• Brandi Perry

A Look at Downtown Johnson City

Downtown Johnson City

We cannot say enough about this spectacular city and the people that call it home. Tucked at the base of the Appalachian Mountains in Northeast Tennessee, the earliest settlers to the region settled here in 1796. Henry Johnson actually founded a railroad station here in 1856 called Johnson’s Depot and Johnson City was born as a major commercial rail hub for the southeast. Today, Downtown Johnson City offers something for everyone. From breweries and art, to nods of the city’s connection to bootleggers and the railroad, and some of the best food you will find in the southeast, everyone deserves a trip to experience everything Johnson City has to offer.


Pennyman’s Diner, 1409 E. Main St: This classic diner is open until 3pm everyday will serve you a made from scratch breakfast like your grandma used to. They also serve a pretty mean burger! Our first morning in Johnson City we enjoyed two eggs with a pork loin and two eggs with a country steak. Each breakfast is served with two slices of taste and Brandi went for the rye. This was one of the most filling and enjoyable breakfast meals we had experienced in a long time and what if I told you, we got out of there with a bill less than $20? This is by far and hands down the best breakfast in Johnson City. The hospitality and atmosphere reminded us of a small town restaurant, not a city of more than 60,000 people. Get up early and experience this classic diner.

Label Restaurant, 112 Tipton Street: My goodness. Where do we even start with this jewel of a restaurant? First known as the One 12 Restaurant that opened in Johnson City in 2011, Label came on the scene in 2016 with a menu that can only be described as eclectic. With hints of international flare all over the menu, if you leave Label hungry, it is definitely your own fault! Sandwiches, burgers, and salads were the choices when we visited but I can assure you, the only way to start a meal here is with the hand cut garlic fries. One pound of these hand cut potatoes are tossed in garlic and herb parmesan and then served with a BBQ aioli. You only thing that a pound of potatoes is a lot until you dive into this locally favorite appetizer. When we started Backroads and Burgers, we had a quest to find the best burger in the United States. We only thought we had found it until we had the Drunken Goat Burger. This mountain of a burger was topped with Buffalo Trace bourbon blackberry jam, smoked, salty bacon, mixed greens, and a little goat cheese to top it off. Absolutely delicious and the best we have had! This place is a true culinary experience and one that should not be skipped in Johnson City.

Timber!, 415 W. Walnut: Timber is one of the coolest restaurants we have ever visited. With a nod to the natural beauty that surrounds Johnson City, they focus on hearty American comfort food that sources ingredients locally whenever they can! This is yet another restaurant that has an appetizer the locals love! The deep fried brussels sprouts, served with a side of cumin crema, will forever change your mind about the vegetable. We also tried the smoked trout spread and were pleasantly surprised! In south Mississippi, we do not have many opportunities to try trout but served on fried saltines with pickled red onions, they were delectable! The whole trout, vegetable platter, chicken sandwich, and lamb meatballs were simply delicious and this unique restaurant does a great job of making you feel as though you are sitting at your local hunting camp cooking up the days catches and takes. Additionally, their bar offers some of the most amazing mixed drinks with twists that will have you remembering them for a long time.

Beers, Brews, and History

Yee Haw Brewing Company, 126 Buffalo St: If you are a fan of craft beer, there is no doubt that you have heard about or tried the amazing beer from Yee Haw Brewing. You can visit and tour their founding home, known as the Tweetsie Depot, right in the heart of historic Downtown Johnson City. But, Yee Haw Brewing is more than just a brewery to Johnson City. This is truly the coolest hangout spot in the city. Locals flock when the doors are open just to sit, chat, and have a drink or a bite to eat. Visitors, whether they know about Yee Haw or not soon find out that this special location is about friendship, connections, and good beer. We had the pleasure of going on a full tour of the facility and were surprised to see what it takes to make a good beer. Their most popular is Dunkel but there is always a Taproom Manager or Bartender that is ready to explain every single beer to you. Their pride and excitement for their jobs and products are simply unmatched.

The Windsor Speakeasy, 220 West Market St: This was our first experience in a speakeasy and we were blown away from the very first step in the location. Housed in an inconspicuous bottle shop, the Windsor is located close to the site of the historic Windsor Hotel that was built in 1909 and demolished in the 1970s. During its heyday in the 1920s, Johnson City was known for its strong ties to bootlegging. The cities nickname of Little Chicago came from the persistent stories of Al Capone not only visiting the city but living there as well. The Windsor makes you feel as though you have stepped back in time by 100 years, offering drinks that have withstood the ages and house rules that are reminiscent of a bygone era.

Let The Wind Blow Through Your Hair

Trek, 110 West Market St: There is no better way to experience Downtown Johnson City than on a bike! The mountain breeze flowing through your hair is one of the most refreshing feelings in the world. Stop by Trek and find out everything you need to know about bike rentals and how you can explore Johnson City on one! Trust us, this is going to be a lot of fun!

The Art Scene

Tucked in the middle of Downtown Johnson City is one of the most spectacular green

spaces we have seen in any of our travels. Called Founder’s Park, it was designed through a storm water retention project that relieved the downtown area of flooding issues. Now, visitors are greeted by the beautiful sounds of a creek flowing across natural rock as they view the temporary and permanent art displays in the park. The 5 acre green space also allows for kite flying, disc golf, picnics, and even more while the paved track around the facility has many functions as well. Additionally, Johnson City is rich in art pieces and murals spread all over the beautiful downtown area. Make it a fun competition to see who can find the most when you travel!

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