High Country dining

A Taste of the High Country

Homestyle Recipes Mixed with Flavorful Flair Make this Local Culinary Scene One-of-a-Kind

In a place where outdoor exploration and adventure reigns supreme, you’ll find dozens of restaurants in the High Country with experienced chefs that are ready to give you a taste of local cuisine. Whether you dine in Boone, Banner Elk, Blowing Rock or beyond, you’re sure to have a memorable and delicious taste of the High Country’s food scene.

From barbecue to pan-fried trout, there are a wide variety of signature flavors and dishes in this mountain region.

Barbecue in the High Country

Of course, the most famous dish in the Tar Heel state has to be Carolina barbecue, which is slow-roasted, hickory-smoked pork dressed with a vinegar-based sauce. Here in the western part of the state, chefs roast only the shoulder of the hog, and their sauce includes ketchup, Worcestershire and brown sugar. North Carolina is the nation’s top producer of pork, so barbecue restaurants are in no short supply in the High Country.

Seafood in the High Country

As avid anglers already know, the cold mountain streams flowing across the High Country are full of delicious trout (brook, brown and rainbow) ready to be caught, pan-fried and enjoyed. Find Carolina trout on many menus throughout the High Country in a variety of chef’s preparations—grilled, smoked, broiled or pan-fried served with a creative array of sauces and sides.

Locally-Crafted Cuisine

There are a wide variety of restaurants in the region and a growing number of gourmet eateries with trained chefs, unique menus and a focus on local and organic ingredients from High Country farms. Gamekeeper Restaurant, for example, offers an exquisite variety of game meats such as duck, pheasant or ostrich from local farms. As the seasons change, so do the inspirations of chef-owners Ken & Wendy Gordon.  Their appetizers include such delicacies as grilled escarole salad with applewood smoked bacon and organic shaved egg as well as sautéed morel mushrooms and ramps in lemon butter sauce over a cornmeal batter cake. This gourmet experience is the perfect blend of upscale elegance and simple mountain charm.

Classic High Country Fare

For a classic taste of High Country, don’t miss a visit to Dan’l Boone Inn and Restaurant, named the best in Homestyle Southern Comfort food and honored by both Southern Living Magazine and Our State Magazine for their country cuisine. Come in for a full family style breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays to enjoy Southern favorites such as fresh stewed apples, country ham and redeye gravy. Plus, the glazed cinnamon biscuits are just heaven. When dinnertime rolls around, you’ll want a full helping of their crispy Southern fried chicken just like grandma used to make, their fluffy buttermilk biscuits topped with black cherry preserves and their country style steak served juicy and full of flavor. Eat just to your heart’s content, but save some room for the best course. All the desserts are homemade, and choosing just one won’t be quite as easy as pie.

International Eats in the High Country

How about dinner and a show? At Makoto’s Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar in Boone, your family can choose from a scrumptious menu of Teppanyaki lunches and dinners served with Japanese sipping soup, fresh tossed salad, fried rice and more. Just choose the main course (shrimp, scallops, lobster, chicken, filet mignon, teriyaki steak, tender veggies or a combination platter), and Makoto’s master chefs will prepare your meal at the table right before your eyes. Witness exciting tricks and chopping techniques, high flames and even some audience participation—hope you’re skilled at catching shrimp using only your mouth! It’s a fun experience of great dining and spectacular entertainment rolled into one. And speaking of rolls, check out Makoto’s grand selection of hand rolled sushi, using the freshest and most eclectic ingredients.

For 15 years, Dos Amigos has been serving outstanding authentic Mexican dishes, including vegetarian and kid’s menus. When it comes to dining here, there is something for everyone. Your trip to the High Country is sure to sizzle when the fajitas arrive at your table.

Whether you’re interested in the classic homestyle recipes that have been passed down through generations or you’re looking to try a new spin on an old favorite, you’ll get the best of both worlds here in the High Country. So come get a taste of what we’re all about.

High Country Visitors Guide cover 2021