Taco

Thunderbird Taco

Lewisburg, W.Va.

Tex-Mex done right. This quaint yet hip taco joint dishes up some truly authentic plates made with locally sourced beef steak and kickin’ ingredients like chili roasted sweet potato and cream cheese-stuffed charred jalapeno.

FINALISTS

A Place to Eat, Md.

Brazos Tacos, Va.

BBQ

Ridge View BBQ

Institute, W.Va.

Sometimes it feels good to be bad. Load up on Ridge View’s hickory smoked, slow cooked BBQ for a true taste of the south, and add the pork rinds.

FINALISTS

Dirty Ernie’s, W.Va.

BBQ Exchange, Va.

Ice Cream

The Stache

Fayetteville, W.Va.

The Stache checks all of our boxes, with an inviting atmosphere, fun rotating flavors (our favs are the cappuccino crunch and dark chocolate raspberry truffle), and an apple pie sundae that rivals grandma’s best. It’s also probably the only place in Fayetteville where you can buy an ice cream cone and a six-pack of fart bombs.

FINALISTS

Blue Cow, Va.

Kline’s, Va.

Restaurant

Secret Sandwich Society

Fayetteville, W.Va., Richmond, Va.

The SSS doesn’t just make good food, they do good, too. The restaurant recycles everything and is 100% wind powered, which speaks volumes in this day and age.

FINALISTS

Blue Mountain Brewery, Va.

The French Goat, W.Va.

Farm to Table Restaurant

SHiFT

Frostburg, Md.

For SHiFT, “farm to table” isn’t just a marketing ploy—it’s a way of life. Dine with the seasons at this locally sourced, vegetarian and vegan friendly eatery in downtown Frostburg.

FINALISTS

Wild Wolf Brewing, Va.

The Station, W.Va.

Vegetarian

Laughing Seed Café

Asheville, N.C.

Veggies unite! This vegetarian only restaurant was the first of its kind in downtown Asheville and has been serving up some impressive, internationally inspired veggie dishes for over 20 years. Try the Harmony Bowl smothered in sesame ginger sauce once, and you might never go back to meat.

FINALISTS

Firefly Fare, Va.

Gillie’s, Va.

Breakfast

Cathedral Café & Book Store

Fayetteville, W.Va.

No trip to the New River Gorge is complete without breakfast at Cathedral. Located smack in the center of town, this place cranks out everything from pancakes to breakfast burritos and has won the hearts of so many locals and tourists alike that their iconic mugs have been photographed in everywhere from the Carolina coast to the mountains of Nepal.

FINALISTS

Scratch Biscuit Company, Va.

Sunny Point Café, N.C.

Lunch

Secret Sandwich Society

Fayetteville, W.Va., Richmond, Va.

Say ‘goodbye’ to your boring old PB&J brown bag and ‘hello’ to your new favorite lunch. For a sweet and savory sammy, check out the Truman, which features turkey, peach jam, blue cheese spread, and crispy onions piled high on a toasted baguette. Hungry yet?

FINALISTS

Wild Wolf Brewing, Va.

Bellair Market, Va.

Post Adventure Hangout

The Grove

Fayetteville, W.Va.

Beer on tap? Check. Groovy atmosphere? Check. Poetry slams and live music? Double check. The Grove is the place to be during your next weekend in the New River Gorge.

FINALISTS

Silverback Distillery, Va.

Parkway Brewing, Va.

Bar/Pub

Dante’s Bar

Frostburg, Md.

Every good outdoor town needs a place to kick back with a beer or cocktail and let loose a little. Dante’s is just that, offering killer happy hour deals, free pool and karaoke on Wednesdays, and live music throughout the weekend.

FINALISTS

Blue Mountain Brewery, Va.

The Grove, W.Va.

Brewery

1812 Brewery

Cumberland, Md.

After a day biking the C&O or Great Allegheny Passage, stop in at this truly unique brewery. Housed inside a barn that dates back to 1812, the 2,500-foot, two-story brewery is a destination in its own right. Head there on Thursdays for game night—Sorry is a lot more fun with a couple of IPAs in you.

FINALISTS

Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company, W.Va.

Blue Mountain Brewery, Va.

Winery

Toasted Goat

Frostburg, Md.

Admit it. You’re a sucker for labels. So are we, and Toasted Goat’s quirky hand drawn labels are among some of our favorites. It’s just a bonus that the wine is pretty tasty, too.

FINALISTS

King Family Vineyards, Va.

Veritas Vineyard & Winery, Va.

Cidery

Bold Rock

Nellysford, Va., Mills River, N.C.

No matter which end of the Blue Ridge you reside, it’s guaranteed that if you pick up a bottle of Bold Rock, it’s going to be made with apples grown right in your backyard. With a wide selection of hard ciders ranging in dryness, Bold Rock is setting the standard for regionally made hard cider.

FINALISTS

Hawk Knob Hard Cider & Mead, W.Va.

Blue Toad Hard Cider, Wintergreen

Distillery

Silverback Distillery

Afton, Va.

Bottom’s up at this green-thinking Virginia-based distillery. Silverback utilizes geothermal technologies to produce its vodka, gin, rye whiskey, and honey rye whiskey, which means that your spirits were produced with the least possible impact on the environment.

FINALISTS

Smooth Ambler Spirits, W.Va.

Virginia Distillery, Va.

Late Night Eats

The Station

Fayetteville, W.Va.

From beer to bread, The Station’s mission is to source all of their ingredients from local suppliers, so if you’re starving after a night of dancing at The Grove, you can partake in all of that regional goodness until midnight.

FINALISTS

C&O Restaurant, Va.

Texas Tavern, Va.

Coffee Shop

Clatter Coffee

Frostburg, Md.

As if their decadently smooth pour-over wasn’t reason enough to frequent this café, Clatter also offers a stylish space to meet, plus a substantial food menu to keep you fueled through your work. Try the Appalachian Ramen bowl if you’re there for lunch.

FINALISTS

Mudhouse Coffee Roasters, Va.

Sweet Donkey Coffee House, Va.

Beyond the Dish

When April Moon Harper opened up Sunny Point Café in West Asheville 14 years ago, the neighborhood hardly had any restaurants, let alone competing breakfast joints. Now, the district is hoppin’, with a whole suite of restaurants, music venues, and bars. And despite the increase of businesses, Harper says Sunny Point’s success is largely due to their commitment to the neighborhood.

“I worked in a neighborhood restaurant in Atlanta and really felt like they were the way to go,” she says. “Once you get that core of regulars, you really become a member of the community.”

Each month, the restaurant uses tabletop donation envelopes to raise money for local organizations like Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which Sunny Point then matches up to 20 percent.

Secret Sandwich Society’s flagship restaurant in Fayetteville, W.Va., also supports local organizations and events like the New River Gorge Craggin’ Classic, the Gauley Fest Animal Race, and the annual Video Boater Challenge. In November, they joined a number of Fayetteville businesses in supporting the inaugural “Boulder Bounty” by putting up $500 with another local business for a combined $1,000 on one of the Gorge’s 10 toughest and unconquered boulders.

“If you send the boulder and show it on social media, you win the bounty. The response has been crazy,” says Secret Sandwich Society owner Lewis Rhinehart. “There are international climbers in town right now trying to get these bounties. This is what Fayetteville is about and it’s what West Virginia is becoming about.”

Outdoor Company

Diamond Brand Outdoors

Asheville, N.C.

What started in 1964 as a simple 900-square-foot glorified garage has now expanded into more than just a brick-and-mortar retail space. Diamond Brand helps its customers not only gear up for their adventures but also learn how to recreate safely in the outdoors through regular clinics and the annual Asheville Outdoor Show.

FINALISTS

Endless River Adventures, N.C.

Blue Ridge Mountain Guides, Va.