3 Local Restaurants Off the Beaten Track

Sugar Mountain is blissful. Between the gorgeous mountainside views from the Sugar Mountain rental homes to the streets of dreamy downtown Banner Elk, this North Carolina vacation destination tops the list every year.

While you can spend the majority of your time circling the area’s tourist hotspots, we recommend you head off-the-beaten-path, if only just a little, for some underappreciated local favorites. While we wouldn’t want everyone to know, since you are here, we might as well let you in on three of our most treasured local restaurant secrets. Below are three top-level restaurants in the area you have to see (and eat at!) to believe.

Delicious dish at The Gamekeeper Restaurant and Bar in Boone, NC

The Gamekeeper

With a name like Gamekeeper, you may not suspect this restaurant was rated one of the top 100 most romantic restaurants in the country by OpenTable Diners in 2018.

The victory was deserving. Gamekeeper retains the essence of its name by providing some real local meat. This isn’t just the basic staples you can get anywhere. At Gamekeeper, you can order Elk, Boar, Mountain Trout, Duck, Emu, Bison, Venison, and more prepared to delightful perfection.

This is your opportunity to order something a little off-the-mainstream-radar while you are off-the-beaten-path. Experiment with something new, like the Bison Shortribs or the Emu with white rice.

Perhaps shockingly, even vegetarians can find something to love with the veggies and bbq tempeh, the potato soup, and the okra salad.

There’s an acclaimed dessert menu, featuring Gk Bread Pudding and Goat Cheese Torte, as well as an extensive wine menu boasting Zonin Prosecco 187ml sparkling wine from Italy, Domaine Reine Juliette Picpoul de Pinet from France, and Manifesto Cabernet Sauvignon ’15 from the Napa Valley, among about 25 others.

Outside dining mountain view at The Table at Crestwood in Boone, NC

The Table at Crestwood

This fine dining establishment sets a contemplative mood. Its heartwarming dark wood décor is the perfect backdrop for an exquisite evening out in the North Carolina mountains. The Inn dazzles with its exemplary seafood dishes and non-traditional spins on American menu staples. Housemade pretzels, a seemingly simple selection, are vastly improved with splashes of Jalapeno pimento cheese and Maldon sea salt. There’s even the basic burger, coated in a spicy pickle, Dijon mustard, and herb mayonnaise, with lettuce, tomato, and onion to top it off.

Aside from these American dinging essentials, pretzels, and burgers, we have an exuberant and experimental menu of top-level seafood and meat. The Flash-Fried Trout is a subtle treat, topped with summer squash and zucchini, couscous, and vegetable fumet. The Roasted Faroe Island Salmon stands as a menu highlight, with a splendid mix of asparagus and fingerling potato on the side and coated with a fine caramelize carrot puree.

Our favorite is the fashionable Shrimp and Grits, a northerly spin on the traditional southern favorite. It is mixed with Gouda grits, asparagus, ham, celery root, and a dense tomato bacon broth.

The Table is soaked in a rustic ambiance and stands as one of the best restaurants in Boone, NC. Enjoy a dessert and watch as the soft dining room glow sets a warm and nostalgic mood.

Fine dining dish at Artisanal Restaurant in Banner Elk, NC

Artisanal Restaurant

Just a short drive from our Sugar Mountain vacation rentals rests this captivating Banner Elk fine diner. The soft lighting is heartwarming and romantic, with a glow that bounces soothingly off the dark wood interior.

The menu accentuates the silky-smooth décor with Sashimi, Alaskan King Crab, Hawaiian Prawns, and other seafood delicacies. The seafood menu is extraordinary, with more menu highlights including the NC Black Sea Bass with marble potatoes, the True Japanese a5 Wagyu Beef, a variation of Alaskan King Crab drabbed in Yuza Butter, and the Georges Bank Scallops with Chanterelle Mushrooms and cauliflower.

The menu is perhaps the most ambitious on the list of restaurants here. It challenges expectations and improves on foundational dishes with resourcefulness and enthusiasm. The Artisanal Restaurant is open from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and closed on Sunday and Monday. Like all the restaurants on the list, reservations are highly recommended.

Stop by Mountain Grounds before or after your dinner for some of the best hot chocolate in the state. The café also makes for a comforting and warm escape from the day.

Soak in the ambiance of this jaw-dropping summer escape. Contact us for more information on the area and our Sugar Mountain rental homes.

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Stay Sugar |106 Sugar Mountain Drive Sugar Mountain, NC USA 28604 | 828-898-6887