What’s Cooking: Backwoods Burger Bar offers a lot more than its freshly ground burgers |

The Backwoods Burger Bar might have a low profile — until you step inside.

Even owner Jonathan Russell notes that the restaurant’s location is a bit off the beaten track on the corner of Market and Cumberland Streets. The outside is welcoming, however, and the inside welcomes patrons with unusual personalities, who live up to the “hillbilly” part of the eatery’s name.

A stuffed menagerie, ranging from squirrels to deer to a wild turkey, is a focal point of the decor along with Americana and local artwork.

A variety of seating, from a corner bench to various types of dining tables, give Backwoods Burger Bar a homey, comfortable feel. There is also seating in the bar.

While burger-focused, the menu is eclectic, offering something for everyone, from salads to barbecues, unique entrees we’ve never seen in the area, to sandwiches, sides, and numerous burger specialties.

If you missed this gem of downtown gems, stop by and check it out.

We recommend the pimento cheese and pork rind appetizer, which is brought to the table as a large bowl of pork rinds still sizzling, accompanied by a smaller bowl of homemade pimento cheese.

The Times News asked Russell to answer the following questions.

Q: How long has your restaurant been in existence?

A: Almost four years. We opened in Mount Carmel on April 8, 2018. We later moved to downtown Kingsport and opened on December 9th, 2019 where we have stayed and hope to stay for the foreseeable future.

Q: What do you think are the specialties of your restaurant and why?

A: Our unique style and hamburgers are our specialties. We grind all our beef fresh daily and top it with many different and unique items that offer something no other restaurant has.

Q: What is your culinary training and how did you learn to do what you do in the kitchen?

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A: I don’t have a culinary background. I remember growing up watching my mom prepare home cooked meals almost every night. Feeding myself was hard work, so I started preparing my own meals. From then on I was interested in food. I learned mostly through the process of trial and error.

Q: Explain in as much detail as possible why your restaurant appeals to customers and how you maintain the ambiance?

A: The Backwoods is welcoming and feels like home! From the greeting when you walk in the door to the family style tables, we want everyone to be a part of our family. We are constantly improving our food and creating new items so that our customers always have something to look forward to.

Q: Do you share recipes with your guests?

A: We share our recipes every time we bring you a delicious meal. We don’t share our physical recipes though, but I think our chefs wish I’d stop coming up with new things for them to learn.

Q: How do you think your restaurant is different from other restaurants in the Tri-Cities area?

A: We are constantly developing new creative menu items. Always fresh produce and a family friendly atmosphere that men, women and children alike can enjoy.

Q: What are the pros and cons of your location?

A: Because we’re not in the epicenter of downtown, we might be overlooked by many potential customers. However, it makes it easier for us to reach us because there are not so many shops around us.

Q: How often do you change the menu at the restaurant and why?

A: We don’t necessarily change our menu, but we do create and offer new specials all the time. Some we’ve added to our menu and some pop up randomly throughout the year.

Q: What is your favorite cookbook?

A: I don’t have a particularly popular cookbook, but I do have a few chefs that I enjoy learning from. One is a James Beard Award winning chef from our area, Sean Brock and the other is British chef Jamie Oliver.

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