12+ Best Waynesville NC Restaurants (and food trucks too!)

Waynesville NC is commonly known for both its Norman Rockwell like historic downtown and for being the gateway to the Smoky Mountains - being surrounded by tons of great things to outdoors.   But many don't realize that Waynesville is full of a number of exceptional restaurants, owned by local owners, who make some awesome food.  

We're locals ourselves, and live in Waynesville NC.  We have tried nearly all of the restaurants, multiple times.  "Best Restaurants" are always very subjective, but for what's it's worth, below are our top pics for the Best Waynesville NC Restaurants, including some awesome food trucks as well.  All of these Waynesville restaurants offer excellent food, at reasonable prices, are locally owned, and have a high cleanliness rating.  

We generally don't do chains, as we prefer to support our local friends and business owners.

[Updated: 8/12/2022]

Traditional Restaurants

We mainly dine at more traditional restaurants, where we can sit down, enjoy some drinks and some great food.  Again, all of these are locally owned and restaurants that you will only find in Waynesville.   We have been exploring and trying local food trucks as well, you can find more about them further down.

Let's explore some fantastic Waynesville NC Restaurants!

1 - The Sweet Onion

While our picks are in no particular order, The Sweet Onion is an exception.  It is hands down our favorite place to eat in Waynesville NC, and considered one of the best restaurants in Waynesville by many visitors and locals as well.

The Sweet Onion provides a very nice dining atmosphere, that isn't stuffy and great views of the surround mountains and Waynesville, though the large glass doors and windows.  It's a place you can go wearing nice clothes, or just shorts and a shirt, and feel very comfortable.    The food is amazing and the staff and owners exceptional.

They have an open kitchen as well, so you can see, smell and hear the food being prepared.   We like that, and get to thank the great cooks and staff on the way out.

While our favorite dishes are their nightly specials, they offer some incredible menu items as well.  Probably one of the best menu items is the crab cakes.   Trust me, we've eaten a lot of crab cakes, and these are the best we've had ... anywhere.    We also enjoy the fresh locally caught trout, steaks, county friend steak, and the shrimp and grits!   

Be sure to try their complimentary cheese biscuits, and get a bowl of their hot sweet onion soup, it's amazing!  Oh, and all of their dressings and sauces are made in house.  They have the best ranch dressing anywhere.

"The Onion" stays very busy, so you'll want to make reservations to avoid a long wait.  The bar is very nice, and offers seating for those just looking for drinks, or for those eating dinner as well.

2 - Amici's Italian Restaurant

Amicis Italian Restaurant Waynesville NC

Our favorite Waynesville Italian Restaurant is Amici's Italian Restaurant, located in the historic Hazelwood area of Waynesville NC.  Amici's offers traditional old world Italian cuisine, with their own unique style, in addition to brick oven pizza.  Head-chef, Frank Perrone is recognized world-wide.

We really enjoy Amici's primarily for the fantastic food, but also for the bright and friendly atmosphere and vibe they offer.  When we eat there, we always feel like we're dining with friends.  Our favorite menu items are: Their specials, the Calamari, Lasagna, Chicken Parmesan, and the Chicken Amici, a signature dish that is incredible.

We really enjoy their Pizza as well, and out of all the great Pizza places in town, Amici's is our favorite pie.

They also have a nice and well equipped bar where you can enjoy some of their signature drinks.  The owner is a bar-tender herself, and creates some really incredible, unique and beautiful mixed drinks.  You can eat at the bar as well.

Be sure to make reservations, as they stay very busy!  Buon Appetito!

3 - Suwana Asian Cuisine

Suwana Asian Cuisine is a relatively new addition to the Waynesville restaurant scene, and has really hit the ground running.   They are located on Main Street in the historic downtown area, and offer different types of fresh Thai dishes and Sushi.   We're really glad Suwana opened, and we hope to see this as a beginning to more food diversity in Waynesvlle.

Suwana has pretty much everything you would expect and more, and the food is delicious, hot, and always fresh tasting.   Their service is top notch as well, and we have found the staff to be very personable and friendly.

Our favorite menu items include: Steamed Dumplings, Any of their Sushi, Pad Thai, Pad Z Ew, Chicken Raman Soup, and the Sesame chicken.   But honestly, we have tried many of the items on the menu, and have loved everything.

Be sure to get an ice cold Thai Tea, which is exceptional and refreshing.  They also serve beer, wine, and have a full bar now as well.

Whether you drive there just for the food, or decide to try them while exploring historic downtown Waynesville, you'll be glad you stopped!

4 - Papas and Beers Mexican

Papas and Beer Waynesville NC

The best Mexican food in Waynesville is hotly debated, depending on the style you like.  We've tried them all, and they are all good, but we love Papas and Beers both for the California style, and the great outdoor seating and atmosphere they have.  Oh, and they have awesome Margaritas!

Papas and Beers is a popular Mexican food chain located in Asheville NC, and they have been expanding, and finally moved into Waynesville a few years back.  We're glad they did, and based on how busy they stay, others must be as well.

Some of our favorite menu items include: Table side Guacamole, Mexican City Street Tacos, Arroz con Cameron (Shrimp and Rice), Chorizo and Papas Burrito, and Taquitos Rancheros.  But really, we've tried so many different items from their large menu, and they are all fantastic.

If you're looking for excellent Mexican food, with nice options for seating, including outdoor, Papas and Beers is just the ticket!

5 - Church Street Depot

Restaurants with large menus are great for selection, but sometimes, visiting a restaurant that focuses on one thing, and that does it incredibly well, is the way to go.  Church Street Depot does just that - You just can't go wrong with Burgers, Shakes and Fries, it's a classic combination, and frankly, they nailed it.

They were voted the best burger in Haywood county, and for good reason.   

Located in downtown Waynesville, Church Street Depot provides a number of different beef options, from regular beef to local grass-fed beef, and a number of items in-between.  They also offer numerous topping options, and of course fresh made and cut fries.   Don't forget to get a real ice cream milkshake too!

They also have hotdogs, and sandwiches as well.  

If you prefer a more adult beverage with your burger, they offer a selection of beers and other adult beverages, including wine.

Our favorites are the: Special Blend Burger in French Style (Mushroom and Swiss) and the Bacon Cheese Burger.  The Brunch burger is awesome, but a big meal.   We always get fries with ours as well.   If you prefer a more healthy option, they offer turkey burgers too.

All of the food is made to order, and comes out hot and fresh, which takes a bit more time, but well worth the wait.  They provide both indoor and outdoor seating.    You won't want to miss stopping at Church Street Depot!

6 - Bogart's Restaurant

One of the most popular places in town for years, especially with locals is Bogart's Restaurant and Tavern, just outside of downtown Waynesville NC.   Bogart's offers a number of menu items in their large bear themed restaurant, but their specialty is steaks.

One of the things we enjoy about Bogart's is that it's always consistently good, and has been for years.  You can venture in for a good steak, and expect it to be cooked correctly,  flavorful, tender, and of course juicy.   I mean, that's how a steak should be right?

In addition to steaks, they offer a large number of sandwiches, entrees, salads, and appetizers.  There burgers are excellent as well.  

Our favorites include: Fried pickles, Fried Green Tomatoes, any of their burgers, Smothered Chicken, Trout, and any of their steaks.  Be sure to try the Carrot Cake or Peanut Butter Landslide as well!

The restaurant is large, and offers seating for larger parties, which is nice.  The atmosphere is friendly and casual, especially if you like black bears, who decorate the whole restaurant (our kids always liked finding them).   

Bogart's again is very popular, and often very busy.  So you'll want to be patient, or get there early.

Great food and service with a hometown feel and lots of variety.  Bogart's is one of the best restaurants Waynesville NC has to offer.   They also have live music on select nights.

7 - Haywood Smokehouse

If you love BBQ, Haywood smokehouse should be at the top of your list.  Haywood Smokehouse is considered to be one of the best smokehouse restaurants in the south, by many visitors and locals.  They do BBQ the right way, and top it with their award winning rubs and sauces.  

They are located in an old home, in the historic Hazelwood section of Waynesville NC, and provide excellent food, in a clean, comfortable and casual location.   They offer all of your traditional smokehouse items, including brisket, pulled pork bbq, ribs, bbq beans, brunswick stew, and much more.  They have tons of sauce options as well, and of course awesome sides like mac and cheese, fries, sweet potato fries, and more.   

They even have a pulled pork sandwich with Mac and Cheese on top AND BBQ tacos ... is your mouth watering yet?

Did we mention their desserts are "off the chain"?  Yep, Banana pudding, blueberry cobbler and pecan pie.  Absolutely delicious.  

We normally stop in and just pick up a to go order of pulled pork, some brisket and sides.  Always consistent, always delicious.  Some of the best smokehouse BBQ we've had anywhere, and we've eaten a lot in North Carolina as NC natives.

8 - The Buttered Biscuit

If you are looking for an awesome breakfast, full portions, at crazy reasonable prices, you'll want to visit The Buttered Biscuit.  They offer a wonderful selection of items, and the biggest biscuits we've ever seen or eaten in our lives.

They offer all of your traditional items, including french toast, big pancakes, sandwiches and omelettes.   Regardless, get the biscuits and gravy, as it's a signature dish for them, and absolutely scrumptious.

Our favorites menu items include: French Toast, Eggs with corn beef hash and biscuits and gravy, the omelettes, and the chocolate chip pancakes.   The coffee is super good too, which for us, matters a lot.

You'll find the food quality to be very high, and the service fast and top notch.  The owners are generally there in the restaurant working themselves, making sure things are up to their high expectations.  

The Buttered Biscuit isn't crazy fancy, and that's just fine with us, as they put their effort into the food, which is what matters.  You won't find a better breakfast anywhere else in Waynesville NC.

Unless you get their super early, or visit on a weekend, you'll want to expect a wait.  They are very popular, and for good reason.  But trust us, the wait is SO worth it.

9 - Birchwood Hall Southern Kitchen

Birchwood Hall is located on Main Street in downtown Waynesville NC.   Birchwood Hall is a more upscale dining location in Waynesville NC, similar to The Sweet Onion.  Now, when we say upscale, it's still very casual, just expect a little higher quality, atmosphere and cost when you visit.

Birchwood Hall offers a unique farm to table dining experience in Waynesville with menu items that reflect a strong southern tradition.  

Birchwood Hall offers a unique menu, full of wonder tasting items.  Some of our favorites include: Fried Green Tomatoes, Pimento Cheese, Birchwood Burger, pan seared Trout, Shrimp and Grits, and if you love Fried Chicken, it's the best!

Birchwood Hall Fried Chicken

They offer traditional dining at booths and tables, and have a very large and full service bar as well, where you can also enjoy dinner.   

The food is wonderful, and our experiences with the staff have been excellent.  You'll want to hear for a unique Waynesville dining experience, you'll find hind pressed to find elsewhere.

10 - Low Tide Seafood

One of the newest additions to the Waynesville food scene is Low Tide Seafood, and man have they hit the ground running.   Low Tide has become crazy popular with visitors and locals, offering the best calabash seafood available in the area, at very reasonable prices.  They also specialize in steaks, which are excellent as well and even offer Prime Rib specials.

Low Tide is owned by the same owners as The Buttered Biscuit, and the food quality and amount that you get for the money is on-par with Buttered Biscuit, as we would expect.

Low Tide Seafood Waynesville NC

Our favorites on the menu include: Low Tide Chowder, Calabash Shrimp, Flounder, and their steaks.  They also have a number of grilled and not fried options, the Salman and grilled shrimp are great!

Just a warning - If you are going to visit, come hungry.  Low Tide's portions are huge.  We always bring home lots of leftovers.

Low Tide serves great seafood, delivered hot and fresh to your table, super friendly staff, and in a casual, fun, and relaxed atmosphere.  Hard to beat!

11 - Kanini's

We're surprised, but many visitors don't know about this hidden gem.  Fortunately, those of us that are local do.  

Kanini's offers Frozen Meals, dinners to go, catering and lunch dining.  For this article, we're just covering their lunch dining offerings.  They do not offer dinner service.

Kanini's focuses on providing high quality food that is made from scratch.  All meals are prepared using fresh and high quality ingredients.  They also strive to use organic and locally grown ingredients as well.

They offer a menu that changes often, with something different and new all the time.  They often have various sandwiches, quesadillas, bowls, salads, chicken salad, soups, desserts and more.  They also serve locally made Waynesville Soda Jerks products, which are flat out amazing.

The best part?  Nearly everything on their menu is made from fresh and healthy ingredients.  Just being honest, healthy options in Waynesville is hard to find.

Head over during lunch, and give Kanini's a try.  Just be aware, they stay busy, and the food is made to order, so getting your food can take a bit.  We promise, it's worth the wait!

12 - The Scotsman Public House

Another new, and very welcome addition to the Waynesville Food scene is The Scotsman Public House, also located in downtown Waynesville.   The Scotsman is a super nice looking Scottish pub, that serves all of the base Scottish eats you would expect, plus some additional twists and variety.  Of course they have a full bar, serving lots of cold brews and ales, wines, and mixed drinks.

When you walk in, you'll be impressed.  The finish and look is really nice, but the environment is very relaxed and casual.   Grab a menu by the table, and seat yourself.  One of the staff will come find you soon enough.

The menu offers a really great variety, and we are yet to try everything, but our favorites so far are: Salmon Cake BLT, Sheppard's Pie (of course), Pub Style Chicken and Curry, and the Chicken Schnitzel.  All really good, and came out hot and relatively fast considering.  We haven't tried the smash burgers yet, but they look and sound really good.

One note - If you don't like spicy, don't get anything with the beer cheese on it.  The beer cheese is good, but super spicy hot. 

They also have specials on occasion AND they do an incredible looking Sunday morning Brunch, that is on our list to try very very soon.  We'll update this guide as soon as we do!

The Scotsman often has live music later in the evening as well.  So if you want a more quiet dinner, go early. But if you are looking to jam out while enjoying some great food and brews, come later in the evening.

The Scotsman is a great addition to Waynesville, with good food, service, and atmosphere.   Give it a try, we think you'll love it.  They are open late, which isn't common in Waynesville.

13 - The Cuban Guy

If you love authentic Cuban food, don't miss out on The Cuban Guy.  One of our favorite places to grab lunch in downtown Waynesville.

The Cuban guy has a pretty standard menu, and a number of daily specials.   The best way to see what they are serving is to visit their Facebook page.   We have been eating at the Cuban Guy for years now, and have tried many of the items on the menu, and they are all delicious.

Our favorite menu items are: The Cuban Sandwich, Picadillo, Ham Croquettes, and their Mojo pork bowl.   We love their specials as well.  They have pastries, great coffee, and cuban drinks as well.

They offer both indoor and outdoor dining, in a small but comfortable location.  The business is family owned, and the owners and staff are super friendly, and go out of their way to make your dining experience top notch.  

Stop by, you won't find better authentic cuban food anywhere else!

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Food Trucks

1 - Fuego

We had heard of Fuego Food Truck for a while, but never tried until recently.  They were at our daughter's school a few times, so she had said it was really good. 

We were looking for something new to try one day for lunch, and decided to finally try Fuego since they were parked close to where we were downtown.    We cannot tell you how much we have kicked ourselves for not trying them sooner ...  Oh man, is it good, hot and fresh.   We were shocked.

Their menu varies, and they change it up every so often, but there are some things that stay on there fairly consistently like their smash burgers, chicken sliders, and they usually have some type of tacos and quesadillas as well.  The best way to find out where they will, and what they are serving is to visit their Facebook page.

When we tried them, we had the Chicken Sliders and the hot honey tacos, both with a side of fresh cut fries.   All of it was so tasty, with great flavors.   For drinks we had a peach lemonade and cokes.

We placed our order, went back to our car, and the food was brought out hot and fresh for us, in togo containers.   Again, the food was so good, we'll definitely be going back!

2 - Jose's Taco Truck

The most popular and well known, and maybe the original food truck for Waynesville is Jose's Taco Truck, which is located near the Ingles on Russ Avenue.  

Jose's has the best tacos in town, and are authentic street style Mexican tacos as well.   In addition to Tacos, they have Quesadillas, Burritos, and Tortas.   Meats can be Steak, Chicken, Al Pastor, Chorizo, Pulled Pork, and Beef Tongue.  They also have amazing fish tacos as well.

Rice and other items are available on the side, and they green sauce that comes with your food is incredible.  They also have a great assortments of ice cold drinks in coolers, including Frescas (which you must try).

We love grabbing lunch at Jose's Taco Truck, the food is great, and Jose and his family are just super nice folks.  Give them a try!

3 - Gigis

While technically a food truck, but parked in a permanent location in the Jonathan Creek area of Waynesville, Gigis is a popular local lunch spot, that serves a variety of items hot, fresh and delicious.

Gigis has a beach theme, with a covered porch eating area, allowing for a food truck like experience, with outdoor sit down dining.   They offer daily specials in addition to their large menu of burgers, sandwiches, subs, salads.  They have hot dogs as well.

Our favorites include: the burgers, the taco salad, and the cuban sandwich.   Sides are available as well, including: Fries, Tater Tots (Larry's favorite) and Onion Rings.  

Gigis is a friendly and welcoming place, that serves great food, with a local flare.   We highly recommend them, and visit often!

4 - Appalachian Smoke

Update 8/11/2022 - We visited  Appalachian Smoke recently, and absolutely loved it.  The owners are supper friendly, and make some excellent BBQ!

We tried the fresh lemonade, the BBQ Brisket Nachos, and the pulled pork sandwich with Mac and Cheese, and BBQ Beans.   The brisket and pulled pork were moist, and very flavorful.  We've had lots of BBQ in our years, and this was some of the best.  We look forward to going back soon.

Appalachian Smoke sets-up in various locations around Waynesville and Haywood county.  The best way to see their current menu and schedule is to check out their Facebook page.  

They serve mouth watering pork, chicken, brisket and ribs, all slow smoked and accompanied by their own award winning bbq sources, and home made fresh daily sides.  Sides include BBQ beans, mac and cheese, collard greens, slaw, and cornbread salad.

Their feature dishes include: BBQ Sundae, Brisket Nachos and a Jumbo Loaded BBQ Potato.   

5 - Woof Street Bistro

Woof Street Bistro is another food truck that's on our hot list to check, but we haven't tried yet.  BUT ... per their Facebook page, they are "Serving Haywood County food so good it will have you howling!".   We don't mind howling a little!

You can follow them and find their location, and current menu on their Facebook page.  

As with most food trucks, their menu varies, but to give you a bit of taste of what they offer from a recent menu, they have: Burger Sliders, Alligator Tacos, Smoked Chicken Tacos, Chili dogs, salads, and crinkle fries.  

One item in particular that looks interesting are the Kryto Treats, described as "Deep fried boudin balls topped with cajun remoulade and ritz cracker crumbles!"

They had my attention at beef sliders and tacos.  We look forward to giving them a try soon, and will update this article once we have!

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