We’re often asked for lists of “What to do in Banner Elk, NC,” but what about “What to eat? What to drink?” Isn’t that equally important? For us, absolutely.
So we’ll keep it short and sweet with our version of Banner Elk News: gastronomy. From seasonal fine-dining to year-round comfort food, these are some choice places to eat and drink your way through the high country. We hope, along the way, you’ll gain a true appreciation for the local and sometimes exotic flavors whetting palettes from Banner Elk to Boone. And then return for more.
1. Eagles Nest Winery
Distance: Located on property
Where else would we start if not in our own backyard?
At Eagles Nest Winery, it’s always wine o’clock. Nestled in an elegant, converted barn just beyond the North Pavilion, connoisseurs and occasional patrons will tell you the same: ENW is, indeed, the real deal. Featuring fine, California wines shipped in first-use barrels, ENW sets clear (and high) expectations from the first sip: an impressive range and rotation of varietals and blends; comfortable indoor and outdoor areas to accommodate all seasons; and breathtaking mountain views you’ll never get enough of. And make sure you don’t miss out on LIVE music sessions every Friday from 7 – 10 pm. Call (828) 898-2027 for reservations.
2. LP on Main (Louisiana Purchase Food and Spirits)
Distance: 7.3 miles from Eagles Nest
Like many of our handpicked options on this list, you’ll find “LP on Main” exactly where expected: on Banner Elk’s Main street (171, to be exact). And it’s been around since 1984, almost four decades, thanks to husband and wife/chef-owners Patrick and Laurie. You might be wondering what’s kept them thriving all this time? Well, for one, fresh, seasonal ingredients prepared at their peak may have something to do with it. As well as the commitment to sourcing those ingredients from local providers (like Charlotte’s Greenhouse and Heritage, Springhouse, and Trosley Farms among others). But it’s also its reputation as Banner Elk’s premier restaurant and wine bar boasting the longest wine list in the area.
LP (or Louisiana Purchase Food & Spirits) on Main offers a full bar serving up craft cocktails, and an antique cruvinet system serving up fourteen wines by glass. From delicious salads (we crave the freshness of their Heirloom Tomato salad year-round) to rich Poutine House-Cut Frites and decadent short rib, expect “Made to order elegance” every visit. Reservations highly recommended.
3. The Pedalin’ Pig BBQ: Southern Style with a Gourmet Flair
Distance: 12 miles from Eagles Nest
At The Pedalin’ Pig, think: decadent, home cooking the Southern way. Squared. Plus, a fair amount of libations.
The restaurant website welcomes you to “Come Enjoy A Local Craft Beer or A Signature Craft Cocktail With The Best BBQ In The High Country”, and from experience, we see no lie. All the fixings complement traditional BBQ (or barbeque tacos) made from meats smoked nightly – up to sixteen hours – and three homemade sauces. Desserts like banana pudding and key lime pie are also in their wheelhouse. And then there’s the drinks menu: WNC microbrews and regional wines to pair with any plate. Besides “Don’t pass up the bacon corn muffins,” you don’t need us to tell you what to do. Just dig in.
4. Appalachian Mountain Brewery
Distance: 23 miles from Eagles Nest
The first brewery in Boone, and one of four favorite places to spend summer nights, Appalachian Mountain Brewery brings a Southern twist to award-winning, Appalachian inspired beers and ciders. Opened by Sean and Stephanie Spiegelman almost ten years ago, and led by German brewers Nathan Kelischek and Chris Zieber, AMB is proud to brew all of its beer onsite and maintain a commitment to staying local, even sharing proceeds from every single case with organizations that support the mountain community.
The heart of AMB aside, it’s also a wonderful and unique environment, too. Check out its pub for event booking or the “Farm 2 Flame” food truck located on ground, serving up wood-fired pizzas and other gourmet, locally sourced menu options.
5. Stonewall’s Restaurant
Distance: 7.4 miles from Eagles Nest
Diners come from all over North Carolina for Stonewall’s famous steaks, expertly prepared in the High Country. No slight to its seafood and cocktails, which are equally delicious. Described as “a long-running restaurant with an old-school vibe,” Stonewall’s delivers on exactly that in the guise of exceptional service and high-quality fare, offering the finest cuts of prime rib, sirloin, rib eye, New York Strip, and Filet Mignon. But just as famous as their Chef’s Choice selection of meats? Their salad bar, also described as a “destination” of its own.
6. Blind Elk Tap Room
Distance: 7.5 miles from Eagles Nest
In reference to its options on tap, does “Seeing is believing” intrigue you?
Described as Banner Elk’s “premier taproom,” Blind Elk Tap Room believes in sitting back and savoring the good things in life, particularly a vast and well-crafted beer menu you can explore for hours with family and friends. Not a beer drinker? Besides an impressive selection of rotational craft beers, there’s more: Prosecco, wine by-the-glass, rare beer labels, and hard seltzers and ciders are also stocked, chilled, and ready in the fridge. Just ask. *CLINK*
Distance: 7.8 miles from Eagles Nest
Current owners Mark and Yumiko Ralston purchased the brewery in 2017 after experiencing an epiphany while on vacation in the NC mountains. “Every year for Thanksgiving we would find a cabin in North Carolina for our extended families to meet and spend the holiday. We fell in love with Banner Elk, and after testing the excellent mountain water quality knew we could make superior beer here.” And that’s exactly what they do. All of their beer is brewed onsite by a 20-barrel steam-driven system, using ingredients of the highest quality, including that clean mountain water that inspired them in the first place.
Drop in for Brewhouse tours and simple, flavorful bites from the kitchen. The environment is family- and dog-friendly, offering an assortment of games in the taproom, from pinball and shuffleboard to classics like giant Connect Four. Just make sure to play with a cold brew at your side.
8. Bayou Smokehouse & Grill
Distance: 7.3 miles from Eagles Nest
Take a trip to the bayou here within our very own Banner Elk. The Bayou Smokehouse & Grill combines Louisiana fare with Texas-caliber flavor, crafting a menu of community-loved, chargrilled-never-fried signatures: hand-cut steaks and hand-crafted burgers; fresh, local trout; design-your-own salads made from locally sourced produce; and weekend brunches that even welcome four-legged family members… outside, on the deck.
Ask about their spirits and wine selection or even grab a bottle next door at the General Store and enjoy without a cork fee! Ample, flavorful plates and a family-friendly environment keep guests returning again and again.
9. Bodega’s Kitchen + Wine Bar
Distance: 6.9 miles from Eagles Nest
Best. Empanadas. Anywhere. And fish and pork belly tacos. And yuca fries. And jalapeño margaritas. And… Bodega’s brings a casual, much-appreciated Caribbean kick to Banner Elk, and some much-needed heat during the winter, too. Its tasty, Cuban-inspired tapas menu also includes signature cocktails and wines, making it a convenient choice for everything from quick family dinners to date nights and just casual drop-ins.
Owned and operated by local Paul Alcazar, Bodega’s is inspired by his father’s Cuban culture and the incredible flavors he grew up loving and connecting so many wonderful memories to. From a young age, Paul dreamed of opening a restaurant but never found the perfect location until he moved to Banner Elk and experienced the Eagles Nest Marketplace. Now, we all get to taste and enjoy his dream come true. Next time you stop in, tell him we sent you (for a slice of his key lime pie).
10. Painted Fish Cafe & Beer Bar
Distance: 9.9 miles from Eagles Nest
The Painted Fish invites you to “discover something truly unique in North Carolina: recognizable dishes with a twist.” Tuna nachos? Spicy fried green beans? Krispy Kreme Cheesecake? That theme of delighting and surprising diners continues throughout the restaurant concept, from promising an upscale experience in a chill, casual ambience to pairing tasty craft beers from The Beer Bar alongside superb wines from boutique wineries, all reasonably priced and rare. (Translation: Don’t expect to find them at your local Whole Foods.) Try an assortment of ales, stouts, lagers, and beers on constant rotation, or sample whites and reds by-the-glass. And yes! Fine spirits are also available!
One of our favorite ways to maximize the Painted Fish experience during the winter months is to dine in their outdoor area. No worries, heaters abound. From that perspective, you’ll enjoy stunning views at the foot of the beautiful Sugar Mountain Ski Resort. Cheers!
As you can see, there’s no shortage of wonderfully diverse restaurant and bar options to explore between Banner Elk and nearby Boone this winter. What would you add to the list? We’re happy to add more local favorites to a Pt. 2 in the future, so mention your favorites in the comments. And always, bon appetit!