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. (That’ll be a future post.) 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.

1) The Homeplace

homeplace

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).

2) New Ming Garden Buffet

mings

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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.

3) Smoky Mountain Diner

smoky-mountain

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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

4) Village Farmer & Bakery 

village-farmer

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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.

5) White Wolf Inn

white-wolf

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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.

6) Devils Backbone Brewing Company

devils-backbone

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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.

7) Toymakers Cafe

toymakers

 

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.

8)  Bob’s Dairyland 

bbs

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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

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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

doye

Town: Duncannon, PA
Address: 9 N Market St Duncannon, PA 17020
Phone Number: (717) 834-6789
Standout meals:
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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Comments 21

  • Bloodhound : Mar 23rd

    How Mojo’s Trailside Cafe in Damascus has escaped your list is a mystery to me. It has one of the best combinations of fresh brewed coffees and unique cuisine creations in the region and was voted best restaurant in Damascus. Everyone I know who goes there raves about it. Check’em out!
    https://mojostrailsidecafe.com/

    Reply
    • Pari "Brave Turtle" O'Halloran : Mar 23rd

      Their chai, Caesar wraps, and bagels with sundried tomatoes are enough to make me want to go across the country again. Except probably by car this time. 0:)

      Reply
    • Tango Willie : Mar 24th

      Bloodhound, I agree with your comments about Mojo’s Trailside. Some of the best shrimp and grits I have had outside of Charleston, SC. Try Seymore’s Pulled Pork sandwich too! As of two weeks ago, Mojo’s does not serve alcohol, which may turn some folks off.

      Reply
    • sdf : Mar 24th

      no dinner there either

      Reply
    • Ruby Throat : Mar 26th

      I’m already dreaming about Mojo’s BLT. I’m flip-flopping, so maybe I’ll have two when I get there. And get one to go for dinner. Maybe I’ll even start there before I get on the trail in Grayson Highlands on April 26. Yeah…Mojo’s. BLT. Top Ten.

      Reply
  • Lil' Santa : Mar 23rd

    HIGHLY recommend Hawg N Dawg to hikers in Erwin, TN. They have a dollar menu on Mondays. INCREDIBLE BBQ and it’s cheap. Go across the street to the pharmacy for amazing milkshakes and Pie 🙂

    Reply
  • Gregory Parsons : Mar 23rd

    Woodstock Inn in North Woodstock, New Hampshire could potentially be added

    Reply
    • Gregory Parsons : Jul 29th

      Agreed.

      Reply
  • Arlene (EverReady) : Mar 23rd

    Two amazing restaurants I also recommend: Mi Casa in Franklin, NC (great and true Mexican food) and Up For Breakfast in Manchester, VT ( am still drooling).

    Reply
    • Brother Blood : Mar 28th

      I did up for breakfast !!!!

      Reply
  • Darrell Barrett : Mar 24th

    How about Daniel’s Steakhouse in Hiawassee, GA?

    Reply
  • Tango Willie : Mar 24th

    Bloodhound, I agree with your comments about Mojo’s Trailside. Some of the best shrimp and grits I have had outside of Charleston, SC. Try Seymore’s Pulled Pork sandwich too! As of two weeks ago, Mojo’s does not serve alcohol, which may turn some folks off

    Reply
  • TeeBird 2014 : Mar 26th

    For breakfast, nothing beat Pete’s Place in Monson, ME!

    Reply
  • Jarod Fleming : Mar 27th

    1. Homeplace is absolutely overrated. Bland chicken, canned veggies, the only really going for it is AYCE. 2. Its criminal you did not put the only Fine Dining establishment on the AT, South Mountain Inn.

    Reply
  • Dora the Explora : Mar 28th

    The Kennebec River Brewery was one of my favorite stops and some of my best memories on the trail. Great food, great beer, decent rates to camp, and a POOL AND HOT TUB! Me and my trail buddies way over stayed our welcome there & it was awesome. It was a total treat toward the end of the trail (when you aren’t emotionally ready to finish and leave the world of the AT)

    Reply
  • Rob Bird : Mar 30th

    Jacobs Pub in Dalton Ma is a great hiker eatery. Their Reuben is unequaled. Center cut orkchop dinner is over the top. Sports bar and down home hospitality make it the perfect stop for lunch and dinner.

    Reply
  • Amanda Arnett : Mar 30th

    How about the Spring Creek Tavern in Hot Springs NC?

    Reply
  • Eric Batson : Mar 30th

    The rivers end in Bryson also has a phenomenal beer selection. Hop slam in a can? Who knew

    Also the Ashby in in northern va is one of the best fine dining stops if you got the funds. I have personally called them coming off the trail describing my wretched and smelly condition and they were cool with it

    Reply
    • Eric Batson : Mar 30th

      Reading one of the previous posts, it is fine dining. Again if you have the funds there’s actually a lot of options. The trail passes by the inn at little Washington, if you desire to spend 300-500 on dinner

      Reply
  • Eric Batson : Mar 31st

    Also in dalesville va (central va) there’s a random Exxon that smokes their own BBQ in the parking lot. For something like 3$ you can get a 1/4 lb sandwich and a lotto ticket. You don’t necessarily need the lotto ticket, but the idea of making your fortune while hiking the trail is somewhat romantic

    Reply
  • Draggin' Tail : Jul 29th

    Hit seven out of 10 on the list during my 2010 Thru……. Bob’s Dairyland and Toymaker’s Cafe were both closed when we went through, but Falls Village still had a cold beer and……. it’s where my son (who thru’d with me), first heard the term “Package Store”. 😉 (I think Devils Backbone Brewery was new enough c.2008, that I never heard of it until this article).

    Reply

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