A tiny hamlet in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Banner Elk is “sandwiched” (note the clever pun in this article about the best Banner Elk restaurants) between Beech Mountain on one side and Sugar Mountain, both premier ski resorts in the North Carolina High Country.
If you Google “what to do in Banner Elk,” you’ll find a wide range of activities, both indoor and outdoor.
But, this little town soars all four seasons with a multitude of activities to experience! And dining is not lost out! You will find a diverse range of cuisines represented in the Banner Elk restaurants community.
Below are a few of the local’s favorite places to eat in Banner Elk and the best Banner Elk restaurants.
Visiting other destinations in North Carolina? Check out our other delicious guides:
The 7 Best Banner Elk Restaurants
171 Main Street // 828-898-5656
A long-time resident of Banner Elk, this well-established restaurant recently did a complete rebuild on Main Street. A gorgeous building welcomes you for lunch or dinner.
A menu that features Cajun specialties is the draw here. Fresh ingredients, many from local farms, are used in Chef Patrick Bagby’s seasonally inspired menu.
The selections offer small plates, soups, salads, and entrees. We opted to share several small plates due to so many we wanted to try.
First up was a nicely curated steak tartare, finely chopped Black Angus filet with capers and local mustard and topped with a 64-degree egg! It was divine; the steak was tender, and the capers, along with the mustard, added zip but not too much to overpower the delicate egg.
Next, we had the Southern Fried Quail with dirty rice, a winning combination of savory spices, finished with oyster gravy! Delicious, and we also dove into a plate of crispy fried oyster with remoulade sauce.
Last but not least, we ended with the seared scallop dish, accompanied by a unique chorizo potato salad and chimichurri sauce!
To sip with, we had a couple of glasses of bubbly and a light Rose to pair with the scallops. Louisiana Purchase has a full bar and has mastered the craft cocktail.
A Wine Spectator award for their ever-growing wine list and several wines by the glass are offered. Patrick’s wife Laurie runs the front effortlessly, as she has for so many years!
We ordered dessert to go. We could not resist the sticky toffee pudding. So glad we did! It was the clincher to a perfect meal at one of the best Banner Elk restaurants.
I recommend making a reservation at this fabulous spot and make sure to check their website for changing hours.
9872 NC-105 // 828-963-822
Pay attention as you drive into Banner Elk, or you will miss this little gem of a restaurant. It is tucked away in the corner of a small shopping center on Highway 105. Chef-owner Dominque, a well-traveled and renowned chef, gives you a taste of Britain in one of the best Banner Elk restaurants, offering British specialties like Steak-Ale pie, cornish pasties, and Scottish eggs.
A large selection of sandwiches is also on the menu, prepared on Chef Dominque’s homemade bread. The house Rueben is a standout, but the all-day Santa Fe burrito is my favorite (bringing back fond memories of my time there), stuffed with chorizo, potatoes, scrambled eggs, and cheese; it’s finished with a zesty red and green sauce.
Eat Pie, Eat Cake, yep, that’s what you do here. A wide variety of homemade pies, both savory and sweet and beautiful cakes, are available both by slice or whole.
The strawberry-rhubarb pie is a must in strawberry season, and the tasty chicken pot pie makes for a quick dinner option.
I would advise you to pre-order the whole cakes and pastries to make sure they have what you desire. They do sell out!!
Meryle, Dominique’s wife, greets you at the door of her well-appointed small dining room she has adorned with vintage antiques from her travels. There are also a few tables on the sidewalk for outside dining.
Eat Crow offers a full catering menu and frozen items for pick up, an excellent convenience when you visit the area. They also have a great holiday menu available for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
You may enjoy your meal BYOB style too, another benefit at one of the best Banner Elk restaurants.
4004-NC 105 // 828-9200
Dare not to mention or visit this restaurant located on 105 heading into Banner Elk.
Reid’s, first as a catering operation and now as a restaurant, offers the most enticing cuisine in the area with its long-standing reputation. Owner Tina Houston brings a certain flair to her establishments, with attention to detail across the board.
In its relatively new, stylish Banner Elk restaurant, the vibe is contemporary yet welcoming, with eclectic menu items to please all.
We always begin with oysters. Reid’s offers both a daily natural selection and a grilled version. The dinner menu prepares a daily roasted oyster, always with an exciting accompaniment!
At lunch, we start with oysters as well. What can I say? We love fresh oysters, and Reid’s is one of the few Banner Elk food establishments that have them!
The chicken wings are always a good bet, giving us different variations instead of the hot wing norm. The Greek version, dry-rub style, were tasty, and I especially liked the tzatziki sauce for dipping!
Sammiches, as Reid’s calls them, are excellent. The southern fried chicken is crispy, with a kick from the house-made chipotle aioli. Yellow-fin tuna salad is a fresh take on the old standard.
The dinner experience branches out with entrees such as Cheshire pork chop; we loved the buttery kraut, and the take on the sweet mustard sauce.
The market fish is well executed and prepared with fresh herbs and lemon on our visit. A chef’s choice entree changes daily!
Dessert is made in-house, and by all means splurge; they are worth it!
Reid’s serves lunch and dinner Wednesday thru Saturday and has a great Sunday brunch! The Beacon Butcher Bar, their sister restaurant, is in Boone, which I featured in my article about Boone’s restaurants. If you are undecided about where to eat in Banner Elk, try Reid’s. It’s one of the best Banner Elk restaurants.
488 Main Street // 828-898-7773
This Caribbean-inspired restaurant sits at the base of Beech Mountain Ski Resort in the newly renovated Eagles Nest Market Place.
The owners, hailing from Miami celebrate the flavors of Cuba, Mexico, Spain, and the Caribbean, as mentioned above!
A mix of tapas, plates, and sandwiches offers various dishes representing all the flavors and spices from the regions.
For starters, the trio of wings comes in three flavors, Mojo citrus garlic, Jamaican jerk, and Mango jalapeno. Yucca fries are crispy and light served with a cilantro lime sauce.
Traditional Cuban sandwiches are prepared in two different ways, and the infamous Ropa Vieja, the national dish of Cuba, is plated with beans, rice, and fried plantains.
Tacos are presently stuffed with shrimp, steak, or fish, and the MoJo Pork bowl is redolent of spices, and the sweet Maduras compliment the heat.
Bodegas has a full bar, and, to be expected, the Mojito was delicious, as well as their Margarita! The wine list has several options by the glass.
Bodegas is an excellent stop on your way up or down the hill to or from Beech Mountain! Whether to fuel your ski trip or fill you up after a long hike, they have you covered! Bodegas will fill your need for the taste of Caribbean food in Banner Elk and it really is one of the best Banner Elk restaurants.
140 Azalea Cir SE // +18288985214
Sorrento’s Italian Bistro and adjacent sister restaurant, Chef’s Table, sit in picturesque downtown Banner Elk in the Banner Elk Village.
Family-owned for thirty years, with recipes handed down thru the generations of the Palazzo family from Sicily, Sorrento’s is the place to go for Italian food in Banner Elk.
Sorrento’s focuses on traditional Italian fare, with nods to all the favorites, including pizza.
Fried calamari is a recommended start; crispy squid comes with a zesty marinara.
Clams cooked in the oven topped with breadcrumbs and garlic, or Burrata with basil, fresh tomato, with a drizzle of olive oil; these are all excellent choices! Mussels marinara are pretty tasty too!
Entrees span the whole of Italy, featuring Veal Piccata, an old-world dish that is tender, citrusy, and melts in your mouth.
This dish is offered with chicken as well. Sorrento’s gives the option to have Veal or Chicken prepared Parmigiano style, Marsala with mushrooms, or the Piccata.
The wine list explores both old and new world regions, with a good dose of Italian varietals! A full bar is on hand to offer the classic cocktails too.
Upstairs at the Chef’s Table is the vision of Executive Chef Nicole Palazzo. Chef’s Table delivers an eclectic cuisine featuring fresh local ingredients with a global twist!
Upscale tacos, sushi, and entrees, these dishes are presented beautifully. The beet tartare is a refreshing take on the classic, with whipped goat cheese and crostini.
The dining room is sophisticated yet casual, and the large comfortable bar is inviting to dine at also. Sharing the diverse wine menu with Sorrento’s gives ample choices by bottle or glass. From sushi to steak to seafood, you’ll find it all at this fine-dining restaurant in Banner Elk.
Sorrento’s and Chef’s Table are open seven days a week. Make reservations below at bannerelkvillage.com
These are two of the best Banner Elk restaurants visit, and although these are not traditional restaurants, they are great places to visit while traveling through Banner Elk and the High Country! Unbeatable on a beautiful day!
Sara’s Bonus Picks
While these are technically not Banner Elk restaurants, I would be remiss to not note a couple of the fine regional wineries.
225 Vineyard Lane // 828-963-2400
Soaring to an elevation of over 5,900 feet, the peak of Grandfather Mountain overshadows this small vineyard. Nestled at its base, the vines stretch up the slopes of the mountain.
Sitting on the banks of the Watauga River, dipping your toes in the cool mountain water offers a nice break in warmer months while sipping on a chilled glass of Rosé! The winery is open year-round and you can enjoy all seasons thoroughly. A mountain lodge-style tasting room welcomes visitors to try several wine varieties by the glass, flight, or bottles.
The vineyard here produces a small crop of grapes, but they also purchase grapes from California and other wineries in North Carolina to blend into their wine selections. And their wines are delicious, offering several enticing varietals, working with lesser-known grapes such as Marsanne and Vermentino, and aging in whiskey barrels for an exciting take on whites and blending Barbera with Syrah for a bold, robust red.
The mountain, grapevines, and Watauga river create an enticing backdrop for a weekend or weekday visit. Live music plays on the weekends thru the Fall Season. In the peak of summer, you may sometimes find music played during the week as well. The winery boasts a beautiful covered patio area, and a sprawling lawn provides tables with umbrellas, enabling all to enjoy the music.
Tables are also set up down by the river, where wading is allowed, and kiddos and dogs are usually romping freely. Eleven80 food truck is a permanent resident, offering snacks and sandwiches. Inside the tasting room, cheese and crackers are available too! We always pack a picnic for a long luxurious afternoon at this entertaining venue.
We always start with their Rosé Bubbly, refreshing and light on the palate, and pairs with various cheeses and food. Other favorites include the Rosé of Pinot Noir or the Fusion Red.
Further down the road outside the quaint downtown area of Banner Elk lies Banner Elk Winery, cradled by rolling hills and mountain vistas and located on what was an old blueberry farm. If you’re looking for this kind of a serenity, this is one of the best Banner Elk restaurants to find it.
60 Deer Run, Banner Elk // +18288989090
As usual, we begin with a glass of their crisp, dry Rosé and finish with one of their award-winning reds, preferably a Cabernet Franc or Petite Syrah. Keep in mind that they make a marvelous dessert wine from the blueberries, they harvest from the remnants of the old Blueberry farm.
A favored activity is picking blueberries on a perfect mountain summer day (in season) while sipping on a glass of wine.
The winery offers wine tastings, glasses of wine, and bottle service. Located right next door is a Tuscan-style Inn for overnight guests.
The winery is a favored wedding destination and hosts wine dinners and special events.
Live music plays over most weekends thru the fall season.
If you are looking for more adventure, head back into Banner Elk and stroll the streets. This tiny mountain town has several restaurants and shops to explore and is home to the Fall’s infamous Wooly Worm Festival.
If visiting the High Country, and you enjoy drinking wine, it would be amiss not to stop at these idyllic vineyards and wineries (rightfully owning the title of one of the best Banner Elk restaurants) Visit www.grandfathervineyard.com for all their events and live music dates and times, and http://www.bannerelkwinery.com for tasting hours and music schedule.
So there you have it. The best of the best Banner Elk restaurants. And no more excuses; we’ve just told you where to try some great regional wines, and where to eat while visiting Banner Elk.