For outstanding comfort food for lunch or dinner go to Cootie Brown's @ Exit 20A off I 26 in Johnson City, TN. Go N on Roan for good salads, sandwiches, burgers, tamales, steaks and seafood. Cafe Lola is a neat bistro on Roan. Go S on Roan @ Exit 20A to Cafe Lola for lunch or dinner. Kingsport Grocery Co. is a fun place for pizza and burgers, cold drinks and music in Kingsport, TN. Riverfront Seafood is a great casual place for lunch or dinner located right on the river at Exit 1 off I 26 serving fresh seafood and steaks. The Chop House is part of a national chain but it's one of Kingsport's finer restaurants. Gourmet and Company is one of the finest restaurants in the area.
Cootie Brown's @ 2715 North Roan St., Johnson City, TN 423 - 283 - 4723.
Cafe Lola @ 1805 North Roan St., Johnson City, TN. 423 - 928 - 5652.
Kingsport Grocery Co. @ 1648 East Stone Dr., Kingsport, TN 423 - 245 - 1707.
River Front Seafood Co. @ 1777 Netherland Inn Rd., Kingsport, TN 423 - 245 - 3474.
The Chop House @ 1704 North Eastman Rd., Kingsport, TN 423 - 247 - 1704.
Gourmet and Co. @ Suite J, 214 East Mountcastle, Johnson City, TN 423 - 929 - 9007.
Re The Chop House: it's a chain that started just down the road in Knoxville.
Another local chain is Stir Fry Cafe (yet another restaurant in the North Roan street area) which has good , fresh oriental meals with emphasis on Thai. It, too, started in Knoxville.
Peerless Steakhouse (which has an excellent reputation but maybe beyond your (and my) pricepoint) is successful enough in Johnson City that it has expanded to west Knoxville.
RiverFront Seafood is about a 3o minute drive on I-26; it's almost in Virginia.
The Pal's Drive In restaurants (no indoor seating at all) would give a chance to sample Chili Buns (see some threads here about them and their regional appeal.)