Grub Scout: N. Knox deli a serviceable stop for lunch-time crowd

Aladdin's Time-Out Deli

  • Food: ***
  • Service: ***
  • Atmosphere: **1/2
  • Overall: ***
  • Address: 1428 N. Central Ave.
  • Phone: 865-673-8145
  • Hours: 7 a.m-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays
  • Seating: First come, first served
  • Beer sold at market

I’m not sure what the deal is with Knoxville and its plethora of Time-Out Delis, but over the years, I’ve managed to hit just about all of them. One that had slipped through the cracks was Aladdin’s Time-Out Deli, at the intersection of North Central Avenue and Woodland Avenue.

The establishment doubles as a convenience store of sorts and an eatery, catering in large part to the weekday lunch crowd. I recently included myself in that particular segment of the population by showing up at Aladdin’s for a recent noontime meal.

You could tell by the old-school menu signboard above the counter that this place has been in business for a while. In fact, the deli marked its 40th anniversary this year. Their signature items include steak-in-a-sack, grilled chicken-in-a-sack and a Greek-style gyro, all of which are served in a pita pocket.

I took my place in line at the main counter, bridging the gap between the early lunch crowd that had already been served and those who were steadily filing in to kick off their lunch hour. The seating area squeezes in six tables that accommodate a total of about 20 in-house diners.

Although I don’t find the name “steak-in-a-sack” a particularly appetizing way of whetting one’s appetite, I forged ahead by ordering one anyway. I also decided to try out some deep-fried mushrooms, only because I hadn’t had any in forever and had really been craving them.

While waiting for my order to come up, I took note of the rest of this Time-Out’s menu selections, which span a fairly broad lunchtime territory. As one might expect, there are burgers, starting with the basic model for $2.99 and expanding to include toppings like mushrooms, bacon, pepperoni and different cheeses.

The sandwich fare alone is fairly broad ranging, and encompasses the likes of barbecue, grilled bologna, BLT, chicken cordon bleu, fish, tuna salad, Reuben and a variety of deli-meat-based sub sandwiches.

Rounding out the menu are selections such as an old-fashioned club sandwich, fried shrimp and chicken tender baskets, hot dogs and corn dogs, breakfast biscuits and sandwiches and deep-fried sides like fries, onion rings, breaded okra and cheese sticks.

Fortunately, there was a table for two available when my order came up, so I took my seat among the increasingly growing throngs. I thought the steak-in-a-sack was fair, although I wasn’t terribly impressed by it. The pita pocket was on the thin and dry side, and I’m not sure I was crazy about the choice of American cheese on this particular product, but that’s probably just a matter of preference. Likewise, I found the fried mushrooms to be average. I’ve had better, and I’ve had worse.

On the plus side, you can’t beat Aladdin’s prices. There’s nothing on the menu more expensive than $6, and most items probably fall in the $4 to $5 range. My meal total came to less than $10, tax and all.

So while I wouldn’t use any of my three wishes to conjure up Aladdin’s food, I can say in all fairness that it’s at least decent enough to work into a lunchtime rotation if you’re in the area, and the pricing certainly tips the scales in their favor.

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