A Downtown Blue Ridge Shopping Spree



Shop like nobody’s business in all the wonderful shops located in Downtown Blue Ridge! Pick up something to use in the cabin or something extra special to remember your mountain trip always. We know that Blue Ridge is known for its beautiful mountains and outdoor excursions; but it’s also home to countless shops most of which are located right in the Downtown area. Here you’ll find a variety of unique and trendy shops like antique shops, art galleries, artisan goods, clothing, outdoor gear, and so much more. It’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or ten from your Escape to Blue Ridge because not only is there something for everyone, but it’s a great way to remember your North Georgia trip! Downtown Blue Ridge has every type of shop you can imagine so the only question is where are you going first? Let us help with our guide of favorite shops.

For the Family 

Photo Courtesy of Huck’s General Store

The whole family will love all that Huck’s General Store has to offer! Here, you’ll feel like you’re stepping back into a time of small mountain town shops complete with old school candies, artisan goods, canned & pickled fruits and vegetables, soaps, and more. The kids will love picking out their favorite candies and games; while the adults stock up on snacks, funny signs, and nostalgic gifts. This is also a great place to pick up a Blue Ridge hat or t-shirt! Once you’re finished shopping grab your goodies, an ice cold drink,  and relax on the back porch rockers while you watch the train pass by. 

For the Art Lover

Photo Courtesy of High Country Art Gallery

Are you an art lover or just looking for something beautiful to take home with you? Look no further than High Country Art Gallery. The walls and shelves are stocked with paintings, sculptures, jewelry, pottery, and other beautiful crafts. A majority of the art is crafted by local artists from Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And many of the artists are willing to create a personal piece of your choosing, so you can bring home something extra special. There’s always something beautiful and unique to find here. 

For the Collector

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Antique Mall & Consignment

Blue Ridge Antique Mall & Consignment is the place to be for antique lovers! They have a large selection of vintage and unique items; you never know just what you’ll find! Deck out your home with everything from furniture to collectibles, textiles to glassware, ceramics to art; they have it all! They also have locally made products, perfect for a mountain souvenir or gift for a special someone back home.

For the Kids

Photo Courtesy of Lily + Coco

Lily + Coco is a magical & colorful shop that the kids will absolutely love! What fun toys will the kiddos find? How about unicorn themed gifts for your favorite little girl? A slingshot with felt ammo for the boys? Or unique, one-of-a-kind décor for the holidays? Lily + Coco is truly a one of a kind shop filled with “fanciful finds & whimsical whatnots”. The kids and you won’t be able to get enough of this colorful and super fun shop! 

For the Fisherman

Photo Courtesy of Cohutta Fishing Company

Stock up on your gear and apparel for your next fishing excursion at Cohutta Fishing Company! They don’t coin the phrase “Your Local Fly Fish Shop” for nothing; they have everything you’ll need to get out on the water like fly rods and reels, packs and luggage, fishing vests, boots, apparel and more. Pick up your gear and then book a guided fishing trip on the Toccoa River! Cohutta Fishing Company’s excellent staff provides great service both in the shop and on the water. 

For the Ladies

Photo Courtesy of The Owl’s Nest of Blue Ridge

If you’re looking for cute accessories and apparel for you next night out then check out The Owl’s Nest of Blue Ridge. They have everything from jewelry, gemstones, purses, shoes, t-shirts, and more. With all kinds of beautiful bling and accessories your new look is sure to be the talk of every get together!

For the Men

Photo Courtesy of OAR Finer Goods

The guys like to look good too! So men be sure to check out OAR Finer Goods, an accessory shop for modern gentlemen. They have everything from men’s jewelry, ties, socks, books, fun trinkets, novelty gifts, and more. Some of their brands include Fulton & Roark, Brackish Bowties, Studebaker Metals, and OAR leather goods. Dress to impress at your next special occasion!

For the Foodie

Photo Courtesy of the Pasta Market

The Pasta Market has everything you could possibly imagine from pasta, sauces, wines, seasonings, baked goods, candles, kitchen & home items and so much more! They even have a secret wine bar where they offer wine tastings and tapas-style platters. And they also now offer charcuterie boards and cannolis to enjoy in the shop or on the go! Pick up something amazing to use in a family dinner at the cabin or bring it home to remember your special trip. 

For the Furry Friends

Photo Courtesy of Blue Ridge Adventure Wear

Not only does Blue Ridge Adventure Wear have plenty of apparel and outdoor gear for the whole family but they also have treats and toys for your favorite furry friends! They’ve got everything your dog could need from toys, treats, collars and leashes, fun dog themed shirts for you, and even dog friendly donuts! Your dog will love exploring the mountain trails near our dog friendly cabins and the gifts you so thoughtfully picked out for them at Blue Ridge Adventure Wear!

Fine Dining in the Mountains



Fine dining is different at every restaurant, but there are common threads woven through all of them. First, there is a Chef-inspired menu, with his or her signature, stamped on each offering. Unlike casual restaurants, fine dining service usually includes eating utensils that are a matched set, and have more weight than your summer camp mess hall offered you. Generally, there is a linen napkin to lay across your lap, water served in a glass vessel sans the local bank logo and the table legs have been leveled to assure your plate doesn’t travel across the tabletop each time someone rests against it. There’s also the expectations of the staff. When visiting a fine dining establishment you expect the staff to deliver you a  higher standard of service, where they understand the menu and can assist you with accurate answers and solutions to your dietary concerns and preferences. Blue Ridge is proud to be home to many of such dining establishments. Let us introduce you to a small plate offering of seven of our favorites.

Bin 322 Wine and Tapas Bar

116 W. Main St. Suite 1-D – Blue Ridge, GA  

Photo Courtesy of Bin 322 Wine and Tapas Bar

We choose this as one of our favorite “wining” experiences.  Bin 322 isn’t your richest of decor settings, but it’s charm lies in it’s comfy, cozy atmosphere with many choices of seating including wing back stuffed chairs or around a game table playing checkers. You pick your ideal spot before choosing your sips from an exceptional wine menu. If you like to accompany your spirits with well prepared and incredibly tasty food, you will find just that at Binn 322. The menu includes tapas (salmon nduja), platters (Italian, French, Spanish or Mediterranean), salads, sandwiches, entrees (duck confit) and indulgent desserts (Crème Brulee) that team up perfectly with a sweet wine to complete a choice encounter with your lunch or dinner companion.

The Black Sheep Restaurant

480 W. Main St., Blue Ridge GA 

Photo Courtesy of The Black Sheep Restaurant

This stylish, and classy restaurant believes in fresh food that’s locally sourced and artfully prepared. Set in a historic house (circa 1814) you have your choice of pet-friendly patio seating under a 200-year-old oak tree, the enclosed porch with its flaming heaters, up at the beautifully appointed bar or in the main dining room, where service is second to none.  Start with an appetizer of pork belly and marmalade, add a perfect beet salad and eventually savor the lamb pappardelle. We can’t forget to mention that The Black Sheep offers a killer Brunch menu every Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 4pm. The Sunday paper, an inspired Bloody Mary and a chicken & red velvet waffle. Who can resist? Reservations are recommended.

Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill

733 E. Main St. Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Chester Brunnemeyer’s Bar & Grill

Everyone just refers to it as “Chester’s”, and it’s Blue Ridge’s answer to “Cheer’s”, where everyone knows your name, or at least it feels like they do. But don’t let this friendly bar atmosphere fool you. The dining experience at Chester’s is so noteworthy. The amazing craft beer selection shakes hands nicely with signature appetizers like chili and beer cheese nachos or deep-fried sticky ribs. The soup, salad and sandwich menu all have a plethora of delicious, inspired choices, but if you have a heartier appetite, dig into the entrees like the 14 oz blackened ribeye, cooked to perfection and served with herb roasted fingerling potatoes, garlic broccolini and finished with fresh herb butter. This is fine……real fine.

Cucina Rustica

76 Forge Mill Rd, Morganton, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Amy Walker Price

Chef Danny Mellman takes Italian fare to a new level at this fine-dining Ristorante. This is the perfect place to spend an evening with friends. Start out with a plate of Frito Misto (flash-fried calamari and fish with artichokes and lemon and charred tomato-lemon aioli). The salads are shareable in size. The Treviso is a patron favorite, w/ bacon, balsamic, fresh pear, walnuts, and Gorgonzola. A myriad of pasta, risottos, and polentas, with fresh roasted vegetables, compliment delectable fresh sauces, meat entrees, and the finest of seafood. This is Old World Italian cuisine served mountainside. On Friday and Saturday nights the chef offers a veal Osso Bucco that will transport you across the Mediterranean Sea without the jet lag. Reservations are recommended.

Harvest on Main

576 East Main Street, Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Harvest on Main

This is the second of three Chef Danny Mellman eateries to make our list of eight. This was his first establishment in Blue Ridge and it has become what all its competition aspires to be.  You might think that it would be the service, the menu, the wine and beer selections that would put this place over the top. Not to minimize any of these, because they are all worthy of five stars, but it’s the rustic appointments of the décor that nails it. Every moment you are being treated to a dining experience at Harvest on Main you are made to feel you are dining at the most affluent of ski resorts, high up in the Grand Tetons when actually you are smack in the middle of downtown Blue Ridge. Make a reservation. Spend the evening. Know that you’ll be back to try every item on the menu. It’s that good.

Masseria Kitchen + Bar

67 Roberts Way, Blue Ridge, GA 

Photo Courtesy of Masseria – Kitchen & Bar

The third of Mellman’s family of restaurants to make our list, Masseria mashes together Mediterranean countryside food and infuses Appalachian sensitivities into the recipes to share food so fresh, so earthy, so flavorful and dare we say, healthy, that you will feel like you are eating in a Grecian farmhouse the evening of their best harvest.  Is pizza fine dining? Absolutely when it is topped with baked bourbon apples, raisins, gorgonzola cheese and ricotta. Couple that with a salad of kale, grilled chicken, couscous, quinoa, lemon vinaigrette, craisins and walnuts and you can see why they made our list.

South of North

257 East Main Street, Suite A Blue Ridge,GA 

Photo Courtesy of South of North

Forget your past Asian experiences when you ordered by the number next to the dish pictured on your giant menu. South of North dubs itself as “a counter casual establishment serving up a chef-driven twist on classic Vietnamese fare”. If you think that description is a mouthful, wait till you taste the Bún Chả (meatball)  with Snake River Kurobuta pork belly blende with a Joyce Farms filet mignon, house fermented mustard and infused chili oil. Menu items such as sticky buns, shrimp rolls, spicy noodle bowls , steamy buns, lettuce wraps – all elevated to a culinary height you’ve never quite experienced before. We carnivores love this place, but you vegans will be particularly in awe of this gastronomical voyage.

That wraps up our Top 7 Fine dining reviews. Did you really think that Blue Ridge was just about train rides and waterfalls? We are happy to share that we are fast becoming the culinary capital of the Appalachian mountains.

Cabin Provisions To-Go



Even on vacation sometimes you may just want a night in to relax. We totally understand! So sit back and do just that; while others prepare your hot, fresh meals for you. All you have to do is be ready to eat! Instead of cooking for hours, enjoy that extra down time with your friends and family and then come together for a delicious meal. Your taste buds and your tired feet will thank you!

You can now enjoy meals from the comfort of your own home away from home thanks to take out and delivery options. When you don’t feel like cooking in the cabin you can order food from many of the favorite Blue Ridge restaurants to-go. You can even order meals from some of our favorite local chefs! Here’s a list of 6 Blue Ridge restaurants, shops, and chefs that are helping to make mealtime easy!

Mercier Orchards 

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

Mercier Orchards has a variety of pre-made, ready-to-cook meals to choose from. They’re made right on the farm and with fresh ingredients! Each meal serves two people and includes step-by-step instructions for preparing in under 30 minutes. They have a variety of options for you to take home including; Chicken Parmesan, Savory Pot Roast with Gravy, Stuffed Pork Chops, Local Trout wrapped in Applewood Smoked Bacon or topped with Lemon & Dill, and Chicken Cordon Bleu; and each come with a delicious vegetable side of your choosing! New meals are added weekly, so there will always be something fresh and new. To place an order email at theresa.waggoner@mercierorchards.com or call at 706-632-3411.

Mercier’s also has a Grab-N-Go Bakery where you can pick up all your favorite sweet treats like fried pies and apple cider donuts! Even pick up a bottle of their famous hard cider or wine while you’re there to bring home for a night in at the cabin. With so many delicious meals and treats to bring back, you won’t need to cook a thing! 

Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar and Grill 

Photo Courtesy of Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar & Grill

Chester Brunnenmeyer’s Bar & Grill in Downtown Blue Ridge has take out! That means you can take any of their delicious meals home and enjoy them in the comfort of your own cabin. Bring Chester’s incredible wings home with you to share with the whole family; choose from 10, 20, or 50 wings. Or bring home a delicious burger and fries or for a fancy meal in go for the Blackened 14oz Ribeye Steak. And don’t forget to take home the dessert of the week too! Choose anything off the menu and enjoy a night in your home away from home!

Rum Cake Lady

Photo Courtesy of the Rum Cake Lady

With two locations to serve you, Rum Cake Lady in Downtown Blue or in McCaysville/Copperhill makes it east to order anything off the menu for take out or delivery! If you’re feeding a large family or group, the Party Sandwich Platters and a handful of different Bundt Cake flavors are the perfect fit. Or order a bunch of Cuban Food Bowls to fill you up with a mix of rice, meat, and beans. Bring the taste of Cuba home to your cabin and some desserts that everyone will enjoy! 

Chef Jeff Servin & Company

Photo Courtesy of Chef Jeff Servin & Company

Cabin chefs are great for making preparations at mealtime a breeze, and Chef Jeff Servin & Company is one of our favorites! You can order a private chef to come in and give you a fine dining experience, cater in, or use their cabin concierge service to bring in groceries and packaged, ready to cook meals before you even arrive. Chef Jeff & team makes it easy for you to relax and enjoy your time with your loved ones. For meal selections, enjoy delicious choices like Heritage Pork and Georgia Peaches, Beef Wellington, New York Strip, and so much more. Chef Jeff Servin & Company bring the fine dining straight to you! In fact, they will create a tailor fit menu based on your preferences, allergies, and dietary restrictions. Trust us. You will not be disappointed with this company, this service, or their food!

Pasta Market 

Photo Courtesy of the Pasta Market

Stock up on all things pasta at the Pasta Market in both Downtown Blue Ridge and McCaysville/Copperhill. Pick up all kinds of pastas, sauces, spices, flatbreads, desserts, and more then bring them back with you to prep an easy meal at the cabin. You’ll love their large selection of imported Italian goods that will make you feel like you’re dining on a delicious, authentic Italian meal at a Tuscan villa. Even when you’re not in Blue Ridge you can order online to have your favorite Italian goods delivered right to your door! Take the taste of Italy with you, wherever you go!

Ingles Markets

Ingles Market is a great place to stock up for your week in Blue Ridge. You can find all your basics here like bread, cereal, meat, and more but you can also find a wide selection of local goods that you wouldn’t be able to find at the bigger grocery stores. Not only can you stock up on your usual groceries here but you can also order catering from The Chef’s Kitchen to serve your family and guests at your cabin. They have everything you could imagine from hors d’oeuvres, party platters, ready to eat boxed meals, soups and salads, wraps, bakery items, and hot buffets. Ingles is great for everything you need whether you plan on cooking up fresh meals in the kitchen or having them catered in; you can do it all easily!

The Ultimate Meal



Cover Photo of delicious meals courtesy of Chef Jeff Servin

Fine dining is different at every restaurant, but there is something magical about having a fully prepared gourmet meal in the privacy of your luxurious mountain cabin. Lucky for us, so many of the finest award-winning international chefs have found their way to the Appalachian mountains, tired of the hassle of metropolitan restaurant life, and a few special ones chose to settle right here in Blue Ridge to share their talents.  

These professional chefs will come to your cabin, prepare an incredible meal suited to your tastes and dietary needs, and the best part is they clean up all the mess! The surprising part, is this 5-star service is much more affordable than you might think. Seriously. It is! We recommend you consider one of these amazing options (listed alphabetically because we love all 3!) on your next Escape to Blue Ridge.

BLUE DUCK EATS

Chef Steven – Blue Duck Eats

Steven Lash is a veteran of the restaurant world having worked in some of the top kitchens in Atlanta for over 15 years. Steven’s food is best described as “inspired American cuisine” combining fine dining with local influence inspired by his extensive travel, passion for the outdoors, and hunger for understanding cultures.

Jumbo lump crab cake with Meyer lemon Beurre Blanc and Microgreen salad

CHEF JEFF SERVIN

Locals Only Special for Escape to Blue Ridge Guests

Chef Jeff Servin

With over 15 years of restaurant experience, this 33 year old Executive Chef takes pride in sourcing his produce from local farmers, and bringing the best quality to the table for every plate he delivers, so you know it’s fresh! He puts his entire heart, passion, and skillset into dinner parties, family dinners, or an exotic feast for two. He also offers packaged meals that are ready in minutes, so you don’t even need to leave your cabin!

Wedding Reception for Escape to Blue Ridge partner, Ernie White
  • Featured blog cover photo courtesy of Chef Jeff Servin.

CHEF TREY GOURMET

Chef Trey Griffith

Using the freshest, often locally sourced ingredients, Chef Trey is passionate about sharing the experience of fine dining with his clients. His services include initial client consultation, a customized menu plan, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and kitchen clean up!

Five spiced wild caught Steelhead Trout with Honey glaze, Saffron scented yellow rice, diced sautéed yellow Beet Root, Soy glaze

Fire Pit Fixings



Last week this blog featured a tremendous round up of cabins with great firepits. One of our favorite things about the weather changing is sitting around the fire pit with a chill in the air, but you are completely warm, not just by the heat of the fire but by the company you are so enjoying.  Adding to the ambiance of the evening includes singing songs, swapping tall tales, and of course fire pit cooking!

It’s so fun if someone in your group has a guitar or harmonica, they could play for everyone to sing and clap along, but you don’t even need music to sing your favorite campfire songs! Telling ghost stories always proves to be a good time too. Although the ghost stories typically end up in squeals of laughter because you know that one person that is SUPER scared and they end up falling out of the chair, jumping & panicking, or making funny noises as they try to tame their heebee geebies. Oh yes, good times! Most importantly, you can’t forget about marshmallows!

Who doesn’t love to roast marshmallows? This might be the best and most memorable part about having an outside fire. First, you go on a stick hunt to find that perfect length and sturdiness then roast your marshmallow to the perfect amount of burnt that you prefer. Or, take it to the next level and break out the chocolate and Graham crackers for a melt in your mouth, perfectly crafted s’mores! But s’mores aren’t the only thing you can cook over the fire. Try one (or all) of these “fire pit fixing” ideas next time you Escape to Blue Ridge!

The Healthy-ish Approach

Have you ever considered roasting fruit over an open fire? No? Well, you should because it is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! Choose from pineapple, bananas, watermelon, apples or peaches. The fruit sugars almost caramelize making for a divinely delicious guilt free treat. Of course, having a little caramel or chocolate on hand to dip your roasted fruit into never hurt anyone, and definitely adds more “pow” to your taste buds! Make ahead fruit kabobs or just place them on your stick like you would a marshmallow! Side note: strawberries dipped in marshmallow fluff and then roasted will make your mouth do a happy dance!

Go Fancy

Who says fire pit cooking has to be basic and boring? Impress your guests with fireside Shrimp Scampi! This meal is super easy to prepare, but even more divine to eat! All you need is foil, butter, peeled & deveined shrimp, a little lemon, and your favorite seasonings. We typically improvise with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but for you by-the-bookers, here’s a simple go to recipe with exact measurements.

Classic

It may not be fancy, but there is something extra delicious about a roasted hot dog! It really doesn’t get any easier than this. Pick your favorite dog, we are partial to the Hebrew National all beef hot dogs, pierce it with your stick and roast away. You can even toast your hot dog bun on a stick for a well-rounded hot dog experience!

Kid Friendly

Fast, easy and delicious…that’s my kind of cooking!  You can prepare these French bread pizzas ahead of time or create a little make-your-own station on the picnic table. Slice your French bread, cover with marina sauce, add your favorite toppings (pepperoni, mushrooms, Canadian bacon, olives) and finish with mozzarella cheese. Wrap your creation in heavy duty aluminum foil and throw them on the fire!

Dare To Be Different

Super easy, but super delicious is campfire cinnamon rolls! Simply buy your favorite brand of refrigerated cinnamon rolls, we personally love Pillsbury Grands. All you have to do is unroll a cinnamon bun and divide the long pieces of dough into sections. Wrap a portion around your stick, careful not overlap for even cooking, and roast away!  

Next Level S’mores

Bacon. Yes, you read that right. A little graham cracker, a little marshmallow, a little chocolate, and a couple of pieces of bacon (which you could also roast over the fire) will have your tongue jump out and lick the eyebrows right off your head!

We also encourage you to mix up your chocolate options. Truth be told, it’s hard to beat a piece of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, but have you ever thought of using a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup? What about a Kit Kat Bar? We suggest you try a York Peppermint Patty next time, you won’t regret it. In fact, you may never go back to the traditional s’mores again!

Adults Only

If you’re looking for a way to warm up from the inside out, a Hot Toddy is definitely in order and extra enjoyable sitting outside by the fire. Boil water over your fire and add a tea bag to your cup. Let your tea steep for about two minutes, then add a shot (or two) of whiskey, a little honey, a slice of lemon, and some cloves for extra spice. Bam! Now we are ready to make some fireside memories!

Fall is Prime Time to go to Blue Ridge



Guest Blog by Blake Guthrie as written for the AJC (Atlanta Journal & Constitution).

The Cabin

Photo Courtesy of Blake Guthrie

Cloud Nine. It’s the type of name one would expect for a mountain vacation rental home. It’s one of those places that if you try and follow GPS directions you’ll get lost. The rental agency sent a confirmation that stressed the importance of following the turn-by-turn directions provided in the email, including detail you wouldn’t get from a GPS such as “go right when you see a bunch of mailboxes.”

The Approach

Photo Courtesy of Blake Guthrie

What it didn’t mention was the very steep and winding one-lane road. After putting my Honda into its lowest gear for the first time ever and having to navigate past an approaching vehicle, I came to the crest of Sunrock Mountain four miles west of Blue Ridge. I saw that Cloud Nine was the type of place I might want to hole-up for a while, but, having never been to Blue Ridge or nearby Ellijay before, I came to do some exploring, to find the most beautiful scenery and the best outdoor spots to experience the autumnal ambiance.

The Train

Photo courtesy of @chusion

It turned out the back porch of the cabin was one of those places. In the morning I could see how the cabin got its name. It was literally in the clouds, the surrounding mountain peaks sticking up through a thick white blanket covering the valleys below. Still, I had to venture out. First on my itinerary was the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The major attraction in town, the railway has been in operation as a sightseeing excursion train since 1998 along tracks that have a history going back as far as 1886. The tracks follow the route of the winding Toccoa River through the Chattahoochee National Forest to the twin towns of McCaysville and Copperhill, Tennessee. They’re essentially the same town with the state line running through the middle. Like a running joke, the line is demarcated by a blue stripe painted on sidewalks, roadways and running through the middle of businesses.

The train rolls at a leisurely pace and the open-air windows are large, making it a prime fall sightseeing adventure with a good dose of history thrown in. Along the way, you’ll see a Native American fish trap in the middle of the river that experts believe is 500 years old, and the old telegraph poles that used to be the fastest form of communication in a bygone era. The trip takes four hours, with two spent in McCaysville/Copperhill for exploring the towns.

McCaysville

If hunger strikes, Burra Burra on the River in McCaysville is near the train station and serves pub fare and local brews. Be sure to ask for outside seating, weather permitting. The real selling point here is the covered deck that overlooks the clear waters of the Toccoa River flowing past the state line where it becomes the Ocoee River after crossing into Tennessee.

Piano Bar

Photo Courtesy of The Black Sheep

Back in Blue Ridge, the largest patio bar in town can be found at Black Sheep Restaurant, where the seasonal menu leans heavily on seafood. Housed in a historic home shaded by a 200-year-old oak tree, the patio overlooks the center of town. It’s a popular place, so make reservations for dinner. Or just have a drink at the bar.

Breweries

The craft beer scene is surprisingly good in Blue Ridge for such a small town that was dry not too long ago. Two breweries — Fannin Brewing Company and Grumpy Old Men Brewing — both have large, inviting outdoor beer gardens where you can play cornhole, meet the locals and catch some live music. Wine drinkers have no shortage of options either, as wineries have been opening at a fast clip in this area over the last few years.

Photo Courtesy of Bear Claw Vineyards

Near Ellijay, Chateau Meichtry (pronounced “my-tree”) stands out not only for its wine but also its patio outside the barn tasting room where the rolling vineyards reveal a long-range view of the mountains to the north.At Bear Claw Vineyards visitors can spend the night in the Blue Ridge Treehouse, featured on the DIY Network show “The Treehouse Guys.” The treehouse overlooks the vineyards and contains all the amenities one would expect when staying in a hotel.

Apple Country

Photo Courtesy of Mercier Orchards

No trip to the North Georgia mountains during the fall harvest season would be complete without taking advantage of apple country. The pull of a roadside farm store backed by endless acres of fruit orchards is undeniable. Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge and R&A Orchards outside Ellijay both have roadside markets selling freshly picked apples and other fruits, fresh-baked goods, local foodstuffs and offer pick-your-own days as well as plenty of free samples.

Welcome to the Mountains!

Photo Courtesy of Blake Guthrie

Lake Blue Ridge is the centerpiece of a scenic drive worth exploring. Stop at the Blue Ridge Welcome Center to pick up a detailed map. Ringed by mountains, the lake has clear, emerald-hued water and a pristine, forested shoreline. The route also runs alongside the tumbling rapids of the Toccoa River, rolling farmland, historic houses, and has many side hikes to cascading waterfalls and other pastoral pleasures. Bring comfortable hiking shoes and make an afternoon of it if you plan to visit all the stops listed on the map. On my last morning at Cloud Nine, I got up early enough to see the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains and stayed on the porch until checkout. Sometimes where you are is the best place to be.

If You Go

Blue Ridge is 92 miles north of Atlanta.

What to see

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. $35 and up. 241 Depot St., Blue Ridge. 877-413-8724, brscenic.com

R&A Orchards. 5505 Hwy. 52 East, Ellijay. 706-273-3821, www.randaorchards.com

Where to stay

Escape to Blue Ridge. Cabins $140-$1,800 per night. 866-618-2521, www.escapetoblueridge.com.

Blue Ridge Treehouse. $234 and up. 2555 Tennis Court Road, Blue Ridge. 706-223-3750, blueridgetreehouse.com.

Where to Eat

Burra Burra on the River. $11 and up. 100 Blue Ridge Drive, McCaysville. 706-400-6660, www.burraburraontheriver.com.

Black Sheep Restaurant. $20 and up. 480 W. Main St., Blue Ridge 706-946-3663, www.blacksheepblueridge.com.

Visitor Info

Blue Ridge Welcome Center. 152 Orvin Lance Drive. 800-899-6867, www.blueridgemountains.com.

Ellijay Welcome Center. 10 Broad St. 706-635-7400, www.gilmerchamber.com.

From Field to Fork



Over the last decade, the number of Farmers Markets in this country has grown four-fold. Today’s consumers want our food to be as fresh, tasty, GMO and pesticide free as possible. We use the expression “sustainable food” to give a modern term to our intentions. What we really mean is we are more interested in calculating our food miles, or how far it’s traveled before we put it on our table.  

But sustainable food isn’t only about proximity of the food. How the food is produced, how it’s distributed and how it’s consumed are all factors. Many of our local chefs take these factors into consideration when creating their menus. They’ve made a commitment to provide culinary fare from food grown, raised and delivered locally, and under the best possible sustainable conditions. With their Farm to Table menus, they celebrate the small local farmer, and honor the connection between the land and the patrons they serve. We would like to introduce you to a couple of the regions most committed chefs.

Harvest On Main

Don’t let the downtown location fool you. When you cross the threshold at Harvest on Main you enter a superbly appointed mountain lodge. Chef-owner Danny Mellman and his partner Michelle Moran bring over three decades of culinary mastery and magic to the Blue Ridge food scene. Chef Danny creates the menus and Michelle is responsible for sourcing the best products from local producers. Grass fed Brasstown beef, Springer Mountain chicken, and Bramlett  Farm Trout are the local suppliers for such house favorites like Painted Hills Beef & Veal Meatloaf topped with Cabernet-Veal Demi-glace.

Local produce is delivered daily and those who prefer a more vegetarian fare will not be disappointed with the menu options, such as Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, layered with brown rice, beets, Portabella mushrooms, baba ganoush, red skinned garlic mashed potatoes and topped with Gouda cheese.

Mellman and Moran have other restaurants on the Blue Ridge scene, all focusing on locally grown and raised products. They even have their own farm where they’ve developed and produce their heritage rabbit, honey, and quail. If that wasn’t enough, these amazing humans also host a summer camp for children age 6-16 sharing their vision of sustainable living within the community.

Reviewers rave about the service and have more accolades for the ample number of locally brewed beers as well as Harvest on Main’s extensive wine list. The Chef describes his menu as internationally inspired with a southern twang. His patrons describe it as 5-star.

Harvest on Main (576 E. Main St., Blue Ridge) features both a lunch and dinner menu. Click here for hours and days of operation. For reservations (highly suggested) call 706-946-6164.

The Sawmill Place

The restaurants tagline says it all. “Farm Fresh, Harvest Driven, Locally Sourced”.  Local suppliers include a pretty impressive list including produce from 7M Farms and Freddie Collins Farm; grits and flours for their scrumptious breakfast fare from Logan Turnpike Mill; toppings for their (patron favorite) pancakes  from Tim Dyer’s Blueberry Patch, Michael Surles’ Honey and Hughes Sorghum Mill; and that coffee mug is filled endlessly with beans from roaster, JumpinGoat Coffee. 

Co-owners Shawn and Amy Kight serve breakfast and lunch six days a week in this delightful cabin located just a slight jog off the downtown Square in neighboring Blairsville GA.  Their giant homemade biscuits start popping out of the ovens by 6:30am. And if you don’t like to wait for a seat, you might want to get there that early. But bring a big appetite.

The breakfast menu is quite extensive and features large portions of high quality food, exceptional service and truly inspired southern recipes at very reasonable prices. Take the “Nottely Scramble” as an example. Chef Shawn scrambles 3 large Lathem farm eggs into spicy collard greens, onions, bacon and cheddar cheese. He serves this with your choice of 2 strips of Applewood smoked bacon or 1 local sausage patty, along with grits or gravy, a buttermilk biscuit, coffee or tea all for around $10.

The lunch menu boasts burgers from Certified Angus Beef raised by Georgia Cattle Farmers. There are several salad choices and all include a delectable freshly baked morning glory muffins. The hydroponic -grown lettuce and other produce are delivered daily, 12 months a year from local 7M Farms.

As we already mentioned, this place is hopping from the time it opens till the time it turns the biscuit oven off, but don’t let the possibility of a wait for a seat at the table deter you. The Sawmill Place has a lovely front porch with lots of rockers to pass the time, as well as a new Market building adjacent to the restaurant where you can shop for all things local including produce harvested locally in Union County, flower bouquets grown on Blairsville’s Whimsy Flower Farm and other artisan goods from the Tri-State area.  Leave some room in your trunk to bring home honey, syrups, jams, soaps and beeswax products. They all make great souvenirs. 

The Sawmill Place (1159 Pat Haralson Dr., Blairsville) features both a breakfast and lunch menu. Click here for hours and days of operation or call 706- 745-1250 .

Salsa or Sushi?



Even though a trip to the mountains hints at a hankering for sausage gravy slathered over big fluffy biscuits, with a side of smoked baby backs and a dish of collards with ham hocks, you will find lots of exceptional cuisines that are best washed down with sweet tea and a to-go container of banana pudding.

Here are some of the restaurants that are within a 35 mile drive of Blue Ridge that will more than satisfy your craving for either salsa or sushi:

The Rum Cake Lady Cuban Café

Photo Courtesy of the Rum Cake Lady

Yes, Miss Elizabeth is best known for her four different varieties of Rum Cakes which she ships all across the globe from her mountain bakery. But those who are fortunate enough to have eaten at one of her two café establishments know that it’s just as much about the true Cuban cuisine, not just the cakes. With two locations to serve you, the downtown Blue Ridge Café is similar to a Cuban walk-up window, or “La Ventanita”. When after a morning of hiking or tubing, you are hungry and you don’t want to shower before a hearty lunch – this is the ideal place to visit. They offer fresh, authentic Cuban sandwiches, tamales, empanadas, plantains, rice, and beans.

Their Copperhill location includes indoor seating, dinner hours, the same great menu plus a Cuban grocery. Both locations boast the best Cuban coffee in the mountains. A guava and cheese pastelitos or a caramel flan with a café con leche is not a problem on your diet. After all,  you are on vacation. Oh, and grab a couple of rum cakes for those you left back at home. Located at: 205 First St. Blue Ridge GA & 111 Ocoee St. Copperhill TN.

Asiano

Images courtesy of Asiano

When the urge for Asian cuisine hits, there always seems to be an issue with which style will you treat yourself tonight. Will it be sushi or Thai? Japanese Steakhouse or Chinese? And rarely will two people agree, much less a family of four. This is when to head straight up the 515 corridor to the beautiful lakeside town of Hiawassee.

For the past two decades, Koo and his family have been serving great food and even entertainment, as the personable hibachi chefs show off their superior knife skills around the large griddles of the Japanese Steakhouse side of the restaurant. The menu for each style of Asian fare is quite extensive, with all food fresh and sauces made in house. Whether it’s their traditional sweet and sour soup or their untraditional Philly cheesesteak eggroll, you won’t be disappointed with the number of options to satisfy that Asian craving.  Located at 1382 Hwy 76 (515) Hiawassee, GA.

Las 2 Hustecas

Photo Courtesy of Las 2 Hustecas

You won’t need your passport, but this Mexican food is so authentic, you’ll have wondered if you crossed the border and stumbled into a small village cantina. There are often two sure signs that a Mexican restaurant serves top-notch authentic cuisine. Yes to both at Las 2 Hustecas. A good percentage of the clientele is Hispanic and the best chefs in the region are often seen eating here on their nights off.

Rated nearly five stars on every online review service, the reviewers consistently mention that they were served the BEST guacamole, the biggest burritos, the smallest seating (so expect to wait or opt for takeout) and the highest quality fresh food, all at ridiculously low prices (there’s a breakfast menu, too). In fact, the main complaint from out of town visitors is they don’t have Mexican food this good when they go back home. Located in a little strip center, no frills 4114 E. Main St.  Blue Ridge, GA.

Kizuna Sushi & Noodle

Photo Courtesy of Kizuna Sushi & Noodle

The newest restaurant to join the Blue Ridge culinary scene has opened to rave reviews. An authentic Japanese and Sushi House, Kizuna is an elegant restaurant that serves what one reviewer called “Japanese street food”. The sushi is raw and skillfully crafted. No California rolls here. This is true sashimi. Then they turn your idea of ramen noodles upside down with so many options to choose from for your Japanese bowls. The tempura is light with a variety of vegetables and seafood to tempt you to order fried. The pork dumplings have also won critical reviews.

Check out their menu before deciding to order take-out. The freshest items like sushi and Udon noodles will only be served in-house. Kizuna serves beer, wine and a nice selection of sake. Located at 140 Progress Cr. Suite 3 Blue Ridge GA

The Tastes of Europe In Blue Ridge



For Americans visiting Europe, an integral part of the adventure is partaking of the local cuisine and libations. When Europeans immigrate to our country they too enjoy our regional cuisine, at least for a little while. Eventually, they begin to miss a fine Irish whiskey or a delicately seasoned Polish sausage. Fortunately for Blue Ridge, some of these traditional European fares have established themselves here in the mountains. On your next stay with us, consider visiting one of these fine establishments.

The Black Bear Bier Garten

📷 @ancole78

Over 4,500 miles separate the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Bavarian Alps, but only a few miles come between our cabins and the genuine vibes of a German beer garden. If you are looking to have a non-American food experience, then try a sampling of sausages with choices that include Boar, Venison, Buffalo, Pheasant, and Elk. If you want to experience something on draft besides Miller Lite, then cozy up to the bar and start asking about their outstanding hops selections. And if you don’t want to take your husband shopping with you, the sign on the door at the Black Bear acknowledges that they have free husband daycare! Meet him later for a brew and a large German soft pretzel. You won’t be disappointed.

The Boro Inn Irish Pub

📷 The Boro Inn Irish Pub

The curb impression is very deceiving as you drive up to the Boro Inn. From the outside, there is nothing authentic about it. As you open the door, you enter a pub in the County Wexford, with Father Brendan Doyle (retired) officiating behind the bar. With 177 different handcrafted libations including whiskeys and brews whose recipes span 1,300 years, there is nothing that isn’t authentic at the Boro. Part pub, part museum, you will be as captivated by historical artifacts as you will be by the bartender’s brogue. The music, the stories, the potations and the grub will land you smack in the middle of The Emerald Isle while you vacation in the North Georgia Mountains.

Cucina Rustica

📷 Cucina Rustica

Chef Danny Mellman takes Italian fare to a new level at this fine-dining ristorante located in Morganton, GA, just a few miles east of Blue Ridge. This is the perfect place to spend an evening with friends. Start out with a plate of Frito Misto- flash fried calamari and fish with artichokes and lemon and charred tomato-lemon aioli. The salads are shareable in size. The Treviso is a patron favorite – with bacon, balsamic, fresh pear, walnuts, and Gorgonzola. A myriad of pasta, risottos, and polentas, with fresh roasted vegetables, compliment delectable fresh sauces, meat entrees, and the finest of seafood. This is Old World Italian cuisine served mountainside. Reservations are recommended.

Margo’s Gourmet Polish Kitchen

📷 Margo’s Gourmet Polish Kitchen

Do you often crave your Babciu’s pierogi? Maybe you always preferred her meat pies even though everyone else fought over the potato and cheese filled pockets. Has it been years since you dove into a dish of your grandmother’s cabbage rolls? Margo wants to satisfy those memories. She is in her kitchen preparing all of her menu by hand daily to assure the best quality taste. When the weather cooperates, you can enjoy amazing Polish sausages, krauts, goulash, soups, and baked goods served on the kawiarnia na dworze (outdoor patio). Whether seated indoors or out, having a chair in Margo’s kitchen means a visit from Margo, too. You will love the food, the experience, and the chef.