Helen, Georgia is one of the state’s cherished towns in the North Georgia Mountains, with so much to do! Whether you are exploring the Georgia Mountain Coaster or Alpine Mini Golf in the Downtown district….or hiking the falls at one of the many state parks…you’re going to need some fuel!
These are our favorite restaurants in Helen, GA. What do you think? Let us know what we missed!
Delightful Dining Options
Hofer’s Bakery and Café (365 Favorite!) – When I say “where to eat in Helen” most people (rightfully) sing Hofer’s name immediately. If you eat nowhere else, go here!
This could not have been a more perfect family-friendly lunch spot. The food was spot-on, the staff was superb, the atmosphere was casual and light, and …well….the German bakery! You’ll love the fresh breads made daily in their stone hearth oven!
From the bakery, we love the large pretzels! If you’re visiting for breakfast, put the apfelkuechle on your list – it’s a traditional German pastry featuring apple slices dipped in batter, fried, and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
Can’t wait to try eating on the outdoor deck next time. The outside tables each had umbrellas to keep off the sun, with vinyl tablecloths, reinforcing a comfy, family-friendly atmosphere.
2020 Holiday Schedule: Hofer’s will be closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, but open on Christmas Eve from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m
Nacoochee Village Tavern (365 Favorite!) – The perfect family eatery for lunch or dinner, with craft style pizza using corn mill from Nora’s across the street. This pizza is dynamite! The boys just wanted cheese, but Dan and I settled on the Carnivore…so good!
We also split the spinach and bacon salad. Y’all, this salad in amazing! That dressing is just everything. And since you’re eating salad, don’t feel bad about adding a skinny margarita – the bartender here knows how to do it right!
2020 Holiday Schedule: Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. They do host an event for locals on Christmas Eve from Noon to 3 p.m.
Cimmi’s Courtyard Cafe (365 Favorite!) – Cimmi’s is only open for breakfast and lunch so plan accordingly because you will not want to miss this place! And no worries, she serves breakfast all day long.
You’re going to wait for service here, but it is worth it. I promise! At only a year old, this place is fast becoming popular among the visitors and locals. There is coffee on the courtyard while you wait, or if you can run across the street to visit Charlemagne’s Kingdom like we did!
The kids settled on chocolate chip pancakes…Dan got the Philly cheesesteak, and I filled up on country fried steak and eggs (with a side of her famous homemade biscuits). Ya’ll – every tiny morsel was amazing. I know, because I nibbled off everyone’s plate.
Fun Fact: “Cimmi” Cinnamon Spurlock was recently the mayor of Helen, and you’ll find her in the restaurant cooking up a storm – be sure to say hello. Cimmi’s was also a film location for the 2019 and 2020 Christmas films shot in Helen.
2020 Holiday Schedule: Will be announced soon!
Old Sautee Market (365 Favorite!) – Can’t stop thinking about the “adult” grilled cheese – farmer’s cheese, bacon and tomato, with black bean soup. Hmmm. My mouth is drooling just thinking about it. It’s great for the kids, too, with an outside dining area complete with shade, bubbles, and a place to run around. We do not go to the mountains without stopping here for lunch!
2020 Holiday Schedule: The Old Sautee Market will be open on Christmas Eve from 11:00 til 2:00. They will be closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Paul’s Steakhouse – We visited here for the first time recently and really enjoyed it. Ask for a seat by the windows so you can see the river. Steak and country-fried steak are winners. I love when I ask for medium-rare and I actually get it. There’s a kiddo menu and a great adult beverage selection.
2020 Holiday Schedule: Paul’s will be closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Open every other day at 4 p.m
Troll Tavern – The Troll Tavern is a fun and upbeat restaurant, catering to locals, visitors, families, and couples. I noticed that, like us, most families were seated out on the patio overlooking the Chattahoochee River (wave to the tubers during the summer months!)
The Troll Tavern is a place people come to eat dinner (or lunch,) but also to hang out for an extended period, have a few beers, enjoy the weather and the company of those around them. The noise level is hyped a bit (again, great for families.)
2020 Holiday Schedule: Troll Tavern will be closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. They will be open on Christmas Eve 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Bodensee – I am a huge fan of Bodensee restaurant! The care Chef Aurel Prodan and his wife Doina put into it the food is obvious, as it is delicious. The atmosphere is family-friendly, and the staff is super kind to kids. For such a casual and relaxing atmosphere, and large food portions, the price was also right. If you’re looking for delicious authentic German food in Helen, this is where to go!
Pro tip: While not “German,” the baby back ribs here are some of the best in Helen! Get them with the pasta gratin. Also, try your hand at live music karaoke-style on Friday and Saturday nights.
Bernie’s Restaurant at Nacoochee Valley Guest House – Visiting without kiddos? Head to Bernie’s! Owner Bernie Yates’ daughter, Monda Dodge, is the chef of Bernie’s – she trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and has been spoiling locals and visitors for over 30 years.
2020 Holiday Schedule: Closed Nov. 22-26, and Dec. 20-27
Bigg Daddy’s Restaurant and Tavern – Great burgers. Great wings. But I love the tacos!! The salads are huge, the baby back ribs are delish…there really is something for everyone here. It’s also a fun place to enjoy live music on the weekend.
2020 Holiday Schedule: They will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, but open during their normal hours of operation the rest of the holiday weeks.
Mully’s Nacoochee Grill – Set in a 1900’s farmhouse, this is a lovely romantic casual dining option. The most popular items here include the slow-cooked baby back ribs and the shrimp & grits. Those cheese grits are over the top!
2020 Holiday Schedule: Mully’s will be closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
Cafe International – Another superb option with outdoor deck dining right on the river. Brats and kraut…Rueben sandwich…or a delightful cheese platter are perfect after a day of exploring.
2020 Holiday Schedule: Cafe International will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. They will be open on Christmas Eve from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Snacks and Treats
Chattahoochee Cheese Market (365 Favorite!) – On your way to Unicoi or Anna Ruby, you’ll pass this new-ish market – be sure to stop in! They offer a wide variety of wines, cheeses, meats, and baked goods. I mean, it was heavenly!
You can get a cheese board, meat board or meet and cheese – which we opted for. We got the large, which also came with nuts, cranberries, chutney and fruits. It’s so affordable, and so great.
The staff was super helpful and attentive – and she knows her meats and cheeses – asking us questions about things we like and don’t like, to ensure our plate was perfect. And it was!
Fred’s Peanuts (365 Favorite!) – Stop in for the peanuts, but take time to look around and enjoy yourself. Say hi to the “old folks” dolls perched on the porch. If you’ve never had the Cajun flavored boiled peanuts, try a sample, and take home a bag! It’s not in Downtown Helen – it’s on the road toward Unicoi.
Hansel & Gretel Candy Shop – These people literally wrote the book on candy making (Candy Making for Dummies.) 5,000 sq-ft of production include peanut brittle, chocolate covered cherries, nut clusters, and over 100 different candies. Get a sample and take some home.
Betty’s Country Store – This is the town’s grocery store. It’s a great place to stock up for the weekend if you’re camping. There are also great sandwiches and a deli in the back.
Scoop de Scoop Ice Cream – Scoop de Scoop is great for an ice cream treat with the kids after playing a round of mini golf next door (although you don’t have to play in order to indulge.) The inside was set up like an old soda shop, which is fun.
My peanut butter shake was awesome, and the kids had delicious scoops! The soda-shop décor is neat for a rainy day, but head outside on the patio to enjoy great weather.
More on Helen, Georgia
- Things to Do in Helen
- Tubing in Helen, Georgia
- Best Cabins in Helen, GA
- Raven Cliff Falls in Helen
- Whitley Gap Trail in Helen
- Anna Ruby Falls in Helen
- Helton Creek Falls Near Helen
- Helen’s Unicoi Adventure Program
- Best Things to Do in the N Georgia Mountains
- Georgia State Parks with Waterfalls
- Best Georgia Swimming Holes
- Best Georgia Wineries
- Romantic Getaways in GA
- Best Cabins in Georgia
- Christmas in Helen
Disclosure: Thanks to Helen for hosting our family. Opinions here are all our own. Always.