Your friends at HoLa Hora Latina celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in very BIG ways. Each year since 1999 our organization has invited our East Tennessee neighbors to join us in celebrating the diversity of Hispanic heritage at our annual HoLa Festival.
This two-day event features live music and performances, authentic food and craft vendors representing a variety of Latin American countries and cuisines, educational activities and entertainment just for kids, fireworks on Saturday night, Mexican beer on tap, local businesses, volunteer organizations, and our signature Parade of Nations on Sunday.
Be sure to join us at the World’s Fair Park Performance Lawn:
Saturday, September 25th, from 4 pm to 10 pm, and Sunday, September 26th, from 11 am to 6 pm.
HoLa members and children under 12 enter free, otherwise, admission is $1 per person per day.
HoLa Hora Latina and the HoLa Festival are recognized each year by the City and County mayors for our work in promoting “Unity in the Community” with a celebration that EVERYONE is invited to share in. We hope all of our neighbors, and visitors from afar, join us for a fun weekend filled with music, dancing, art, culture, and community-focused programming - not to mention the diverse array of authentic food vendors that will guide you through a culinary tour of Latin America.
While we are on the topic of delicious food, let’s take a look at some of our favorite Latin American flavors to be found around town. Because there are so many wonderful options to choose from, we are focusing on Mexico this month and will highlight Latin cuisine from other countries (+ taco trucks) next month! What better way to prepare for the start of Hispanic Heritage Month on September 15th!?
Victor’s Taco Shop (formerly Oscar’s Tacos) is found near the University of Tennessee’s campus on “The Strip”, or Cumberland Avenue. They offer an extensive variety of quesadillas, burritos, breakfast burritos, rolled tacos, nachos, taco salads, tacos, and tortas. Choose from wide array of meat options including chorizo, pastor (marinated pork), fish, shrimp, carnitas, carne asada, chicken, ground beef, and ham. Tacos can be served in crunchy or soft corn tortillas. This is a great spot to find lots of options to suit everyone in your party. They also serve up fresh horchata, a delicious cinnamon and rice milk staple, and jamaica, an iced hibiscus tea, with many flavors of Jarritos to choose from. The refried beans pack so much flavor it’ll knock your socks off. Victor’s typically stays open late on weekends during football season to accommodate hungry fans after a long gameday.
Combining authentic Mexican dishes with an American sports grill, Soccer Taco is beloved by many Knoxvillians and has accumulated many awards since their opening in 2008. Known for their lively atmosphere and fun-loving, margarita sipping, beer guzzling crowd, you can’t NOT have a good time at one of their three locations in Market Square, West Knoxville, and Bearden. Their sports-themed menu includes something for everyone with fajitas, burritos, quesadillas, hamburgers, enchiladas, chimichangas, tortas, tacos, tamales, chile rellenos, tostadas, nachos, French fries, soups, salads, flautas, arroz con pollo, wings, chalupas, huaraches, sopes, vegetarian options, and specialty plates ranging from seafood, steak, chicken, and pork. Did we mention the authentic Oaxacan queso fundido (no, not liquid cheese) topped with pastor, onions, mushrooms, jalapeños, and a fried egg? The options are plentiful and delicious. To top it all off, Soccer Taco offers 6 desserts; flan, fried ice cream, sopapilla, churros, burrito cheesecake (a burrito filled with cheesecake and deep fried), and chocolate chimichangas stuffed with snickers bars.
Stop by the highly revered La Herradura at 2625 Broadway for high quality, authentic Mexican food and beverages without any unnecessary frills or gimmicks. They are a Knoxville favorite and well known for their tacos, but also serve up quesadillas, burritos, nachos, taquitos, mulitas (like a quesadilla sandwiched between corn tortillas), tortas (like a Mexican sandwich between two pieces of bread), and sopes/sopitas (a fried corn masa base shaped like a shallow quiche or small pie topped like a taco, similar to a tostada with a softer, thicker base). Protein options include chicken, marinated pork (pastor), barbecue, asada, and lengua (tongue). You can enjoy a slice of tres leches or flan if you’re looking for something sweet. The La Herradura Food Trucks can be found at the 76 gas station in West Knoxville (8311 Kingston Pike) and in Fountain City at the Citgo at 4801 Broadway. The express drive-thru is on the West side of town closer to Bearden at 7063 Kingston Pike.
Haberos Pescado Hawaiiana
Speedy Taco gets right down to business with a simple menu offering your favorite quick bites including tacos, tortas, quesadillas, and specialty plates. Find them at the Exxon at 2549 E Magnolia Ave. Mondays through Saturdays and be sure to bring cash – no credit or debit cards are accepted! Protein options include carne asada, chicken, chorizo, pastor, and shrimp. Tacos are served in threes on delicious corn tortillas. The simplicity of the menu at Speedy Taco allows for quick service and a perfect lunch-sized meal with fresh toppings like diced onion and cilantro, pico de gallo, slices of lime, radish, cucumber, and salsas.
Habaneros Mexican Grill on Asheville highway is known for its excellent service and family friendly atmosphere that will make you want to stay a while. This full-service restaurant invites you to kick back and relax while you work your way through their extensive menu offering a wide variety of Mexican specialties. Bistec (steak), pollo (chicken), and mariscos (seafood) dinners are prepared here in endless authentic variations with a focus on coastal flavors. Traditional favorites like caldos (soups), molcajetes, enchiladas, and micheladas (like a spicy bloody mary with beer served with a lime and a Tajín seasoned rim) give this spot a comforting and home-like feel. Of course, they offer all the other typical Mexican eats from tacos and burritos to quesadillas and fajitas. You’ll have to try the authentic queso fundido, melted cheese topped with chorizo, peppers, tomatoes, and onions served with soft tortillas. Pinch off a piece of this gooey goodness with your tortilla and experience this traditional form of cheese dip like a local would in Mexico City. Be sure to ask for the special treatment when celebrating a birthday, you’ll get a face full of fun – and whipped cream in your hair.
Mexico Lindo Hawaiian Fajitas
Mexico Lindo Mole over Chicken
Mexico Lindo Abuela's Tamales
Mexico Lindo is THE place for authentic tamales in Knoxville. HoLa Hora Latina has been selling them at our First Friday events for years, where they always sell out within a few hours. This family owned lunch and dinner spot on North Cedar Bluff Road boasts their abuela’s handmade chicken, beef, and pork tamales made fresh everyday (and available for orders by the dozen, check out this article to learn more about tamales around Knoxville). Made with love, these tamales aren’t the only thing special about Mexico Lindo. Here you can find mole (a thick and dark traditional Mexican sauce of chiles and sweet, spicy, and earthy notes), chile rellenos (stuffed peppers), a wide variety of enchiladas, and even enjoy live music! Follow them on Instagram and like their Facebook page to stay updated on performance nights. Imported Mexican beer on tap, aguas frescas, and top-shelf margarita pitchers will quench your thirst after a night of good eats and dancing. Stay tuned for their new line of homemade popsicles made of tropical fruits like strawberry kiwi, pineapple, and classic mangonada (mango with Tajín and chamoy).
El Tipico Caldo
El Típico Restuarant and Market is a hidden gem found at the intersection of Lonas Drive and Hollywood Road in the Pond Gap area of West Knoxville. Specializing in authentic and traditional Mexican and Honduran food, El Típico is well known for their tacos, especially the classic al pastor with grilled onions and cilantro. With a variety of classic caldos perfect for those chilly and damp Knoxville winters, the casual atmosphere combined with dishes packed full of traditional flavors will warm your heart and satisfy your cravings for a homecooked meal. Classic Mexican staples like sopes, tortas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, and huaraches (like a giant sope piled high with meats, cheeses, and other typical toppings) are available with protein options including pastor, chorizo, steak, carnitas, shrimp, chicken, barbacoa, and lengua. Locals praise the authenticity and excellent, quick service at El Típico. Be sure to stop by for lunch if you’re looking for traditional chilaquiles.
Cancún Mexican Restaurant on Chapman Highway in South Knoxville is a lively neighborhood favorite serving up classic Mexican dishes with an emphasis on seafood and beachy flavors and kid-friendly options too. A full-service restaurant with a bustling bar and spirited patio scene makes this the perfect hangout spot while you enjoy traditional staples like elote, tamales, tacos al pastor, and chile rellenos. Locals love to sip frozen margaritas on the patio while enjoying music, friends, and family. In business since 1989, there is a second location near Halls and their sister restaurant, Señor Taco can be found off Broadway in North Knoxville.
La Michocana Mangonada
Paleta de Pecana
La Michoacana is Knoxville’s premier nevería and heladería (frozen treats and ice cream shop) offering up classic summertime favorites like mangonadas and raspados (tropical fruit flavored Mexican slushies), paletas (popsicles), fruit cocktails seasoned with Tajín, aguas frescas, elote (Mexican street corn) and even savory snacks too. Their bright and flavorfully vibrant concoctions are eye catching, delicious, and hit the spot on a hot summer day. Find them in the Downtown West Shopping Center in West Knoxville or at their newest location in downtown Lenoir City. Classic favorites like oreo ice cream, banana splits, and strawberries and cream complement very inventive takes on nachos in a bag and pineapple husks filled with tropical fruits topped with seasoning. Try something new this summer at La Michoacana, open daily from noon until 9pm.
La Flor Panaderia
La Flor Conchas
La Flor Novias
La Flor Mexican Bakery in Bearden is our go-to for Mexican breads and sweets. You’ll want to stop by to pick of your pan de muerto here, or you can find some at HoLa Hora Latina’s annual First Friday of November Dia de los Muertos celebration. This self-service spot offers a variety of treats like chocolate and vanilla conchas (Mexican sweet bread topped with icing that look like seashells) and huge empanadas dulces filled with apples and cinnamon, pineapples, or cheese. Novias (Mexican cinnamon rolls), cheese bread, lemon bread, corn bread, and rellenos de manzana (apple turnovers) are some of our favorites, and the selection varies with seasonal favorites and holidays. You can order custom cakes, (including everyone’s favorite tres leches), and treats or stop by their shop and load your tray full of goodies for the whole family.
Hope this helps you find some excellent authentic Mexican food in Knoxville – come celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with us and we’ll see you at HoLa Fest!