The Best Restaurant Experiences You Might Not Know About in Elizabethton, TN

Ok, so you’re tired of eating at the same 2-3 old places every time?

Add a little variety to your dining experiences by checking out some of the best restaurants in the Elizabethton, Tennessee area. Located just 10 minutes from Johnson City, and 20 minutes from Bristol, this little town has some nice surprises waiting for you.


Are there more options than fast food restaurants in a small town?

Yes! Many local restaurants exist to give you a break from the “same old same old” food choices that have put you in a culinary rut. Plus, supporting a local restaurant is always a good thing – keeping your money working in the communities that you live, work, and play in. 


So, where to eat in Elizabethton, TN when you are hungry?

Here are some of our favorite hidden gems:


1) Red Chili (Korean) – Red Chili Korean Restaurant Elizabethton TNWho knew that a world class Korean Restaurant would be hidden next to the Bonnie Kate Theatre? Hmmm, dinner and a show? That’s a subject for a whole new blog post… Just a block of the main drag in E-Town you will discover such tantalizing dishes as Be-Bim-Bop (get the optional fried egg, trust us), Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps (you won’t want to share them, order 2), and Shrimp and Noodles (personal favorite). Feeling really adventurous? Get the Kimchi Fried Rice or the Spicy Noodle Soup (served in a hot stone bowl!) Also, bring the kids, because the Ramen here is not the packet style you eat at home. The whole family can enjoy this experience! Then walk off lunch or dinner in Downtown Elizabethton and enjoy the shops, drinks and entertainment. Don’t forget to take a walk through the Covered Bridge while you are there!


2) The Southern (American) – The Southern Restaurant Elizabethton TNImagine a restaurant that has all the usual offerings you would find at a large chain restaurant that has a barrel in their name, but has a hometown, local mom and pop atmosphere? Welcome to The Southern! This little hole-in-the-wall diner is located in Downtown Elizabethton and has been a local favorite for years. The staff are your neighbors, and the food is probably better than Grandma makes. Serving up hot cooked to order breakfast and lunch 7 days a week and dinner Wednesday through Saturday, this place is always packed with satisfied repeat customers. What to get? The Pancakes are excellent, Steak (8 oz Ribeye) and Eggs w/ sides, the Big O’ Boy (loosen your belt) Breakfast, or for the adventurous – the Frying Pan Pile Up (think kitchen in the bowl)! Lunch faves include the Cheeseburger Club Sandwich, Country Fried Steak Sandwich, or an Old Fashioned Fresh Ground, Hand Pattied Hamburger. Can’t go wrong with any of these. Dinner? Their signature recipe Southern Meatloaf is a must order!


3) Smokehouse BBQ (Barbecue) – Smokehouse BBQ Elizabethton TNA little off the beaten path, but that doesn’t stop the locals from finding their way (you can smell the restaurant a mile away when the smoker is going) to Smokehouse BBQ in Elizabethton. Let’s cut to the chase, if you haven’t had their smoked chicken wings you have not lived… Yeah, they are that good. Of course, their menu is full of delicious options from huge burgers, ribs, pork, chicken, and all the other traditional BBQ favorites. Feeling adventurous, I mean that is what this article is about, right? The Jalapeno Onion Bacon Burger will smack your taste buds around! One thing they are well known for, and may be worth the trip alone, are their homemade desserts. There is an issue though, how do you choose between Butterfinger Cake, Peanut Butter Pie, or Banana Pudding? Decisions, decisions…. Of course after eating all this good food, you are going to need to walk it off. Smokehouse BBQ’s backyard is the Tweetsie Trail connecting Elizabethton with Johnson City!


Mayflower Seafood Restaurant Elizabethton TN4) Mayflower Seafood Restaurant (Seafood) – On the “other side” of Elizabethton, tucked into the back of an old shopping center, drivers passing by on US-19E may wonder why there are so many cars parked there. The answer is Mayflower Seafood Restaurant! Why is this restaurant worth the trip? Simple Answer: Good food, good service, and the prices are lower than other seafood restaurants in the Tri-Cities, TN area. Where can you get a 3 item fried platter for under $16? We haven’t found anywhere else in the area (and we have looked and ate our way around…) Whether you are hankering some Jumbo Shrimp, Scallops, Fish (6 different choices available), Clams, or even Oysters (add$3), the Mayflower will leave your taste buds satisfied and your belly full without bruising your wallet.


J's-Corner-Elizabethton-TN5) J’s Corner (Good Fast Food) – It’s amazing what you can find in Elizabethton if you just get a few blocks off the main thoroughfares! J’s Corner is our final hidden gem. A little corner burger stand with 3 tables inside and outdoor covered seating, this restaurant is a little slice of Americana. What are you getting here? The Best Burger, fries and a milkshake you could never find at a chain fast food joint, and some seriously good pulled pork sandwiches too. Made to order, fresh, all with fast friendly service that has made this place a local’s hangout for good eats! What do we get? A fully loaded Double Bacon Cheeseburger, of course! The kids love the Corn Dogs and a milkshake. It’s an experience worth doing. 


Did we miss any other restaurant experiences worth having in Elizabethton? Probably so, but these are our favorites.

Do some exploring and find your own after you try these 5 top choices for local dining. Let us know in the comments what you experience. If you find some new hidden gems tell us about it in the comments section for this article.


Bon Appetit! 


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