The 10 Best Bryson City Restaurants for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

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Compared to burgeoning mountain towns like Asheville NC and Roanoke VA, Bryson City is a fairly small town encompassing just 2.3 square miles, with a population of around 1800 people. 

But the town, which is known as “the Gateway to the Great Smokies,” offers an exceptional array of things to do, with numerous nationally-known Bryson City attractions.

There’s the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, Fontana Lake (one of our favorite lakes in North Carolina), canoeing and kayaking on the Tuckasegee River, and whitewater rafting the Nantahala River, for starters. 

It’s also a great base for exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with the Deep Creek waterfalls, the Road to Nowhere, and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center all less than 15 miles from downtown Bryson City.

But what surprised us most about the town was just how many fantastic Bryson City restaurants there were in the immensely walkable downtown area. 

Read on for our guide to the best restaurants in Bryson City NC, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner options ranging from fast casual to gourmet fine dining. 

READ MORE:The 15 Best North Carolina Mountain Towns to Visit

 

Best Bryson City Restaurants Guide

  1. The Bistro at the Everett Hotel (Fine Dining)
  2. Everett Street Diner 
  3. Fryemont Inn Dining Room (American)
  4. High Test Deli & Sweet Shop
  5. La Dolce Vita Bakery (Coffee Shop)
  6. La Poblana Mexican Restaurant
  7. The Rice Wagon (Food Truck)
  8. Rivers End Restaurant (Gastropub)
  9. Sandra D’s Fried Pies (Food Truck)
  10. The Snak Shak (American)

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Bryson City NC & Swain County

Trout Cakes at the Everett Hotel Bistro in Bryson City NC
Trout Cakes at the Everett Hotel Bistro

1. The Bistro at the Everett Hotel (Fine Dining)

16 Everett St • 828-488-1934 • Official Website

HOURS: Wed to Sun 5PM-9PM; Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Our picks for the best places to eat in Bryson City NC are listed alphabetically, but The Bistro at the Everett Hotel also happened to be our favorite of the many Bryson City restaurants we visited. 

The Everett Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Bryson City, located right next to the Swain County Visitor Center & Heritage Museum.

The Bistro’s interior is country chic, with hardwood walls/floors/ceilings, wrought iron chandeliers setting an intimate mood, and the tasteful rustic decor. In short, it’s arguably the most romantic restaurant in Bryson City. 

The chef-driven menu focuses on organic, sustainable, and seasonal fare, with many of the ingredients sourced from local North Carolina farms

Everything we tried was delicious, including Trout Cakes with Cajun remoulade, Bacon-wrapped Medjool Dates stuffed with blue cheese, and Open Range Meatloaf made with four regionally-sourced meats (beef, bison, lamb, and pork).

They also have a full bar with craft cocktails and wines from local NC wineries, and serve a complimentary daily breakfast for hotel guests. 

READ MORE:  The 15 Best Things to Do in Cherokee NC & the Qualla Boundary

Brunch Burger at the Everett Street Diner in Bryson City NC
Brunch Burger at the Everett Street Diner

2. Everett Street Diner 

126 Everett St • 828-488-0123 • Official Website

HOURS: Wed to Mon 7AM-2PM; Closed Tuesdays

Where the Everett Hotel Bistro shines with refined elegance, the Everett Street Diner won our hearts (and our stomachs) with its homespun Appalachian charm. 

This family-friendly restaurant does a great job of evoking a sense of place, with decor ranging from photographs of local waterfalls and an amazing mural of the Blue Ridge Mountains to artwork colored by local kids. 

The staff (including owner Mike Shakar) practically drips with welcoming Southern hospitality. but not the forced kind you find in some of the more touristy mountain towns. It feels genuine, like being welcomed into someone’s home. 

The menu emphasizes hearty fare, with colorful names like “The Mountain Man” (3 eggs, 2 bacon, 1 sausage, biscuits n’ gravy, pancakes, and hash browns or grits) and the “Bubbarito” (flour tortilla with extra scrambled eggs, extra sausage, peppers, onions, and cheese topped with sausage gravy and served with salsa, sour cream, and hash browns or grits).

We went for lunch after a morning on the local hiking trails. Mary loved her Diner’s Club sandwich, but the best dish we tried was the scrumptious Brunch Burger, which featured cheese, bacon, hash browns, and an over-medium egg.

READ MORE: 10 Best Cherokee NC Restaurants for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Pecan Crusted Trout at the Fryement Inn Dining Room in Bryson City NC
Pecan Crusted Trout at the Fryement Inn Dining Room

3. Fryemont Inn Dining Room (American)

245 Fryemont St • 828-488-2159 • Official Website

HOURS: Daily Lunch 8AM-10AM; Dinner Sun to Thu 6PM-8PM; Fri & Sat 6PM-9PM

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this beloved Bryson City hotel was designed by Biltmore architect Richard Sharp Smith, and built in 1923 for local lawyers Amos and Lillian Frye. 

The inn was constructed using wood from what is now Great Smoky Mountains National Park (which the Fryes owned logging rights to), including American Chestnut, which was was being devastated by a fungal disease at the time. 

After Lillian died in 1967, the Fryemont Inn remained empty for so long, rumors spread that the place was haunted. But subsequent owners did complete renovations, and Sue and George Brown of Atlanta bought the property in 1982.

Though semi-retired, Sue still cooks breakfast often, while son George Jr. is the Executive Chef and his wife, Monica, is the Hotel Manager. Their daughter Kathryn, a UNC student, also works in the restaurant when she’s not in school.

The Fryemont Inn Dining Room definitely has a warm, welcoming family vibe, with a laid-back sort of elegance (including a huge stone hearth fireplace constructed by Cherokee stonemasons). 

The menu focuses on upscale Southern cuisine. We loved the Fresh Rainbow Trout (which is prepared 5 different ways), the Grilled Chicken, the side dishes (which change seasonally), and the decadent homemade desserts.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Hotels & Cabin Rentals in NC & VA

Cuban Sandwich at High Test Deli in Bryson City NC
Cuban Sandwich at High Test Deli

4. High Test Deli & Sweet Shop

145 Everett St • 828-488-1919 • Official Website

HOURS: Tue to Sat 11AM-3PM; Closed Sundays & Mondays

Formerly known as the Filling Station, the family-owned High Test Deli & Sweet Shop opened up shop in downtown Bryson City back in 2006. 

Their attempt to open an Asheville location in 2019 ultimately fell flat, but the Bryson City location (which is takeout only, but does offer a few sidewalk tables) remains as popular as ever. Expect lines out the door during peak lunch rush. 

The decor and menu both speak to co-owner Barry Tetrault’s love for cars, from retro automotive signs to sandwiches with names like Fill’er Up (Virginia Ham, Turkey & Swiss) and Timing Belt (a BLT with Egg Salad added). 

We opted for their specialty sandwiches, including the High Test (a Cuban with Pork, Ham, Genoa Salami, Swiss Cheese, Pickles & Spicy Mustard) and the Italian Turbo (Ham, Salami, Pepperoni, Provolone & Italian Dressing).

Both were excellent, hot pressed on fresh bread, with lots of meat and perfect seasoning. Try the Onion Rings and Sweet Potato Fries on the side, and don’t forget to save room for dessert!

READ MORE: The 20 Best Downtown Asheville Restaurants for Foodies

La Dolce Vita Bakery/Coffee Shop in Bryson City NC
La Dolce Vita Bakery & Coffee Shop

5. La Dolce Vita Bakery (Coffee Shop)

191 Everett St • 828-488-5888 • Official Website

HOURS: Daily 7AM-5PM

One of our favorite things about our rental loft from Aloft in the Smokies was the proximity it offered to many of the best downtown Bryson City restaurants. 

This bakery/coffee shop was just down the block, tempting us with the sensational smells of their house-roasted gourmet coffees from all around the world. Their delicious coffee drinks quickly became a daily indulgence.

It quickly became our favorite place for breakfast in Bryson City, offering an array of muffins, scones, and other baked treats that satisfied our sweet tooth after rafting the Nantahala River and exploring nearby hiking trails

Their Signature Plates were especially tasty. I loved the Nantahala, which featured Sunburst Farms smoked trout dip, mixed greens, tomatoes, pepitas, cucumbers, and cilantro lime dressing over biscuits or a bagel.

We also enjoyed the Clingmans Dome, which included a fried egg, pimento cheese, sausage gravy, bacon, tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapeños over biscuits or a bagel. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Cabin Rentals in Bryson City NC

Tacos at La Poblana Mexican Restaurant in Bryson City NC
Tacos at La Poblana Mexican Restaurant

6. La Poblana Mexican Restaurant

1341 Main St • 828-488-1701 • Official Website

HOURS: Daily 11AM-9PM

In smaller NC mountain towns such as Banner Elk, Blowing Rock, and Burnsville, it can often be difficult to find the eclectic international cuisine we prefer back home. 

So it’s always a delight when you stumble upon a place like La Poblana, which offers an extensive menu that easily rivals our favorite Mexican restaurants in Georgia

Located on the banks of the Tuckasegee River just outside the heart of Bryson City, the restaurant features a full covered patio in the front, a drive-thru in the back, and a full bar inside. 

Their menu is a mixture of Traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex favorites, including 10 Vegetarian Delights and tons of Combo Platters. Tortilla chips and salsa are brought out immediately, and service was impressively fast. 

At just $10-$14, their Fajitas are a great deal, served on a sizzling skillet piled high with meats and veggies. But our favorite dish was the tacos, including Asada (steak), Carnitas (pulled pork), and Lengua (beef tongue), which paired perfectly with their tasty Margaritas.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Maggie Valley NC

The Rice Wagon Food Truck in Bryson City NC
The Rice Wagon Food Truck

7. The Rice Wagon (Food Truck)

90 Everett St • 828-593-9931 • Official Website

HOURS: Vary (Check Facebook page for updates)

While it can be difficult to find one exceptional international restaurant in smaller Blue Ridge Mountain towns, finding two in one town feels like something of a culinary gold mine.

This one, located behind the Mountain Layers Brewing Company (an award-winning NC Brewery), happens to be a food truck. But it’s arguably the best damn food truck we’ve visited in the state of North Carolina.

Owned by Jeremiah Chatham, The Rice Wagon is one of several Bryson City food trucks that helped to keep the town fed when COVID-related issues forced many local restaurants to close (or severely limited their hours). 

Chatham’s menu offers an innovative fusion of Hawaiian and Asian influences. Popular favorites include traditional dishes such as Garlic Chicken, Ahi Tuna Bowls, and tender Hawaiian Kalua Pork.

But they also feature intriguing specials, such as Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches and Black Balsam Porter beer-braised short ribs. All in all it’s a fantastic find, and one of our favorite places to eat in Bryson City!

READ MORE: Hiking the Deep Creek Trail to 3 Waterfalls in Bryson City NC

Exterior of River's End Restaurant in Bryson City NC
River’s End Restaurant

8. Rivers End Restaurant (Gastropub)

13077 US 19 • 828-488-7172 • Official Website

HOURS: Mon to Wed 11AM-8PM; Thu & Sun 8AM-8PM; Fri & Sat 8AM-9PM

Celebrating its 50th year in 2022, the Nantahala Outdoor Center is one of the best places in North Carolina for river rafting tours, offering trips through Class II and III rapids in the Nantahala National Forest.

They also offer a world class kayaking course, river tubing, a kid’s adventure area, ziplining, and a top-notch Outfitter’s Store selling all the water sports gear you could possibly need. 

Their Bryson City campus is also home to the immensely popular River’s End Restaurant, which is located on the banks of the Nantahala River next to a bridge that is part of NC’s Appalachian Trail

So not only is their food as fantastic as the view, but there’s also some pretty spectacular people-watching, with colorful AT thru-hikers, tourists, and locals all around. 

That being said, this place can get very busy at times. But the gastropub’s menu– hearty burgers and sandwiches, terrific pizzas, world-famous Sherpa Rice, and lots of vegetarian options– is totally worth the wait. 

READ MORE: Kayaking in North Carolina: The 10 Best Rivers to Paddle

Mary enjoying Sandra D's Fried Pies in Bryson City NC
Mary enjoying Sandra D’s Fried Pies

9. Sandra D’s (Fried Pies)

MRKT on the Square, 164 Main St • 828-488-2390 • Official Website

HOURS: Sun to Thu 8AM-6PM; Fri & Sat 8AM-7PM

Sandra D’s Fried Pies was one of the most frequently recommended restaurants when we asked around about the best places to eat in Bryson City.

It was still a food truck when we visited in May of 2022, but has since relocated to a permanent “brick and mortar” location inside Bryson City Outdoors’ MRKT on the Square. 

You can’t swing a stick at an apple orchard or farm market without hitting a fried pie vendor. But Sandra D’s goes beyond the typical fruit options to offer tasty savory pies with an exceptionally crisp, flaky crust.  

The BBQ & Gouda and Pepperoni Pizza Pies were our favorites, but they also offer Brunch Pies (including a delightful Pimento Cheese & Bacon) as well as Raspberry Cream Cheese, Triple Berry, Boston Cream Pies, and more. 

The shop also carries an awesome array of coffee drinks, fresh baked goods (cinnamon rolls, scones, donuts, muffins, cookies, brownies, etc.), and nostalgic candy.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Waynesville NC & Haywood County

Inside the Snak Shak in Bryson City NC
Inside the Snak Shak

10. The Snak Shak (American)

125 Everett St • 828-341-1999 • Official Website

HOURS: Tue to Thu 11AM-6PM; Fri & Sat 8AM-6PM; Closed Sundays & Mondays

Formerly known as Loretta’s Snak Shak, this tiny Bryson City restaurant is located next to the similarly retro Soda Pop’s Ice Cream shop. 

The tiny space is barely large enough to squeeze a half-dozen tables into it (about the same size as a single-wide trailer), but the kitchen conjures up fantastic flavors that prove big things can come in small packages.

The Snak Shak menu is as simple as it is classic, with burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, French fries, and chicken wings among their most popular dishes. 

So why is this “fast casual” restaurant a perennial “Travelers’ Choice” on TripAdvisor, with a 4.7 rating on Google? Because it’s fast, it’s fresh, it’s affordable, and the service is simply sensational. 

In short, it’s everything you could want from small town “mom & pop” restaurants!  –reviews by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

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Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

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The BRMTG was created by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, the award-winning team behind the world-renowned responsible travel website Green Global Travel. Bret grew up camping and hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia and North Carolina with his parents, and the couple both spent childhood summers on the water with their grandparents. After becoming empty nesters, they yearned for a pristine place where they could escape the hustle and bustle of the city, commune with nature and family, and embrace a sustainable lifestyle that leaves time to appreciate the simpler things in life. Join them and their team as they explore the region, offering expert insights on Blue Ridge travel as they search for the perfect mountain home.