not recommend it to any vegetarians.
The bean taco and bean burrito and rice were bland and uninteresting. I ordered water and my glass ran out several times and when the waiter did stroll by he had the look of a bored Hispanic goth on his face. Not that I care if someone is any of those things, but all three put together in a waiter make for the feeling that I am wasting my money. Combined with the very loud music playing, which was so loud I couldn't answer a business call on my mobile phone, the entire experience was overall unsatisfactory and I would not return nor recommend it to anyone. This is not because the food was actively nasty or because I can't deal with a little bad psychic energy from wait staff, but more because there are much better options in Knoxville. For example, I have never had an experience remotely approximating this one at Palancho's, where they are generally happy to see me and have good food and a pet patio to boot. As much as I cringe (really cringe) to say this, if you are in a hurry for lunch or just don't want to overpay for a loud and crappy experience, go to Taco Bell. At least if the service is terrible you can order off the .99 cent menu and be on your way in five minutes.
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