There is no shortage of top-rated Blue Ridge restaurants for your weekend getaway experience. Which one is best for date night? Lunch after a hike? A treat for the kids? And where do you find the locals for the most authentic experience? Have no fear – we’ve been around the block a time or two (or ten..or twenty…) and have picked JUST the right spot, especially for your dining needs!
Special Occasion Restaurants
Best Bridal/Baby Shower Lunch
Harvest on Main is such a distinctive place for a Bridal or Baby Shower. Reserve a large table in the main dining area for a small group, or rent their warm and inviting special events space for a larger group. They’re beloved for their steaks and charcuterie boards…but we love the local flavors of their Wild Caught Georgia Shrimp & Logan Turnpike Grits.
Best Romantic Dinner
The Black Sheep sits under a 200 year old Oak tree, in the most perfect setting. Decadent steaks and fresh seafood grace the menu, changing their face with the seasons. Even better (If you ask us!) the best feature is Blue Ridge’s largest outdoor bar and covered patio, complete with raw bar and craft cocktails. Seats go fast in this intimate setting; book your reservation now.
Best Dinner with a View
Toccoa Riverside Restaurant promises spectacular trout and wonderful steaks…and the best riverside dining views in the mountains. Grab a seat by the window to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, or head outside when the weather is warm. Grab a comfy chair on the deck, and drown out all your worries with the sound of the Toccoa rushing by. And yes, there is a dock, so if you’re canoeing in the area, plan time to stop for lunch.
Best Drink Before a Show
The Cellar at Treo is where you want to go before or after the show (or both.) Catching a movie? Seeing a play? Whatever the occasion, start it off by pulling up a seat at their oh-so-breathtaking bar. The wood and stone…and decidedly soft leather chairs. You’ll also find cool events here that might make you decide to skip that show altogether.
Best Place to Celebrate
Bear Claw Vineyards is ideal for that special birthday, engagement celebration, promotion outing, etc. Try a tasting, play cornhole, lounge by the fire pit, and enjoy the beautiful scenery (including their treehouse!) We recommend the VIP tour, where you receive an in-depth and hands on tour with the owner, six tastings, and lunch from Harvest on Main.
Best Place to Catch Up With an Old Friend
Chester Brunnenmeyer’s rustic, inviting bar and grill just calls to you to sit with an old friend and catch up on the last decade. Order the Maple Bacon Old Fashioned or the Wookie with house-infused pineapple habanero tequila…or pour a glass of a regional craft beer. For snacks, I say to pick the trout dip and a pile of wings…50 should do…you have so much to talk about.
Three Square Meals
Mercier Orchards Cafe offers breakfast and lunch – and both are delightful. But there is just something special about eating there early in the morning…right before a hike or adventure. The biscuits are stacked high, the pancakes are fluffy, and the bacon is on point. But oh – that apple butter! It keeps us coming back. Visiting on the weekend? Get the buffet to sample it all!
Best “Soup & Sandwich” Combos
Cantaberry is your go-to option for delicious, simple eats: Soup and Sandwich combos that keep you going all day. Our pick is the Tomato Basil Soup with the Cantaberry Club. That tangy tomato dressing on the sandwich is the perfect complement to the soup. Ask for an extra slice of Swiss.
Best Traditional Southern Eats
Southern Charm is warm and inviting, with true Deep South delicious options. Pick from weekly specials like chicken and dumplings or Friday’s all-you-can-eat catfish dinner…or select a Country Platter like Pot Pie or Meatloaf. Start with Fried Green Tomatoes…end with Bread Pudding..but don’t bother calling for a reservation. They’ll greet you at the door, but it’s first come/first served.
Best Downtown Lunch
Fightingtown Tavern is my go-to lunch location… with or without kiddos. The house-made pork rinds with sesame peanut sauce is something I dream about between visits. Everyone I know loves Fightingtown for their burgers..but I’ll be honest, the omg! salad is my staple. It is so amazing! But it’s also the vibe (and tunes) that keep us coming back. It just feels like home here.
Best Cuban Food
Rum Cake Lady for Cuban food? Nope – that’s not a typo. Pick their Downtown or Copperhill location for an unforgettable Cuban sandwich. Don’t forget a side of Cuban coffee or Cuban sodas. I also like to get the kids an empanada when we visit! And yes, you can walk out with an amazingly moist Rum Cake – ideal for a picnic next to the train.
Best Pizza & Beer
Masseria Kitchen sits Downtown, and excels at connecting the Mediterranean and Appalachia. There is plenty offered beyond just pizza, for sure, but we dig the pie and suggest the nightly special for something memorable (gluten-free available.) You can go traditional and pair with a craft beer, but the bar team here is also talented enough to whip up something stronger that will match your entree perfectly. For dessert, the Nutella pie is high on our list!
Best Southern BBQ
Blue Smoke Barbeque serves authentic ‘que with all the fixings and a series of amazing sauces. Chicken, beef, ribs…and an Angus beef brisket that’s been smoked tender for 20 hours – they have it all. It’s a great place to pick up a meats by the pound for your first night in the cabin. Kids’ meals are under $7!
Best Train-Layover Lunch
Cowanee Restaurant isn’t open as of this writing, but it’s coming, and you know it’s going to be good because the team behind it has a track record to prove it. Just over the bridge from the train stop in McCaysville, Cowanee will sit in a beautifully renovated space, offering slow roasted prime rib, seasonal fresh fish, specialty pasta, noodle bowls, and small plates. Sit inside, or dine out on the deck by the river. (We’ll update when it opens!)
Best Outdoor Seating
Blue Ridge Brewery calls for you to enjoy a steak or a burger, and of course their skillfully crafted home brews…but we insist you enjoy them outside. Yes, the inside of this historic building is gorgeous…but the tree-lined patio speaks to me. There are large, round picnic tables; live music; huge fans for hot days; and plenty of strangers who are soon to be friends.
Best Noshing for Boaters
Boat Dock Bar on Lake Blue Ridge Marina opens seasonally for those on the lake who need a respite, and those who just love lake-life in general. There are weekly specials, a full bar, dog-friendly patio, and sensational views of Lake Blue Ridge. There’s a bit of a laid back Caribbean feel, so go with the vibe and get the shrimp tacos!
Best Pub Atmosphere
The Boro Inn Irish Pub is where you’ll find Blue Ridge’s friendliest bartenders – a little gruff and sassy, but they’re all bark and no bite. Ales, ciders, lagers, stouts…Irish foods, and a song. This is where the locals go to grab a drink and catch up on the latest happenings. The lights are low, the drinks are flowing…leave any pretense outside the door.
Best Fast Food
Trailer Drive-In is famous for their breakfast biscuits, but really you can’t go wrong with any selection. Go at lunch and grab the chicken sandwich and a soda (with that oh-so-good small cube ice.) Regardless of when you stop by, bring cash!
Best Place to Relax With Fido
Grumpy Old Men Brewing is the perfect place to bring Fido and enjoy a flight of amazing micro brews from some (not so) grumpy locals. Among these pups and pints you’ll find live music and great friends, and occasionally a food truck within walking distance. Once you’ve had a beer or two, you’re likely to also take part in their regular karaoke sessions.
Sweets and Treats
Best Place for a Post-Hike Treat
MooBears Ice Cream & Hotdogs serves 20 flavors of Ashby’s ice cream and 15 different hotdogs! The Blue Ridge dog is an awesome eat. 1/4lb Angus Beef dog with Buffalo wing sauce, sprinkled with blue cheese crumbles. MooBears is the perfect place to treat yourself after that hike.
Best “After Lunch” Treat for the Kids
Huck’s General Store is basically old-fashioned (and new-fangled) candy heaven. Yes, there are books, gifts, tchotchkes, and other must-see sundries…but there are also HUGE barrels of candy like your grandparents spoke of. Pick up a tin pale and fill it with your favorite selections.
Best Place to Indulge
The Sweet Shoppe of the South won season 6 of Cupcake Wars on Food Network, so you KNOW these babies are deee-licious. You’ll also find cheesecake, cookies, cronuts, chocolate covered bacon…oh my! My son’s favorite indulgence, though, are the macarons!
Best Place to Caffeinate
Das Kaffee Haus is a European-style coffee house in the Downtown area that is always my first stop when we roll into town. I love sitting on the back deck and watching people get excited about the train. The coffee is just insanely good. Add a sweet bite they make in-house, or a delicious slice of vegetarian quiche.
Beyond Traditional Restaurants
Best Place to Find a Gift for Your Foodie Friend
Out of the Blue carries divine vino, artisanal cheeses, growlers from the local brewers, and some of the coolest foodie gifts and goodies you’ve ever seen. We love the cans of wine, which happen to be perfect for a day at the pool. Come by early for a few nibbles while you shop.
Best Way to Feast and Learn
Blue Ridge Mountain Food Tours is how to handle the over-whelm! There are just SO MANY delicious places to eat in Blue Ridge (this article only scratches the surface) that having a local show you the ropes is truly the best way to go. You pick from one of three tours – a brew tour, a foodie tour, or a sweet-tooth tour. Each is just under 3 hours, includes about 5-ish stops, and promises a heap of fun.
Best Place to Fill Your Picnic Basket
Concetta’s Bakery is coming soon; situated on the water just over the bridge from the train station. This Italian cafe promises a large selection of desserts and coffee, but they will also carry Italian street food, featuring Piadas (flatbreads) stuffed with Italian meats, cheeses, vegetables, eggs and sauces. I can’t imagine a better treat making its way into my picnic basket.
Best Place to Celebrate Mother Nature
Serenberry Vineyards is like a taste of Mother Nature in a bottle. And when you’re enjoying life in the mountains, that’s exactly what you want. We love that this vineyard’s vibe celebrates that with bonfires, outdoor concerts, and oh-so-inviting patio, and more.
The Best AirBnB Stays in Blue Ridge
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Disclosure: Thank you to Blue Ridge for partnering with us on this post. It’s one of our favorite family vacay spots, and we are honored to help you find a way to make it special for your family, too.
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.