For decades, at places like Shatley Springs in Ashe County, fluffy biscuits and thick-cut country ham — hearty fare to fuel a long day on the farm — anchored the morning meal. Now, the mountain breakfast is evolving, as newer eateries like HomeGrown in Asheville bring the farm to the table.
Whether your preference is a traditional, family-style spread or something more culinarily creative (house-cured beets on a biscuit, anyone?), we’ve found 30 local spots that are worthy of a western North Carolina wake-up call.
1. HomeGrown • Asheville
Stand at the wall-size chalkboard and make your selection: The open-faced fried chicken biscuit is a game-changer. The chicken is locally sourced, covered in sausage gravy, and unforgettable. Get comfy at a table in the wood-paneled dining room and have another mug of Black Mountain-roasted coffee. Don’t worry about spilling any on the old-fashioned lace tablecloths; they’re protected beneath a plastic covering. Owner Miki Loomis would rather you notice the local artwork and tabletop signs that promote environmental stewardship.
371 Merrimon Avenue, (828) 232-4340
HomeGrown’s open-faced fried chicken biscuit is one of its most popular dishes. Photograph by Johnny Autry.
2. Early Girl Eatery • Asheville
Early Girl owners Julia and John Stehling partner with more than two dozen local farmers to provide home-style fare full of Asheville flavor, from abundant vegetarian and vegan selections (she’s a vegetarian) to meat-lover favorites (he’s not) like the Porky Breakfast Bowl, made with barbecue, scrambled eggs, and local cheese.
8 Wall Street, (828) 259-9292
3. Biscuit Head • Asheville
There will be a line at this Southern breakfast joint with a hipster twist. But no matter. Order the gravy “flight” — a sampler of three — or load up your cathead biscuit at the jam-and-butter bar. The artsy decor and locally sourced food will be worth the wait.
733 Haywood Road, (828) 333-5145
417 Biltmore Avenue, Suite 4F, (828) 505-3449
Choices, choices: The Asheville Benedict is one of about a dozen specialty biscuit dishes at Biscuit Head. Photograph by Tim Robison.
4. Banner Elk Café & Lodge • Banner Elk
You can’t visit this little ski town without stopping for a meal at the Banner Elk Café. Fill up on the Mountain Man breakfast: two pancakes large enough to fill a plate by themselves, two eggs, crispy bacon, and heavenly cheese grits. The bottomless coffee and friendly service will warm you up before you head to the slopes.
NC Highway 184, (828) 898-4040
5. Louise’s Kitchen • Black Mountain
Order the grit cakes and grab a seat in the cozy dining room of this charmingly restored home-turned-restaurant — known to locals as the historic 1904 Stepp House, one of the oldest houses in town — or sip your tea from a Mason jar on the front porch.
115 Black Mountain Avenue, (828) 357-5446
6. Blue Ridge Biscuit Company & Bakery • Black Mountain
The best biscuits in town, hands-down. Try the Mountain Mama biscuit, topped with a fried grits cake plus pimento cheese, spiced honey, and a blackberry-balsamic sauce. Or, get one overstuffed with fried chicken, bacon, and Cheddar cheese, and smothered in gravy. Or, filled with cured beets, coleslaw, a poached egg, and tomato jam. Or, piled high with pulled pork and jalapeño slaw, and doused in a tangy sauce.
601 West State Street, (828) 357-8501
7. Sunny Rock Eggs and Things • Blowing Rock
A newcomer to the mountain breakfast scene, Sunny Rock opened in 2015 but keeps it classic with old-fashioned griddle omelets and breakfast sandwiches on Texas toast. Still hungry? Try the “Crosby, Stills, and Hash,” a pulled-pork-and-sweet-potato combo topped with fried eggs and a Cheerwine-barbecue drizzle.
8146 Valley Boulevard, (828) 414-9636
8. The New Public House and Hotel • Blowing Rock
Owners John and Jaime Dean have a close relationship with High Country style. They made their mark with the Gideon Ridge Inn in 1994, created a culinary standout with Bistro Roca in 2005, and added The New Public House to their repertoire in 2013. Executive Chef John Dean’s crispy pork hash, creamy grits, and house-made sausage are memorable selections. Plus, the restaurant is housed in a beautiful inn (breakfast is included with an overnight stay), so you can retire to your bedroom for a post-meal morning nap.
239 Sunset Drive, (828) 295-3487
A perfect mountain morning starts in the light and airy dining room at The New Public House and Hotel. Photograph by Cheryl Zibisky.
9. Dan’l Boone Inn • Boone
A Boone — and North Carolina — institution since 1959, the food here is served family-style, with heaping bowls of grits, country ham, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, buttermilk biscuits, and sausage or redeye gravy. The real treats, though, are the old-fashioned, freshly stewed apples, glazed cinnamon biscuits, and black cherry preserves. You can even buy a jar to take home.
130 Hardin Street, (828) 264-8657
10. Melanie’s Food Fantasy • Boone
In the heart of downtown Boone, Melanie’s is known for its large portions, delicious vegan and vegetarian options, and street-side seating — if you’re willing to wait for one of the prized outdoor tables. Build your own omelet, or choose from one of three decadent egg entrées, made with pasture-raised eggs from Aunt Bessie’s Farm in Deep Gap.
664 West King Street, (828) 263-0300
Smiling pancakes at Melanie’s Food Fantasy prove that the morning meal can be fun. Photograph by Daniel Barlow.
11. Everett Street Diner • Bryson City
You know the food’s going to be good when a restaurant is packed with locals. At Everett Street Diner, the price is right, and the servers are quick and attentive. This simple, down-home joint is always filled with regulars. After you try the sausage biscuits, you may become a regular yourself.
126 Everett Street, (828) 488-0123
12. Jukebox Junction Soda Shoppe • Canton
Stop by the Jukebox Junction Soda Shoppe before 11 a.m. for a tasty country breakfast in a 1950s-style diner. Check out the decor, from old Coca-Cola signs to images of Elvis and Betty Boop, as you munch on the country-fried steak and sausage gravy.
6306 Pigeon Road, (828) 648-4546
13. Randevu • Cashiers
Randevu claims to be “the place to meet in Cashiers.” You’ll see why when you walk up to the red cabin-esque building, with light pouring inside from large windows and a covered outdoor dining area overlooking a pond. Order the Crab Cake Benedict combo with country ham, or indulge your sweet tooth with the much-loved waffles and pancakes.
18 Chestnut Square, (828) 743-0190
14. Peter’s Pancakes & Waffles • Cherokee
We love the classic laminated place mat menus that let you browse local businesses while you eat, and we also love the classic breakfast choices: short stacks with sausage links, eggs over easy, biscuits and gravy, and even corned-beef hash.
1384 Tsali Boulevard, (828) 497-5116
15. Southern Manners • Columbus
Count on Pat and Trish Overholt to serve Southern hospitality alongside their home-cooked breakfasts. Don’t leave until you try the baked oatmeal and Trish’s famous cinnamon buns, a family favorite.
192 East Mills Street, (828) 894-0406
16. Shatley Springs Inn • Crumpler
Note: Shatley Springs Inn is closed for the 2018 season and will re-open in spring 2019.
It’s a good thing there are rocking chairs on the front porch — you’ll need a place to sit while you wait in line for a table. And you may need a place to rest after you get your fill of the family-style breakfast that’s been served the same way for more than 50 years. The origin of Shatley Springs goes back to the water: After a dip in the mountain spring cured Martin Shatley’s skin condition in 1890, visitors began pilgrimaging to the area with their own jugs to fill. Lee McMillan bought the property in 1958 and opened the restaurant. We don’t know if the water is healing, but we know that the generous helpings of country ham and biscuits can cure our hunger for at least a full day.
407 Shatley Springs Road, (336) 982-2236
Ready for a road trip? Breakfast at Shatley Springs has been an autumn tradition for generations of North Carolinians across the state. Photograph by Johnny Autry.
17. The Local Joint • Fairview
The name says it all. From the coffee to the Cajun chicken breakfast sandwich, most everything here is locally sourced — a chalkboard at the front door provides a running list of area vendors. Don’t let the Local Joint’s locale (right by a gas station) fool you. The high-caliber cuisine surpasses its unassuming setting.
1185 Charlotte Highway, (828) 338-0469
18. Kosta’s Kitchen • Fletcher
Kosta Vlahakis’s diner has been a staple in the Asheville area for 35 years, and plenty of patrons will tell you he’s got the best breakfast in western North Carolina. We’ll let you be the judge, but tilt the odds in Kosta’s favor with the Famous Greek Omelet, made with Feta cheese, spinach, and Kalamata olives.
4055 Hendersonville Road, (828) 684-0279
19. Ms. Lois’ Restaurant • Franklin
If you walk by Ms. Lois’ Restaurant, the smell of blueberry pancakes, fresh off the griddle, will draw you in. The taste will make you stay. And come back. The restaurant is run by Ms. Lois’s daughter now, but some things never change: It’s still cash or check only.
145 Highlands Road, (828) 369-8628
20. Fireside Restaurant & Pancake Inn • Hendersonville
We love this hidden little breakfast spot known for its fast, quality service and specialty pancakes with homemade syrup. Need a side with your stack of apple pancakes? We recommend the mountain-style breakfast, complete with two eggs, country ham, home fries, and two slices of buttered toast. The Pot Roast and Eggs dish promises to power you over Bearwallow Mountain.
295 Sugarloaf Road, (828) 697-1004
21. Snack Bar • Hickory
If you’re in the know, you affectionately refer to it as the “Longview Country Club” or the “West Hickory Country Club.” Also, if you’re in the know, you order your eggs with livermush; it’s been a staple on the menu since the restaurant’s beginnings in 1947.
1346 1st Avenue SW, (828) 322-5432
At the Snack Bar in Hickory, Natalie Beshears — she’s the owner’s granddaughter — serves breakfast with a smile to Lynda Craig, a longtime regular. Photograph by Jon Eckard.
22. Fidelia’s Restaurant • Horse Shoe
Scratch-made biscuits are the specialty here — get ’em with gravy and grits, or layered in a bowl with eggs and home fries.
4165 Brevard Road, (828) 595-9359
23. Smoky Mountain Diner • Hot Springs
A favorite spot for hungry hikers who drift off the Appalachian Trail, this small-town diner offers plentiful portions, perfectly sweetened tea, and freshly baked cinnamon buns. Warm up inside with a sizzling breakfast skillet, or breathe in the fresh mountain air as you polish off a stack of pancakes on the porch.
70 Lance Avenue, (828) 622-7571
24. Country Vittles • Maggie Valley
The only family-style restaurant in Maggie Valley, Country Vittles offers an all-you-can-eat breakfast. A waitress will cover your table with bowls of piping hot grits, potatoes, homemade biscuits, gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and cooked apples. Load up your plate at will: The waitress will refill any bowl as soon as it’s emptied.
3589 Soco Road, (828) 926-1820
25. Countryside BBQ • Marion
Don’t let the “BBQ” in this restaurant’s name fool you. The weekend breakfast selections at Countryside BBQ are just as great as the Southern comfort food found on the daily dinner menu. Sit and chat on the front porch, adorned with old-timey rocking chairs, and then try an omelet; specialty pancake (pecan is a fall favorite); or a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit.
2070 Rutherford Road, (828) 652-4885
26. Abele’s Family Restaurant • Morganton
The general-store-meets-country-cooking vibe at Abele’s Family Restaurant is reminiscent of Cracker Barrel, but with a local touch that gives it a rural mountain feel. Pile your plate with eggs, bacon, sausage, home-fried potatoes, and biscuits with homemade gravy — “We’re known for the gravy,” says Wayne Abele Jr. — at the all-you-can-eat buffet.
2115 South Sterling Street, (828) 433-5400
27. Kaye’s Kitchen • Newland
Sunday brunch is an experience at Kaye’s Kitchen, when Chef Rupie sets up a portable kitchen in the main dining room and interacts with diners as he whips up made-to-order omelets, French toast, and blueberry pancakes.
503 Pineola Street, (828) 737-0314
28. Pop & Nana’s Kitchen • Robbinsville
Pop & Nana’s Kitchen is a popular spot for traveling bikers (Harleys, not 10-speeds). The veteran-owned restaurant offers a down-home mountain breakfast reminiscent of the food you probably ate at your own grandparents’ house. Fill up on a plate of giant blueberry pancakes, or ask for Carl’s famous oatmeal.
52 Rodney Orr Bypass, (828) 479-8461
29. Pines Restaurant • Sparta
Pines was already a well-known spot for breakfast in town, and now it’s moved into the former Brown’s Family Restaurant — itself a local landmark. Whichever spot Alleghany County locals call their favorite, they order the livermush with their Saturday morning eggs. Not your taste? Try the fried-just-right bacon, pancakes, and sweet French toast, instead.
115 Jones Street, (336) 372-3400
30. Clyde’s Restaurant • Waynesville
Opened in 1941, Clyde’s is just off the Smoky Mountain Expressway, the main route into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Before a day of exploring, treat yourself to the “2×4 Breakfast”: two hotcakes, two scrambled eggs, two pieces of bacon, and two link sausages.
2107 South Main Street, (828) 456-9135
In Haywood County, Clyde’s retro restaurant sign is as much a landmark as the surrounding mountains. Photograph by Tim Robison.