Waynesville, N.C., located 40 minutes from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is a diamond in the rough. Anyone who’s ever visited a national park knows you aren’t visiting for the food. While your trip might be focused on incredible scenery, recreation or wildlife spotting, the foodies amongst us can’t help but be disappointed by the often-lacking culinary options in and around most national parks. Waynesville is the exception. Here, you’ll be truly blown away by incredible eats at every turn.
Waynesville shouldn’t be overlooked by those who want an incredible national park experience and some incredibly delicious meals. Located close enough to the Cherokee entrance that you can easily basecamp in the town, you’ll be enjoying great coffee and breakfasts, picking up picnic lunch supplies to enjoy on the trails and sitting down for dinners that will make your tastebuds happy.
Start your day on the right foot at Orchard Coffee, located at 39 Depot Street. Owner Cabell Tice is a three-time World Latte Art Champion (yes, that’s a real thing) so you know your coffee is going to be beautiful, but it will also be delicious. The shop uses its sister company’s locally roasted coffee to make pour over, espresso and, of course, lattes. You’ll also find breakfast fare like pastries, hearty toasts and breakfast sandwiches. The space itself is sleek and inviting. Plan on sitting down to enjoy your coffee and breakfast rather than hitting the road with a to-go cup.
Third Bay Filling Station
This unique spot located at 136 Depot Street is the perfect place to grab a picnic lunch to take into the park. Owners Cathey and Katy Bolton opened Corner Station Olive Oil Co., in their family’s historic service station to sell olive oils, vinegars and spices from around the world along with their handmade pottery. Inside you’ll find Third Bay Filling Station, a café specializing in sandwiches, breakfast items and coffee. Be sure to allow yourself enough time to peruse the store before grabbing a cup of coffee, a pastry and some sandwiches to enjoy in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This Texas-style barbeque joint is a Haywood County classic. Its mouth-watering meats are smoked fresh daily so plan to get there early before sellout. The restaurant opens at 11 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Head to 79 Elysinia Avenue and grab a table inside the adorable restaurant located in an old red house or sit on the patio. Enjoy chopped pork, brisket, chicken, turkey, ribs or Andouille sausage on a sandwich or platter with sides like collard greens, burnt-end baked beans, mac & cheese or Nana’s creamy coleslaw. At this point you might be feeling like your eyes were bigger than your stomach but don’t miss dessert. The pecan pie is a favorite.
It would be a crime to visit the South without tucking into a traditional meat and three plate, which is just as it sounds: a plate consisting of your choice of one meat and three sides. There’s no better place in Waynesville to experience this style of Southern cooking than at Clyde’s which has been around since the 1940s. At 2107 South Main Street choose from meats like fried chicken, meatloaf or roast beef and pair with sides like creamed corn, potato salad, fried okra or fried green tomatoes. The menu is extensive and also includes burgers, salads and sandwiches. Whatever you order, just make sure it comes with a glass of sweet tea and a slice of pie. Grab a stool at the counter or take a seat at one of the tables at lunch or dinner.
Frogs Leap Public House
This farm-to-table restaurant is focused on modernizing regional dishes. If you love unique and innovative food, this beautiful spot is a must. The menu changes often based on what’s in season but always uses local ingredients from pork and beef raised nearby to herbs grown in town to artisanal soda and coffee from the area. You’ll find that a majority of the dishes are cooked in a wood-burning stove which gives everything a cozy atmosphere that’s aided by exposed brick and wooden details. You might find buttermilk-fried chicken stuffed with pimento cheese or pecan-crusted trout with honey chipotle butter on the menu. The extensive cocktail menu and wine list rounds out this special-occasion-worthy spot located at 44 Church Street. Reservations are strongly recommended.
The Cuban Guy
If you’re looking for something a little different than traditional Southern food, head to the Cuban Guy at 42 Montgomery Street. This Latino-owned Cuban-Puerto Rican restaurant serves everything from mojo pork to Cuban sandwiches to pastelitos, a popular Cuban pastry filled with guava and cheese. Order takeout to enjoy a picnic lunch, or grab a seat in the small restaurant or out front on the patio. The Cuban Guy is a lunch spot, open until 5 p.m. most days and closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Waynesville isn’t just a hot spot for delicious eats, it also has a thriving craft beer scene. Check out our favorite places to grab a brew in Waynesville and surrounding Haywood County.
Plan your trip to Waynesville at visitncsmokies.com.