Sensory-inspired food & drink exploration through Sylva and Dillsboro

Sometimes the best way to experience a new destination is by letting your palate guide you through it! Here are our recommendations for a sensory-inspired foodie experience in Sylva and Dillsboro, our perfectly paired mountain towns within Jackson County, NC.

HEAR| the Tuckasegee River roar as you dine outside on Foragers Canteen’s spacious patio.

Set right along the mighty river, which flows almost the entire length of beautiful Jackson County, this local restaurant serves up a fusion of locally sourced, farm to table ingredients. It’s also near the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, so it’s possible you’d also hear the trains as they come by as you dine!

SEE| Chef Santiago Guzzetti prepare Italian-Appalachian cuisine in the kitchen at ILDA, the space where his wife’s family opened her own restaurant nearly 40 years ago.

ILDA has a growing reputation in the Southeast, and was even named “Mountain Restaurant of the Year” by Eater Carolinas in 2021. Its union of Italian and Southern Appalachian cuisine presents Instagram-worthy plates such as Saffron Paccheri pasta, Taleggio Crostinis to share, and eye-catching cocktail and mocktail creations. See for yourself here.

TASTE | the farm fresh flavors at Guadalupe Cafe, like locally grown organic salad greens and regeneratively raised beef from Mountainside Family Farm.

You probably wouldn’t think of the tropics when you think of dining in the mountains, but Guadalupe’s incredibly creative tropical fusion cuisine is not to be missed. When its menu was first developed, the intention was to take diners on a trip through Spain, the Middle East and the Caribbean through impactful flavors – and that still holds true today! If you try one thing, let it be the tacos. Adventurous flavors that will make your taste buds sing include red curry shrimp, blackened plantains, peanut chicken, mango pork, and much more.

TOUCH | the ice-cold pint of locally brewed beer at Innovation Station after a long day of hiking.

Get outside in nature at 1,529-acre Pinnacle Park (the first certified Forest Therapy Trail in the state) just minutes from Sylva, and afterward set up for a few hours on Innovation Station’s patio, also set along the Tuck, and choose from over three dozen taps of locally-brewed goodness in the former train depot. Delicious ciders, wines and other non-alcoholic options are also available.

SMELL| the aroma of a fresh batch of chocolate at the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory.

This family owned and operated business on Dillsboro’s Main Street prides itself in providing high-quality treats for all Smoky Mountain guests. Think truffles, caramel bars, fudge, espresso beans and more. You really can’t go wrong, and these treats make for take-home gifts, too.

Plan for Foodie Getaway!

Start planning your trip so you can experience all that this special small-town duo has to offer. Use our Trip Planner to get started.

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