The Best Restaurants in Boone, NC You Need to Try

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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 like a bonafide Boone beer from a Boone brewery. Let’s dig into the best Boone restaurants.


The Best Restaurants in Boone, NC


Dan’l Boone Inn

Biscuits are a classic southern staple
  • Address: 130 Hardin St (GPS)
  • Cuisine: High Country / Southern
  • Price: $
  • Website: Link

The Dan’l Boone Inn is an institution in Boone and has faithfully served patrons for over 50 years! They specialize in high country food and provide family-style home cooking. Meals are shared family-style amongst the table, and it all begins with a summer salad or soup in winter. You get three types of meat, five vegetables, biscuits, preserves, dessert, and whatever beverage you’d like for the main course.

It’s an impossible amount of food and feels like you’ve just stepped into Grandma’s kitchen. Everything is so good you’ll have a hard time stopping yourself from eating all of the enormous portions. The restaurant is famed throughout the South, and they’ve garnered a slew of awards over the years. It is classic southern cooking. If you’re craving


The Cardinal

  • Address: 1711 NC-105 (GPS)
  • Cuisine: American/Pub
  • Price: $$
  • Website: Link

The Cardinal boasts cuisine 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 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 solid bartending background, and each cocktail feels thoughtful and carefully crafted.

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


CoBo

best restaurants in boone, nc
  • Address: 1711 NC-105 (GPS)
  • Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi
  • Price: $$-$$$
  • Website: Link

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 to bring them 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. CoBo serves up specialty rolls that capture the imagination and hearts of all who venture here for sushi with a twist.

They offer a diverse range of sakes, 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, strawberry sake, gin, lemon, basil, honey syrup, and prosecco. 

The decor incorporates a mountain atmosphere, warm lighting, and stone columns that feel 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 roll your order. 

The menu is contemporary; try the Sundown Express, 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
  • Address: 200 Southgate Dr (GPS)
  • Cuisine: Carribean/Southwest
  • Price: $$
  • Website: Link

Coyote Kitchen is a family-run restaurant and a staple of the food scene in the area. Specializing in Southwestern Caribbean Soul Food, these dishes’ bold and fascinating flavors 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. Coyote Kitchen offers 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 cornbread, 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 wider variety than most.


Gamekeeper Restaurant

  • Address: 3005 Shulls Mill Rd (GPS)
  • Cuisine: American
  • Price: $$$
  • Website: Link

The Gamekeeper Restaurant and Bar is set between Boone and Blowing Rock and makes for a romantic evening or fine dining meal. They serve up classic American dishes and new spins on traditional Southern dishes. The menu rotates with the season and features plenty of vegetables and meats to satisfy any diet.

They strive to source the best local products and farm-raised meat for use in the kitchen. The service at the restaurant is terrific, and the setting makes for a memorable experience. It’s both polished and relaxed for a unique atmosphere.


Eleven80 Eatery

Chicken Sandwich
  • Address: 1180 Blowing Rock Rd (GPS)
  • Cuisine: American/Cocktail Lounge
  • Price: $-$$
  • Website: Link

If you’re after good food and drinks, then it’s tough to do better in Boone than Eleven80 Eatery. They have an eclectic menu of excellent bar and American food that pairs perfectly with their tasty cocktails. That means you can enjoy everything from burgers and homemade chips to gimlets and old-fashioned.

Their sandwiches are the show’s real star, and they have some mouth-watering options. If you’re at any events or breweries in Boone, keep an eye for the food truck that serves the community. I love a good chicken sandwich, and their Fried Buffalo Chicken sandwich is fantastic!


Taqueria El Paso

  • Address: 2693 NC-105 (GPS)
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Price: $

Cheap and delicious tacos, fajitas, and burritos are a match made in heaven for a college town. It’s tough to find many restaurants in Boone cheaper than Taqueria El Paso. Mexican cuisine is my favorite, so anywhere that nails a proper Mexican food.

There is nothing fancy about this hole-in-the-wall joint, but the food is the real draw. Service is excellent here, and it’s always a pleasant interaction with employees. Check out the Al Pastor tacos if you’re after the best tacos in town.


Come Back Shack

Classic Cheeseburger
  • Address: 1521 Blowing Rock Rd (GPS)
  • Cuisine: Burgers
  • Price: $
  • Website: Link

There is no argument that the best burgers in Boone are at the Come Back Shack. It’s a simple menu, and you won’t find much else than their excellent burgers, fries, and mac & cheese. The quintessential burger here is the Fried Green Tomato Burger, with fried green tomatoes, house-made sauce, pimento cheese, and lettuce.

If you have a particular diet, you can still find an option here, as you can choose from chicken, fish, and veggie burgers. You can pair that all with a tasty milkshake or even soft pretzels. Come-


Melanie’s

French Toast & Strawberries
  • Address: 664 W King St (GPS)
  • Cuisine: Breakfast/Cafe
  • Price: $-$$
  • Website: Link

Kick start your day right with the best breakfast in Boone at Melanie’s Food Fantasy. This laidback cafe serves delicious farm-to-fork American breakfast classics. It’s the perfect spot for brunch but be prepared for a wait as it’s a super popular spot if you come.

It’s tough to complain about delicious french toast and fruit paired with a cup of fresh coffee. Melanie’s also has healthy morning meals such as the tempeh scramble, fresh fruit, granola, or an herb omelet. However, we’re particular to their potato madness and stuffed french toast.


F.A.R.M. Cafe

best restaurants in boone, nc
  • Address: 617 W King St (GPS)
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian/Health Food
  • Price: $$
  • Website: Link

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. They make simple, fresh, and well-seasoned food to highlight these products. 

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 full of local art and thriving plants for a hip and homey feel. 


Joy Bistro

best restaurants in boone, nc
  • Address: 115 New Market Centre (GPS)
  • Cuisine: French/Fine Dining
  • Price: $$$
  • Website: Link

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 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 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. It is the best place to treat yourself in Boone. Every meal is sure to be memorable. 


Cafe Portofino

best restaurants in boone, nc
  • Address: 970 Rivers St (GPS)
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Price: $$
  • Website: Link

Set in a historic hundred-year-old building, Cafe Portofino is a casual eatery cooking up classic Italian cuisine and one of the best restaurants in Boone, NC. An open kitchen and cozy dining room create 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 surroundings, and the mountain backdrop is the ideal alfresco companion.

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

Next door is a full-service adjoining bar aptly named ‘Tap Room.’ It provides many 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. 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.

About Cameron

Cameron grew up in Union County, NC. His days were spent fishing, swimming at the beach, hiking in the mountains, and enjoying blueberry cobbler or cornbread. After finishing school at UNCW, he traveled the world with his partner Natasha as they documented their travels on The World Pursuit. After, six years of international travel they launched Lost in the Carolinas to share their experiences about these great states.

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