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Blue Ridge Parkway

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My wife and I are planning a slow, meandering, two-lane roads-only trip from New England to Savannah. beginning the end of April.

We plan to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of Harper's Ferry and take it all the way to Asheville before heading southeast to Savannah.

We'll appreciate suggestions that will get us to authentic places that serve up good regional cooking.

Many thanks.

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  1. I would go with something a lot more regional that you can't find up in New England, like one of the places near downtown Blowing Rock that serve mountain trout,

    or the Red Rocker Inn in Black Mountain, NC for a grand Southern feast and homemade desserts at dinner: http://www.redrockerinn.com/dining.htm

    2 Replies
    1. re: mikeh

      Red Rocker seems to be just the kind of place we're looking for. Menu looks great. Trout for dinner. Southern biscuits for breakfast. Can't wait. Thanks for the tip.

      1. re: Elzoe

        if you want to hit the Red Rocker then ignore my advice about taking 80 n.
        80 s will take you down to the Black Mountain area so the detour may not be so bad.
        I forgot to add that you can check on closures and conditions on the BRP 2 ways: 828 298 0398 or www.nps.gov/blri/

    2. I assume you are aware that the Parkway is very non-commercial and there are very few restaurants directly on the Parkway itself? That said, In NC, I'd recommend the Glendale Springs Inn, in the community of Glendale Springs. Its a B&B that serves great food. Also in NC is the charming town of Blowing Rock, which has several nice places to eat. Both Glendale Springs and Blowing Rock are in very close proximity to the Parkway.

      3 Replies
      1. re: carolinadawg

        Yes, we understand that we'll be getting off the Parkway to find the kind of good regional cooking (and sights) we're in search of. But that's what we're looking forward to. The point of our trip is to try to discover some parts of the southeast that have escaped the ruin that the homogenization of America has produced.

        Sorry to report that the Glendale Springs Inn has shut down. We'll definitely head into Blowing Rock anyway.

        1. re: Elzoe

          Thats sad news about GSI, and I apologize for offering out of date information. I hope you have a great trip!

          1. re: carolinadawg

            At Milepost 241 you can have a nice meal at the Bluffs Restaurant, which is one of only two restaurants that are on the parkway. Sorry to hear about Glendale Springs Inn, however, you can exit there and make your way to West Jefferson and pick up items from an operating cheese factory and try the Shatley Springs restaurant. The Little Switzerland Inn restaurant is also very good near the town of Spruce Pine and is very close to the BRP and has an amzing view.

      2. Spear's, in Linville Falls, NC. They do a pretty good steak and have a nice wine list. It's less than a mile from the parkway, and right between the falls and the caverns. They also have a lodge with cabins on the property.

        If you have time to step 3 or 4 miles off of the parkway, kinda near the same spot, my recommendation would be the Best Cellar, in Linvlle. Your meal will be outstanding on all fronts. If you make it to Linville, there's a country store in town and you can get back on the parkway by driving right past Grandfather Mountain. Grandfather is a great place to pass an afternoon Be wary of the area if you come through during the Highland Games, as it will be very congested.

        *note: Linville and Linville Falls are 2 different villages.

        1. There are two places in Asheville (among many - it's a great little foodie town) that are renowned in the Southeast for their regional cuisine. The first one is Tupelo Honey Cafe. It's one of my favorite lunch places in the entire state of NC: http://www.tupelohoneycafe.com/

          The second is Early Girl Eatery, owned by the brother of the guy who runs the famous Charleston restaurant Hominy Grill. http://www.earlygirleatery.com/

          Finally, in Savannah, make sure to stop in at Mrs. Wilkes for lunch. The line is long for weekday lunch (the only time they are open), but it is without a doubt the best Southern food I've had in my life. http://www.mrswilkes.com/

          As for the Red Rocker Inn I mentioned before, apparently there's been an ownership change there in 2007 (I was there a few years prior) and some mixed reviews have been creeping in. Thus, you'd be advised to check around before making definitive plans there. As for the three places I mentioned in this post, I can vouch for their current-day quality.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mikeh

            We've been going to Mrs. Wilkes since the mid-sixties as a dear old friend has lived in Savannah his whole life. We love the place and it's one of our all-time favorites - anywhere. Some years back, I decided to focus my attention exclusively on what I like best at Wilkes and ended up consuming eight pieces of fried chicken and six biscuits. A truly memorable lunch.

          2. I don't know that it is especially "authentic" and it may not be true regional cooking but I have had a few good meals at the Pisgah Inn which is right on the Parkway. You may be able to get a room there also and if the weather cooperates it is a spectacular view. If you can get a reservation at the Treetops Bldg. http://www.pisgahinn.com/view_fullsiz...
            I recommend it highly. I was fortunate to stay there before the rates went up. Pisgah Inn books well in advance so don't know if you can stay there, or get in the Treetops Bldg. but you can definitely eat there. It is popular so you may have a wait if you get there at the most popular times. You pay for the view but the food is pretty good too.

            It is on the Parkway between Asheville and US 23/74 at Balsam Gap. See
            This is south of Asheville so maybe you can do it on your way back. I think that section of the Parkway south of Asheville is one of the most scenic drives in the US, at least in July.

            And if you make that route a priority try eating at Lulu's in Sylva, N.C. before you get on the Parkway. It's received a lot of good reviews and in my estimation deserving of them. See http://www.lulusonmain.com/ The University Inn in Cullowhee is a decent stopover near Sylva.

            Happy motoring.

            5 Replies
            1. re: JHLI

              I completely agree with JHLI on the Pisgah Inn. It's less than an hour on the Parkway from Asheville and the Parkway scenery on that stretch (and further south) is awesome. Definitely get a window table, you can request one and they'll give you a pager. The trout is great, local beer too.

              From there you could go south on 276 to Brevard and continue two-lane past Caesars Head, through Greenville, and on to Savannah.

              1. re: savdoug

                I agree that would be a very scenic route, although a very slow one compared to picking up I-26 in Asheville.

                I have heard that it's important to go to Pisgah Inn for dinner. I have only been there for lunch, and the food has ranged from so-so to bad.

                1. re: danna

                  Not to be a twit, but the OP specifically stated he's looking to travel slow, meandering, 2 lane roads.

                  I've never been to the Pigah Inn, but I have heard lots of mixed opinions...I think considering the view, I'd probably give it a shot, if I were planning on being at that location around mealtime.

                  1. re: carolinadawg

                    Breakfast at the Pisgah Inn is quite good, ask the night before if you can get fried trout for breakfast cause it's often not on the menu.

                    Dinner at the Pisgah Inn has been quite good for decades, and well worth the experience.

                    Lunch at the Pisgah Inn is horrible and should be avoided at all costs. I was never sure why that was, but it's true.

                    If you can, stay the night there, but I'm not even sure if it's open in April.

                    Blowing Rock, Boone, and Linville are fine places, and there are typically several trendy places off 105 between Boone and Linville. You'll need to check local sources for what's good this year. The Smoketree Inn in . . um. . .Town of Seven Devils on 105 is inexpensive and a decent place to sleep, just don't eat there.

                    Right before you hit NC, try the Morrissette Winery, which is actually on the Parkway. A nice tour, decent wines for this section of the country, and they used to serve quite a decent lunch.

                    Moses Cone Park on the parkway near Boone is a good stop, also a good picnic location.

                    1. re: fussycouple

                      Oh yeah, thanks for the reminder...right across the Parkway from Chateau Morrisette is a great winery doing italian varietals (sp?), Villa Appalaccia. Their Aglianico is fantastic! You can get some salami, some local cheese, some nice bread to enjoy with a glass of wine, in addition to doing a tasting. Definitely worth a visit. A couple of miles down the Parkway is Mabry Mill, an old gristmill that is one of the most photographed spots on the Parkway.


            2. You may want to make a small sidetrip to Shatley Springs outside of West Jefferson, NC (actually in Crumpler, NC). It is a family style restaurant, and the breakfast is out of this world! The lunch/dinner is OK, the fried chicken is awesome and so is the country ham, but the mashed potatoes are instant (YUK!). Just plan to go for the breakfast... the red eye gravy is outstanding!

              While you are off the BRP for this stop, you could stop in West Jefferson and buy a genuine country ham from A.B. Vannoy Hams (the last of a dying art). Country hams that are made with 4 ingredients, "Brown sugar, salt, mountain air and time."

              An article was written about these hams, http://www.charlotteobserver.com/508/...

              It shouldn't be that far from the Parkway, maybe a half-hour or so.

              It sounds like you all are going to have a great trip, some great views and some great food!


              Shatley Springs Restaurant
              407 Shatley Springs Rd, Crumpler, NC 28617

              A B Vannoy Hams
              205 Buck Mountain Rd West, Jefferson, NC

              1 Reply
              1. re: dr00bie

                Shatley Springs mashed potatoes are half instant, half fresh. We asked last time.

                And, technically, the last town you go through on the way to Crumpler is Jefferson, the county seat, not the largest town in the county, West Jefferson.

              2. I would also suggest, if you get off the Parkway in Maggie Valley, breakfast at Joey's Pancake House is really delicious. Also, Sweet Onion in Waynesville is also terrific.

                2 Replies
                1. re: pilches

                  Wow! I just checked out their website. I might have to make a pilgrimage there once they open back up for the season. I have been on a search for a GREAT breakfast place (for me that is pancakes and other items w/syrup) and although that's a bit of a drive, I think it must just well be worth it!

                  1. re: pilches

                    Just wanted to report back that I finally got to Joey's Pancake House today and loved it! It is your typical large old school style breakfast place (think circa 1960s) with friendly older servers (from what I could tell). Even on this monsoon of a day, it was busy. At our table, we had pancakes (2 different types), eggs (2 different ways), corned beef hash, bacon, and Belgian waffles. All great. Prices are good too.

                    Boy, I wish it was closer to where we live (it's a little under an hour's drive for us). Nothing fancy here, but everything served was done well. And lots of sweet stuff choices for this sweet tooth! Things with syrup, Mmmmmm......

                  2. Elzoe,
                    This is not a BRP food rec. (except for my last comment about Savannah) but a travel advisory:
                    The BRP is closed at just past Mt. Mitchell State Park, between Craggy Gardens and Asheville. . Unless you want to see Mt. Mitchell, which is worth the trip as it is the highest peak east of the Mississippi river, you must exit around milepost 355 (going south). If it is cloudy, exit. If it is clear, head on up. You will then have to turn around and come back north to 80. In order to continue on south, you must detour.
                    My advice would be to exit at hwy 80 and go north on 80 (turn back under the BRP bridge) for about 15 miles, and go west (left) on 19, then take I 26 back south (it may say east) to Asheville.
                    I think the detour signs actually want you to take 80 south to Marion and then 40 west to Asheville. However, this will take you all the way back down to the valley floor where you join 40 w and climb right back up the Old Fort grade.
                    Enjoy the drive on the Parkway!
                    While in Savannah seek out Wassaw Sound Seafood Co., 2430 Habersham. This is off the tourist radar and worth the effort. It is a local's favorite, everyone seemed to know each other , the owner, his son the chef and his daughter the wait person. It is in an old fast food joint but the chef is inspired. I ate there last weekend and was blown away.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Tee

                      There are also two additional closures up in the Boone area.


                      1. re: Tee

                        If you follow the detours towards Marion VA, you might want to consider going 18 miles further west for a wonderful dinner at Town House in Chilhowee Virginia.
                        We had the rabbit confit last week and it was beyond wonderful. (It's on their blog as is their reinterpretation of a salad.

                        You asked for regional....and it is.

                      2. There are three stops between Boone and Asheville that I highly recommend.

                        Located directly on the BRP (near Little Switzerland) is the Altapass Orchard. They reopen in May providing apples and local specialties along with afternoon entertainment such as blue grass music, hay rides and story telling. Check out their schedule: http://www.altapassorchard.com/calend...

                        The Inn at Little Switzerland is a tiny village with an Inn, restaurant and a cluster of little shops right on the Parkway. Spend the night or stop by for refreshments as you pass through the area: http://www.switzerlandinn.com/

                        If you plan in advance, you can sign up for a tour of the Penland School and the last time I visited you can dine in the student cafeteria with advanced notice: http://penland.org/about/visiting_pen...

                        1. Since nobody is covering the stretch of the BRP from Roanoke to the NC Border, let me suggest the Pine Tavern Restaurant in Floyd Va. Good country cooking served family style in an old 1927 roadside inn. http://www.thepinetavern.com/ -- dinner only schedule may prove difficult.

                          1. While in Asheville , check out Corner Kitchen in the Biltmore Village. Fantastic, fresh food from the tiniest kitchen ever. Great Sunday brunch. Another terrific place only a block away is Rezzas. Chef owned, with a deli / bistro on one side and more formal seating on the other. Ask for Mithram for your server and be prepared for a memorable dining experience.
                            We stop in Asheville on the way to Savannah just to eat here.