One of the pleasures of working in downtown Johnson City is that you can leave your car parked and walk just about anywhere you want.
With the spring weather warming things up and all of the delicious options downtown, it is nice to just take a leisurely stroll to lunch rather than having to drive.
Stretching your legs will be truly rewarded with a stop at the corner of North Roan and West Market streets. That is where the good folks at Taste Budz work their culinary magic on their downtown neighbors.
Here, some of the best Southern-style cuisine around is being served up like street food. Think “Mamaw running a food truck.”
Taste Budz has no written menu except for a very laconic bit of signage out front. Each day’s fare is determined by what the chef bought at the market that morning. They rely on their Facebook page to get the word out (with mouth-watering pictures included) to hungry customers.
My latest cross-window query was in the company of my dining partner and the Retiree. They’d taken a break from shopping downtown to join me for lunch at Taste Budz.
The Retiree informed me that crabcakes were on the menu, along with two of my favorites — soup beans and macaroni and cheese. I asked the chef to include some cornbread with my meal and was rewarded with a hefty piece on my plate. The Retiree also ordered crabcakes, with broccoli and southern-style green beans as her side dishes.
Having been tempted by the delightful smells coming from the outdoor cooker, my partner wanted something “grill-y” on her plate. Her order of a classically grilled cheeseburger with mac and cheese and broccoli filled the bill quite nicely.
Both ladies got peach tea, which included real peach nectar. I enjoyed fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Our orders were ready in no time at all. We sat down at one of Taste Budz’ outdoor café tables to enjoy our meal.
My partner’s cheeseburger was cook-out classic in all respects — lean chuck roast beef ground just so, grilled medium-well with a properly charred outer crust. The cheese was added at the last moment and the whole shebang topped with its burger bun while still on the grill to absorb the burger taste from the steam and flames. It was dressed with lettuce, onion, dill pickle and tomato and garnished with a squirt of yellow mustard. Perfection.
The Retiree and I made short work of Taste Budz’ crabcakes. In each serving of two crab cakes there was more crab than cake, the creation then dredged, breaded and deep-fried until a crunchy golden brown. My soup beans were excellent and just the thing to go with my hunk of cornbread. The macaroni and cheese was deep-dish, cheesy throughout, and had a good crust of melted cheese baked on top.
Our cost-per-meal averaged $8.90, though that can vary significantly depending on the menu for the day. Expect to spend $8-$10 per person.
Remember, it is vital that you check the restaurant’s Facebook page before you stop by. Talking with the staff, I learned that they stay open into the evening on the first Friday of the month and hold a fish fry. Now that is something that I will definitely be returning to check out.
300 S. Roan St.
Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Available on Facebook
(Recommend you check site daily for menu items and special hours)
Credit cards accepted