Grant T. Mitchell: Where to?

As a now 21-year-old college student, eating is always on my mind. That being said, convenience and affordability also are pretty important to me. Good Golly Tamale, located at 112 S Central St, Knoxville, TN 37902, fits all my criteria for an excellent eatery.

With a storefront location within Knoxville’s Old City, there is a distinct vibe when you walk the streets and sidewalks of the area. There are multiple restaurants offering unique delicacies and menu themes, art studios, and a general artist’s spirit engulfing the area. Lending to a positive and expressive persona emanating from the streets and infectiously spreading to passersby.

Good Golly Tamale certainly fits into this artistic and expressive spirit. The restaurant’s interior aesthetic is eclectic and friendly; the walls have artwork and splashes of personal writings on chalk boards, all the while numerous lush plants surround you.

 Dishes, prices and ingredients are written out on a large blackboard in a variety of colors of chalk, giving the feel of a food truck daily special write up. Seating areas are small European styled tables or long and well-worn cafeteria tables, allowing for whatever level of privacy you desire in your dining experience.

The prices are more than reasonable. Five dollars per tamale, a fantastic deal in my opinion considering what some chain restaurants want to charge people near the campus and downtown areas.

Additionally, with that five dollar per tamale price point, you are given a hearty and dense helping of a corn husk wrapped, piping hot tamale in a cornmeal cocoon. Within that layer of cornmeal wrapping is your choice of meat and vegetables within your tamale, yes there are vegan options.

And it goes without saying that I blame this excellent value for my sometimes walking out with five tamale orders and multiple salsa containers. It isn’t my fault; the food is just that good. And the price is just that irresistible.

Drinks are free if you are fine with plain room temperature water, however if you desire an artesian drink, Good Golly Tamale does sell several beverages I would call fancy. Some of this includes Sanpellegrino and other sparkling drinks. But for myself, I am fine with the plain water, builds character, as my mother always tells me.

You can see the ingredients for your food in a refrigerator within the restaurant occupying what seems to be the entire right side of the building in the costumer area. Not sure if they have it set up like this to show that all of their items are made fresh from scratch, but no matter the case that is what you’ll walk away feeling. 

The experience itself of eating the tamale is a true pleasure. Something about the hands-on necessity to unpeel the cornmeal tamale from its husk is fun. Like you are in part contributing to making of the dish when, in fact, all you are doing is taking the tamale out of its biodegradable wrapping.

Served along with the tamale or tamales of your choice is a cup of their in-house salsa. A red colored salsa with plenty of cilantro and refreshing tomatoes. So refreshing that whenever I have the salsa I am always tempted to drink it right out of its cup. And, much to the chagrin of my dining companions, I have done this. 

All in all, this is a great location whether you only have time for a quick bite or have a romantic day planned with your special someone after walking around a bit. So take in the sights, grab a tamale, and drink in the pleasant surroundings of Good Golly Tamale with your glass of water.

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