Known as ‘little Chicago’ because of its association with bootleggers during Prohibition in the 1920s, Johnson City is one of the biggest gastronomic hubs in Tennessee. We pick 10 of the best places to enjoy local food, from southern classic dishes to BBQ and burgers.
Gourmet and Company
Under the same ownership for the last 25 years, Gourmet and Company is known for its use of local produce in creating some of the best fine-dining experiences in Johnson City. However, as well as providing some of the best hospitality in town, Gourmet and Company has an attached shop that sells fantastic boutique homeware, including plates, candles and more. The menu, of course, changes depending on what is seasonally available, but dishes have previously included pork medallions wrapped in bacon with red dragon mac n’ cheese, pan roasted chicken with spaghetti squash, and even dark chocolate lava cake for dessert.
Scratch Brick Oven Woodworks
Scratch Brick Oven Foodworks is a modern pizzeria combined with the quintessential charm of a rustic American restaurant. All of the pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven, which was hand built by the team at Scratch before opening. All of the meats, dough, sauces and other toppings are homemade at the restaurant and guests can choose between regular base, stuffed and Chicago style pizzas. Wheat intolerance? They even make dough that’s gluten free.
Cootie Brown is a fictional character, dreamt up by the Vella family. Fictional Brown travels the world sampling different cuisines before cooking them for his friends, a philosophy that the owners of Cootie Brown’s stick to, even today. The restaurant boasts an eclectic menu populated entirely from homemade ingredients. The sauces, the pestos and veggie burgers are all made, lovingly, on site. Cootie’s are particularly famous for their own brand of key lime pie and adoring fans are even able to pick these up to take home. Definitely a must visit, Cootie’s even sells t-shirts, so you’ll have something to remember them by.
Cootie Brown’s, 2715 North Roan Street, Johnson City, TN, USA; +1 423 283 4723
The Firehouse Restaurant
Set in a former fire station, The Firehouse Restaurant is a barbecue joint like no other. If the thrill of the grill is too much to resist, this is the place to eat. The Firehouse opened in 1980 and has since grown to have a huge community impact, so expect this restaurant to be filled with locals nearly every night of the week. Dishes are as indulgent as can be expected, with piles of tender meat in all manner of delicious sauces. For example, the Carolina pulled pork, smoked for 16 hours and smothered in a delicious Carolina sauce, is simply unmissable.
Mona Lisa’s Gelato
Mona Lisa’s Gelato is the place to go when looking for a sweet treat, producing some the best gelato in town. Gelato, while not dissimilar to ice cream, differs in its denser texture and warmer serving temperature. Due to a lower fat content, flavours in gelato are also stronger than those in ice-cream. The gelato itself is made from Mayfield cream and ingredients especially from Italy. Guests can choose between one, two, or three scoops of gelato to enjoy.
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