Just west of West Town Mall, a shopping center called Suburban Center, where shops likes Barnes & Noble, and Toys “R” Us overpower, the place in the corner without a sign that has the funky dangling lights, that is where you will find Chez Guevara.
8025 Kingston Pike; 865.690.5250
Noteworthy: Casual w/ no reservations; good for groups and kids; take-out welcome; full bar; outdoor seating.
Pricing: $11.00 – $30
Yelp Rating: 4.5
This place is a literally a home away from home. It was formerly called La Paz, now it stands as Chez Guevara. Owned by the same man for over 30 years, a New Yorker turned Knoxvillian, he stands tall behind the bar with a full head of curly silver hair, a mustache that gives him a resemblance he would describe as Emiliano Zapata, where others might say Groucho Marx. This man runs any position in the restaurant that night that needs to be filled. He goes by the name Kevin. You can tell that he has a true bond with his employees, as most of them have worked there at least a couple of years, some have worked there for all 30 years, and that is something rarely seen in restaurants, not to mention in Knoxville, Tennessee.
I always call this place La Paz, because that is what it is to me and so many other people in Knoxville. The name La Paz was made into a corporation, therefore being a trademarked name Kevin had to branch off. Another reason why you might not have heard about this place is because he doesn’t advertise. He doesn’t even have a sign out front. It makes you think…why would someone not have a sign, or not advertise? Makes sense to me, because it’s authentic. It’s different. It’s atmosphere, the dark lighting. And, it’s my favorite place to go. It’s my favorite Mexican/Cuban/Tex-Mex/Southwestern restaurant because it’s a one-of-a-kind establishment. It’s a place you hear about by word-of-mouth.
Once you start going to La Paz, you won’t stop. Whether you decide to sit at a table, bar, or a bar table, you will get great service. Typically I like to sit at the bar. I have dined everywhere in this restaurant and enjoyed each experience.
The Bar: The margaritas are good however don’t drink too many because the sugar will definitely get to your head. Instead, try and cool off with some sangria which many people are unaware of their existence here. You can get it by the glass or by the pitcher. If you’re with a group order a pitcher, it’s a better bang for the buck. The entire restaurant is laid-back but the bar is the most casual.
The Bar Tables: Many people dine at these tables, others meet for drinks and appetizers while rounds of shooters and shots are ordered consistently.
The Restaurant: This restaurant used to be a smoking establishment and since they switched over to non-smoking, their business has never been better.
The Food: They have the best salsa around town! This spicy deliciously flavored salsa that makes you suck down your water is hard to find. Most restaurants like to water down the salsa and make it a not-so-spicy. That kind of defeats the purpose of salsa, don’t you think? Along with the spicy red salsa, they give you a salsa verde, which has awesome cilantro and chili flavors to it.
My favorite things to order are: the Burrito Gordo with chicken (I get the beans on the side), the Pollo del Mar (chicken with a fried egg on top), the Tuna Chalupa (sometimes I like to substitute the tuna for chicken), the Chile Relleño with chicken a la carte, the Cuban Quesadilla, and the Black and Blue Nachos with Chicken (the Spinach Queso is what the use on these nachos). Most times I cannot make up my mind on what to order here. That’s when it’s time to ask the people that work there. They know this food and with their recommendations I have never been steered in the wrong direction.
The atmosphere at La Paz is awesome, as Kevin has memorabilia all over the walls including some of his staff from the 80s. It has been around a while and is well worth it. On the weekends arrive early because there is always a wait. If you do have to wait, go to the busy bar, grab a drink, and take a look around at the walls.They also have four patio tables available for dining. One more thing, they aren’t open for lunch.
Now that you know about La Paz, it’s about time you checked this place out. I hope you enjoy the experience! Cheers!
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Mary, I have not been there in years headed there on Friday, good article. Phil
My first job was at La Paz when I was 16 years old. To this day, I somehow feel superior to others because I once worked there. I’m not sure that there is a better meal to be found in Knoxville. Great article!
mary – this article made my night! i want to go right now! I can’t wait for the next one!
I applaud your love of food (which is something that we have in common) but I have to ask if this is a biased review? Aren’t you close friends with the owner? I see you have many photos posted of you hanging all over him in a fun, we’re all having a few drinks, wasted kind of a way, on Facebook of all places. While I’m sure you are friends with him as Knoxville is a smallish town, I am just somewhat skeptical of taking reviews and recommendations from someone who has worked in most popular restaurants in the area. You (& no one else for that matter) can not put emotions into your reviews of food in which I’m afraid you do. No offense, I would rather take reviews from someone who goes into a situation unbiased.
James – you should give Mary’s Yelp profile a look.
After you’ve read the 220+ reviews let us know if you still feel she’s writing with a bias.
We can attest that she’s genuine with her reviews whether she knows the owner or not. Case in point: she recently gave an “OK” review of her own restaurant, citing room for improvement in many areas.
I wouldn’t go to the restaurant because of who it is named after…..of all the names to pick from and this restaurant picks Che Guevara??? What is up with that?
Chez, as we affectionately call it, has been our favorite place in Knoxville since we tried it 8 years ago. We have introduced many friends to Chez and they love it too. You’re missing out if you haven’t tried Chez! Their margaritas are our favorites in Knoxville and the chips and salsa, spinach queso and food are all excellent.