Johnson City Press: Roan Mountain landmark gets fame to go with food and fortune
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Roan Mountain landmark gets fame to go with food and fortune

Mystery Diner • Jul 11, 2019 at 7:15 AM

Our friend the Retiree just can’t stay in one place for too long before she is off again on one of her travels. Having just returned from a trip to the rainforests of Central America, our friend went right out and hiked the thirteen-mile Roan Highlands section of the Appalachian Trail. She texted us members of the dine-around bunch to meet her for supper at trail’s end, that being Bob’s Dairyland in Roan Mountain, Tennessee.

Bob’s Dairyland has been a landmark eatery in Roan Mountain ever since original owner Bob Burleson opened it for business in 1948. Over the past four years, current proprietor Joe Miller has assembled a first-class crew to help grow the Bob’s Dairyland reputation for superb vittles and friendly service in comfortable surroundings. There is seating inside for about eighty hungry patrons and additional seating outside for about twenty or so more. Rest rooms (clean) are found at the rear of the dining area.

Pork barbecue platter: The rest of the dine-around bunch and I arrived at Bob’s Dairyland to find a tired but smiling Retiree in the act of shrugging out of her backpack. Hiking up hill and down dale had made our friend hungry. So it was no surprise that the Retiree ordered a Bob’s Dairyland Barbecue platter ($9), featuring a hearty half-pound of lean, slow-smoked pulled pork shoulder mopped with Bob’s proprietary barbecue sauce. Only three more items were required by our footloose friend, those being side orders of french fries, some of Bob’s house-made coleslaw and some freshly-fried hushpuppies. All our friend needed was some extra barbecue sauce to dunk her fries in and a fistful of extra napkins to keep her face fresh and her smile sauce-free.

Pinto bean dinner: The Dieter, still in the “getting-to-know-all-about-it” phase of adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, enjoyed Bob’s Pinto Bean Dinner ($4.50) with coleslaw and cornbread muffins as her side orders. Bob’s Dairyland cooks their pinto beans long and slow, scattering chopped Texas White onion in for spicy taste and extra body. Their coleslaw is made with finely-chopped cabbage, and Bob’s proprietary spice mix to blend it all together. The cornbread muffins are scratch-baked and just crumbly enough to provide extra body when mixed in with the pinto beans and chopped onions. All our calorie-counting friend needed was a spoon to make her a happy Dieter indeed.

Big cheeseburger combo: As the Dieter was learning to eat her veggies and like it, the Carnivore was being true to his creed by ordering a Bob’s Dairyland Big Cheeseburger Combo with an order of French fries and a drink ($8.50). Being who he is, the Carnivore wasn’t satisfied with the amount of meat in his big cheeseburger, and added in several strips of smoky, crispy-fried bacon ($1 extra). Next was some lettuce, tomato, onions, dill pickle slices and a squirt or two of good ol’ yellow mustard to keep it honest. The fries were golden; crunchy on the outside and steamy-moist just the way every true Carnivore liked them.

Double bacon cheeseburger with onion rings: While the Carnivore was tearing into his Bob’s Big Cheeseburger combo, my dining partner was busy composing her own paean to the wonders of protein, ordering a Bob’s Dairyland double bacon cheeseburger ($8.50) while swapping the usual French fries for a small-size order of fried onion rings ($2.99). Instead of going for cheeseburger acreage as the Carnivore had, my dining partner chose altitude: two one-third pound 100% beef burgers with bacon and American cheese on both the first and second level, with the produce occupying the attic of her bun. Cleverly, my dining partner had her deep-fried fried onion rings stacked close, preventing her too-tall double cheeseburger from toppling into her lap.

Smoked chicken salad: I can attest that, if you want a salad for your main meal, the smoked chicken salad ($7.50) from Bob’s Dairyland is the best. Using their popular garden salad as a base, Bob’s adds thinly-sliced smoked chicken breast in quantity. For a salad dressing, I recommend some fresh-squeezed lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and be sure to add some saltine crackers if needed. Your palate will thank you for it.

And for dessert: Since the word “Dairyland” is printed in large letters on the restaurant’s road sign, you’d think that Bob’s Dairyland knows a thing or two about ice cream, dairy products and how to serve them for best effect. My own “best effect” was a simple chocolate milkshake ($2.75), silky smooth, creamy, chocolatey and thick enough to stand a spoon up in. My dining partner chose an ice cream sundae made with two scoops: butter pecan and salted caramel, topped with chocolate sauce, strawberries, her favorite “wet” walnuts, all delicious and all for just $4.50. The Dieter capped her vegetarian repast with a three-scoop cone of hand-dipped ice cream ($3.50), the first scoop being peanut butter/chocolate chip and the other two being cappuccino crunch. Oddly enough, the Retiree and the Carnivore decided to share a classic Bob’s Dairyland banana split ($6.50) with soft-serve ice cream, every sundae topping including the “wet” walnuts and two spoons. With the Retiree at one end of the banana split, the Carnivore at the other, it was a race to see who got to the middle first; the loser paying for the banana split. The Retiree won going away.

The bottom line: The dine-around bunch and I all had fun welcoming the Retiree back from her hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail, especially so when we could also enjoy the fine food and friendly folks at Bob’s Dairyland. Joe Miller and his staff of stalwarts continue to do such a great job that they have won some national fame to go with their great food and superb service; being voted the “Number One Restaurant Stop on the Appalachian Trail for 2019.” Whether you are hiking or driving to Roan Mountain, Tennessee, you can’t go wrong dining at Bob’s Dairyland.

Bob’s Dairyland

8361 Highway 19-E

Roan Mountain, TN

772-3641

Daily 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Available on Facebook & at

bobsdairyland.com

Credit cards accepted

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