An Extended Menu
Watauga County’s diverse restaurant scene is about to get a little spicier, with the expected influx of new establishments to an already robust selection of local eateries.
Prominent chain franchises Chipotle Mexican Grill and Waffle House are a couple new arrivals that will add new flavor to a town that is known for good food and spirits.
According to the Nielsen Company, which conducts market research to track consumer needs, Boone is now ranked fourth nationwide in annual restaurant growth.
A consistent flow of new restaurants to the area gives Boone an advantage on attracting new visitors.
“Anytime we have the wide variety of restaurants … available to visitors is definitely a strong point for tourism in the area,” said Wright Tilley, executive director of the Boone and Watauga County Tourism Development Authority. “Some travelers like the consistency of chains, while other visitors want to get away from home and experience unique local restaurants. We are fortunate to have a variety of both options available to visitors.”
James Davis, a customer service representative for Chipotle, confirmed the chain’s plan to open a Boone establishment, although planning is still in preliminary stages.
“We do plan to come to Boone in the not-too-distant future,” Davis said. “Nothing’s set in stone yet, in terms of date or location, but if all goes according to plan, we’ll be Boone-bound before you know it.”
Chipotle offers a core variety of Mexican favorites, including burritos, tacos, salads and chips and salsa, as well as a kid’s menu, according to the chain’s website.
Along with traditional spices, Chipotle’s dishes are comprised of fresh chicken, steak, barbacoa, carnitas, beans, cilantro, salsas, cheese, guacamole, sour cream and Romaine lettuce.
Local fans of Waffle House’s fluffy, syrup-drenched breakfast favorites will no longer have to make the haul down the mountain to Marion or Lenoir.
Kelly Thrasher, a media relations representative for Waffle House, confirmed Tuesday that a Waffle House franchise will open in Boone “sometime this fall” on Blowing Rock Road.
“As of now, the location is projected to open in the fall,” Thrasher said. “Once we are closer, (we) will be able to provide more details of an opening date.”
Along with a variety of waffles, omelets, crispy bacon and world-renowned steak and egg dishes, Waffle House also offers a hearty lunch and dinner menu that features Angus burgers, wraps and sandwiches, ribeye and T-Bone steaks, salads and chili, according to the restaurant’s menu.
While certain chain restaurants have recently set their sights on the High Country, many independent cafés and eateries are making their own distinctive mark on the local cuisine.
The Heirloom Restaurant is scheduled to open in Blowing Rock by early July, owner and chef Clark Barlowe said.
According to Barlowe, the menu will be “locally driven, globally inspired” cuisine.
“Everything has to come from North Carolina,” Barlowe said. “That goes for the beer, wine, liquor and all of the food.”
Heirloom will offer a unique restaurant experience, in that the menu is changed daily.
Asian, Korean, Spanish and classical French flavors are expected to make regular appearances in the restaurant’s assorted menu items.
While the food might seem upscale, Barlowe said the restaurant’s atmosphere would be nonexclusive.
“I’d like to think the food is upscale, but I don’t want the atmosphere to make people feel uncomfortable coming in jeans and a T-shirt to the bar for a drink or to eat dinner,” Barlowe said. “I want people to be comfortable and the food to be reflective of fine dining.”
Several downtown establishments have already opened their doors to the public. Check with each restaurant for a complete list of hours of operation.
Raven’s Tavern (formerly Crossroads Pub) on N.C. 105 opened in April.
CoBo Sushi, located next to Char, began service more than two weeks ago.
Basil’s Fresh Pasta and Deli, which aims to become Boone’s first carryout pasta shop, found a new home in the former Frankie’s Pizza location off Winkler’s Creek Road.
Stick Boy Bread Company recently announced the purchase of Mountain Bagels, with plans of turning it into the Stick Boy Kitchen, which will offer a lunch-style menu, while retaining the restaurant’s classic flavor.
Got restaurant news? Email editor Frank Ruggiero at (firstname.lastname@example.org) , or call (828) 264-6397.