As a longtime member of a few Blairsville-related Facebook groups, I’d read numerous complaints about the lack of diversity of non-chain restaurants in the tiny North Georgia mountain town.
With a population of just over 600 and an economy that isn’t nearly as tourism-based as nearby hotspots such as Blue Ridge, Dahlonega, and Helen, we knew not to expect much in the way of culinary innovation.
But those lowered expectations ultimately proved to be beneficial, as they forced us to dig deeper during our recent visit to Blairsville.
Of the dozen or so Blairsville restaurants and bakeries we dined at during our 4-day adventure, nearly every one impressed us in some form or fashion.
And while it may not rival Atlanta or Asheville in terms of diversity just yet, we managed to find several promising new restaurants that suggest Blairsville’s culinary scene is changing for the better.
Read on for our guide to the 10 best restaurants in Blairsville GA, including everything from traditional Southern and farm-to-table fare to excellent Asian, Caribbean/Cuban, and Mexican options.
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The Best Restaurants in Blairsville GA Guide
- Blairsville Restaurant- Grits & Greens (Southern)
- G & G Bakery & Cafe
- The Hole In The Wall (Diner)
- Lucky’s Taqueria & Cantina (Mexican)
- Melissa’s Custom Cakes (Bakery)
- Michaelee’s Italian Life Caffé (Italian)
- Nani’s Restaurant (Cuban/Caribbean)
- Rib Country BBQ
- The Sawmill Place (Farm to Table)
- Teppanyaki Time (Japanese)
1. Blairsville Restaurant- Grits & Greens (Southern)
40 Earnest St • 706-705-5329 • Official Website
HOURS: Daily 7AM-3PM; Wed to Sun 4PM-8PM
Growing up in North Georgia, in a family with deep Appalachian roots dating back more than 250 years, country cooking was a staple of my diet.
And while I generally try to eat healthier these days, the delicious down-home comfort food of a place like Blairsville Restaurant- Grits & Greens hits me in a nostalgic place.
The menu is fairly typical of small town Southern-style restaurants, with customary staples such as Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Chicken, Fried Fish, and Country Fried Steak (noticing a recurring theme?).
But it’s how they do it that separates them from the pack, with a light, flavorful, crunchy breading and sensational sides (including Mac & Cheese, Fried Okra, Collard Greens, Brunswick Stew, etc).
My favorite dish was their Motherclucking Grit Bowl, which features spicy fried chicken dipped into their signature hot honey, then topped with collard greens and pimento cheese over perfectly cooked grits.
They also offer an excellent buffet, which ranges from $8.99 for 4 veggies and $11.99 for one meat and 2 veggies to $24.99 for all-you-can-eat (not available on Friday nights).
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2. G & G Bakery & Café
110 Gainesville Hwy • 706-745-0748 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon to Fri 6AM-3PM; Sat 7AM-2PM; Closed Sunday
Formerly known as Grinds n Glazes, this combination bakery and coffee shop ultimately proved to be one of our favorite places to eat breakfast in Blairsville.
The smell of fresh-brewed coffee when you walk in the door is as tantalizing to your nostrils as the display case loaded with fresh-baked pastries is to the eyes.
We were immediately drawn to delectable delights such as Cranberry Scones and glazed Cinnamon Rolls. But their incredible Cronut– a cross between a croissant and a donut– emerged as my new favorite pastry.
In terms of coffee, the independently-owned shop offers everything you’d want from Starbucks. But with their homespun hospitality, clever signs, and a layout made for socializing, the café feels much more welcoming.
They also have an array of tasty salads, soups, and sandwiches for lunch, as well as breakfast sandwiches, burritos, biscuits, and wraps.
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3. The Hole In The Wall (Diner)
12B Town Square • 706-745-5888 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon 7AM-2PM; Tue to Sat 7AM-3PM; Sun 7:30AM-2PM
By far the oldest of the restaurants in Blairsville (and all of Union County, for that matter), the Hole in the Wall has been a staple of the downtown Blairsville square since 1931.
Priding themselves on “Serving breakfast all day, every day,” the restaurant was revitalized when it was purchased by current owner/operator Mark Cox back in 2006.
One of the most popular places to eat breakfast in Blairsville, the Hole In The Wall offers the sort of homestyle country cooking my Appalachian Granny used to make.
Specials go by colorful names like “The Moonshiner” (2 eggs, bacon or sausage, with biscuit & gravy, French toast, or pancakes) and “Country Mountain Scramble/Hot Mess” (scrambled eggs, sausage, onions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes topped with sausage gravy).
They do have some fanciful options, such as Eggs Benedict, Stuffed N.Y. Style French Toast, and Spanish or Greek Omelettes. But these are the exception, not the rule.
Breakfast isn’t all they do– lunchtime brings burgers, sandwiches, and entrees such as Fried Catfish, Country Fried Steak, and Meat Loaf. But breakfast is what they’re best known for, and they do it very, very well.
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4. Lucky’s Taqueria & Cantina (Mexican)
17 Merchants Walk • 706-487-4231 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon to Sat 11AM-10PM; Closed Sunday
There are a lot of different factors that go into determining the best restaurants in a given town.
For some, it’s all about the taste of the food, or the culinary creativity of a chef-driven menu. For others, it may be a matter of aesthetic appeal, from the interior decor to the artistic presentation of each dish.
In the case of Lucky’s Taqueria & Cantina, one of the newer Mexican restaurants in Blairsville, it’s more about the overall vibe of the place. The food, the mood, and the atmosphere here are unlike anything else in town.
Owned by the team behind Blairsville Restaurant-Grits & Greens, Lucky’s is one of very few places to eat in Blairsville that are open relatively late, have a full bar, and offer live music.
Even on a Monday night, it feels like a neighborhood hangout as much as it does a restaurant.
The menu is fairly traditional Tex-Mex fare– burritos, fajitas, tacos, and quesadillas. There are some surprising options, such as Shrimp & Fish Ceviche, Ahi Tuna, Spicy Mexican Boiled Peanuts, and Chicharrones Nachos (pork rinds topped with beans, lettuce, guac, salsa, sour cream, cheese, and your choice of protein).
But what will keep you coming back is the Cheers-like mood, the lively music, and the warm personality of a place that feels more like Asheville than North Georgia.
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5. Melissa’s Custom Cakes (Bakery)
102 Cleveland St, Suite A • 706-781-1687 • Official Website
HOURS: Tue to Fri 9AM-5:30PM; Sat 9AM-5PM; Closed Sunday & Monday
Melissa’s Custom Cakes is definitely more of a bakery than a restaurant. They’re best-known for making some of the most beautiful wedding and birthday cakes in the North Georgia mountains.
But if you’re looking for delectable desserts– from cakes and brownies to cookies, pastries, and pies– this is our favorite bakery in Blairsville.
I found them while searching for a place that makes gourmet cupcakes, because we were in town partly to celebrate my lady’s birthday.
Owner Melissa Roberts, who has 25 years of baking experience, did not disappoint, offering exceptional bite-sized cupcakes in flavors ranging from decadent double chocolate and mocha to red velvet and zesty lemon.
They were so delicious, we returned to Melissa’s a few days later and picked up samples of their cinnamon rolls, toffee brickle, brownies, and cakes (some of which are available in individual servings).
Needless to say, we savored every bite, and consider Melissa’s the best place in Blairsville to eat dessert.
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6. Michaelee’s Italian Life Caffé (Italian)
6C Town Square • 706-400-5603 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon to Thu 4PM-8PM; Fri/Sat 4PM-9PM; Closed Sunday
There aren’t a lot of fine dining restaurants in Blairsville. So when it came time to choose a romantic restaurant for Mary’s birthday dinner, Michaelee’s Italian Life Caffé was really our only choice.
That being said, it’s a wonderful Italian restaurant with an excellent location, offering gorgeous views of the sun setting on the Historic Union County Courthouse (as well as the Blue Ridge Mountains behind it).
The interior is small, but subtle and sophisticated, with white linen tablecloths, fresh cut flowers, tasteful Italian art, and unobtrusive service that ensures you’re never waiting long for a refilled glass or the next course.
The menu is mostly traditional Italian, with occasional oddball selections (see: shrimp encrusted with shaved white chocolate, served with Chocolate Balsamic). We started with Mama’s Baked Meatballs and fresh French Bread served with garlic herb dipping oil.
For our entrees, Mary went with the Tortelloni Primavera, which is filled with veggies and cooked in a garlic white wine cream sauce (top it with meatballs or Hot Italian Sausage for an extra $3). I tried the Shrimp and Sea Scallop Carbonara, which includes applewood bacon and pea simmered in a Sicilian cream sauce.
Both were absolutely divine, paired perfectly with the suggested wines, and made this our best romantic dinner in Blairsville.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Wineries in the North Georgia Mountains
7. Nani’s Restaurant (Cuban/Caribbean)
51 D Earnest St • 706-745-0010 • Official Website
HOURS: Tue to Thu 11AM-7PM; Fri/Sat 11AM-8PM; Closed Sunday & Monday
We’re huge fans of a variety of international cuisines– Ethiopian, Indian, Korean, Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Vietnamese, etc. Living in Woodstock GA has allowed us easy access to many of them.
But finding good ethnic food in the North Georgia mountains can be challenging. So a place like Nani’s Restaurant (which opened in 2007, moving to downtown Blairsville in 2012) is a true gem to discover.
We’ve traveled in Latin America extensively, and the family-owned restaurant’s homestyle Cuban/Caribbean fare tastes as authentic as any we’ve had in the islands.
The roasted pork in their Signature Cuban Sandwich is simply sensational, tender and moist with a perfectly citrusy Mojo tang. Their Ropa Vieja is also intensely flavorful, featuring shredded beef in a red wine sauce with onions, pimientos, peppers and tomatoes.
Though their “Piggy Bowl” and “Chicky Bowl” are popular, we’re more impressed by left-of-center offerings such as Pork Schnitzel, Shrimp Creo (with Nani’s Creo Sauce), and weekend specials like Seafood Paella.
This is a special place we look forward to revisiting the next time we’re in Blairsville.
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8. Rib Country BBQ
21 Kousins Dr • 706-781-3530 • Official Website
HOURS: Sun to Thu 11AM-8PM; Fri/Sat 11AM-9PM
We don’t normally feature chain restaurants on our website. But this Blue Ridge Mountains-bred, family-owned chain (which has locations in Cleveland GA and Hayesville & Murphy NC) deserves its growing success.
Located right off Hwy 515 near the heart of town, Rib Country’s slow-cooked, hardwood smoked meats rival those of Smokeout BBQ (owned by the Blairsville Restaurant folks) for the best barbecue in Blairsville.
One of our favorite things about Rib Country is their covered, dog-friendly patio, which is heated in winter. We loved having our dogs with us while we ate, and they loved getting tiny tastes of our brisket and ribs.
The meats were perfectly prepared– moist and succulent, with just the right amount of smoky flavor– and paired perfectly with sides such as Southern Fried Okra, BBQ Baked Beans, and Apple sauce.
They also offer hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken tenders, fish sandwiches, and salads for folks who don’t like BBQ. But we are definitely not those people!
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9. The Sawmill Place (Farm to Table)
1150 Pat Haralson Dr • 706-745-1250 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon to Fri 6:30AM-2PM; Sat 6:30AM-11:30AM; Closed Sunday
Between all the wineries, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, pick-your-own berries places, and Christmas tree farms, you can’t swing a stick in North Georgia without hitting some sort of agritourism outfit.
Shawn & Amy Kight, owners of The Sawmill Place Kitchen + Market, wisely tap into this abundance of Georgia grown products with a farm-to-table restaurant that emphasizes strong relationships with local farmers.
Established in 2001, the restaurant proudly promotes its usage of local ingredients from Big Branch Valley and 7M Farms, Logan Turnpike Mill, JumpinGoat Coffee Roasters (near Helen), Mercier Orchards (in Blue Ridge), the Union County Farmer’s Market, and other growers from the area.
You can taste the freshness in their food, from the eggs, bacon, sausage, and grits of the Morning Sampler and Sawmill Breakfast to the fruit in their delicious Banana Nut Bread French Toast and Healthy Start Oatmeal.
You can also order ingredients to take home from the Market right next to the restaurant.
We didn’t have a chance to try their harvest-driven lunch menu, which changes seasonally and features daily specials, but we will definitely be back next time we visit Blairsville!
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10. Teppanyaki Time (Japanese)
305 Murphy Hwy, Suite D • 706-675-2968 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon to Thu 11AM-7PM; Fri/Sat 11AM-8PM; Sun Noon-4PM
The latest venture by restauranteur Matt Leonard (Blairsville Restaurant, Lucky’s, Smokeout BBQ), Teppanyaki Time is a “fast casual” concept with a focus on Japanese and Asian fusion cuisine.
It was inspired by the success of Atlanta’s Raving Brands, which was known for fun and irreverent restaurants such as Moe’s Southwest Grill, Planet Smoothie, and Doc Green’s.
Executive Chef Brian Kim’s menu features all of your Japanese favorites, from sushi and poke to Udon noodle soup, hibachi bowls, fried rice bowls, and Yakisoba (Japanese chow mein).
There’s also a secret menu, “Chef Kim’s World Cuisine,” that’s only available to those who sign up for their VIP Club (which is free). It includes pan-global dishes ranging from Korean Bulgogi Beef BBQ and Hawaiian-style Pineapple Chicken to Lomo Saltado (a spicy Peruvian story fry) and Chinese Chow Mein.
With fast counter service, entrees averaging $10 to $15, and delivery available, this would be our go-to place if we lived in Blairsville! –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett unless otherwise noted