Bryson City, North Carolina, is the perfect place for adventure-seekers looking to leave real life behind and jet off to the green embrace of the Great Smokey Mountains. But what to eat when you get there? Turns out there are some great restaurants in Bryson City. Check out our picks for the 10 best spots below.
The owners of The Filling Station love food, their town, and making residents and visitors happy by providing them with amazing food. Their many choices of soups, salads, and especially sandwiches will have you spending forever deciding, but the food is well worth the wait. Once you’ve enjoyed your lunch, it is imperative that you save room for dessert. The restaurant has taken ice cream sandwiches to a level that you’ve probably never imagined before, pairing each of their exciting soft-serve flavors with the specific cookie to create the best-tasting combo. How about blueberry ice cream with a white chocolate lemon cookie, or mocha ice cream with a caramel dark chocolate cookie? These are just the beginning.
Whatever time of year you decide to come through Bryson City, you’re likely to find Mountain Perks full of loyal locals and satisfied visitors. The restaurant is known for its drinks, both hot and cold, included cold drip coffee, real chai tea, and an exciting array of frozen drinks to cool you down on a hot North Carolina day. If you’re hungry, try a bagel sandwich, the bagels are homemade, so they’re guaranteed to be fresh every day. The menu also includes some delicious wraps, and there’s a gluten-free or vegetarian option for just about everything, too.
We’d all like to go back in time every once and a while, something that’s not usually possible, except when you run into a place like Soda Pop’s Ice Cream Parlor. It was built as a model of ice cream shops from the 1940s and 50s, complete with a red-checkered floor and nostalgic candy choices. They make their signature ice cream flavors by custom-blending extra ingredients into a base, including both a long list of regularly available choices and seasonal specials like pumpkin pie cheesecake and chocolate peppermint. For a real vintage experience, try one of the fountain floats, made the same way they were when your grandparents were children.
Bryson City is a great starting point for adventuring, and the Nantahala Outdoor Center is a great place to set you up with whatever you need, from kayaks to zip lines to great eats. River’s End is the center’s flagship restaurant on the Nantahala River, where each table has a view of the river and all of the kayaks going by. You can enjoy the mountain air while chowing down on a broad range of healthy American foods that will prepare you for your next hike. If you’re in the market for a good brew, River’s End has an excellent beer list, too.
You can tell from its name that Bryson City Cork & Bean has you covered from your morning coffee till your nighttime wine. Beyond great drinks, they make a real effort to maintain local and sustainable business practices, which means that their menu changes seasonally based on what’s available. Their weekend brunch mixes southern classics, like cheddar cheese grits, with healthy, organic ingredients, like roasted kale, to create unique combinations that will stick with you long after you’ve finished your meal. In fact, you might want to make time on your trip to come back here multiple times, just like the locals do.
It’s always nice to have a go-to diner, and in Bryson City, The Iron Skillet is the one. It’s everything a diner should be, with friendly service, quick, fresh food, and good prices. Come by for breakfast and you’ll be highly impressed by their pancakes and bacon; sounds basic, sure, but The Iron Skillet takes the meal to another level. Plus, the large portion size will keep you full as you head out on a day trip into the beautiful surrounding mountains. It’s also a great spot to get typical southern food, like biscuits, grits, and pulled pork sandwiches.
A local favorite is Everett Street Diner, located right on Bryson City’s main drag. It is often very busy, especially on weekend mornings, but servers move through tables pretty quickly and whatever you order will be worth the wait. This is another classic diner in the fact that its true value doesn’t reveal itself until you dig into the meal that arrives in front of you. Try a heaping plate of French toast, cooked perfectly and served with a side of breakfast meat. The omelets are also a general favorite. This is definitely not a place you’ll leave hungry.
You don’t run into a place like Na-ber’s Drive In often, so you really have to take advantage when you do. The building hasn’t changed since it opened decades ago, and, looking at the prices, you might think that they haven’t either. You can order at your car, but they also have inside seating. It is truly a no-frills place, but what you’ll get instead of a well-decorated interior is high quality food at basically the lowest price out there. You can’t leave North Carolina without trying the state’s famous barbecue, and Na-ber’s is the perfect place to get it while you’re in Bryson City.
The historic Fryemont Inn is a gorgeous place to stay in Bryson City, but even if you’re not a guest of theirs, you can still enjoy a delicious meal in the historic setting and cozy surroundings that their dining room offers. You’ll find a nice spread of options at breakfast, but their dinners are what keep people coming back again and again. All meals come with soup and salad to warm you up for your entrée, which will likely include either trout caught in the local mountain area or some expertly prepared meat. The Inn retains the same charm of the very first buildings in the area, and few things are nicer than enjoying a good meal in its elegant dining room.
If you’re looking for a nice, filling steak after a day out in the mountains, check out Jimmy Mac’s, Bryson City’s premier steakhouse. They don’t limit themselves to just steak, they also pride themselves in the fresh seafood that they offer, which will make you forget that you’re on the opposite side of the state from the ocean. They also know a thing or two about barbeque; when it comes to their menu, you can’t go wrong. They’ve been around since 1979, so it’s clear that they’ve managed to do something right over the last few decades to keep people coming back.