Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains about 25 miles southwest of Helen, Dahlonega is one of the oldest mountain towns in North Georgia.
The small town of around 7,500 residents is best known as the site of the 1828 Georgia gold rush, which predated the California gold rush by 21 years and brought thousands of prospectors seeking their fortune.
But these days it has became a hub for tourism to the North Georgia mountains, with an array of historical attractions, shops, hotels, and wineries in Dahlonega that draw visitors all year round.
There are a plethora of excellent Dahlonega restaurants to choose from, with a culinary scene that easily rivals those in nearby towns like Blue Ridge, Ellijay, and Helen.
Our favorite places to eat in Dahlonega include everything from low-key BBQ joints and cozy cafés to upscale cajun/creole fare and a 4-star fine dining experience at a popular winery.
Read on for our guide to the best restaurants in Dahlonega GA for foodies, including the Bourbon Street Grille, Smith House Restaurant, Montaluce Winery Restaurant, and more…
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The Best Restaurants in Dahlonega GA Guide
- The Bourbon Street Grille (Cajun)
- Crimson Moon (Southern)
- Farmhouse Produce & the BBQ Kitchen (BBQ)
- The Fudge Factory (Chocolate)
- Montaluce Winery & Restaurant (Fine Dining)
- Picnic Cafe & Dessertery (Bakery)
- The Smith House Restaurant (Family Style/Southern)
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1. The Bourbon Street Grille (Cajun)
90 Public Square North • 706-864-0086 • $$
The Bourbon Street Grille is one of our favorite downtown Dahlonega restaurants, bringing a great taste of New Orleans’ cajun and creole cuisine to North Georgia.
One of several great Dahlonega restaurants located on the Dahlonega Square, Bourbon Street Grille boasts multiple dining rooms, a full bar, an outdoor patio on the lower level, and a small balcony upstairs.
We started our meal with their Fried Seafood Sampler, which allows you to choose 3 from their options, which include shrimp, crawfish, mahi, fried oysters, and crab puppies.
The fried oysters and crab puppies were our favorites– tender, juicy, with light breading and a delicious remoulade sauce for dipping.
For entrees we chose the classic Gumbo (with chicken and mild sausage over gouda cheese grits) and Shrimp & Crawfish Etoufée, both of which made the most of their intensely flavorful roux.
My daughter also enjoyed her Beyond the Bayou Burger with mushrooms, grilled tomato, and asiago cheese on a brioche bun.
Our only complaint was that the restaurant was crowded at 5pm on a weeknight, so we chose to eat in the noisy bar rather than wait for a table. Next time, we’ll hold out for the dining room.
2. Crimson Moon (Southern)
24 N Park St North • 706-864-3982 • $$
Established in 2001, the Crimson Moon is a unique restaurant located in the second oldest commercial structure on the historic public square in downtown Dahlonega.
The place is unique because it’s equal parts cozy café (think rustic coffee house), lively dive bar (including craft beers, wine, and cocktails), and what is arguably the best live music venue in the mountains of Georgia.
Built circa 1858, their pinewood dining room offers awesome acoustics and a chance to see excellent artists up close (see: 105 seats within 40 feet of the stage).
Local icons like the Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray and Zac Brown have performed there, and they regularly feature rising singer-songwriters and open mic nights.
The food is also much better than you might expect from a concert hall, with great sandwiches (try the Ultimate Grilled Cheese or the Little Dive Bar Burger 2.0, which features jalapeños and BBQ sauce) and entrees (the Grilled Ahi Tuna and signature Gold City Sirloin are our favorites).
3. Farm House Produce & the BBQ Kitchen (BBQ)
4690 GA-52 • 706-864-8968 • $
If you’ve ever driven through the intersection of GA-52 and GA-115 on your way to Cleveland or Helen, chances are good that you’ve noticed Farm House Produce & BBQ.
Framed by an array of chainsaw-carved bear statues on one side and an old rusty pickup truck on the other, its hilarious sign reads, “ALMOST FAMOUS: NO AWARDS YET.”
With its self-deprecating sense of humor, dilapidated exterior (including bins of fruit from local apple orchards), and no-frills interior, it’d be easy to discount the place as just another nondescript North Georgia BBQ joint.
But one taste of their exquisitely moist and tender barbecue and you’ll understand why we rank them as one of the best restaurants in Dahlonega, Georgia.
The menu is simple– just a handful of sandwiches, combos, and sides– but the results are truly rave-worthy.
Their BBQ Baked Beans are easily the best I’ve ever had, with ground beef and bacon mixed in, and the pulled pork sandwich (which was at least 4-5 inches tall) will make you wonder why they’re not famous yet.
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4. The Fudge Factory (Chocolate)
8 N Park St • 706-864-3988 • $
Does a place that sells nothing but sweets qualify as a restaurant in your eyes? If so, the Fudge Factory is one of our favorite Dahlonega restaurants on the square!
Opened in 1982, this longtime downtown Dahlonega mainstay has been featured in Hallmark Christmas movies such as 2016’s Christmas In Homestead.
It’s easy to see why: From the charming exterior to the dazzling array of hand-dipped chocolates, fudge, and other confections you’ll find inside, the Fudge Factory is a fantastic place to get your sugar fix.
As its name implies, the cream and butter fudge is the biggest draw here.
They have 15 tempting varieties, including stalwarts like Butter Brickle and Peanut Butter as well as scrumptious seasonal flavors like Pumpkin Pie. All are sold by the pound, with samples available on request.
They also make some of the best chocolates we’ve ever tasted, including gourmet peanut butter cups, dipped pretzels, and a mind-blowing chocolate covered Boar’s Head bacon!
5. Montaluce Winery & Restaurant (Fine Dining)
501 Hightower Church Rd • 706-867-4060 • $$$$
No conversation about the best restaurants in Dahlonega, Georgia would be complete without the Montaluce Winery, which is home to the most romantic restaurant in Dahlonega we visited.
The extravagant fine dining restaurant is one of two eateries located at the top of a hill that overlooks the Montaluce vineyards and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountain scenery.
There’s a gift shop featuring their award-winning wines, a tasting bar, and a luxurious, intimately lit dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows and a roaring fire in the open hearth fireplace.
Their menu features some of the most upscale food in Dahlonega, including starters such as a Cheese & Charcuterie Board (with 3 meats, 4 cheeses, pickled mustard seed, pickled jalapeños, and more) and a wonderful Sweet Potato Croquette stiffed with brie and served with balsamic fig glaze.
For entrees at the Dahlonega winery, we heartily recommend the Deconstructed Shepherd’s Pie (with skirt steak, purple mashed potatoes, baby carrots, and puff pastry in a delicious stew) and Pan-seared Duck Breast (served with roasted mashed cauliflower, sautéed Swiss chard, and a stone black cherry gastrique).
Whatever you do, you MUST save room for dessert. Their Bailey’s Irish Creme S’Mores are simply divine!
READ MORE: The Best Wineries in the North Georgia Mountains
6. Picnic Cafe & Dessertery (Bakery)
30 Public Square • 706-864-1095 • $$
The first of the Dahlonega Square restaurants we dined at ultimately proved to be one of our favorite places to eat. It was a café so nice, we ate there twice during our latest 2-day visit!
The Picnic Café & Dessertery is a great place to get breakfast in Dahlonega, offering fresh-baked biscuits, bagels, pastries, and muffins as well as an array of iced or hot coffees and teas.
We also loved their lunch menu (which is available from 11 am-6:30 pm), especially the Pimento Cheese BLT Sandwich, BBQ Pork Sandwich, and Quiche Plate (choose from Spinach & Mushroom, Sausage & Cheese, Veggie, or Turkey & Swiss).
Each comes with two sides, and all are great for a picnic at the local waterfalls.
But what really sealed it for us was their delicious soups and sides, which include a delightful Tomato Basil Bisque, Spicy White Bean Chicken Chili, and the best Brunswick Stew we’ve had in years!
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7. The Smith House Restaurant (Family Style/Southern)
84 S Chestatee St • 706-867-7000 • $$
The history of The Smith House dates back to 1884, when Captain Frank Hall purchased an acre east of the Dahlonega town square to build a home.
Construction finished in 1899, and Hall died of typhoid soon thereafter.
Henry and Bessie Smith purchased the property in 1922 and turned it into a boarding house, with 7 guest rooms and Bessie’s home-cooked meals served up on the long communal tables that remain today.
My first family-style meal at the Smith House Restaurant was for my cousin’s wedding rehearsal dinner back in 2009.
I was blown away by the succulent Fried Chicken and Pot Roast, while the flavorful Fried Okra, Collard Greens, and Cornbread brought back warm memories of my Appalachian Granny’s home cooking.
They no longer offer refills today due to COVID concerns, but everything else about the Smith House Restaurant remains virtually unchanged.
It is inarguably among the very best places to eat in Dahlonega GA! –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett except lead pic of Montaluce Restaurant, via Explore Georgia
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