Are you a traveler who loves hitting up the best places to eat in every city? Do you snack your way through road trips (guilty!), finding many of the notable culinary highlights of each place? Well, we have good news for you. Johnson City, TN, is chock-full of fabulous eateries guaranteed to tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more! Here are the best restaurants in Johnson City that we’ve experienced.
From cozy cafes serving delicious breakfast dishes to upscale restaurants offering classic southern fare with a twist, Johnson City, in the Tri-Cities area, truly has something for everyone.
1. Cootie Brown’s
Cootie Brown’s is an explosion of flavor and fun! From the tasty sandwiches, salads, and tamales to the tempting array of original menu items – they are a force to be reckoned with.
Why not try a Jamaican Jerk chicken lunch plate as I did? And don’t forget about delectable side items, like sautéed vegetables, Famous Spiral Potato Chips, or black beans & rice. Even the pickiest eaters find options at Cootie Brown’s.
My daughter gave rave reviews on her fried shrimp and graciously shared her roasted sweet potatoes and bbq baked beans with me. Cootie Brown’s food was wonderful, and I can happily report back this spot comes highly recommended by this Southern family!
Freiburg’s is the place for an authentic German dining experience in Johnson City. The lively atmosphere and two-floor seating area with a bar make it quite inviting, while their range of beer offerings means you can find your perfect pairing before even opening the menu!
When a restaurant uses “Eat Brats” as the name of their website, that’s what you do, or at least what I did. I chose smoked brats, red cabbage, and fried potatoes for dinner, served with bacon and green onions.
The brats and potatoes were extra delicious. I dipped them thoroughly in my leftover cheese sauce from the pretzel & beer cheese appetizer.
Amidst this deliciousness lies another Freiburg’s treat: complimentary herbed butter bread slices. Freiburg’s was the best German meal I’ve had in Tennessee.
3. Project BBQ 15. Label Restaurant
Experience mouth-watering Texas-style BBQ at Project BBQ, a newer Johnson City hotspot. Project BBQ serves up top-quality meats, such as beef brisket and ribs.
Banana pudding for dessert – yes, please!
4. Southern Craft BBQ
Satisfy your culinary cravings and bbq meat geek with a visit to Southern Craft BBQ & Great Oak Brewing, who share a space. This fabulous eatery offers an array of delicious options sure to delight any palate.
For starters, don’t miss the hearty and filling Pulled Pork BBQ Tater Tots, piled high with jalapeños, queso, chives, and pico de Gallo. Fried Green Tomatoes or Fried Pickles are two other tasty bites.
And let us not forget about the best turkey you’ll ever taste — my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Our top pick is the Butcher’s Block, the mother-load of meats featuring succulent brisket, burnt ends, pork belly, smoked sausages, wings, chicken, and ribs – plus four sides! It is enough to share with four-five people.
Southern Craft BBQ has happy hour daily until 7 PM and a Sunday brunch from 11 to 3 PM.
5. Sahib Indian Cuisine
If you’re looking for a delicious and authentic Indian experience, Sahib is the place to be! Sample from an array of dishes that range from refreshing chutneys and raita with warm naan to sizzling chili chicken and tikka masala. Vegetarian options are available too!
Don’t forget traditional drinks like mango lassi or a sweet dessert, such as kheer rice pudding—your taste buds will thank you later. Whether it’s your first time trying out Indian cuisine or not, visit Sahib’s lunch buffet to have your fill of some unique flavors without breaking the bank.
Side Note: I try to eat Indian food in every state and country I visit. Sahib was the second-best Indian restaurant I’ve been to. I’m quite confident it may have been the best had I sampled more dishes!
6. Mid City Grill
Located in the heart of downtown Johnson City, Mid City Grill offers classic American cuisine with a modern twist. From savory burgers and sandwiches to fresh salads and gourmet main courses, there is something for everyone on their extensive menu.
The restaurant also features a sizable beer list and local wines from nearby vineyards. Mid City Grill is relaxed yet chic, so it garners the option of being date night friendly or family dinner casual.
7. Java Juice House
When looking for a delightful morning meal, Java Juice House is perfect! This eatery has everything from dreamy cold brews and crepes to gourmet specialty toast dishes and smoothies.
I indulged in a goat cheese with English cucumber creation on a sturdy slice of toasted bread. Balsamic and olive oil were drizzled on top, along with sliced, fresh tomatoes. Yum-o!
Acai bowls are also a tasty choice at Java Juice House.
8. Gourmet and Company
Gourmet and Company boasts an enviable selection of food and drink paired with stunning, impressive decor. Especially not-to-be-missed is the Appalachian Cobb Salad, made from organic chicken, buttermilk blue cheese, Benton’s bacon, tomato, avocado, & pickled eggs – a truly unique flavor profile. It is beautiful, too!
A personal favorite dish is Gourmet and Company’s Tuna Melt, house-made line-and-pole-caught tuna salad topped with cheddar and provolone on toasted cranberry raisin bread. The sandwich is 10/10 amazing!
To accompany this meal, try the delightful and refreshing signature apricot tea.
9. Watauga Brewing Company
If you want to sample locally brewed craft beers and enjoy a tasty meal in Johnson City, Watauga Brewing Company is the place to go. With rotating taps featuring creative concoctions (like Huckleberry Ale or Coconut Porter), the brewery provides many options for craft beer enthusiasts.
In addition to the beer selection, Watauga serves delicious pub grub, think pizzas and wings. Thanks to the attentive staff and laidback atmosphere, Watauga Brewing Company will become one of your favorite spots in town.
10. Pal’s Sudden Service
Discover the unique and delicious menu items at Pal’s Sudden Service. Mind you, this charming blue-green restaurant, a giant hamburger/hot dog/fries/drink, greets customers with a mouth-watering selection featuring items from buttery biscuits to its famous flavored teas (I love peach!).
Pal’s also carries Dr. Enuf, a regional soda.
Home of in-person ordering and pick up, you can savor all your favorite burgers, hot dogs, and fries – plus an array of delightful cheddar round potatoes faster than ever before. Stop by today for an unforgettable gastronomical adventure only found at the beloved Pal’s Sudden Service!
11. White Duck Taco Shop
If you’re looking for tasty fare for both eats and drinks, look no further than White Duck Taco, an Asheville transplant. Serving up fabulous street tacos, with options like Jerk Chicken and Korean Beef Bulgogi, as well as White Duck Taco queso dip – the perfect side to any meal!
Don’t forget about sangria; available in both red & white flavors and often seasonal ones. White Duck Taco Shop is inside the Yee-Haw Brewing Taproom – the hottest craft beer spot around town, with two floors of seating indoors and a loaded outdoor patio.
12. El Charolais
El Charolais is THE place to feast on Mexican cuisine in Johnson City. It is located in a high-foot-traffic shopping complex at ETSU.
Try El Charolais’ happy hour with discounted margaritas on certain days of the week.
A unique restaurant theme in Johnson City, TN, is at Timber, with its national park and summer camp-inspired decor and setting. Dine at one of the hand full of tables inside or, with a reservation, dine among the canvas tents with lighting and outlets perfect for creating your ambiance from an inspired playlist!
Start by trying the infamous deep-fried Brussels sprouts topped with cumin crema. For your main course, I loved the Pork “Au Jus” served on a toasted baguette smothered in melted white American cheese, arugula, and caramelized onions.
Hand-cut fries and a ramekin of ramen broth for dipping accompanied the luscious sandwich.
Vegetarians will love Timber’s Roasted Carrots, perfectly married with turmeric yogurt, golden raisins, and crunchy pumpkin seeds – an excellent recipe!
14. Red Meze
Red Meze provides diners with flavorful Turkish cuisine from fresh ingredients sourced locally whenever possible. Their diverse menu covers everything from mezes (small plates) and kebabs to pides (Turkish-style pizza).
Don’t forget to save room for dessert—their baklava will leave you wanting more!
15. Main Street Pizza Company
Come to Main Street Pizza Company for a mouth-watering pizza. This Johnson City restaurant gem has so much more than just pizzas – their homemade pasta dishes, subs, salads, and appetizers are all great.
Take advantage of the sinfully good Spinach Dip appetizer. If you’re feeling really hungry, go straight for one of the pasta dishes, like Loaded Chicken Alfredo. That’s what I had.
This pasta bowl is covered with parmesan cheese after being cooked with spinach, red peppers, prosciutto, and juicy chicken bites, baked with just enough sauce. Yum!!
Main Street is closed Monday and Tuesday.
16. Korean Taco House
For something different but just as delicious, head to Korean Taco House for fusion tacos filled with short-rib beef bulgogi or pork kimchi slaw. You’ll find quite a few lunch specials for under $10, such as the Fried Rice lunch (your choice pork, chicken, or beef), or the bibimbap, a trendy and scrumptious dish.
17. Crumb Bakeshop
If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to stop by Crumb Bakeshop for some freshly baked pastries and cakes crafted by talented bakers using only high-quality ingredients. The homemade pop tarts and cinnamon rolls lured me right in.
Crumb Bakeshop is a newer Johnson City offering (on Walnut Street), also serving breakfast and lunch.
Crumb Bakeshop is closed Monday and Tuesday.
Another place to get your sweet fix in town is Cakebuds. This bakery is known for sinfully good cookies, cupcakes, cake pops, and ice cream, but also as a bakery that won a Food Network baking competition. How awesome is that?
You can even get your sweets gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan, when you preorder.
19. Label Restaurant
Label Restaurant is the premier destination for American cuisine and one of the best restaurants in Johnson City in terms of food taste and popularity. It’s just downright cool!
Start your dining experience with some irresistible appetizers like Crab Rangoons and Hand-Cut Garlic Fries, served with a delicious BBQ aioli sauce. Then, choose from an array of mains, such as burgers, steaks, chops, or even sushi!
I opted for Label’s Drunken Goat Burger: Buffalo Trace bourbon blackberry jam with smoked bacon on top of mixed greens and goat cheese – all accompanied by my choice, a grilled vegetables side dish. It was mouthwatering!
If you still have room to spare after that feast, try out their famous Cinnamon Oblivion. This behemoth cinnamon roll comes topped with gooey caramel, vanilla bean ice cream and chopped pecans so sweetly tantalizing you won’t want to miss it!
20. The Firehouse
If you’re looking for traditional Southern comfort food, visit The Firehouse, serving classic eats like Fried Chicken and Mac & Cheese. Plenty more adventurous items and top Southern picks, like Shrimp & Grits and Fried Green Tomatoes, also grace the menu.
Enjoy a delicious dining experience at Wellington’s inside the stunning Carnegie Hotel. Wellington’s boasts an inviting atmosphere and mouth-watering menu showcasing deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes (yum!), sweet potato salad with avocado, and more.
Are you looking to fill up? Dig into signature suppers like crispy seared salmon or the Deconstructed Wellington before ending your evening on a spectacular note: cherries jubilee or bananas foster flambéed table side. It will take your breath away!
Not hungry? No worries. Wellington’s also has intriguing cocktails, beer, and wine.
Thanks to Visit Johnson City, TN, for hosting me. Accommodations and some meals were paid for by the tourism department. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.
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