Boonies: Where to find dinner with a superb view

Mystery Diner • Oct 2, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Every now and then, I get pleasantly surprised. Such an occurrence presented itself when a friend of ours who delivers auto parts told my dining partner about a restaurant called Boonies that we really needed to try.

I’d never heard of the place.

“It’s out past the airport” said my dining partner, “on the north shore of Boone Lake, I think.”

“Road trip?” I asked

“Yep,” said my partner, “and let’s bring the dine-around bunch along.”

Boonies is the restaurant inside Davis Marina on the north shore of Boone Lake.

In business for four years, Boonies itself wears the classic “Tennessee Lake Marina Look” quite well. Owners Johnny and Amy Moore have opened up the rear wall of the Boonies dining area with several large windows presenting a commanding view of Boone Lake. There is a large open-plan kitchen and grill on the right wall. The open-plan dining area is decorated with some locally interesting bric-a-brac. There is seating for about 80 patrons, with clean restrooms accessed at the left of the dining area.

Hamburger steak platter: Our server Kayla showed us to a table by the windows, staying to assist us in our dinner decisions. I asked Kayla to bring me the hamburger steak platter, subbing fried onion rings for French fries ($6.95), splurging on grilled peppers and onions for fifty cents more, and adding a small side salad ($2.49). Kayla had my meal in front of me inside of 15 minutes. The hamburger steak was grilled medium well, and wreathed in grilled peppers and onions. The onion rings were just the way I like them: thick-cut, crunchy and golden brown. My side salad was good, its ranch dressing home-made and delicious.

Daily Special: 2 hot dogs & fries: Chef Diane Hawkins runs daily specials at Boonies. The day’s special interested my friend, the Carnivore: a pair of hot dogs done all the way ($4.99) and sided with an order of fresh-cut French fries. Assembly of this entree couldn’t have been simpler: open up a fresh-made hot dog bun, pull a squirt of yellow mustard down the inside spine, nestle a correctly-grilled 100% all-beef hot dog within, top with chopped Texas White onions, spoon in a good quantity of spicy beef chili and finish with a layer of Boonies homemade coleslaw. Repeat the process for the other hot dog. Plate both with a stack of golden brown French fries. Serve, and have the pleasure of watching a hot dog connoisseur enjoy himself with a classic Boonies slaw dog not once, but twice.

Chicken Philly sandwich: The Dieter’s schedule at work had nixed lunch for the day, so our friend was hungry and wanted something yummy. Kayla helpfully suggested a six-inch half of a Boonies’ Chicken Philly sandwich ($5.89) going easy on the cheese and subbing fried onion rings for the fries as I had done. My calorie-counting friend was presented with a fresh-baked hoagie bun filled with coarsely chopped chicken breast and thigh meat, grilled with peppers and onions and topped with melted provolone cheese. Her side order of thick-cut onion rings, crunchy outside, steamy-hot inside and stacked like golden bracelets made the perfect light fare accompaniment to the Dieter’s chicken Philly.

Meat Lover’s pizza: As Kayla was seating us, my dining partner drew our attention to one of the cooks, Brandon by name, who was hand-tossing pizza dough for another customer’s supper with great dexterity. Impressed with Brandon’s skill with each toss, my dining partner ordered a 10”-inch Meat Lover’s pizza ($13.99). Brandon’s handiwork for my dining partner’s order produced a pizza crust with a nice, thin cracker-like base, a light layering of Boonies’ tasty marinara-style pizza sauce, and then topped with aged pepperoni, Italian sausage crumbles, hamburger, sliced city ham chips and generous pieces of smoky bacon. Dividing my dining partner’s pizza into the usual eight pieces meant that all of us could enjoy some of Brandon’s delicious handiwork.

“How long have you been making such great pizzas?” I asked Brandon between tosses.

“Two weeks,” he said with a smile.

Desserts: With our supper finished it was time for dessert. Chef Diana Hawkins had prepared several desserts for our after-dinner temptation. Though the carnivore demurred on dessert, the Dieter wet ahead and ordered a slice of Hawkins’ incomparable peanut butter pie, I had a wedge of pecan pie and my dining partner had the key lime pie, all priced at $2.50 each and all absolutely scrumptious.

The bottom line: Boonies is not just a restaurant. While the food is pure American Comfort, it includes excellent and savory pizza prepared with diligence and attention to quality.

Add to this a lovely view of Boone Lake and what you have is not just supper.

It is an event.

Need an example?

Dangling a last forkful of perfection from her hand, the Dieter remarked that having a slice of peanut butter pie this good while watching the sun set on Boone Lake was one of life’s little moments of pure beauty.

Substituting pecan pie for peanut butter pie in my “little moment,” I could certainly agree.

Boonies gets a “Recommended” from the Mystery Diner and the dine-around bunch.

Boonies at Davis Marina

641 Buffalo Road

Blountville, Tennessee


Tue, Thu-Sat 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Wed 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sun 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Available on Facebook

Credit cards accepted

Johnson City Press Videos