Filling Up On Fall in Downtown Johnson City

The first chill of the autumn air had just hit me, and it was perfect weather for a jog outside under the changing leaves. I figured it was time for a change of scenery, and decided to take in the fall colors along the Tweetsie Trail. After that, I went for a burger from Mid City Grill followed by something sweet from Fizz Soda Bar.

Love this secluded section near the beginning of the Tweetsie Trail.

I had ridden a bike down The Tweetsie Trail once or twice but never let myself truly look around to take in the sights, sounds and scents that are so abundant. Located on Legion Street, just a few steps away from the Johnson City Community Center, the Tweetsie Trail is the former East Tennessee and Western North Carolina railroad line turned trail which connects Johnson City to Elizabethton. The project was completed in August 2014 and has only grown in length since its beginning.

You notice things when you let yourself slow down and enjoy your surroundings. And my time on the Tweetsie felt a little like a movie: people walking with their families and dogs; young couples slowly strolling hand in hand; women riding ice-cream colored fixed gear bikes solo. Everyone seemed to be slowly savoring their moments on the trail.

As the first leaves of fall crunched under my not-so-fast gait, I eagerly anticipated what was around the next bend and behind the trees. Farmland, crops and quaint homes

Mid City Grill’s burgers are great, but I could almost drink that homemade ranch dressing.

are situated perfectly alongside the Tweetsie. I even spotted an old barn neatly hidden behind the trees, a glimpse into what life might have been like along the railroad.

As soon as I slowed my pace down to a walk, my stomach fought for my attention. I hopped in my car and decided to head about a mile and a half downtown for grub at Mid City Grill.

Mid City Grill
 is an unexpected gem that sits right across from the Johnson City Farmer’s Market. If I can get really frank with you right now … This restaurant has (arguably) the best burger in town. BUT! They’ve also got vegan cuisine. Strange combo? Maybe. But it’s part of the kitsch of this local haunt. Most definitely a family friendly restaurant too, Mid City has a little something sweet or savory for anyone.

Their menu is chock full of goodies like a Portabella Finger Salad, Pork Dip, wonderfully deep fried choices like pickles and banana peppers. For all those late night (or should I say ‘early morning’) snackers, Mid City Grill also has a killer breakfast menu with biscuits and gravy, oodles of omelets and even a flat iron sirloin. For my late afternoon dinner, I opted for the classic Beckinator burger which is a big ol’ slab of beef with bacon, mayonnaise, swiss cheese, tomato, lettuce and Guinness onions. Plus a side of their fried pickles, of course, and a little (necessary) cup of ranch to dip them in. Skip the drive-thru line at the closest burger joint and sit down for a delicious experience at Mid City Grill.

After having burned (tons and tons of) calories on my run, I figured I could squeeze in something sweet at the most adorable place to get dessert in Historic Downtown Johnson City: Fizz Soda Bar.

My How Now Brown Cow. The straw just tops it off for a complete nostalgia look.

Just enough for an after dinner bit of sweetness, Fizz concocts some very creative and yummy craft sodas, floats and other mixed beverages and it’s nestled cozily behind Freiburg’s Restaurant and Holy Taco. Right when I walked into the place I felt giddy about picking the treat that would tickle my fancy. Their menu is large and has a little sip of something for young and old.

Soda Floats are sort of what they’re known for, so I ordered the How Now Brownie Cow which was full. of. chocolate. (And another spot for vegan eats, Fizz even has vegan ice creams!) It was a sweet Coke based float with chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup and (of course) brownies.  A couch and a couple of chairs sit in the main dining area. But through a big, wooden sliding door perches a long high top table which overlooks East Market Street and the old London’s building along the railroad tracks. A great place to sit, relax and enjoy a little people watching.

Johnson City is a special place to visit, and it’s becoming even more of a destination as each day passes. Look around the corner and there’s somewhere to eat, drink, shop or see a live band. My afternoon of light exercise and yummy food was only a fraction of what one can experience Downtown. Get out there and Explore Downtown. You won’t regret it.

For information on what to do, where to eat and more in Johnson City, go to www.visitjohnsoncitytn.com.