[Updated January 13, 2023]
We’ve explored 40-50 of small towns in North Carolina over the last few years, from tiny burghs like Bryson City and Little Switzerland to major tourism hotspots like Blowing Rock, Boone, and Cherokee.
But none of these mountain towns has had more personal relevance for me than Waynesville NC.
Waynesville was named after “Mad Anthony” Wayne, his commanding officer during the American Revolution.
But while we visited in part to research my Love family history, we also made time to explore the area’s best attractions, from local hiking trails and waterfalls to all the best museums, shops, and restaurants.
We were genuinely impressed with the extensive array of great restaurants in the relatively small town (population: 10,285), which went beyond the typical breakfast/burgers/BBQ fare.
Read on for our guide to the best restaurants in Waynesville NC, including Birchwood Hall Southern Kitchen, Chef’s Table, The Cuban Guy, Haywood Smokehouse, Suwana Asian Cuisine, and more!
Best Restaurants in Waynesville NC Guide
- Beach Mountain Diner
- Birchwood Hall Southern Kitchen
- Blue Rooster Southern Grill
- The Buttered Biscuit (Breakfast)
- Chef’s Table (Fine Dining)
- Crepe & Custard
- The Cuban Guy
- Dillsboro Chocolate Factory
- Frog Level Brewing Co (Gastropub)
- Haywood Smokehouse (BBQ)
- Orchard Coffee
- Suwana Asian Cuisine (Asian Fusion)
- Third Bay Filling Station (Cafe)
- Valé 241 Southern Italian Kitchen
READ MORE: The 20 Best Things To Do in Waynesville NC
1. Beach Mountain Diner
429 Hazelwood Ave • 828-246-6800 • Official Website
HOURS: Daily 7AM-3PM
Located in the increasingly hip Hazelwood section of town, the Beach Mountain Diner is the latest venture from veteran restaurateur Barry Adeeb.
When he saw an old pharmacy location available in 2020, it inspired him to open a new concept in in Waynesville, where he’s owned a home for many years.
The upscale diner combines bright colors that reflect his base in sunny Florida, with decorative accents you’d expect from NC mountain cabins, including a cozy stone hearth fireplace and wood plank floors and ceilings.
The Beach Mountain Diner menu offers classic comfort food with enough experimentation to keep things interesting.
Unique breakfast offerings include Mama Helen‘s Fried Chicken & Waffles, Fried Fish-n-Grits, and Mexican, Greek, and Shrimp & Crab Omelets. The lunch menu is more conventional, featuring excellent deli-style sandwiches.
The Godfather (a great grilled Italian sub), Smothered Beef, and Garlic Shrimp Rider made an excellent picnic for our visit to nearby Sunburst Falls.
2. Blue Rooster Southern Grill
207 Paragon Pkwy, Clyde NC • 828-456-1997 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon to Thu 11AM-8PM; Fri 11AM-8:30PM; Closed Saturdays & Sundays
Located just 4 miles from Downtown Waynesville in tiny Clyde NC (just east of Lake Junaluska), this funky Southern eatery offers the area’s best Skillet Fried Chicken– moist, tender, with a crispy crunch to the coating.
Their sides were even more impressive. The lightly battered Fried Squash and Fried Green Tomatoes are arguably the best we’ve ever had, and the Sweet Potato Casserole reminded me of the one my mom used to make.
Blue Rooster Southern Grill’s menu is full of other great entree options, from Low Country Fish & Grits and the Rather Be Fishin’ Po Boy to the Carolina Pulled Pork Platter and North Georgia Chicken Tenders.
But, to be honest, I’d happily go back and have their Cast Iron Buttermilk Cornbread and the “pick 4 veggies” Farmer’s Supper, because every side we tried tasted like it had been harvested fresh that morning.
READ MORE: The 10 Best Hendersonville NC Restaurants
3. Birchwood Hall Southern Kitchen
111 N Main St, Waynesville NC • (828) 246-6111 • Official Website
HOURS: Tue to Thu & Sun 4PM-9PM; Fri & Sat 4PM-10PM; Closed Sundays
Opened by Executive Chef Nicolas Peek in 2017, the Downtown Waynesville restaurant’s mission is to elevate the concept of authentic Southern cuisine.
Peek defies the misconceptions of traditional Appalachian cooking as “greasy, diner, deep fried dishes” with a fantastic farm-to-table menu that utilizes the highest quality local ingredients he can find.
Named for a historic Civil War-era home that was once on Main Street, Birchwood Hall combines rustic and modern design elements (including a deer antler chandelier) to create one of the most upscale places to eat in Waynesville.
Everything we tried (including the craft cocktails) was exquisite, but we recommend the savory Dad’s Tomato Pie, the Pork Belly & Grits appetizer, and the Pan-seared Sunburst Trout.
4. The Buttered Biscuit (Breakfast)
1226 Dellwood Rd • 828-246-6446 • Official Website
HOURS: Wed to Mon 7AM-2PM; Closed Tuesdays
You don’t need the intelligence of Albert Einstein to venture a guess as to the highlight of any meal at this popular place to eat breakfast in Waynesville.
If the name, The Buttered Biscuit, didn’t clue you in, the sheer size of the biscuit featured in the photo above should make it clear that these are NOT your grandma’s country biscuits.
Serving breakfast all day and lunch from 11AM to 2PM, this impressive Waynesville restaurant prides itself on offering huge portions, with farm-fresh foods made from scratch every morning.
You can get those biscuits just about any way you want, with toppings ranging from savory (bacon, buffalo chicken, country ham, pork tenderloin, sausage, etc.) to sweet (fruit compote).
Other options for what is arguably the best breakfast in Waynesville include 9 different omelets, French toast, pancakes, waffles, and a “Scrambler” bowl that mixes hash browns, scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, and cheese.
5. Chef’s Table (Fine Dining)
30 Church St • 828-452-6210 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon to Sat 5PM-9PM; Closed Sundays
Arguably the most romantic restaurant in Waynesville we tried during our recent visit, the Chef’s Table offers fine dining in an elegant atmosphere that’s unlike any other eatery in town.
After starting at the Chef’s Table as a chef in 2006, Monroe had a chance to purchase the place in 2009. His cuisine has since won awards from Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, and more.
He and his wife brought their mutual love of Slow Food to the Downtown Waynesville restaurant. They use veggies from their own gardens and source as many fresh seasonal ingredients as possible from local farms.
Our favorite dishes included the Signature Goat Cheese Risotto Balls, the Grilled Romaine Salad (with goat cheese, dried cranberries, and Apple Wood-Smoked Bacon), Shrimp & Oyster Po Boy Pasta, and an Osso Bucco-style Lamb Shank served with a decadently delicious demi-glace.
READ MORE: The 15 Best North Carolina Wineries to Visit
6. Crepe & Custard
55 Memory Ln, Lake Junaluska NC • (828) 283-8199 • Official Website
HOURS: Daily 8AM-4PM
Opened in 2022, the restaurant is owned by Drake and Jessie Fultz. Western NC native Drake has 20+ years of restaurant experience, including being General Manager and co-owner of the Haywood 209 Cafe.
Their simple menu includes Sweet, Savory, and Breakfast Crepes, as well as a few salads, sides, and a Soup of the Day. We went with the Monte Cristo (which is topped with strawberry jam) and Beef & Cheddar Crepe (with smoked horseradish), which were both hearty and flavorful.
For dessert, it was tough to choose between the Build-Your-Own Custard option or the Nothing But Nutella Crepe, so we decided to get both and share. Needless to say, we have no regrets!
7. The Cuban Guy
42 Montgomery St • 828-246-9649 • Official Website
HOURS: Tue to Sat 11AM-4PM; Closed Sundays & Mondays
One of our favorite Downtown Waynesville restaurants, The Cuban Guy is located in a small strip shopping center tucked back on a side street just one block west of North Main Street.
While it’s relative easy to find Mexican food in Haywood County, this is really the only other option for Latin American restaurants in town.
They made a name for themselves by winning first place in the restaurants division of the Waynesville Chili Cook-off.
But it’s their traditional Cuban food options– especially the Cuban Sandwich– that makes this one of the best places to eat in Waynesville.
Their flavorful Mojo Pork is marinated for 2 to 3 days, then roasted for 8 to 9 hours to ensure maximum tenderness.
We also recommend their authentic Ham Croquetas, Guava Pastelitos, and homemade “take-and-bake” Pastelon.
READ MORE: The 10 Most Haunted Places in North Carolina
8. Dillsboro Chocolate Factory
170 North Main St • 828-246-9838 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon to Fri 10AM-5PM; Sat 10AM-6PM; Sun Noon-5PM
With its original location in Dillsboro NC (20 miles southwest of Waynesville), the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory is an unusual family-owned shop that’s not really a restaurant, but it’s not NOT a restaurant either.
Obviously they have an extensive array of chocolate; in fact, they’re the only gourmet chocolate shop in Waynesville.
They use Column Single-Bean Venezuelan Cacao with no fillers, which leads to a very unique flavor profile.
Their Downtown Waynesville shop is like an upscale version of a chocoholic’s Willy Wonka fever dream.
There are endless options, from their award-winning Smoky Mountain Truffles & Shooters (which are flavored with liqueurs) to an array of fudge, hand-dipped chocolates, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and even sugar free sweets!
But they also have a full-service coffee shop, featuring 15 different kinds of gourmet coffee beans, all of which are locally roasted in Asheville.
If that’s not enough, they also boast an impressive array of packaged jerky, from locally made Elk jerky to South African-style Biltong (dried beef) and Droëwors (dry sausage) from the North Carolina-based Bledie Lekker.
9. Frog Level Brewing Co. (Gastropub)
56 Commerce St, Waynesville NC • (828) 454-5664 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon to Thu 11:30AM-9PM; Fri & Sat 11:30AM-10PM; Sun 11:30AM-8PM
But Frog Level Brewing Co. makes a “quality over quantity” argument, offering grew microbrews and fantastic food in one of the town’s oldest and most historic sections.
The Frog Level Historic District (which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places) has 16 buildings that offer examples of Early Commercial and Romanesque architecture, some of which date back 100+ years.
Frog Level Brewing Co. is its hippest spot, with a beautiful interior filled with local art, a great gastropub menu, a working microbrewery right in the dining room, and an expansive shaded patio overlooking the creek.
We loved every dish we’ve tried there, but our favorites include the Boiled Peanuts, Sunburst Farms Trout Dip, Cajun Shrimp Tacos, and Moonshine BBQ Brisket Sandwich.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Historic Sites in Georgia
10. Haywood Smokehouse (BBQ)
79 Elysinia Ave • 828-456-7275 • Official Website
HOURS: Wed to Fri 11AM-8PM; Sat 11AM-9PM; Closed Sundays, Mondays & Tuesdays
From Farm House Produce in Dahlonega GA and Pig & Grits in Burnsville NC to the Pedalin’ Pig in Boone and Banner Elk, we’ve been fortunate to sample some of the best BBQ joints the Blue Ridge region has to offer.
We’re adding Haywood Smokehouse to the list, and consider it one of the best BBQ restaurants in the region.
With 3 Western North Carolina locations (the others are in Dillsboro and Franklin), the Haywood Smokehouse specializes in Texas-style barbecue using premium meats and house-made sausages.
Their slow-roasted approach leads to meat that is fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth tender. And even their side dishes (especially Burnt-end Baked Beans, Collard Greens, and Green Beans) offer intense smoky flavors.
We went for the gusto with their 3-meat Smokehouse Combo Platter, which includes your choice of meats (Pork, Brisket, Chicken, Turkey, Ribs, or the Sausage of the Day), plus two sides and Texas Toast.
Every single bite was sensational (with an array of house-made sauces to choose from), as was their Brunswick Stew and traditional Banana Pudding for dessert.
11. Orchard Coffee
39 Depot St • 828-246-9264 • Official Website
HOURS: Thu to Tue 8AM-5PM; Closed Wednesdays
From local friends and Haywood County Tourism reps to Yelp (where it has a 5-star rating), it seemed like everyone we talked to raved about Orchard Coffee.
So it was with heightened expectations that we entered the coffee bar/bakery on our last morning in town.
It was immediately easy to see why Orchard Coffee is so widely ranked among the best coffee shops in Waynesville.
There’s colorful art adoring the walls, stylish decor, cool music playing at a reasonable volume, and an interesting mix of locals (aging hippies, tattooed hipsters, snazzy businessmen, and middle-aged moms) mingling about.
The food (we had French Toast with berries, a breakfast sandwich, and fresh-baked blueberry muffin) is fantastic, and the award-winning coffee (which is roasted by the owner) is even better. We’ll definitely be back!
12. Suwana Asian Cuisine (Asian Fusion)
128 North Main St • 828-246-0155 • Official Website
HOURS: Tue to Sun Lunch: 11AM-3PM; Dinner 4:30PM-9PM; Closed Mondays
Longtime readers know that we started our site in large part because we’re empty nesters hoping to find the perfect place to live in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
And as diehard foodies, finding towns with an extensive assortment of good restaurants to choose from is a huge part of that equation. While we love traditional Appalachian fare, culinary diversity is also important.
For us, this is where the Waynesville NC restaurant scene truly shines by comparison.
Back home in North Atlanta, we eat an array of Asian cuisines, from Japanese and Korean to Thai and Vietnamese.
Suwana Asian Cuisine offers a fusion of traditional Asian flavors, all under one roof.
So we were able to have favorites such as Basil Spring Rolls, Fried Rice, Pad Kee Mao (a.k.a. Drunken Noodles), Ramen, and Sushi, all under one roof.
Impressively, every single dish we tried was just as good as our favorite restaurants back in the city!
13. Third Bay Filling Station (Cafe)
136 Depot St, Ste 103, Waynesville NC • (828) 246-6868 • Official Website
HOURS: Tue to Sat 9AM-3PM; Closed Sundays & Mondays
There is clearly no shortage of great places to eat breakfast in Waynesville, but the Third Bay Filling Station is one of our personal favorites.
Located next to the Corner Station Olive Oil Company, Third Bay was opened in 2018 by Cathey Bolton and her mom, Katy Bolton.
Both businesses (and Cathey’s pottery/design work) occupy a historic building that was built and operated as Walker’s Service Station by Katy’s grandfather nearly 100 years ago!
The cafe/coffee shop side is very small, with the kitchen and product display cases occupying the majority of the space. But there’s plenty of shaded seating on their expansive outdoor patio.
From their breakfast menu, we enjoyed the Big Breakfast Burrito (which combines the Frittata and Cheesy Egg Hash Brown Bake), the Breakfast Bowl, and the fresh-baked muffins (try the Vanilla Almond Blueberry Muffin).
15. Valé 243 Southern Italian Kitchen
243 Paragon Pkwy, Clyde NC • (828) 246-9199 • Official Website
HOURS: Mon to Thu 11AM-8PM; Fri & Sat 11AM-8:30PM; Closed Sundays
In my teens and early 20s, I put myself through college by working at (and ultimately managing) a small family-owned Italian restaurant in Atlanta.
Walking into Valé 243 Southern Italian Kitchen, which is located in a strip shopping center in tiny Clyde NC (4 miles north of Downtown Waynesville), I instantly flashed back to my 5-year stint at At’sa Pizza.
The dining room is small and intimate, with antique Italian photos and art lining the walls. Owner Valerio Vuotto, a native of Southern Italy, comes out often to check on guests, warmly greeting his regulars by name.
His menu is packed with authentic Italian dishes, from paninis and pastas to parmesans (chicken, eggplant, and veal) and piccata.
They arguably have the best pizza in Waynesville, but we especially loved the Florentine Ravioli and Penne Alla Vodka, as well as the buttery soft Garlic Knots. –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett unless otherwise noted
READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Maggie Valley NC