Small town, big flavor.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Taste buds are the only essential to bring on any trip to Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
Blowing Rock has been a tourist destination for more than a century. Its namesake is an attraction that boasts amazing views and a consistent cool breeze. Located in the mountains near the Blue Ridge Parkway, the town offers great hiking, horseback riding, golf, skiing, whitewater rafting, canoeing and a walkable downtown with an appealing mix of antique shops, art galleries specialty boutiques, and—growing even more abundant in recent years—an impressive roster eateries.
Our advice: Arrive hungry.
Among our favorite discoveries…
Bistro Roca & Antlers Bar
This upscale-casual eatery serves American comfort foods and pizzas—the aromas floating from the wood-burning oven through the dining room will make your mouth water. Pizzas topping combos go beyond traditional with options like lamb sausage with butternut squash puree, local prosciutto with manchego cheese, blackened shrimp with smoked onion cream, poached pear with blue cheese, and more. Macaroni and cheese is available five different ways, including with lobster or pork. Specialties like slow-braised veal, oxtail ragout, and North Carolina trout among other temptations prove this is no ordinary pub. Whether you prefer to pair a meal with wine, beer or a cocktail, Antlers Bar has you covered: It opened in 1932 and is North Carolina’s oldest continuously-serving bar!
Camp Coffee Roasters
Sure, you can get your favorite coffee drink to accompany whatever pastry catches your eye. But this is a great place to try something new, as the friendly barista who prepares your order has top-notch skills and takes time to get proportions just right. We were tempted by the seasonal maple chai latte and it was so unbelievably delicious on an ethereal level that we had to return the next morning for another one. Enjoy your treats on site or take them to-go to savor while window-shopping downtown Blowing Rock.
The New Public House
Pampering service and upscale Southern contemporary fare are on the menu at this restaurant, arguably the swankiest dining room in town. The menu changes often because the chef is inspired by seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers. Whatever you order among the eclectic options—such as meatloaf with sorghum BBQ sauce, seafood shrimp gumbo, tempeh lo mein, lamb burger, hot chicken sliders—trust this chef to deliver satisfying flavor. The bartender follows suit: The drink menu boasts an impressive selection of beers (with a local focus), wines and cocktails (with a seasonal bent). Expect a memorable meal here.
The Ridgeline Food & Spirits
The motto here could easily be: Come for the view, stay for the food and drink. The enviable location boasts uninterrupted, stunning views of the mountain ridge (hence the name, “ridgeline”). If there’s an award for “Best Place to be at Sunset,” this place holds the crown. The building has formerly housed a range of businesses including a speakeasy (yes, I’ve suggested to the owner that he open one again in the lower level, since “hidden” bars are so popular). In the meantime, grab a table with a view and dig into delicious dishes like chicken wings, salads, sandwiches and burgers, chicken parmigiana, salmon, steak and more.
The Speckled Trout Restaurant & Bottle Shop
You can wear jeans and a T-shirt here, and the dishes are rooted in Appalachian culture, but that doesn’t mean the kitchen or bar takes a lax approach. Quite the opposite: Quality ingredients and skillful preparations drive these taste experiences. To showcase what’s best, the menu changes with the season. From deviled eggs to blackened trout, fried chicken to burgers, dishes are familiar yet upscale. Though the food should not be missed, if you’re only thirsty this is still a great option: The bar offers over 200 wines, 20 rotating taps focused on local craft beers, plus impressive cocktail creations.
Storie Street Grille
“High quality ingredients at a fair price” is the irresistible motto here. If in a Mediterranean-inspired mood, start with meatballs, ricotta crostini or steamed mussels, then choose among options like mushroom ravioli, eggplant parmesan, or chicken stuffed with tomatoes, prosciutto and goat cheese. If in a Southern mood, start with fried green tomatoes or loaded sweet potato sticks, then choose among options like meatloaf with Cheerwine BBQ sauce or pecan-crusted local trout. Either way, save room for dessert because you don’t want to miss the bread pudding.
- Stay at Meadowbrook Inn
- Read about horseback riding in Blowing Rock
- Read about events in Blowing Rock
- Shop at Mast General Store in nearby Boone or Valle Crucis
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.