Johnson City, TN

National Cheeseburger Day and the Best Burger in Johnson City

John M. Dabbs

As Saturday the 18th of September rolls around today, we've lucked out. It is a perfect day for grilling, or grabbing a burger out for National Cheeseburger Day. The cheeseburger came on the American scene around 1930, with some claiming it was first developed in Los Angeles in 1928, others refer to the Louisville creation in 1934 or the trademark application by the founder of Steak n' Shake in 1935.

The world may never know the exact origin of the American icon. One thing is for certain though, the tasty creation ticks off all the checkboxes of a culinary masterpiece. Variations have only added to complexity of the flavors. Varying the condiments, accessories, and accompaniments, a simple sandwich becomes a masterpiece.

Johnson City favorites

The foodies in the greater Johnson City area give us an idea of the better places to grab a good cheeseburger in Johnson City. These choices range from drive-through restaurants and bars, to sit-down dining options.


The Label Restaurant in downtown offers casual dining with a bar atmosphere. The food is moderately priced, and the food and service are typically very good. Their burger selection is top-notch, and typically include fries. You'll see their selections begin in the $15 range.

Burger Bar

The Burger Bar, located in the Double Tree Hotel near the mall, has a typical option where you can build your own burger. Their selections begin at $11 and do not include a side. You can trick your burger out to our own liking with meat, bun, cheese, and toping options.


Pal's Sudden Service, typically a drive-through restaurant, actually has a walk-up location in the food court of the Johnson City Mall. Their choices range from the Big Pal (1/3 pound patty), and it's variations, to their smaller patties in the Junior Burger variety. The Big Pal with Cheese is one of the best sellers of this regional chain based in Kingsport, Tennessee. - I personally enjoy their Sauce Burger and Chili Burger.

The Firehouse Restaurant

The Firehouse is a dine-in barbecue restaurant on Walnut Street near East Tennessee State University. They have carryout service, but dining in allows you to enjoy the atmosphere of what was once the Walnut Street Fire Station. If you're in the mood for something other than barbecue, they have other choices to fit your palate. Their burger selection is limited, but very good. My favorite here is The Chief - a burger with American cheese, pickles, and mayo served on a toasted brioche bun. They have fancier selections, but this fills the bill for me.


Freiberg's German Restaurant on Market Square in downtown isn't known for their burgers, but they have a challenger here. If you like hearty portions, this may be the place for you. Their Frikadella comes in at less than $9. This German style hamburger is topped with mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and Muenster cheese - and its served on a pretzel roll. It's probably one of the most filling and best tasting burgers I've eaten in town.

Buc Deli

Buc Deli is another drive-through in Johnson City, but with only one location - near Krispy Kreme on Market Street. They too have great burgers, and other offerings. What I like best about Buc Deli, is they also offer a hamburger steak platter. They are reasonably priced too.

There are other great places to grab a really good burger in town, but Freiberg's Frikadella is my personal favorite. It's got a novel taste, plenty of flavor, and it's very filling. You may have your own favorite. I used to like the Horseshoe Lounge's burgers too.

Drop a comment and let me know where your favorite cheeseburger is in Johnson City. I'm sure I am not the only one.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Johnson City, TN

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