We’ve explored dozens of small towns in North Carolina over the last few years, from tiny burghs like Burnsville, 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.
Located halfway between Cherokee and Asheville, the town was founded in 1809 by my great (X4) grand-uncle, Colonel Robert Love, and 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 the Blue Rooster Southern Grill, Chef’s Table, The Cuban Guy, Haywood Smokehouse, Suwana Asian Cuisine, and more!
Best Restaurants in Waynesville NC Guide
- Beach Mountain Diner
- Blue Rooster Southern Grill
- The Buttered Biscuit (Breakfast)
- Chef’s Table (Fine Dining)
- The Cuban Guy
- Dillsboro Chocolate Factory
- Haywood Smokehouse (BBQ)
- Orchard Coffee
- Suwana Asian Cuisine (Asian Fusion)
- Wildflour Blue (Bakery)
READ MORE: The 15 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 slightly more conventional but features some excellent deli-style sandwiches.
The Godfather (an excellent 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 just the right crispy crunch to the coating.
Strangely enough, 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 one my mom used to make.
The Blue Rooster Southern Grill 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’d been harvested fresh that morning.
READ MORE: The 10 Best Hendersonville NC Restaurants
3. 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.
4. 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
5. The Cuban Guy
42 Montgomery St • 828-246-9649 • Official Website
HOURS: Wed to Sat 11AM-4PM; Sun 11AM-3PM; Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
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 Latin American restaurant option in town.
The family-owned eatery is led by chef Angel Garrido, with his mother, Maria, and daughter Stephanie manning the register and helping out in the kitchen.
The restaurant made a name for itself by winning first place in the restaurant 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.
6. 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.
7. 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 the Haywood Smokehouse to the list, and consider it the best BBQ restaurant in Waynesville.
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.
8. 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!
9. 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
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!
10. WildFlour Blue (Bakery)
113 North Main St • 828-246-9549• Official Website
HOURS: Tue to Sat 9AM-6PM; Sun 11AM-6PM; Closed Mondays
From Melissa’s Custom Cakes in Blairsville GA and the McFarlan Bake Shop in Hendersonville NC to Bubblecake in Roanoke VA, all of our favorite mountain towns seem to have at least one top-notch bakery.
WildFlour Blue is arguably the best bakery in Waynesville, with a prime location in a historic stone building (built as a bank in 1903) right in the heart of the Main Street shopping district.
It’s a great place to grab a tasty pastry and some coffee (roasted by Waynesville’s Smoky Mountain Coffee Roasters).
We tried their Apple Fritters, Cinnamon Rolls, and Blueberry Scones, all of which were scrumptious.
We also grabbed a few of their Cupcakes, Macarons, and massive Oatmeal Cream Pies for the road.
All of them still tasted fresh a few days later, and the Oatmeal Cream Pie was probably the best I’ve ever had.
But what’s really cool is that there’s also a quirky gift shop, and there are sofas and games upstairs.
So this is the sort of place you’ll want to linger with friends, have a nosh, and soak in the welcoming atmosphere. –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett unless otherwise noted