Last updated on December 19, 2022 by Wandering our World
Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains and rooted in history and culture, Johnson City is one of the most charming places in the tri-cities area. From hiking along trails to shop-till-you-drop sprees in the downtown area, there’s so much to do here, including dining at some amazing restaurants.
So if you ever find yourself in town with a stomach growling with hunger, we’ve listed down some of our all-time favorite restaurants in Johnson City, TN to help you out.
Experience everything from American fine dining and easygoing BBQ to Turkish, German, and many cuisines from around the world.
Our Top Eight Restaurants in Johnson City, TN: Food Worth Waiting For!
1. Gourmet and Company
Fine dining establishment serving New American cuisine in classy dining rooms with a pleasant patio
Fine dining as good as that at Gourmet and Company is hard to come by in a small city like this, which is why this restaurant has seen such unwavering success over the decades and is still owned by the same family.
What started as a sandwich shop in 1988 has now become a full-fledged restaurant and bar serving refined New American fare in modern and upscale surroundings. The spacious dining rooms feature white linen tablecloths under soft lighting with elegant decor, and while the atmosphere is certainly very sophisticated, it’s still comfortable, especially with the friendly staff they’ve got.
There’s also a bougie-looking bar and lounge area, and a fenced-in patio where you can have a more casual meal.
With an ever-evolving, seasonal menu of locally-sourced organic produce, the chefs here have taken classics like fried chicken and beef steaks to the next evolutionary level by incorporating complex flavors and elements.
Lunch features dozens of gourmet soups and sandwiches, but dinner is where they truly shine. Expect elegant entrees like pan-seared shrimps and scallops served with smoked andouille, tasso gravy, and banana pepper pimento grits, or ribeye grilled to perfection with Foie Gras butter and fingerling potatoes prepared in duck fat. The starters are pretty stunning too, such as their carefully prepared artisan cheese board.
Everything is so delicately and beautifully plated that you almost don’t want to touch it, so click as many pictures as you can – these gorgeous plates are worth the spotlight!
Then pair it with some of the fine wines they’ve got, or a cocktail, and you’re all set for a fine dining experience unlike anywhere in the tri-cities area.
They’re open from Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am – 3 pm for lunch and 5 – 8 pm for dinner – reservations are highly recommended as this is one of the most popular restaurants in Johnson City, especially for weekends. And while you’re at it, check out their gift shop too, featuring a collection of unique and classy items!
Address: 214 E Mountcastle Dr Suite 1J, Johnson City, TN
2. Red Meze Downtown
Laid-back and homey restaurant serving Turkish-greek cuisines with patio seating
As a quaint little restaurant in the heart of Johnson City, TN, Red Meze Downtown has a cult following of locals who seek their flavorful Turkish and Greek dishes.
It’s an inviting and family-friendly place, where you can come for casual meals or big family gatherings to chow down some fantastic gyros and juicy kebabs.
With comfy cushions against the wall-mounted seats, beautiful eastern decor on the walls, and super friendly staff who make you feel right at home, it’s no wonder why locals love coming here. They’ve even got a pleasant little patio for an alfresco dining experience.
With a menu spanning from meaty gyros to vegetarian Moussaka, there’s something for everyone on their versatile menu. Dolma (stuffed grape leaves), creamy Jalapeno hummus, and a vibrant tabbouleh salad are available as appetizers, while overstuffed gyros with tzatziki sauce, falafel burgers, and juicy Iskender kebabs take center stage as mains.
Lots of vegetarian items grace the menu too, such as the luxurious eggplant Moussaka or eggplant yogurt kebab, alongside some rich and piping hot Turkish coffee.
And with BYOB for a small corkage fee, you’ve got yourself a hearty and satisfying meal. Find them open every day from 11 am onwards, and don’t be surprised if the kind owner comes by your table to say hello and ensure a personable experience!
Address: 109 Buffalo St, Johnson City, TN
Fine dining restaurant serving Southern-inspired cuisine in a dimly-lit ambiance with terrace seating
Adjoining the grand Carnegie Hotel is Wellingtons, where Southern-inspired cuisine with global influences takes fine dining in Johnson City to a whole new level.
This upscale restaurant features a beautiful dining area and a separate bar/lounge, where live jazz sets the mood and drinks flow freely. Dark wood accents and carpeted flooring dominate all the rooms with dim lighting, so the whole place has a very old-fashioned yet elegant vibe.
The atmosphere is certainly classy but not too uptight, so it’s fitting for anything from celebratory occasions and business dinners to family gatherings. If dim and dark isn’t your thing, you can always settle on their terrace and overlook the sunset as string lights glow over you. It’s all very charming!
Featuring a concise menu of elevated eats with a Southern flair, the food here is modern and easy at the same time. Appetizers include tiger shrimp and grits with tasso ham cream, fried brussels sprouts in a rich sorghum gastrique, and their ever-so-popular deviled eggs.
Meanwhile, the items that really shine through among the mains are a meticulously-prepared deconstructed beef wellington with foie gras puff pastry, and grilled pork served alongside a peach sambal glaze. Crispy catfish with elevated collard beans and maple-mustard glazed salmon are some of the elegant seafood entrees, alongside a few vegetarian-friendly picks like the oven-roasted turkey avocado wrap.
Breakfast (served from 7 am onwards on weekdays and 8 am onwards on weekends) involves hearty stuff like biscuits and gravy and breakfast burritos with a glass or two of mimosas.
Check out their whiskey list too – it’s one of the most extensive in the area! – and they’re also known to make a really good old-fashioned, by the way. Find them open any day from 5 pm onwards for dinner, and do get reservations in advance as this is one of the must-try restaurants in Johnson City.
Address: 1216 W State of Franklin Rd, Johnson City, TN
German comfort food and beers served in a cozy and inviting room with a bar
Authentic German food is a rarity in Tennessee, so you’ll find yourself utterly delighted when dining at Freiberg’s.
Established by Andreas and Michele Herholz in 2008, this cozy German gem is located in the heart of the downtown area, dishing out comforting German specialties. It’s the perfect spot to dine in on a cold winter night, as its atmosphere and food are a prime example of ‘gemutlichkeit’ – the German concept of warmth and joy.
Brick walls with eclectic decor, soft lighting, laidback seating, and a full bar can be found on the first floor, while the second floor has more seating to accommodate the rush hour crowds. The atmosphere remains casual, warm, and inviting, so you can chow down their drool-worthy food without a care in the world.
An extensive menu full of authentic and scratch-made German food served at affordable rates is what keeps this Johnson City staple so busy.
Appetizers include pretzels with a beer-cheese sauce, stuffed Saxon potato skins, and a refreshing German lentil soup. Meanwhile, the entrees are rich and filling, featuring classics like schnitzels smothered in various sauces, Rouladen (stuffed beef rolls in gravy), and SauerBraten (slow-cooked beef roast). Different bratwursts (German sausages) and a flavorful Bavarian potato salad are also up for grabs.
Everything is served in enormous portions, so come with an empty stomach or prepare to take leftovers! Of course, you can also chug the numerous pint-sized cold German beers to wash down all that food.
They’re open every day from 11 am onwards, with many lunch specials on offer to satisfy the biggest of appetites. It’s a definite must-visit in our opinion!
Address: 203 E Main St, Johnson City, TN
5. The Firehouse
Long-running restaurant housed inside a former firehall serving BBQ in a cozy and casual atmosphere
When Tom and Jimmy decided to open a barbeque restaurant back in 1980, they weren’t expecting such exponential growth. Soon, the restaurant was moved to a former firehall, which stands to this day as The Firehouse – one of the most popular barbeque restaurants in Johnson City, TN.
Tons of people come here every day for laidback meals of tender meat platters and hefty sandwiches, and the fun atmosphere makes it even more worthwhile. Wood-paneled walls and firehouse-themed decor gives a very nostalgic feel to the restaurant, and they’ve even got a whole vintage fire truck inside at the entrance!
With a pretty straightforward menu, this place focuses on dishing out the best barbeque possible. Start with their vibrant salads, which are dressed with house-made vinaigrettes. Next up, their Carolina pulled pork is heavenly tender with a hint of vinegar, and is one of the best-sellers here, so definitely try it.
Other notable items include the thinly sliced pork and melt-in-the-mouth ribs, which aren’t drenched in sauce and retain that smoky meat flavor.
They’ve also got burgers and barbecue sandwiches (the pulled chicken is particularly popular!). Throw in a side of their Carolina Bake – pulled pork and cheese stuffed baked potatoes – or steak fries while you’re at it, and you’re all set for a hearty meal.
They’re open every Tuesday-Saturday from 11 am onwards. You might find the place very busy during peak hours, but rest assured that their amazing staff will take good care of you!
Address: 627 W Walnut St, Johnson City, TN
Indian cuisine with a lunch buffet served in a stylish dining area and bar along with outdoor seating
If you’re in the market for intensely-flavored Indian dishes, Sahib is the place to be. This locally-owned restaurant has been around since 2006, drawing quite a crowd at their elegant venue.
Locals flock to this place for their lunch buffets and wonderful ambiance, where the atmosphere remains relaxed enough to feel comfortable. Accent walls with tasteful decor and beautiful light fixtures give a very modern look to the dining room, which also has a trendy bar lit up with lights and stacked high with drinks. There’s plenty of seating on their shaded patio too.
Staying true to their heritage, they whip up a wide array of authentic Indian dishes ranging from bite-sized pakoras to plates of fragrant biryani. Everything is mildly-spiced unless you want that extra kick, which they’ll certainly deliver when requested!
Start with their Tandoori mix platter to sample some juicy grilled chicken and lamb, then hone in on their classic curries. Some notable items include the lamb korma in a rich coconut gravy, a smoky chicken tikka masala, and lamb biryani with the most flavorful rice and tender meat.
There are plenty of vegetarian picks too, of course, including Paneer Bhurji – a chef’s special where crushed cottage cheese is cooked in spiced gravy. Throw in some of their fluffy soft naans for dipping into the curries, and get some of the wines from their extensive list.
The endless choices on the menu can be overwhelming, so we recommend coming for their lunch buffet from 11 am – 3 pm – a 10/10 experience of many dishes served piping hot, so you can try a bit of everything.
Drop by any day from 11 am onwards – no reservations are needed, although it’s a smart move to get one as Sahib is regarded as one of the most popular restaurants in Johnson City.
Address: 1803 W Market St, Johnson City, TN
7. The Roots
Pho, Vietnamese coffee, and other delicacies from Vietnam served in a minimalist setting
The Roots got its foothold in the city’s food scene by dishing out authentic and flavorsome bowls of pho, and now they’re considered one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in Johnson City – and rightfully too!
This family-run place has been successfully running for over 5 years now, offering a casual and upbeat atmosphere for people to slurp their flavorsome broths. With a minimalist and industrial-chic approach to interior design, their dining room has gray walls with wine bottles on wooden shelves, hanging plants all over the place, and neon yellow chairs for contrast.
Fun music plays in the background as people of all ages pop in and out throughout the day for their dose of Vietnamese delicacies.
With a relatively straightforward menu, the pho and vermicelli noodles are the main stars of the show here. Broth varieties range from beef, shrimp, vegetarian, and even Bun Bo Hue – a spicier variety of pho with umami flavors.
Having generous portions of meat topped with bean sprouts and jalapeno, these are the most authentic and refreshing pho bowls anywhere in town. The vermicelli noodles (Bun Cha Gio) are pretty popular too, as are their rice paper spring rolls and Banh Mi, which are made with hoagie rolls.
BYOB, or try their boba and sweet Vietnamese coffee, which is made using a slow drip device that helps infuse the espresso slowly into the condensed milk – a specialty worth a trip alone! Find them open Wednesday-Monday from 11 am onwards.
Address: 600 N State of Franklin Rd, Johnson City, TN
8. Luke’s Pizza
Humble pizza joint serving New-York style pizzas and beers with a patio and live music on Wednesdays
Nothing beats good ol’ cheesy pies with some cold beer, especially when you have them at Luke’s Pizza. This locally-owned business thrives off its New-york style pizzas, and once you taste them, you’ll be hooked in just like the locals.
Despite being housed in a humble old building, this place steers many people inside their snug dining room, where there are a handful of tables and a small bar. The atmosphere is fun and cheery, as the TVs play sports and live music on Wednesdays keeps guests happy and humming. Their patio seats many people too, in case you wish to dine alfresco.
Homemade dough, thin crispy crusts, large slices, and fresh toppings – that’s what makes their pizzas so darn good. Try the buffalo chicken and the pineapple-loaded Hawaiian, or go old-school with the all-cheese pizza – they’re all worth a try!
Their garlic knots and boneless wings are pretty good too, and they’ve also got meatballs and spaghetti and hearty subs to satisfy all your Italian comfort food cravings. Throw in some of their cold beers, and it’s the perfect restaurant to hang out with some hungry friends.
Dine in between Monday-Saturday from 11 am onwards, drive-thru, or get all this food teeming with cheese delivered to your doorstep.
Address: 3111 W Market St, Johnson City, TN
The Best Restaurants In Johnson City, TN: Final Thoughts
With a vast variety of cuisines, incredible ambiance and service, and undeniably good food, Johnson City’s food scene really has it all.
Our eight favorite restaurants are truly sublime in terms of food and service, so be sure to check them out!