A couple of weeks ago my husband and I took a trip out to Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Heading east through the very fringes of the Tennessee after leaving our hotel in Knoxville (Country Inns & Suites Knoxville West, and I do recommend it for a nice quiet place to stay) the hunger set in. A quick search on Trip Advisor and we'd decided that a place called "Pal's Sudden Service" sounded interesting, and it was in the top 10 for nearby Johnson City. We plugged it in the GPS, took the interstate exit and spent the next fifteen minutes hunting for this mystery location. A phone call later and we found out it was in the food court of the nearby mall. Food court food on vacation? No, that simply will not do. Another check of the GPS and Trip Advisor and we decided any place named Cootie Brown's couldn't be all bad.
Cootie Brown's "Real Food" didn't disappoint either. Homemade hot tamales, spiral sliced chips and tasty sandwiches made for a very pleasant lunch. The whole place has real character, the kind you only find from a restaurant filled with faded yellow painted chairs, booths made from old carnival rides and a low outdoor barrier wall made from old coffee cans, concrete and liberal amounts of blue paint. The tamales were excellent, and I don't think I could go there without eating the chips. It was so good in fact, we stopped there again on the way home just to have more of those delicious chips and take in the quirky atmosphere. Despite the diverse menu we still gravitated toward those chips, but the pizza and burritos didn't go back to the kitchen. It's the kind of place I wish was closer to home and truly lives up to the name "Real Food."