Last Updated on January 11, 2021
Last Updated on January 11, 2021
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We’ve eaten at some pretty awesome restaurants in Boone (and in nearby mountain towns) and quickly learned that this place offers more than standard Freshmen fare. With a heavy emphasis on “as local as possible,” the chefs of this college town really know how to feed folks with all sorts of tastes.
You can chow down on expertly crafted sushi, eat game not usually found in restaurants, and get a taste of real Appalachia. And after experiencing some of it all, we want to share our favorite must-eat Boone restaurants with you for your next weekend there.
These restaurants are a big part of why we consider the High Country among the best winter getaways in North Carolina! This post is part of our series covering places to visit in Western North Carolina and NC’s Food & Drink scenes.
Restaurants in Boone NC
If you’re seeking an place to stay in the area, check out these Airbnbs in Boone and nearby towns!
246 Wilson Dr
Where else do you go for craft beer and fresh pasta!? Basil’s of course! What started as the tasting room for Booneshine, Basil’s started with a commitment to quality, fresh, and made from scratch. With a fine selection of pastas and sandwiches, the vibe is easygoing. Don’t forget to grab some of their pasta by the pound to take home!
Bayou Smokehouse and Grill
130 Main St, Banner Elk
While Bayou Smokehouse is technically in Banner Elk, we think this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning it. It’s rare to find a place where you can get both smoked ribs and cajun gumbo! Serving both Texas style barbecue and Cajun inspired dishes, you’re going to want to head to Banner Elk for this restaurant!
Booneshine Brewing Company
465 Industrial Park Dr
Booneshine Brewing Company is where you want to go if you want quality food with a laidback brewery atmosphere. As one of the three breweries in Boone, Boonshine truly has that community vibe with wide open seating, an outdoor beer garden, and unpretentious food.
Collaborating with Stick Boy Bakery, Booneshine has some of the best pretzels and beer cheese in Western North Carolina! Booneshine is also incredible pet and kid-friendly which is always a plus when you’re traveling and looking for somewhere for the whole family.
970 Rivers St
With a bar on one side and a restaurant on the other, Cafe Portofino makes its 100 year old building come to life with music, laughter, and good food! The building originally stood as the maintenance station for the Tweetsie Railroad, but it now serves as an upscale eatery with an emphasis on Italian classics.
We were tipped off that we had to get the Spiced Sirloin, and boy! was it good! Seasoned and blackened to perfection, the meat lays atop a bed of penne in a rich, yet slightly spicy, cream sauce. After dinner hop over to the bar side and play a round of pool!
1711 Highway 105
Have you ever eaten emu? How about antelope? Visit the Cardinal and you’ll likely find both on the menu. Committed to providing fresh food that’s as local as possible, you’ll find things at the Cardinal that you’re used to but with a bit of added flair. Try their rotating Wild Game burger for something new and exciting.
And on the other end of the spectrum, non-meat-eaters can chow down on the most delicious beet burger in town! Oh, and don’t forget their cocktails. The owners have a strong bartending background and each glass that comes out looks scrumptious!
161 Howard St Suite B
You might not think amazing sushi can be found in the mountains, but that preconception is exactly what Appalachian State finance major Joseph Miller sought to change with CoBo. He apprenticed in Steamboat Springs, Colorado for five years, and brought CO (Colorado) to BO (Boone) with upscale and exciting Japanese delicacies.
His specialty rolls combine his roots with a sushi flare. From the Burning Man of seared tuna, spicy crab, cucumber, and tempura to the Yosef of tuna, Panko shrimp, crab, avocado, Nitzume, and spicy aioli, there is something for every palate.
Your experience can move beyond sushi at CoBo with amazing plated dishes. Try their amazing crispy honey duck or hibachi plates for any of your non-seafood eating relatives.
200 Southgate Dr
At Coyote Kitchen, this family-run restaurant is serving up unique flavors not found any other place to eat in Boone. A recommended must-try is the Taos Boat.
That is made with layers of cornbread, black beans, hormone-free rosemary chicken, sweet potatoes, corn, fried plantains, tomatoes, and jack cheese.
And all of that is topped with their famous chipotle cream cheese. Our waiter at another Boone restaurant told us that it’s so delicious, that he orders extra chipotle cream cheese and chips to take home.
Dan’l Boone Inn
130 Harden St
But above all, it’s because of traditional homecooked meals they’ve been serving for over 50 years. Here, diners enjoy family-style dishes that will leave you stuffed and reminiscing about Sunday dinners at Grandma’s house.
The Inn was once Boone’s first hospital and remains one of the oldest and history-filled buildings in town. Come hungry as you start out with a salad (in the summer) or soup (in the winter).
Three meats and five vegetables follow that. Try to leave room for dessert because Dan’l Boone Inn gives incredible value for its family meals.
Note: Dan’l Boone Inn is cash or checks only! Let us know if this changes, though, so we can keep things up to date!
617 W King St
Eat with a purpose at F.A.R.M. Cafe because this non-profit pay-what-you-can community kitchen serves everyone regardless of their means. With a drive to eliminate hunger, F.A.R.M. strives to provide high-quality and locally sourced meals prepared by volunteers.
Diners can make a suggested but not required donation for each meal. The donation amount covers the cost of the meal. However, if you are financially able, it is encouraged to pay that amount or a little more.
No one will be turned away, but if you are not able to pay for your meal, you can also volunteer time as an exchange. Meals change daily and usually include a soup, entrée, two sides, salad, dessert, and a drink.
If you love this Boone restaurant as much as we do, you’ll enjoy Executive Chef Renee Boughman’s recipes in this F.A.R.M. Cookbook!
3005 Shulls Mill Rd
If the Cardinal is a casual spot that serves exotic meat, then the Gamekeeper is the fine dining must-eat spot for adventurous foodies. The restaurant is a rustic cabin nestled into the Blue Ridge Mountains between Boone and Blowing Rock.
The Gamekeeper accompanies only the freshest ingredients with its humanely farm-raised meats. They know the farmers and foragers and honor their produce by using everything from nose to tail.
Cut into moist Elk served with a shiitake jus and bleu mac or perfectly grilled Bison. While their meats are all worth trying, Chefs Wendy and Ken Gordon take great care in making beautiful and colorful vegetable dishes.
115 New Market Centre
Fine dining in a mountain setting, Joy Bistro was one of our readers most recommended Boone restaurants! Serving exquisite Diver Scallops, wine braised Lamb Shank, and Joyce Farms Duck breast, Joy Bistro is a restaurant where you celebrate and take in every flavorful bite.
Lost Province Brewing Co
130 N Depot St
But just like the olden days, Lost Province Brewing Co’s inventive beers and savory dishes make this a place worth searching for. This is THE downtown brewery and gastropub in Boone and it is always packed.
On the food side, they’re known for amazing wood-fired Neapolitan style pizza. If you walk in midday on a Saturday, you will most definitely have a wait. Check their board to see all of the local farms they’re partnering with to bring you the freshest ingredients available!
179 Howard St
The Local is definitely a spot meant for hanging out and enjoying time with friends. Many folks come for live music, a round of pool, or to watch a game, but you can’t pass up on any of the Local’s tasty dishes, either.
Sit down for a fork-and-knife meal or kick back in the lounge area with one of their expertly crafted cocktails. Dance the night away on Thursday nights and stop in on Mondays for 45 cent wings!
Melanie’s Food Fantasy
664 W King St
Owned under the Stick Boy Bakery umbrella, Melanie’s Food Fantasy has been a Boone restaurant favorite since 1991. If you were looking for a word to describe this place, try “eclectic.” That’s because they have an exciting menu, colorful cloth napkins, thrift store-curated coffee mugs, and a genres-spanning art adorning the walls.
This place is also pet- and kid-friendly, making this the perfect place to bring friends and family and show off the amazing Boone food scene! We really enjoyed their bacon avocado benedict and look forward to returning for more made-to-order yumminess.
3608 Highway 194, Valle Crucis (Sugar Grove)
I know we’re talking about restaurants in Boone, but Over Yonder in Valle Crucis (Sugar Grove) is where you’ll find one of the most delicious Appalachian kitchens. Everything here is made from scratch, or as they say, “done the hard and stupid way.”
Nothing says Appalachia to me more than a ham flight or cornmeal fried frog legs, and that’s just the beginning at this place. Go for their house-smoked rainbow trout spread, followed by a stewed tomato cobbler.
And please leave room for a slice of peach cobbler served with buttermilk ice cream.
The Pedalin’ Pig
2968 NC-105 Boone | 4235 Hwy 105 South Banner Elk
There isn’t enough words to describe the deliciousness that is The Pedalin’ Pig! From using locally sourced ingredients and huge dining areas, this is where you go if you just want good food and vibes.
With two different locations, each of The Pedalin’ Pigs have their own environment. The original location in Banner Elk is more family-friendly- complete with a pond, waterwheel, and ducks that love to come say, “Hello!” on the patio. Meanwhile, the Boone location has a lively bar to compliment their delicious fall-off-the-bone meats.
Pepper’s Restaurant and Bar
240 Shadowline Dr
Pepper’s serves up fresh and delicious sandwiches and pub food, making it one of our favorite Boone restaurants for a casual bite. From using local produce for their vegetables and even offering curly fries, there’s nothing on this menu that isn’t delicious. Make sure to ask if they have their famous mud pie and you’ll thank us later!
142 S Water St
The folks at Proper know their food is better than what you’ll find at home, but don’t worry. They won’t tell your momma. Just don’t let her catch you saying anything about your experience on Facebook! Seriously, though, Proper is where you go for a seasonally curated meal that’s fit for everyone.
Whether you’re stopping in for some Tomato Pie or a bowl of Pintos and Rice, each and every bite is sourced from local farmers and businesses. Don’t overlook the weekday specials and remember that no southern meal is complete without dessert!
345 Hardin St (Bakery) & 211 Boone Heights Drive (Kitchen)
If you’ve been out to eat in Boone, you’ve likely seen Stick Boy Bakery appear on the menu. That’s because of their incredible bread, pastries, and baked goods being used by restaurants throughout Boone.
Here, you’ll find more seating and specialty sandwiches. At the kitchen, grab a Salty Hog or a Son of a Gouda and don’t you dare miss the Shut the French Door Toast!
Everything is made from scratch daily with the highest quality of ingredients and traditional baking methods that just make you melt like butter on warm toast.
1675 Highway 105 S
Sunrise Grill is Boone’s answer for those seeking the most amazing local breakfast at affordable prices. If you’re feeling special, go for the Flankenstein Benedict and you’ll be treated to house-made bread, goat cheese, spinach, Vidalia Peach hot sauce, and of course, flank steak.
And don’t forget about their Chicken and Waffle Sandwich, either. Honestly, Sunrise Grill is everything I ever would have wanted as a college student!
831-835 W King St
If you want a nice night out in town or to impress a date, Vidalia is where you can do both! With an extensive wine and drink list, Vidalia is an upscale bistro that serves North Carolina’s best.
Heritage Farms and Joyce Farms are just a couple of places they source from, showing that they keep things local and delicious.
You’ll definitely write home about their chicken and waffles, with southern fried chicken breast, sawmill gravy, and turnip greens all topping sweet potato waffles. Reservations are definitely recommended because this place fills up, for good reason!
Ready to Dig Into these Restaurants in Boone?
Whether you’re hankering for Southern classics or looking to try the best Caribbean soul food in all of North Carolina, these places have your back. No matter which of these restaurants in Boone that you visit, bring your palette what you know or stretch it out with something new.
Explore Boone hosted many of the meals we cover here. However, all opinions within this article are our own.