Monday, March 30, 2015

Blue Ridge, Georgia

The small, in between mountain town of Blue Ridge, Georgia doesn’t get a lot of attention compared to Helen, Dahlonega and Ellijay but my hunch is it will be soon. In a recent weekend trip the town, the people and their food surpassed any expectations I had by far. Downtown Blue Ridge is just a few blocks total but it’s packed with good local bars, many restaurants and wonderfully fun locals.

In addition, almost everywhere is incredibly supportive of gluten free needs. Even the B&B we stayed at offered options. There were so many good places I had to share them all.

Note: For those still young at heart and like to stay up late, be prepared to start early as most places close around 11pm. This is due to the current county liquor laws (major progress though for being a dry county just a few years ago!)

L&L Beanery
This is a perfect breakfast spot to either grab a quick gluten free breakfast bar (they had a scrumptious looking blackberry crumble cake) or to sit outside at a bistro table and enjoy a heartier breakfast and coffee.

The brewery had the most surprising and exciting menu. Their chipotle mayo burger, while even though they don’t offer a gluten free bun, was perfectly satisfying with some lettuce, tomato and onion. The sides were equally as delicious with options like roasted potatoes, rice and beans and seasonal vegetables. They are a good stop for lunch or dinner.

For booze selections, they offer a few ciders, wine and full bar. If visiting with non-celiac friends, I’d steer them towards the brewery’s brown ale, named Blood, the Tripel or go for a flight tasting.

Chester’s is the new place in town that has the more modern southern design and vibe that Atlantans will feel right at home at. Their long bar with multiple TVs is a great place to catch a game.

For food, everyone in town recommended the wings and they weren’t wrong. First quickly fried, sauced and tossed on the grill for a few minutes the flavor on these wings is complex and delicious. They also have a large wine selection as well as a few ciders available.

Nestled into one of the historic buildings downtown, this mountain styled restaurant is just what you’re looking for to slow down and enjoy the North Georgia style. Their current chef is delivering beautiful dishes that could easily compete with some of the top Atlanta restaurants. Top dishes include the pan-roasted chicken (to die for) and the roasted duck.

They are also extremely accommodating to food allergies, even bringing out GF bread with a nice selection of pickled vegetables as an appetizer.

Black Sheep is one of the other newer restaurants in town. It’s a few blocks off the main strip and is the hot spot to go to right now. I recommend making a reservation for dinner. While I didn’t try any of the food the staff was very knowledgeable to direct you to dishes that work for your restrictions.

The bar is an inviting space to enjoy a craft cocktail or wine before dinner. The bartender was the perfect host and introduced us to some locals to spark good conversations.

This is a fun, local bar to grab a pint and play some darts or shuffleboard (and soon to be new billiard room). They specifically list GF on the menu and they offer large bottles of the local Mercier hard cider.

The pub is set in a large green panted aluminum shed and run by an Irish priest – need I say more? This quirky, friendly dive bar is a hidden gem in downtown. Walk inside and you’re surrounded by a beautiful all wood bar and tons of mismatched wooden tablet sets. This place gets popular around 8pm on Saturdays with the locals who are more than willing to share a few drinks with you.  It also has the largest draft selection in the town that we could find.

Head to the back of the bar for a game of darts, a small game of pool or to check out the real confessional tucked in next to the bathroom.

Wineries & Cidery
Serenberry Vineyards
There are a few wineries and Mercier Orchards within the area. Mercier Orchards, just 5 minutes outside of town, offers a hard cider tasting bar.  Leaning towards the drier ciders, I recommend trying Adele’s Choice and Lone Tree.

Serenberry Vineyards and Cartecay Vineyards are within 30 minutes of downtown and offer great scenic drives along the way.