Blowing Rock is a small village in the northwestern part of North Carolina. It has magnificent mountain views, excellent restaurants and shopping, a wonderful downtown area and some great accommodations.
I am particularly fond of Chetola Resort, where Brad and I got married in June, 2002, outside in the gazebo by the small lake.
For such a small town (population 1,192 at the 2010 census), there are a number of top-rated restaurants offering a variety of cuisines in different price ranges, either on or around Main Street, which runs right through the heart of this quaint town. Or you can venture out a little bit for other great dining options.
Over the years, Brad and I have dined at most of the restaurants in the area. Unfortunately, some have closed, such as Vintners, where we held our rehearsal dinner; Blowing Rock Grille, where I had the best bowl of tomato and basil soup ever; Tijuana Fats, where we enjoyed many a top-shelf margarita and great guacamole in the late afternoons; and Cheeseburger in Paradise, with its delicious burgers but, unfortunately, it burned down. Luckily, some of our favorites are still serving wonderful dishes!
Early this May we spent a long weekend at Chetola. I had a Living Social Coupon, which I jumped on the minute I saw it. We normally rent one of the condos, but the coupon was for the Inn with a lakeside view, which is also quite nice.
A buffet breakfast was included with our stay (more about that later.) With only three nights in town, it was hard to narrow down our choices of where to eat dinner, but we finally decided on a few favorites. Plus we finally tried a BBQ place for the first time for lunch and enjoyed drinks at one of our favorite area pubs.
Storie Street Grille (1167 Main Street, Blowing Rock, N.C. 28605) Brad and I have eaten here several times over the years. The restaurant was renovated a couple of years ago and is much more open and brighter than it used to be. We were seated immediately, ordered a couple glasses of wine and split a small Caesar salad ($5.00) that was fresh and crisp. Brad got the North Carolina mountain trout ($24.00), which was pecan crusted and grilled. It was topped with a white wine and lemon caper pan sauce and served with smoked gouda grits and grilled asparagus. He loved the sauce and said the fish was cooked perfectly.
I usually get the special at Storie Street, and this visit was no different. I had the blackened grouper ($30.00), which was topped with crab and shrimp and served with smoked gouda grits and grilled asparagus. This dish was excellent as well – I especially loved the crab and shrimp topping, and the gouda grits were outstanding.
Storie Street Grill is one of our standbys whenever we are in Blowing Rock, for its great food, location and service.
The Gamekeeper Restaurant (3005 Shulls Mill Rd, Boone, N.C. 28607) is 4.5 miles from downtown Blowing Rock, but definitely worth the drive down a winding mountain road. Set in a 1950s stone house, the Gamekeeper is rustic, charming restaurant that serves gourmet “mountain cuisine.” We’ve been a few times and have enjoyed all of our meals there as well as the ambience. This was an early birthday dinner for Brad, and the staff had decorated the table with little “party” confetti – nice touch. Brad got the bison ($42.00), which was grilled to order and came with Yukon gold potatoes, grilled cabbage and a horseradish sauce. He said it was delicious.
I had the mixed game grill appetizer ($25.00), which is meant for two, so I ordered it as my main dish. This comes with the chef’s choice of grilled game meats, sauces and dipping sauces. My plate included venison, alligator sausage, grilled bison and ostrich, with fries. The sauces were horseradish, mustard and red pepper, and all three were great. All of the meat was tasty, but I think my favorite was the alligator sausage, although the bison was might good.
We treated ourselves to a nice bottle of Duckhorn merlot. Even though Gamekeeper is a little bit off the beaten path, I recommend it highly — the service is attentive and friendly, and the food is wonderful, especially if you want to try some delicious game that you may not find at home.
Twigs Restaurant & Bar (7956 Valley Blvd, Blowing Rock, N.C. 28605) is another one of our standbys, for its dining as well as for the live bands in the bar area. The duck confit is awesome and either Brad or I order it almost every time. This trip was no different, and Brad enjoyed the duck ($30.00) with a variety of vegetables and rice.
I opted for the meatloaf ($24.00) – it had been raining most of the day, with a chill in the air, and I wanted comfort food. And comforting it was, not to mention delicious! Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, with great gravy and yummy smashed red potatoes. We had a bottle of Lail Blueprints, a cabernet-merlot blend that was lush and paired well with both of our meals.
We lucked out on the music that night – the Klee and Mike Show is a regular at Twigs and the guys play a lot of 70s and 80s rock. So whether you go for a nice dinner or just to listen to live music on the weekends (or for both), Twigs is a great place to visit whenever you’re in town.
Woodland’s Barbecue (8304 Valley Blvd., Blowing Rock, N.C. 28605) is right down the road from Twigs. This was our first visit, and I would definitely go back. The menu features barbecue beef, pork, chicken and ribs as well as home-style Mexican food. The place is rustic, with picnic-style tables, dancing pig murals, etc.
There is a lounge area and live entertainment nightly. Brad got the small chopped pork sandwich which came with chips and a pickle ($5.95) and I got the barbeque tray, which had chopped barbecue, slaw and hushpuppies ($5.50).
Don’t expect anything fancy here, just good, good Q and good, good prices!
Six Pence Pub (1121 Main St, Blowing Rock, N.C. 28605) is a great place to take a break from Main Street shopping. Brad and I have not eaten at Six Pence, but we have enjoyed a few beers/cocktails at its great bar. There are a number of UK beer selections on tap to enjoy. Six Pence also has locations in Savannah, Ga. and Fort Mill, S.C.
Judging from the dining room and what I’ve seen people in the bar order, the food appears to be good and I will have to give it a try on a future visit.
Chetola’s food is good, but really nothing special, at least as one would expect from such a beautiful resort.
The breakfast buffet included in our stay was fine, but nothing out of the ordinary. We were talking to one of the shop owners on Main Street and he remarked that it was a shame that Chetola has not invested in a great chef to make it one of the dining destinations in the area. Unfortunately, as much as I love Chetola, I have to agree. At least the bar area is nice and the addition of more outside seating and the fire pit is a great touch!
Other restaurants that we love to visit include Bistro Roca and the Best Cellar and will do so on our next visit.
Eat, drink and be merry!
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You had some great meals. Now I’m hungry!
Thanks, Cindy. Blowing Rock has so many great dining choices.
Kelly, As you may recall, Joe and I lived in Boone for 18 years and dined all around the area. There are a couple of places you have missed. All the places you mention are very nice but definitely cater to the tourist crowd and not to the locals. Here are a couple of other places to consider exploring, if you haven’t already!
* Canyons – everyone goes for the view, of course. The food is basic good, it’s not a chi-chi place but very popular with the locals and tourists alike.
* Knights on Main – also popular with the locals as it is a more “down home” place than many of the tourist spots.
* Speckled Trout: Used to be one of our favorites, haven’t been for awhile so don’t know how it is today. Their homemade herb bread was wonderful and we always enjoyed special dinners there.
* One of the best things about Woodlands were their chicken wings. Some friends of ours who loved to hang out at Woodlands loved their wings so much that I took some to them when they moved to Kansas City! (Frozen of course) . I also recall they made a mean Bloody Mary. Never cared much for their BBQ but when in the mountains you gotta take what you can get.
* Best Cellar used to be in a different location but they moved to what was the Ragged Garden which is such a lovely place. I am sure the combination is wonderful!
I sure miss living in the mountains of NC! Eleanor Cook
Yes, Eleanor – you are right about all of the places you mentioned. Canyons has spectacular foods, the service is friendly and the food is not bad, but nothing special. Knights on Main is quite good. We used to go to Best Cellar when it was up the hill behind the Food Lion before it burned down and relocated.
There was a great restaurant right down from Mellow Mushroom – I think it was Crippins but I could be wrong. It was really good. And we used to love the Cottonwood Brewery in Boone!
I can see why you miss living there – it’s such a beautiful place! — Kelley