6 Best Restaurants in Boone, NC You Should Try

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Boone has a bounty of culture and beauty to discover. It’s a quaint town rich with outdoor adventure and charming artistic attractions. Unsurprisingly, Boone is also a high country haven for the culinary craft and there are some great restaurants in Boone to enjoy.

The foodie scene in Boone prides itself on a focus of fresh and local fares sourced sustainably and isn’t something you would expect out of a small North Carolina mountain town. Everything comes with a flair of mountain town charm and Southern hospitality. Nothing pairs with their eclectic eateries quite like a bonafide Boone beer from a Boone brewery. Let’s dig into the best Boone restaurants.


The Best Restaurants in Boone, NC


Cafe Portofino

best restaurants in boone, nc

Set in a historic hundred year old building, Cafe Portofino is a casual eatery cooking up classic Italian cuisine and ones of the best restaurants in Boone, NC. With an open kitchen and cozy dining room, it creates a charming and easygoing ambiance. The structure was once home to an old railway maintenance station, adding to its vintage vibe. The outdoor deck offers gorgeous views of the surroundings, the mountain backdrop is the ideal alfresco companion. 

Plating up fresh handmade pasta, as well as pizzas and sandwiches, the menu here has a vast selection of creative courses. The Spiced Sirloin Over Penne, is a common preferred pick. 

Next door is a full service adjoining bar aptly named ‘Tap Room’. It provides a plethora of entertainment activities with large screen TVs, darts, billiards, video games, a jukebox, and board games. 

In the frequent crowd you’ll find a mix of college kids and young professionals. There is an extensive list of globally inspired wines, locally made beers, and specialty crafted cocktails. Try one of their many takes on the time honored drink the Mule. 


The Cardinal

The Cardinal boasts cuisine that is as fresh and local as possible, always with an added bit of extra flair. Everything is farm-to-table, as they solely utilize regional farms such as Heritage Homestead and Against the Grain. It’s set in a log cabin which provides a warm woodsy feel, matching any meal you may order. 

They serve all the favorite American foods, though you may find fares on the menu that are unique and exciting compared to the usual suspects of the area. If you’re feeling adventurous, order the Wild Game Burger. It offers a patty made up of unusual meat that is always rotating and includes options such as emu or antelope. The portions are always hefty, so come prepared (meaning hungry). 

If you aren’t a carnivore don’t despair, they have the best beet burger you’ve ever tasted on deck here. Even with all of their inventive dishes, they certainly haven’t neglected their drinks menu. The owners have a strong background in bartending, and as such each cocktail feels thoughtful and carefully crafted. 

There are 12 taps of always rotating Carolina drafts. The outdoor patio is a delightful way to dine, and dog friendly so you can bring your pup along. For a savory and often surprising supper, The Cardinal is a classic and craveable choice. 


CoBo

best restaurants in boone, nc

The name stands for the amalgamation of Colorado and Boone. The Rockies are where the head chef and owner learned to create exciting new Asian flavors, in order to bring them all the way to the quaint mountain town of Boone. He flawlessly combines his hometown roots with upscale Japanese delicacies to make one of the best restaurants in Boone. For sushi with a twist, CoBo serves up specialty rolls that capture the imagination and hearts of all who venture here.

They offer a diverse range of sakes as well, including hot, crystalline and cloudy, and flavored. Get a flight so you can taste test many of them at once and compare the more traditional styles to the newer and funkier ones. You can also get a sake-tail, like the Ichigo Fizz, which is strawberry sake, gin, lemon, basil, honey syrup, and prosecco. 

The decor incorporates a mountain atmosphere, with warm lighting and stone columns, that feels elegant yet homey. The urban ambiance is sophisticated, matching the balanced Japanese flavors of the fares. At the open sushi bar you can watch the experts delicately and deftly hand roll your order. 

The menu is contemporary, try the Sundown Express which is yellowtail, apple, avocado, crab, lemon, red tobiko, and ponzu. The New Yorker is another heavy hitter, made with filet mignon, lobster, asparagus, shallot, and special sauce. CoBo offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience. 


Coyote Kitchen

best restaurants in boone, nc

Coyote Kitchen is a family-run restaurant and a staple of the food scene in the area. Specializing in Southwestern Caribbean Soul Food, the bold and fascinating flavors of these dishes are sure to blow you away.  

Each item on the menu is inventive, ensuring you’ll find a plate to pique your interest and please your palate. They offer bowls, boats, burgers, and burritos. As a sustainable establishment, the fish they use are eco-friendly and the meat is free of all hormones and antibiotics. 

One culinary concoction in particular has become a local legend, the Taos Boat. It’s layers of corn bread, black beans, rosemary chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted corn, fried plantains, tomatoes, broiled jack cheese, and chipotle cream cheese. 

It’s also an ideal dining destination for vegans and vegetarians. Any ingredients can be switched out for any other, allowing you to make the meal that suits your dietary needs, and giving you a vaster variety than most.


F.A.R.M. Cafe

best restaurants in boone, nc

A veritable haven for vegetarians and vegans, F.A.R.M. Cafe provides all the best meat-free fares and locally sourced food. All the ingredients used here are locally grown. To highlight these products, they make simple, fresh, and well-seasoned food. 

It’s a small joint a bit off the beaten path, but those in the know can direct you right to it. The menu changes every day based on what is seasonal and available. The decor is decked out with local art and thriving plants, for a hip and homey feel. 


Joy Bistro

best restaurants in boone, nc

Joy Bistro is family owned fine dining that you may not expect from Boone. With fares inspired by French techniques and flavors, this is a gourmet experience of Parisian dreams. They deem themselves purveyors of fine food, and who are we to disagree? Try dishes such as the pepper dusted wild caught diver scallops served with potato bacon corn hash in a brandy cream sauce. The menu changes seasonally, so there is always something fresh, fun, and new to find for your fancy feast at Joy. 

The atmosphere cultivated is intimate, with an upscale yet cozy flair. Tucked away amongst lush shrubbery and wooden facades, it feels a world away from its bustling surroundings. Their Sunday Brunch is always an exciting and elaborate affair as well. This decadent menu consists of such delicacies as red wine braised short ribs served with goat cheese and quail eggs. 

Even if you’re not in the mood for a succulent supper, we recommend going just for the live jazz music and creative cocktails alone. This is the best place to treat yourself in Boone, every meal is sure to be memorable. 

About Natasha

Natasha moved to North Carolina for college years ago (but she's not trying to age herself here). Her days were spent reading a book on the beach and enjoying a cold glass of sweet tea in between classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Upon graduation, she met her partner, Cameron, and they traveled the world together crossing 85 countries and six continents. After, six years of international travel they settled down and launched Lost in the Carolinas to share their experiences about and travel tips on South Carolina and North Carolina.

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