Recently listed as one of the best restaurants in all of North Carolina, The Gamekeeper is a mountain gem. Here, they love their region, they love food, and they love putting the two together to create an ever-changing, always organic, and always local menu full of seasonal surprises. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the meat choices you find. Just allow yourself to be wowed by a restaurant that can put elk and ostrich on the same page and make everything equally delicious.
The Appalachian Mountains aren’t quite the French Alps, but you might think you’ve arrived there after a meal at Joy Bistro. The cuisine is inspired by the flavors and techniques of France, with other influences thrown in here and there to spice things up – sometimes literally. The menu is constantly changing to reflect the seasonally available ingredients. For a real treat, come for Sunday brunch and check out their special brunch menu. Red wine braised short rid with goat cheese fondant and fried quail eggs? We think yes.
Southwest Caribbean soul food – even just the name of Coyote Kitchen’s specialty is intriguing. Whether you’re curious or you know exactly what to expect, come by Coyote Kitchen for some of the most fascinating flavors. They’ve got bowls, salads, and burgers and sandwiches, each full of combinations that you’ve never come across before and ingredients that can be switched in and out to suit any of your dietary needs. This is a great place to come for vegetarians, vegans, or ecologically conscious eaters – the fish are all eco-friendly, and the meat is all antibiotic and hormone-free.
Trout & Barrel's take on a burger and fries | Courtesy of Trout & Barrel
Think sushi in a mountain paradise – this is the atmosphere that you’ll find at CoBo Sushi. The interior, with its stone columns and warm lighting, will welcome you in, and then the menu will make you stay. You’ll find all your favorite rolls, and then check out their specialty options for some excitement. Given all the choices, you’ll probably want to get several and then share them – or keep them all for yourself! If you’re squeamish, don’t worry. They’ve got you covered with plenty of (cooked) entrées and appetizers, in addition to an impressive beer list.
A relative newcomer on the scene, Trout & Barrel is shooting up the ranks of Boone restaurants quickly. And what’s not to like? They offer fish and barbeque prepared by a trained chef, in addition to a great selection of brews that will please even the snobbiest of beer drinkers. One of the best parts is the atmosphere, which is entirely relaxed and welcoming. Instead of a formal evening, you’ll get quirky decorations, friendly service, and surprising flavors that can turn your favorite dishes into something new and different. They constantly have specials, new beers, and even sometimes live music, so things never get dull.
Originally opened in 2001 as just a bakery, Stick Boy has become quite an institution in Boone. The bread became so popular that eventually the owners capitulated to the demands of their customers and opened Stick Boy Kitchen, a cafe that puts their delicious baked goods to use. Their bagel sandwiches, using their own freshly baked bagels, are always a big draw. Or, you can get a breakfast plate that puts together all your morning favorites. Come lunchtime, you’ll find all the soups, salads, and hot and cold sandwiches that your heart desires. Stick Boy really takes pride in their town, and they exist to make Boone happy.
Southern society has always focused on being “proper” – and now they’ve gone and made Proper, a restaurant where you can get a proper southern meal whenever you feel like you need it. Welcome to the world of biscuits, shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, fried chicken and waffles, and sweet tea in mason jars. Fair warning, though – once you’ve had a meal here, you might not want to live in any other region.
While lunches at Melanie’s are excellent, it’s the breakfast section that has really catapulted them to local fame. When you have a look at the menu, you’ll find that there are vegetarian and vegan options almost everywhere. Try one of their breakfast plates, all of which are loaded with enough eggs and sides to keep you going throughout the day. You’ll be impressed with the quality of the food, its presentation, and even the prices.