Best Restaurants on the Appalachian Trail
Thru-hikers will use trekking poles to smash open discarded cans of fruit cocktail without a second thought, so it goes without saying that one of the greatest joys a hiker experiences is a good restaurant in a trail town. Not all of the following restaurants are award-winning 5-star dining. In fact, most of them probably aren’t. But we have a different set of criteria in our realm, so we’ve compiled the top 10 restaurants along the AT…. thru-hiker style.
One important note—meals like Mountain Harbour’s breakfast and Elmer’s Sunnybank Inn vegetarian dinner are more than good enough to make this list, but they aren’t technically restaurants. Check out Best Hostel Meals here. Since there’s sure to be disagreement about the following Top 10, feel free to leave a comment and let us know if there’s a restaurant you know rightly deserves a spot here.
Town: Catawba, VA
Address: 4968 Catawba Valley Drive, Catawba, VA 24070
Phone Number: 540-384-7252
What it’s known for: Giant, family-style platters of fried chicken, classic sides, and various desserts in a beautiful home built in 1907.
Standout meals: Roast beef, fried chicken, green beans. Everything.
Other Notes: Eating here as a thru-hiker / section hiker requires good luck, or even more likely, great planning. This is because of their limited open hours (closed Mon-Wed, only open limited hours the rest of the week).
Town: Waynesboro, VA
Address: 316 Federal St, Waynesboro, VA 22980
Phone Number: (540) 942-8800
What it’s known for: Widely regarded as best AYCE buffet on the Trail.
Standout meals: Chinese AYCE Buffet, thru-hiker’s paradise.
Other Notes: Dinner buffet is $10.99, Lunch buffet is $8.59. Weekend buffets are slightly more expensive.
Town: Hot Springs, NC
Address: 70 Lance Avenue, Hot Springs, NC 28743
Phone Number: (828) 622-7571
Standout meals: Hungry Hiker Burger, Skillets, Breakfast anything.
What it’s known for: Breakfast, huge portions that are also inexpensive—AKA a thru-hiker’s favorite combo
Town: Delaware Water Gap, PA
Address: 13 Broad St Delaware Water Gap, PA 18327
Phone number: (570) 476-9440
Standout meals: Slice of Pie and Hot Dog for under $5
What it’s known for: Amazing baked goods and sandwiches. Outdoor seating where you can see food being grilled right in front of your face. And if you can swing it, you have the option of eating an entire pie in one sitting.
Town: Stratton (technically Eustis), Maine
Address: 146 Main, Eustis, ME 04936
Phone number: (207) 246-2922
Standout meals: Wolf Burger
What it’s known for: Maine microbrews, hefty burgers, and a homey atmosphere.
Other notes: Restaurant also operates as an inn, dogs are welcome to stay for a small fee.
Town: Roseland, VA
Address: 200 Mosbys Run Roseland, VA 22967
Phone number: (434) 361-1001
Standout meals: Smoked Brisket Saturday. Obviously only happens once a week, but if you can swing it, don’t miss it.
What it’s known for: Their beer.
Town: Falls Village, CT
Address: 85 Main St Falls Village, CT 06031
Phone number: (860) 824-8168
Standout meals: Eggs benedict, waffles.
What it’s known for: Popular with motorcyclists. Breakfast and lunch.
Other Notes: Limited open hours. Closed Monday – Wednesday. Closed after lunchtime the rest of the days of the week.
Town: Roan Mountain, TN
Address: 8361 Hwy 19E, Roan Mountain TN, 37687
Phone number: (423) 772-3641
Standout meal: Milkshakes are a meal, right?
What it’s known for: Barbecue and diner food; drive-through…. (walk-through?)
Other Notes: One of the oldest restaurants in the region, opening in 1956 and still operating with the same community-minded atmosphere.
9) River’s End
Town: Bryson, NC
Address: 13077 West Highway 19, Bryson City, NC 28713
Phone Number: (828) 488-7172
Standout meals: Their homemade veggie burger is legendary
What it’s known for: American style cuisine. Directly on the AT overlooking the Nantahala River. Best paired with a day full of activities- on the river- or better yet, on the AT.
Other Notes: This restaurant is on the pricey side for a thru-hiker budget, but you’ll get a heaping platter of food and the bottomless diner coffee you’ve been craving on the trail. Pack out some pancakes for the upcoming climb… you’ll be glad you did.
10) The Doyle
Town: Duncannon, PA
Address: 9 N Market St Duncannon, PA 17020
Phone Number: (717) 834-6789
What it’s known for: Built in the 1770s. Directly on the AT, has rooms for thru-hikers to stay in.
Other Notes: The Doyle burned to the ground in 1803, and was replaced by the current building. In 1880, it was purchased by Adolphus Busch, and it opened again as the Johnson Hotel in 1905. The building was sold when Prohibition hit in 1920, and became the Doyle in 1944 after Jim Doyle won $444,444.44 in the Irish lottery. Doyle owned the hotel into the 1990s, then it had two more owners until 2001 when current owners Pat and Vickey Kelly bought it.
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