Journeying for lunch away from the
familiar is a great way to learn about the area outside of your own backyard. While taking in the fresh, cool mountain air on your drive, you will come across spectacular scenery no matter which direction you venture. We have put together our top ten most interesting list of eateries with many being within an hour drive from the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. As you meander toward your destination, take in the spectrum of color, the diverse terrain, and explore a bigger playground. Happy eating!
// Rizzo’s Bakery & Bistro
91 Georgia Road, Franklin, NC
Lunch Thursday-Saturday 10 am to 3 pm
One of the closest destination lunch spots on our list, Rizzo’s is well known for their daily homemade breads and custom cakes, and most recently their mouthwatering lunch. With a daily changing menu, attention to detail is obvious with their creative use of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Make sure to save room for dessert!
We recommend: Baked In-House Tomato Tart or Quiche //Applewood Smoked Ham & Brie Cheese Paris Sandwich //
Barbara’s Meatloaf Sandwich
69 North Main Street, Clayton, GA
Lunch served Wednesday-Saturday 11:30 am -2:30 pm
Since the opening of Fortify in 2014, Clayton has never been the same. The dining scene was suddenly elevated by the partnership between award-winning Chef Jamie Allred and the seasoned restaurant manager Jack Nolan who teamed up to bring an inspiring new restaurant concept to town. Using sustainable practices by supporting local farms, this farm-to-table bistro offers New American fare in a hip, relaxed setting in the revitalized downtown of Clayton. With the success of Fortify, the owners seized the opportunity to grow into the next-door space with Fortify Pi, a gourmet pizza pub.
We recommend: Gouda Fritters // Fortify Reuben // Fried Oyster Plate
// Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant
35 Andrea Lane, Lakemont, GA
Open April-October for Sunday Brunch only 11 am- 3 pm
A beautiful country road will take you around the magnificent Lake Rabun to find this well-hidden dining spot. While the historic hotel dating back to 1922 is interesting enough in itself, the superb restaurant is a recipient of several awards. Claiming to have started the farm-to-table movement in the area, the kitchen works with local farmers to bring the freshest of seasonal ingredients to their guests. Their adventurous cuisine is a fusion of American Southern with influences from France and the Middle East. On a nice day, ask for a table on the porch to sit under a canopy of trees and get a small view of the lake.
We recommend: Southern-Style Crab Oscar // Low Country Shrimp & Grits // Smoked Local Rainbow Trout Rillettes
// Fire & Water at Fire Mountain
700 Happy Hill Road, Scaly Mountain, NC
Open to the public seasonally for lunch only (call for hours)
Reservations required at least 48 hours in advance
Upon finding this magical spot just south of Scaly Mountain just off Route 106, you will be surprised you didn’t know about this well-kept secret. Opening as an inn some twenty years ago, a recent million-dollar renovation of the property allowed the owners to add a state-of-the-art kitchen, indoor/outdoor restaurant, and a chic water feature that breathes fire. The mountain views from this elevated plateau are spectacular. The ingredients are fresh and creative with all menu items sourced from their own backyard. It is nothing short of a peaceful, relaxed dining experience.
We recommend: Salmon Niçoise Salad // Vegetarian Club // Chocolate Mocha Icebox Cake
// Belle’s Bistro @ Chattooga
454 Damascus Church Rd, Long Creek, SC
Open March 30-December, Tuesday-Sunday 11 am -2 pm
Along the Chattooga River at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 138-acre working farm is set in a historic area of South Carolina that was the largest apple-producing area east of the Mississippi in the 1950s. Belle’s treats you to a diverse menu of farm-fresh local ingredients in a unique spot to gaze out at rolling hills, fruit orchards, and green pasture. After lunch, visit their distillery and pick some of the many varieties of fruit from their trees to take home.
We recommend: Bacon Herb Burger // Portabella with Cilantro Walnut Pesto on Ciabatta // Roast Turkey with Apple (from their farm) with Pesto on Ciabatta
// The Phoenix & The Fox
14 S. Gaston St., Brevard, NC
Lunch/Brunch Monday-Sunday 11 am- 3 pm
The restaurant movement of farm-to-table and locally sourced ingredients is also a big part of this American gastropub’s mission. Executive Chef Miles Hogsed offers inspiring organic menu items from local farms and many vegetarian options. Unique craft beers and cocktails also flow freely from the bar.
We recommend: Classic Crab Hushpuppies // Apple, Bacon, & Brie Burger // Shrimp & Grits
// Frog Leap Public House
44 Church Street, Waynesville, NC
Lunch/Brunch served Saturday and Sunday only 11am-3pm
Finding a good restaurant in the bustling town of Waynesville is not difficult, but this eatery stands above the rest with its inspiring Southern menu that changes daily. Executive chef and owner Kaign Raymond says, “We prepare everything from scratch and use local products in our bar and kitchen every day of the year to produce innovative, but simple interpretations of traditional Appalachian dishes.” Enough said.
We recommend: Butternut Squash, Chard, Chipotle Quesadillas // House Smoked Pulled Pork Sliders // Devils on Horseback
// Guadalupe Café
606 W. Main Street, Sylva, NC
Lunch served Tuesday-Sunday 11:30 am
This casual, vintage style dining spot calls its food “Caribbean-inspired fusion cuisine.” Of course, it too is sustainable and farm-to-table, but out of all of our restaurant recommendations, this one offers the most unique menu choices including many vegan and vegetarian options. From tapas to entrees, their menu has something for everyone and even allows diners to customize their own quesadillas, burritos, and nachos.
We recommend: Curry Bowl // Huevos Rancheros // Pulled Pork and Dark Cove Goat Cheese Tacos
// The Bistro at the Everett Hotel
24 Everett Street, Bryson City, NC
Brunch only; Saturday and Sundays 8:30am-3pm
Reservations strongly recommended
With a philosophy of “Eat with Integrity-Live with Gratitude”, the Cork & Bean Bistro, simply known as The Bistro, wants you to have a dining experience that engages all of your senses. The chef strives for food that is organic, local and seasonal while being influenced by traditional Southern cuisine.
We recommend: Eggs Benedict // Breakfast Crepe // Pimento Cheese BLT
// Pisgah Inn
on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mount Pisgah, Milepost 408
Open April-October, lunch 11:30 am- 4 pm
First come, first served, so go on “off” times
The furthest of all of our lunch spots (a good hour and a half trip), this historic inn sits on property once owned by the Clinghams followed by the Vanderbilts at an elevation of 5,000 feet on top of Mount Pisgah. It opened as an inn in 1919 as a resting spot for weary travelers. Sitting majestically just off of the BRP (that’s the Blue Ridge Parkway for newbies), the Pisgah Inn calls itself “A window on the world.” Often it’s crowded and you’ll wait for a table, especially on the weekends, but there is a reason people go-the view! It is worth the drive.
We recommend: Walnut Crusted Mountain Trout // Mountain Fried Chicken //Blue Ridge Mountain Beet Salad •