Northeast Tennessee Best Burgers and BBQ

Article Written By:  Lori Worley for Northeast Tennessee Tourism

It comes as no surprise that folks in Northeast Tennessee are true foodies. And like any good Southerner, we love our burgers and barbeque – and our standards are pretty high. The good news is we’ve put together a list of some of our favorites, so you can try all of them when you’re in the area!



Photo By: PALS

Let’s start with one of life’s greatest pleasures, a tasty, juicy burger. There’s no shortage of amazing places in the area to grab one, starting with the delicious burgers from Pal’s, which has been serving them up all over the region since 1956, when the first one opened in Kingsport. Fortunately, this area is a Burger Bonanza, so you don’t have to go far to find lots of yummy choices!



Photo: Facebook.com/BurgerBarBristol

Famously known as the last place Hank Williams Sr. was seen alive, this quaint little Bristol diner has been around since 1942 – and it has always been revered for its burgers. They’re so good they’re named after Williams’ songs, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. Some of our favorites include “Hey Good Lookin’” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” Trust us, you’ll be “Howlin’ at the Moon,” (another tasty choice) over these burgers!



If you haven’t heard of it, you really have to take a short ride to Erwin to try these yummy creations! Known for freshly baked bread and handmade patties, this jewel serves up a burger any way you like it! And we like ‘em with jalapenos, mushrooms, banana peppers…you name it, and we’ve tried it! And we fill up here any time we’re in town!



This popular diner has been the go-to burger place for decades in Johnson City and recently opened another location in Kingsport. A late-night favorite for years, the burgers here are juicy, and you can get them with any number of gourmet toppings. We like the Outlaw Burger and the Heater Burger, but you can’t go wrong with any of these delicious offerings!



Photo: Facebook.com/eatatjscorner

Folks drive from miles away to Elizabethton to grab one of these hand-patted, made-to-order burgers (be sure to get the homemade chips too). Everything is a mouthwatering treat, but favorites include the Fried Green Tomato Burger, the Carolina Burger, and the Triple J Burger (it’s massive, so don’t even think about eating breakfast!).



Photo: Facebook.com/BackwoodsBurgerBar

The website says “Our food is straight from The Backwoods where Momma taught us right and scratch cooking takes a unique turn,” which tells you everything you need to know about this burger haven in Kingsport. The Backwoods burger is one of their best sellers and features in-house smoked pulled pork, cheese, barbeque sauce, and kale slaw, while the Big Filthy (chili, chives, cheese, sour cream) is another delight!



Photo: Facebook.com/Ridgewood-Barbecue

Located on a two-lane road in Bluff City, this is one of the most popular restaurants in the region, bar none! Ridgewood has been around for 75 years and is known for its one-of-a-kind hickory-smoked pork and beef barbeque. Order a pork or beef sandwich – or a platter – and some hand-cut fries, fresh-made coleslaw, and baked beans, and you’ll be in hog heaven!

Pro tip: Order the homemade blue cheese dressing with crackers too!



Photo: Facebook.com/PhilsDreamPit

This Kingsport mainstay makes its “OMG-it’s-soooo-darn-good” barbeque fresh every day, and everything is smoky, tender, and juicy! Locals swarm here to fill up on the pork and beef BBQ, as well as the awesome brisket and lip-smacking dry-rubbed ribs. And don’t forget the sides, especially the savory baked beans!



The longtime Johnson City barbeque restaurant is housed in a converted firehouse and offers all kinds of regional favorites that are 5-alarm good! The meats are smoked with fresh hickory, which gives them their rich, robust flavor. Known for their Carolina pulled pork, ribs, and beef brisket, they have an extensive menu that also includes pulled chicken, burgers, sandwiches, and more!



You can’t make a bad choice in this Memphis-inspired BBQ restaurant and catering company in Bristol. The pulled pork, brisket, and chicken sandwiches and trays will tickle your tastebuds and have you ordering more to take home! They have a large menu that includes burgers, salads, and kids’ favorites too – and they’re also a live music venue, so you can eat and do some toe-tapping too!



Southern Craft has several locations in the area, but our favorite is on Watauga Lake, where you can enjoy the gorgeous scenery while diving into a lip-smacking barbeque platter or pulled pork sandwich… or pulled pork tacos! They make their own homemade sauces (we love the Stoney Creek version), their sides are a meal unto themselves, and the burnt ends are slap-your-mama terrific…so make sure you try them!



Photo: Facebook.com/topchoicebbq

How good is Top Choice? It’s ranked No. 1 among all 100-plus restaurants in Greeneville on Trip Advisor! The pulled pork sandwich is piled so high it’s hard to get a bite without that flavorful meat spilling into your plate. And the sauce is out of this world good! While the pulled pork is the star attraction, the brisket (and everything else) earns high marks!


There’s More Up Here!

Check out our Northeast Tennessee Farmers Market Guide for more fun happenings in the area!

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