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The 10 Best Restaurants (right now) in Blowing Rock, North Carolina
This storybook mountain town offers a surprising number of excellent restaurants from kick-back casual eateries to sophisticated fine dining.
Story by Ginger Warder
Have you ever dreamed about visiting one of those picturesque towns featured in a Hallmark movie? A place where you can walk up and down Main Street—lined with eclectic boutiques and local restaurants—and there’s not a fast food joint or chain store in sight. Townspeople are friendly and greet you as you walk by or enter their shops. Blowing Rock, North Carolina is just that kind of town.
This tiny mountain town was the inspiration for New York Times best-selling author Jan Karon’s 14-book Mitford series of heartwarming novels that celebrated small town life in the mountains. Karon lived in Blowing Rock for several years and her first novel, At Home in Mitford, ran in installments in the local paper before it was published in 1994.
And although it wasn’t filmed there, Hallmark did, in fact, create a movie based on that first book.
While some things have changed since then, Blowing Rock is still fiercely protective of its local culture and locally owned businesses. The town’s restaurants exude small town charm while offering a surprisingly wide range of fare. You’ll find North Carolina barbeque and mountain trout alongside filet mignon, venison, bison, and duck. Go casual and grab a cold craft beer and a burger or enjoy an elegant brunch of Eggs Benedict. No matter where you dine, you can count on a heaping side of High Country hospitality at all of the local eateries.
The town is named for the rock formation touted as North Carolina’s oldest travel attraction. The Blowing Rock—site of a Native American legend of a Cherokee brave who leapt from the rock and blew back up into his lover’s arms—offers panoramic vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Outdoor activities abound throughout the year, from fly fishing, cycling, and hiking in the spring, summer and fall to skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and skating in the winter.
Whether you’re fueling up for an active day outdoors or spending a leisurely day shopping and strolling along Main Street, here are the best places (right now) to grab a bite.
Start your day at Sunny Rock Eggs & Things with a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast of eggs, pancakes, waffles, and more. Or eat like a local and try one of its quirky breakfast plates like “Crosby, Stills & Hash”—a pulled pork, potato, and onion hash topped with Cheerwine barbeque drizzle (for the uninitiated, Cheerwine is the South’s ubiquitous cherry soft drink made in Salisbury, North Carolina). If you need a serious cup of joe to kickstart your day, there’s a full coffee bar offering whole roast beans and espresso drinks. Sunny Rock is open Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch plus boxed to-go orders are offered.
Photo Credit: Ali Borchardt
For a romantic brunch with a side order of Blowing Rock history, follow the charming stone path to the hidden garden at Village Café. The house—once a workshop for mountain crafts like spinning and basket weaving—is on the National Register of Historic Places and now serves elegant fare including Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine, Belgian waffles, French toast, and a to-die-for pecan-crusted Montrachet salad with warm goat cheese and a red wine and fig balsamic vinaigrette. Seating is limited to the garden, so reservations are recommended. Take-out orders are accepted by phone and if you’re not comfortable stepping indoors to pick up your order, just call and a server will gladly bring it out to you.
Go local or global for lunch! Try a Carolina bison burger and a local craft beer at The Blowing Rock Ale House or head to the Six Pence Pub for a bit of British comfort food like Shepherd’s Pie, Guinness beef stew, or fish and chips. If you and your traveling companions can’t choose just one cuisine, Woodlands Barbeque serves up authentic Carolina pulled pork and ribs as well as Mexican homestyle burritos. The Ale House offers outdoor seating, limited indoor seating, and take-out while Woodlands offers both carry-out and curbside pickup, as well as limited indoor seating. The Six Pence Pub on Main Street features a large patio for alfresco dining, as well as indoor seating, plus take-out.
Photo Credit: Blowing Rock Ale House
Tucked just off Main Street by the Annie Cannon Gardens, Bistro Roca has been a local favorite for years. Start your evening in the restaurant’s Antlers Bar—the oldest continuously-serving bar in North Carolina—and while you’re enjoying a craft cocktail or local brew, peruse the collection of local pet photography that covers the entire wall. When you’re ready to dine, head to the main dining room, covered porch, or patio for upscale Bistro favorites like lobster mac ‘n cheese, jerk salmon, Cuban crepe (slow braised pork, local country ham and swiss cheese), Angus steak, or shrimp & grits. If you want something lighter, try the wood-fired pizza or flatbreads. You can order online for take-out or make a reservation to dine in.
Photo Credit : Bistro Roca Pizza
The Speckled Trout Restaurant & Bottle Shop, located at the corner of Main Street and Highway 221 in a former gas station, is the place to fill up on fresh Appalachian fare, especially local mountain trout. For starters, try the trout nachos or smoked trout deviled eggs. Move on to the main course with trout cooked the way you like it—cracker-crusted, cornmeal and almond-crusted, blackened, or hickory smoked—served with country sides from lima bean succotash and hoppin’ john to gouda grits, mac ‘n cheese and country ham hominy. The menu changes seasonally, as do the offerings from the bottle shop which include small batch IPAs, ales, seasonal rosés, crisp whites, and high-acid red wines. Although food take-out is not currently available, the Speckled Trout has an outdoor patio, indoor dining, and call-ahead seating one hour before your desired dining time. Mixed six-packs, bottles of wine, and growlers from the bottle shop are available for take-out.
Although you can’t see it from the Main Street entrance, you should opt for an alfresco dinner on the Storie Street Grille’s covered back deck. Southern favorites like fried green tomatoes and meatloaf with Cheerwine barbeque sauce mingle with Mediterranean-inspired dishes like Baba Ghanoush and an Italian version of shrimp & grits served over parmesan polenta. The restaurant offers online ordering, a take-out window, and call-ahead seating.
Photo Credit: Storie Street
For a special occasion or romantic evening, Twigs offers white-tablecloth fine dining in the rustic setting of a mountain cabin. Brothers David and Doug Beach are committed to sourcing the best organic ingredients from local farmers, artisans, and co-ops, as well as sustainable fisheries. Expect Southern favorites with a twist like peach barbeque duck tenders. Yes, you can get a filet mignon here, but more adventurous diners may want to try the grilled venison chops with smoked blueberries. If you’re in a casual mood, the bar menu offers many of the same appetizers featured in the restaurant, along with several upscale sandwiches and entrees including ahi tuna, salmon, crab cakes, pasta, and chicken. Add an award-winning wine list, an extensive beer selection, and artisanal cocktails and you can’t go wrong with an evening at Twigs. The restaurant features a lovely outdoor dining area lit with twinkly lights. Reservations are recommended for either indoor or outdoor dining.
Photo Credit: Twigs Restaurant and Bar
Located on Main Street, the Town Tavern boasts the largest outdoor dining area in Blowing Rock and welcomes well-behaved, four-legged visitors on its spacious patio. You can catch live music on Friday nights (weather permitting) and enjoy the sports bar’s menu of wings, burgers, wraps, sandwiches, and salads. If you need to check the score of that big game, just dash inside and check one of the 19 flat-screen televisions. The Tavern is open daily year-round—one of the few late-night dining options in town—and also offers take-out and Bite Squad delivery.
Plan A Trip
Named one of the best small towns in America by both USA Today and Business Insider, and called a “perfect mountain escape” by Southern Living, Blowing Rock is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 291.8—one of only three towns located directly off the Parkway. If you plan to fly in, Blowing Rock is a two-hour or shorter drive from several regional airports including Asheville, Charlotte, Greenville, and Bristol. If you plan to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially in the winter or in inclement weather, be sure to check road conditions.
For a small town, Blowing Rock offers a surprising number of accommodation options including full-service hotels, a resort with a luxurious spa, charming locally owned cabin-style motels, and luxurious vacation rentals.