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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: 5/8/2023]

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!

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.

Find Yourself in Waynesville NC

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The Chef's Table

The Chef's Table

We were told to visit The Chef's Table in Waynesville NC, and for some crazy reason until recently, we just never did.   Some years ago, with us raising 6-children it was just out of our budget, but the kids have grown up and moved on.

We recently decided to finally give them a try after hearing from some friends, yet once again, how fantastic The Chef's Table was.  Well, they weren't lying ... it's amazing.

The restaurant is small, but well decorated, warm and cozy.  The Chef's table is well known for their international wine selection, and the decor carries that theme well.  The walls covered in wine corks and the ends of wine boxes.  It's actually a very elegant, yet casual decor to fits perfectly.

Our server was top notch and was able to find that perfect balance of not being too invasive, but also not under attending either.  We ordered drinks and some really delicious bread was brought to the table.  I ordered my usual Vodka Martini, and Jenn ordered a glass of white wine.  Both were excellent.

We ordered their signature Risotto Goat Cheese Balls for an appetizer, which were well beyond what we expected.  Really delicious, and not too heavy.

For our main entrees, Jenn ordered one of their specials, Halibut and I tried their Grouper Piccata.   Both meals were outstanding with large portions which we were not able to finish.

We considered trying dessert, but decided to pass, which brings me to our only minor complaint: the dessert selection is lacking.   They only offer two options, chocolate cake and a cheese cake.   Don't get me wrong, both of these are outstanding I'm sure, based on the other food, we were just hoping for a few more options.  But again, a minor complaint.

The Chef's Table Halibut Special
The Chef's Table - Grouper Piccata

We left full and talking about how we can't wait to go back again soon.    We would highly recommend The Chef's Table for a special occasion or the occasional romantic night out.   They are a bit more costly than other restaurants in the same "fine-dining" category, so not something most could do often, but it's worth the extra cost for the exceptional food and service.

Be sure to make reservations in advance.  They offer limited seating, and are very busy during the peak season.

Singletree Heritage Kitchen

If you're looking for a taste of the Blue Ridge Mountains, then you will definitely want to visit Singletree Heritage Kitchen in Waynesville, NC. This cozy restaurant is the perfect spot to enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the scenic beauty of the surrounding mountains.

Single Tree Heritage Kitchen is all about celebrating the local flavors and ingredients of the area. 

Some of the standout items on the menu for us include the Bluecrab Fritters, Cornmeal encrusted shrimp, Peppered Chargrilled NY Strip Steak, and the Skillet seared dry pack scallops.   They also have daily specials to choose from, that are excellent.

They also offer a large selection of wines, specialty drinks and a full-bar. 

But it's not just the food that makes Singletree Heritage Kitchen one of our top picks. The restaurant also has a warm and welcoming atmosphere that will make you feel right at home.  It's formal, yet you'll feel comfortable in a suit, or a pair of jeans.   

You can enjoy sitting at the bar, or dining in their large dining area which has large windows for enjoying views of the surrounding mountains.  They even offer outdoor seating during the warmer season.

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!

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Furman's Burger Bar

Furman's Burger Bar is the newest burger spot in Waynesville NC and specializes in smash burgers with a number of great menu options, including ... wait for it ... a peanut butter and jelly burger, and it's delicious.

Furman's is located in Hazelwood, not far from downtown Waynesville.  The environment is very casual, but the restaurant is well decorated and very comfortable.

As you would expect, they serve mainly burgers, but also have salads, chicken, and some other options as well.  Their focus is on the smash burger, and it's what they excel at.  You can "design" your own, or choose from one of their menu options which include a mushroom and Swiss, a bacon and blue cheese burger, and even one with fried green tomatoes!   If you're looking for something a bit more traditional, they have those as well.

They also have a number of sides, including fries, onion rings, and potato salad.   

All served hot and made to order with high quality ingredients.  I mean look at those buns in the photos below.

Furman's excels at excellent smash burgers, at a reasonable price and served up in a comfortable and friendly atmosphere.  They have quickly become very well known locally as one of the best burger places in the county.

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!

Watami

Watami Waynesville NC

Watami is an excellent and casual Asian restaurant located in downtown Waynesville.   They offer a wide selection of Asian hot food options including: Noodles, Thai, and Chinese dishes.   But, where they excel is Sushi.   

Watami has a wide selection of Sushi options, including cooked and raw Sushi.  Their fish is fresh and high grade as well.  All Sushi is made to order by their Sushi Chef's right in the open in their large Sushi kitchen.  We've tried nearly all of their rolls, and they are all delicious.   Our favorites are the Blue Ridge Roll (imagine that...) and the Magic Mango Roll.  Their Spicy Kani Salad is fantastic as well.

Their hot food options are great as well, with our favorites being their Noodle soups, Pad Thai, and General Tso's Chicken.

Watami provides lots of seating options, especially with their new dining area that opened next door.  They also now have outdoor seating, which we really enjoy on a warm day.

Give Watami in Waynesville a try, especially if you love Sushi, you won't be disappointed.

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

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!

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!

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!

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.   

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!

Wicked Fresh Maine Lobster Seafood Truck

Wicked Fresh Seafood Market in downtown Waynesville is a great place to get fresh raw seafood and lobster.   They even select hot hot seafood as well, and in particular lobster rolls and New England Clam Chowder.  

Now folks, this isn't your typical lobster roll, these are real Maine style lobster rolls, served with plenty of lobster meat on a fresh upright open cut bun.   

What's even better?  They now have a food truck!   The food truck of course has lobster rolls and clam chowder, but additionally has lobster mac and cheese, trout dip, lobster tacos, shrimp tacos, lobster BLT and more!   All fresh and delicious!

If you love fresh seafood, prepared Maine style and with healthy portions, you'll love Wicked Fresh's Seafood Truck.

More things to do near Waynesville NC

Waynesville and it's surrounding areas are full of great things to see and do.  For more information, be sure to check out our Waynesville NC Town Guide and our new website Explore Waynesville!

Waynesville Restaurant FAQ

What is Waynesville NC known for?

Waynesville, NC is a small town located in the western part of the state, and it is known for its charming downtown area, beautiful mountain scenery, and outdoor recreational opportunities. Here are some of the things that Waynesville is known for: Outdoor Activities, Downtown Waynesville, Festivals and Events, Historical Sites.

Learn more about all the great things to do in Waynesville NC  Things to do Waynesville NC Guide and visit our newest website, Explore Waynesville!

Is Waynesville NC worth visiting?

Absolutely!  Waynesville, NC is definitely worth visiting, especially if you enjoy outdoor activities, small-town charm, and beautiful mountain scenery. The town is situated in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, which offer breathtaking views and plenty of opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, and other outdoor activities.

In addition to its natural beauty, Waynesville has a vibrant downtown area that is filled with local shops, restaurants, and galleries, as well as historic buildings and a thriving arts community. The town also hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, including the Apple Harvest Festival, the Blue Ridge Breakaway cycling event, and the Folkmoot USA International Festival.

Waynesville is a great destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, small-town charm, and cultural experiences.

Who owns Sweet Onion Waynesville?

The Sweet Onion restaurant is owned by two local businessmen, Doug Weaver and an Elliott.  They are co-owners, with Dan focusing on the front of the house, while the Doug is the head chef and runs the kitchen.  The two compliment each other well, resulting in the success of the restaurant.

What is the most famous food in North Carolina?

North Carolina is known for its diverse culinary scene, with many unique and delicious dishes that are popular throughout the state. However, one of the most famous and iconic foods in North Carolina is barbecue.

Barbecue in North Carolina typically refers to slow-cooked, hickory-smoked pork, often served with a vinegar-based sauce. There are two distinct styles of barbecue in the state: Eastern-style and Lexington-style. Eastern-style barbecue is characterized by a tangy, vinegar-based sauce and is typically made with the whole hog, while Lexington-style barbecue is made with pork shoulder and features a sweeter, ketchup-based sauce.

Other famous foods in North Carolina include: Cheerwine, Sundrop, Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits, Sweet Potato Pie, Moravian Cookies, and Shrimp and Grits.

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.

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