3132 E. Magnolia Avenue
Our first day on the road we drove from Chicago to Knoxville. Even with an early start – that’s quite a trip, and we rolled into Knoxville at about 8PM on a Sunday night. Which meant that most places were dead closed! However, we remembered our recommendation to stop at the Pizza Palace, on the east side of Knoxville, so we gave it a try. Driving up to the restaurant feels like a time-warp. When you pull up to Pizza Palace you are immediately greeted by the frozen-in-time 1961 neon sign that has been there ever since the place opened.
It was kind of a surreal experience – ordering pizza from a drive-in restaurant on a creaky old phone, as the sun set on an eerily quiet stretch of road. When we arrived at 8, the place was teeming with cars, as you can see above. The restaurant seemed to be doing a brisk business with pizza orders, and it being called ‘pizza palace’ we thought we couldn’t go wrong with some pie. We ordered a medium half-cheese, half-pepperoni pie ($10.85). Despite looking primitive, the old phone system attached to a wooden box worked just fine. Pizza Palace makes Sonic look like something truly out of the space age. But that was all part of the experience.
We hear Pizza Palace is also famous for onion rings – 1/2 order is $2.75. For those not in the mood for pizza, the menu boasted other Italian favorites like veal parmesan and spaghetti. To our surprise, we only had to wait about 15 minutes for our piping hot pizza to arrive. An efficient carhop brought out the pie along with a bag of plates, napkins and utensils, which was perfect for us travelers. We weren’t equipped to eat a pizza in the car, so we hoofed it back to our hotel and back to the 21st century. The pizza itself was very good, though not that noteworthy, with a toothsome crust and a slightly sweet tomato sauce. Though we were not blown away by the eats, Pizza Palace was definitely worth it for the retro experience.