Blog Eats & Drinks Great Restaurants in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Great Restaurants in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Updated: 03/02/2023 • Bernie Gilchrist

Eats & Drinks

If I am known for anything… it’s the fact that I love to eat! LOL! I love it so much I that I do it 3 times a day…, - OK-sometimes 4 times a day, - and most of the time it’s dining out! As one of Jackson County’s busiest Realtors, I am always on the go and running to meet clients, show homes/, - property and manage closings. Though I love to cook and am quite good at it if I say so myself, it’s a luxury that I don’t often have time to do. Having worked in every aspect of the restaurant industry for over 20 years, I know a thing or two about what makes a great restaurant. Folks are always asking me where’s a good place to eat? Which in return, I always ask them this one question first, what are you looking for? 

No matter what you’re searching for, these old mountains have it, and it’s going to be some of the best food you have ever experienced!  You see, great artist and chefs find their way to these mountains to reinvent themselves, and to start a whole new life. I have friends and clients who tell me that they have always dreamed of living here along side nature, and escaping the hustle and bustle of city life. So, there are many great places to dine here because of the magic these mountains offer. Here’s a list of my Top 6 Restaurants in Western North Carolina.

Best Burger: I guess my favorite all around food is a great burger and no one creates a better burger than my good friends at Nantahala Brewing Company Outpost in Sylva, NC. ( )This is not your ordinary burger! Make sure to get the Tots with that hand crafted burger and extra napkins as you’re going to need them. In fact, they should apologize for serving a burger that juicy! LOL! Oh, and don’t forget to grab an award-winning tasty brew while you’re there. They have some of the best craft beer in country, and with good reason, as the artisans at Nantahala use the purest water on the planet. The Great Smoky Mountains produce the clearest and purest water found anywhere and it’s the main reason the beer taste so gooooood! Well, that and the fact the Brewmeister’s a genius and they know what the hell they’re doing.   So, the next time you crave a burger and a beer, make your way over to The Outpost in Sylva... tell them Bernie sent you!  

Pizza Pizza: I think I could eat pizza just about every day of the week and I am thankful that Speedy’s Pizza ( )  is just down the road from my office in Sylva, NC. This year marks Speedy’s 50-th year of hand tossing dough and serving up local, wonderful, and tasty hand-crafted brews! The servers are the absolute best! I love all their pizza, but there’s a special place in my heart and (and my Stomach) for the Deluxe Pizza with extra cheese. Dang, I am going have to stop writing and order a pizza right now!  Well, maybe I’ll wait till this Blog is written and then I’ll make that call. You can also choose to build your own pizza with over 25 scrumptious toppings to choose from. It’s also a favorite among the Western Carolina University’s Catamounts and alumni. In Sylva, Speedy’s reins as King of pizza!  

South of the Border: If you’re in the mood for Mexican, then you’re in the right place! The good folks over at El Patron ( )  serve up authentic Guadalajaran Mexican and Tex Mex cuisines from their own family recipes, delivering the best of Old Mexico to the mountains. They have it all! The restaurant is family owned and boast of having the freshest meats, vegetables, and cheeses in town. They are especially proud of their salsa and their smiling wait staff. They just built a new restaurant on main street with a new dinning area and spacious bar, and the atmosphere is just delightful. It’s by far the Best Mexican Restaurant in Sylva. Don’t forget to try their refreshing house margaritas… they go great with everything on the menu!   

But what about Lunch? First let me just say, the Smoked Trout Dip is to die for over at Quirky Birds Tree House & Bistro! (  ) Folks have given this restaurant a five star rating over and over again and,- I must say that I agree! This quirky place is located in the historic mountain town of Dillsboro. In fact, it’s right by the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad ( )   tracks. Keep this charming restaurant on your list the next time you take the train to Dillsboro or when you’re visiting or shopping in the aera. The lunches are just amazing, and they have the best servers in town ready to take your order. The food is always made to order with fresh ingredients, and they give you plenty of it at an affordable price! They have wonderful outside dining area on the large deck so you can enjoy some excellent people watching and the train slowly roll in and out of town.  I highly recommend Quirky Birds for a soulful meal and they have awesome dinner options, a full bar and live music on the weekends too!  

Mountain Oysters: Personally, I have never been fond of Mountain Oysters, but oysters in the mountains… now that’s a horse of a different color. You will not find a better restaurant in all of Western North Carolina that serves fresher seafood than that of Creekside Oyster House and Grill in downtown Sylva. ( )   Every dish I have ever ordered from Creekside has been spectacular in flavor and presentation, and served by an amazing staff to boot! I think they love me there, as I am dinning at least once,- and to be honest often twice a week. I can’t help it, as their food is just over the top amazingly good! I recommend trying the trout, snapper and the scallops…,- hell get it all! You’ll think you’re at the beach as you peel your own shrimp and enjoy the hush puppies, which are fried to golden brown perfection!  They have a full bar and some of the best cocktails in town. So, the next time you get a hankering for seafood, make your way to The Creekside. 

-A - New York to California Flare: Before I end my personal recommendations for great restaurants here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I have to tell you about my buddy Craig over at Rivers and Rails Tavern in Dillsboro, NC. ( )    I think culinary genius is the best way to describe him. Seriously, this dude’s food is just downright delicious and his new restaurant is located just off the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad and is fabulously charming and delightful. I love the chicken sandwich that are soaked in pickle juice and the tacos…, - oh the tacos! As Craig will tell you, his experience in the kitchen has taken him from coast-to- coast and his many years as a chef makes all the difference at the tavern. Your palate will celebrate, and your taste buds will illuminate in your first bite. Try the burger with the Parmesan Truffle Fries, or one of my other favorites…,- the Jambalaya. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Here, check it out:  Menu:  They have wonderful deserts and a full bar with some very innovated libations that you just can’t say no to. 

We have some of the best lifestyle found anywhere on the planet, and we are fortunate to have great restaurants to celebrate life, and to share with our family and friends! You will not be disappointed with any of my recommendations on where to eat. I personally dine at all these fine establishments, and I actually consider it research for you… just for you! 

Oh look, it’s almost time for lunch! I gotta go, it’s time for more research! 

See you around town! 

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