The mountains of western North Carolina are dotted with small towns that were established in the late 1800s. With about 2,000 or so permanent residents in each town, many people assume that these are small, sleepy hamlets without much to offer. Not so, dear friends. Not so.
Heavily influenced by Asheville’s artsy, shop-local vibe and fueled by nearby Western Carolina University (boasting a student population of 10,000 and all of the faculty and support staff that go with it), Sylva, North Carolina has that quaint, small town feel with big city eats and amenities.
Boasting two microbreweries—Heinzelmannchen and Innovation—and one beer specialty store, Tonic Delivers, the local food scene caters to those who prefer organic, seasonal, eclectic fare. The local businesses have embraced these tastes wholeheartedly and visitors and residents alike are enjoying the delectable benefits.
Not sure what you’re in the mood for next time you’re passing through? Let’s do a quick run down of some of the local restaurants that are sure to have something for everyone. Here are two choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each. One bite from any of these places and you’ll want to extend your visit so that you can try them all!
Small Town Feel, Big City Eats in Sylva, NC
Perk and Pastry, Opened in 2014 and owned by the same lovely folks who own City Lights Café. Perk and pastry is open for breakfast and lunch. It’s a delightful bakery that serves pastries, coffee and espresso drinks, and grab-and-go items for lunch. With their 7am opening time, this is my go-to stop if I’ve run out of coffee at home and need a caffeine fix, stat.
Signature Brew Although they’ve been around for years, Signature Brew recently rebranded to highlight their growing wholesale roasting company. They roast and serve their own coffee beans in a space that is part café and part art gallery. Open for breakfast and lunch, their menu includes 95% organic ingredients and heavily features breakfast and lunch sandwiches and wraps.
Mad Batter Food and Film Open for both lunch and dinner, Mad Batter has a delicious array of wraps, sandwiches, and hand crafted pizzas. They actually serve my favorite pizza in town! As an added bonus, Mad Batter also plays free movies. That’s right, you can catch a showing of The Hobbit, which munching on some popcorn and waiting for your meal.
City Lights Café With a menu that highlights crepes, paninis, and small-plates, City Lights Café is a great choice for either a quick bite or a long lunch with friends. Also offering espresso drinks, beer, and wine, you could really stay all day and be satisfied. The bonus option here is that the Café is attached to the City Lights Bookstore, which is an independently-owned, quirky haven for book lovers.
Big Eats for Dinner
Lulu’s on Main Southern Living Magazine proclaimed that “Lulu’s is our favorite restaurant of the region” and it’s easy to see why. Opened for lunch and dinner, Lulu’s leans heavily on farm-to-table local produce, a robust vegetarian menu, and deliciously prepared meats from fish to beef to duck. Bring your appetite because everything on the menu looks divine.
Guadaloupe’s A converted old-school drugstore, Guadaloupe’s is a Caribbean-fusion restaurant that will have every foodie going wild. With customizable burritos, a tapas menu, and some adventurous eats (curried goat, anyone?) Guadaloupe’s is anything but ordinary. If you’re lucky enough to be driving through on a Sunday, definitely try their Sunday brunch, which is equal parts delicious and filling.
While this is only a sampling of the local restaurants in Sylva, North Carolina, I hope you’ll consider taking a trip off of the beaten path to check out the big city flavors that have made their way to Small Town, U.S.A.