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.
Soda Pop’s Ice Cream, 141 Everett St, Bryson City, NC, USA, +1 828 488 8456
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.
River’s End Restaurant, 13077 W Hwy 19, Bryson City, NC, USA, +1 828 488 7172
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.
The Iron Skillet, 165 Everett St, Bryson City, NC, USA, +1 828 488 4766
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.
Nabers Drive In, 1245 Main St, Bryson City, NC, USA, +1 828 488 2877
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.
Fryemont Inn, 245 Fryemont St, Bryson City, NC, USA, +1 828 488 2159
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.
Jimmy Mac’s Restaurant, 121 Main St, Bryson City, NC, USA, +1 828 488 4700