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The Appalachian

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The Appalachian

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Best of Boone 2024: Best of Food

Best Burger: The Cardinal

By Chloe Jenkins

Brandishing the “burger wagon,” its food truck that sits outside of Anne Belk Hall and on the sidelines at football games, The Cardinal made its way into the hearts of the students, faculty and locals in Boone, serving classic road food of the U.S. and handcrafted beverages. Nestled away off the 105 Bypass, The Cardinal brings home the title of Best Burger for the very first time.

The Cardinal first set its roots in Boone in 2016 under the co-ownership of Chris Varipapa, Seth Sullivan and Scott Williford. Walking into The Cardinal one is met with overhead Edison lights illuminating the rustic-style restaurant and bar. This seat-yourself restaurant carries a friendly and informal atmosphere.

The Cardinal Burger is their original style burger that can be styled two ways: All The Way or Carolina Style.
(Maggie Busch)

Serving an eclectic menu of road food of the U.S., the owners said y they walk a fine line between “trashy and classy” food. The menu offers a variety of options including appetizers like the Bisbee roll, a spicy slow braised chicken with salsa verde and queso fresco, pickled veggie salads and burgers and chicken sandwiches ranging from wagyu patty melts and wild game burgers to veggie, beet and tempeh burgers.

What sets them apart from other burger joints in Boone is The Cardinal Burger.

This signature burger is the most popular burger offered and has a variety of styles from All The Way which includes Duke’s mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and onion, to the Carolina Style, which includes chili, slaw, mustard, diced white onion and pickle, elevating the traditional burger into something everyone can enjoy. However, that is not all The Cardinal has to offer. The sense of community between staff and customers in the restaurant is irreplaceable. 

“I really like our staff. From our management team to the folks who work in the kitchen to the folks who wait tables are all fantastic,” Williford said. “They work really hard and we really appreciate it. Being in food service, you want to make people happy, and that’s what we do.”

The Cardinal has partnered with App State to allow the burger truck as an on-campus dining option during school hours and at football games as the perfect halftime snack. 

While discussing The Cardinal’s growth, Williford said, “We have our big red ‘stay with it’ bumper stickers, which is our motto, and starting to see them around town pretty frequently makes me really happy.”

Students had a lot to say about how much they enjoyed The Cardinal.

“The Cardinal is great. I get their fries and veggie burgers all the time, said Raven Drozdowski, a junior anthropology major. “I’m glad there is a place on campus where I can have a vegetarian option outside of eating at the dining hall.” 

The Cardinal’s brick-and-mortar location is open every day from 11 a.m. to midnight at 1711 NC 105.

BEST PIZZA: Lost Province Brewing Co.

By Ann Korwan

The sight of eager customers lining up before opening time and the pleasant aroma of wood-fired pizza will let you know you’re at Lost Province Brewing Co., winner of Best Pizza for Best Pizza for the fifth year in a row.

Located behind Mast General Store, Lost Province provides a laid-back space tucked away from the hustle and bustle of King Street.

Lynne and Andy Mason opened the gastropub in 2014, and it has since become a cornerstone of Boone. In 2021, they expanded and opened a second location at Hardin Creek. 

Despite the spaciousness of the restaurant, Lost Province maintains a cozy atmosphere with its very own wood-fired pizza oven and an entire wall of on-tap craft beers. Alex Hartman, head chef of Lost Province, said he believes much of the appeal for the restaurant comes from the farm-to-table ingredients it prides itself on.

“We’re focused on quality,” Hartman said. “We make everything in-house, from scratch.”

A greek seasonal pizza sitting on the bar of Lost Province Brewing Company on March 5. This is one of the many specialty pizzas offered on the menu.
(Landon Williams)

Sharon Pinney, the general manager of Lost Province, attributes much of the success of the restaurant to the staff.

“We always let our staff know how much we appreciate them,” Pinney said. “We just try to foster a great team environment, let people know they’re taken care of and appreciated.”

The restaurant has a rotating seasonal menu, as well as a popular staple menu with a vast selection of pizza, sandwiches and on-tap craft beer options to choose from. One of their most popular dishes is their wood-fired pretzel that’s served with marinara sauce and beer cheese to dip it in. 

In addition to the great food, beer and staff, Lost Province also has live music performances on Fridays and Saturdays, along with trivia and bingo nights. They recently hosted their first drag show and look forward to hosting many more to come.

“The food we put out right now is representative of the people who make it happen,” Hartman said.

Lost Province’s downtown location is at 130 North Depot Street. They are open Sunday through Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

BEST SANDWICH: Stick Boy Kitchen

By Meg Frantz

“Good music, good vibes, everyone’s fed and had their coffee,” said Josie Sanders, top performing employee at Stick Boy Kitchen. 

There is a moment of peace when a patron walks into the sunlit diner, greeted by smiling workers behind a small counter, a wide array of baked goods, including croissants and muffins, in a glass case and the aroma of fresh bread. 

Stick Boy Bread Company has two locations in Boone, one focused on the sweet tooth and the other focused on the savory. The company was founded in 2001 by husband and wife duo Carson and Mindy Coatney. It began as a hole in the wall with only two employees and 1,000 square feet and eventually expanded to become an ideal hangout space for students at App State and the surrounding community.

Famous for their sandwiches, Stick Boy Kitchen is this year’s Best of Boone winner for best sandwich.

Two of Stick Boy Kitchen’s most popular sandwiches, The Kluckin’ Kop and The Hearti Arti, sit on the table with their sides of potato chips and a pickle wedge on March 7.
(Ashton Woodruff)

Stick Boy’s most popular eats are the French Dip and Kluckin’ Kop, both hot sandwiches. The French Dip is a blend of pastrami, caramelized onion, and provolone. The Kluckin’ Kop is a twist on a BLT, with chicken, mustard and mayo added. On the cold side, the El Presidente, a similar BLT twist but with aioli and spinach, takes the lead as most popular. The kitchen manager creates the weekly specials, which include not only sandwiches, but also quesadillas, various toasts and even chocolate-covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day.

For the employees at Stick Boy, the most important thing is the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurant, which stems from what shift leaders do to help foster that environment. 

Sanders is a fan of checking in on her fellow employees.

“I’m always working on how I can improve as a coworker, how can I overall improve as an employee,” she said. “I also do goofy stuff like my Morale Duck, and I’m a goofy positivity person, a huge high-fiver, just checking in on everybody and making sure they’re enjoying their job and this is a positive environment.”

Stick Boy Kitchen is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and is closed Sunday. They are located at 211 Boone Heights Drive.

Best of Wings: Rivers Street Ale House

By Katelin Potter

The line for Rivers Street Ale House often spans from their front door to the sidewalk, especially on the weekends, but the wings are well worth the wait. Whether grabbing dinner with friends and family or getting a drink on game day, customers can count on the wings of Rivers Street Ale House to hit the spot. 

Due to the deliciousness and consistency of the wings, Ale House has taken the crown for the Best Wings for the third year in a row.

Wings come either bone-in or boneless, and customers can pick from a selection of 16 tasty sauce options they offer, ranging from Thai-Chili to Carolina Reaper, or mix a couple of sauces. General Manager Josh Lamont said his go-to wing order is the mix of teriyaki and Carolina Reaper for a sweet and spicy combo. 

Wings can be ordered in baskets of 8, 12, 16, 24, 48 and a whopping 96, and customers can mix and match their favorite sauces. Once the basket hits the table, customers get to enjoy the wings with a few sticks of celery and the choice of blue cheese or homemade ranch.

A tray of App State Athletics “Joey Wings” on March 7. The wings are a blend of rising star Joey Aguilar’s favorite flavors.
(Taneille Jordan )

“The guys in the back do a really good job with them,” Lamont said. “They go through this whole long process that takes about a day to prep them. When people put in the order it probably takes 10 minutes or so.”

Every Thursday, Ale House holds its wing night where bone-in wings are 75 cents and boneless are 45 cents. 

“On wing night, we just keep dropping them all night because the orders just keep coming,” Lamont said about putting the wings in the fryer. 

One special thing about Ale House is its newest flavor, which comes from a partnership with App State’s quarterback, Joey Aguilar. The special “Joey Wings” are a combination of buffalo hot sauce and lemon pepper seasoning that get char-grilled and served up hot. 

For anyone craving wings at any time of the day, Ale House is located at 957 Rivers St. They are open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Best Vegetarian Restaurant: Coyote Kitchen & Lost Province Taproom

By Riley Proserpi

From boats, bowls and burritos to the Triple Chocolate Cake, there is a tasty meal and sweet treat for everyone at Coyote Kitchen & Lost Province Taproom. Known for its allergy-friendly focus, this Boone staple offers a plethora of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

The outside of the establishment lights up with red and yellow lettering spelling out “Coyote Kitchen & Lost Cantina” over their covered and heated outdoor patio. The open restaurant layout is colorful and rustic, making it the perfect gathering space to hang out at. 

The people of Boone have voted it the Best Vegetarian Option for the third year in a row for Best of Boone.

Marketing Coordinator Alyssa Hasty attributes the restaurant’s popularity to the original vegan and vegetarian offerings, all made from scratch, freshly prepared and created by the kitchen staff.

A few of the vegan protein options include the black bean burger, organic tofu — either grilled or fried — and the Smiling Hara Tempeh, as well as vegan dips and sauces like the Chipotle ranch and garlic-lime aioli. 

Hasty said Lost Province Brewing recently took over ownership of Coyote Kitchen. Hasty is sure the new owners are dedicated to keeping the restaurant’s concept alive. 

The recent addition of a full bar with over 20 Lost Province beers on tap transformed the atmosphere into a fresh gathering space, Hasty said. 

Addressing allergy concerns, Hasty noted their fryers, cooking surfaces and preparation areas are kept separate, along with a designated gluten-free bakery and cooler for allergen-containing items.

“When it comes to drinks, we also offer Molley Chomper ciders for the folks who are unable to enjoy a beer,” Hasty said. 

Prioritizing locally-sourced ingredients, the restaurant collaborates with suppliers from the High Country and surrounding areas as much as possible, Hasty said.

The Sedona bowl served at Coyote Kitchen on March 7 is a coconut rice based bowl with blackened tempeh, red peppers, onion, corn, black beans, spinach and fried sweet potato all drizzled with garlic lime aioli.
(Taylor Ward)

“Our most popular vegan and vegetarian options are the Nomad Bowl and the Isabella Burrito,” Hasty said. 

The Nomad bowl contains grilled organic tofu, coconut rice, black beans, fried sweet potatoes, fried plantains, corn, sautéed spinach and garlic lime aioli, Hasty said. 

 “Isabella comes with grilled tempeh, coconut rice, black beans, fried sweet potatoes, sautéed onion, pineapple, sweet plantains, and vegan garlic lime aioli.” Hasty said. 

The evolving menu introduces new twists like the recently-added tofu wings with the option of sriracha hot honey glaze, jerk dry rub, house seasoning or blackened dry rub. 

Regarding community engagement, Coyote Kitchen has recently partnered with the Boone Barbies to host weekly trivia nights, Hasty said. Prioritizing a welcoming atmosphere for the LGBTQIA+ community remains a priority, with plans to launch a “give back campaign” supporting nonprofits monthly. 

Coyote Kitchen & Lost Province Taproom, located at 200 Southgate Drive, is open Monday through Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Best BBQ: The Pedalin’ Pig

By Thomas Turner

Barbecue is a staple food of U.S. culture. Whether one decides to host a cook out and make it themselves or order it from a restaurant, many people across the country are very particular about how they enjoy their barbecue. The town of Boone seems confident in their choice of barbecue restaurant, as they’ve voted The Pedalin’ Pig for Best BBQ for the fifth consecutive year in a row.

The Pedalin’ Pig has operated in the Banner Elk area since 2014. Later, they expanded to Boone and Blowing Rock, providing numerous different options on their menu for anyone to enjoy, from happy hour service to vegetarian options, and their specialty, barbecue practically any way you want it.

A barbecue chicken sandwich from The Pedalin’ Pig on March 7. The menu offers a variety of barbecue dishes and sides, including vegetarian options.
(Devon Richter)

Not only does The Pedalin’ Pig offer the best barbecue in Boone, they also host several events to bring the community together. Every Wednesday the restaurant hosts a weekly “Bluegrass Jam,” where bluegrass players of any skill level are invited to play their music for the restaurant to enjoy, further adding to the homely Southern atmosphere of the establishment.

Each day of the week also has a special menu item, encouraging prospective customers to visit the restaurant on a specific day when their favorite menu item is available. Some days feature new barbecue variations, others serve unique kinds of alcoholic beverages. Every Friday is labeled as “Fish Fry Day,” when the staff serves several fish-themed plates and sandwiches.

The town of Boone has been captivated by the atmosphere and quality of The Pedalin’ Pig and its signature barbecue enough to revere their barbecue as the best in the area, an opinion that stays strong amongst voters.

“The entire Pedalin’ Pig family would like to thank the community for its support,” said Blake Bostain, the general manager for The Pedalin’ Pig. “We really look forward to serving you again this year.”

The Pedalin’ Pig is located at 2968 NC 105 Unit A.

Best Mexican-inspired: Los Arcoiris

By Vivian Shillingsburg

From the moment you walk in the door of Los Arcoiris, you are welcomed with an irresistible aroma of all of the best spices and flavors of Mexican food. The colorful and energetic atmosphere, complemented by the detailed paintings and the lively music, creates a classic Mexican dining experience. This Boone favorite, which has kept its title as Best Mexican-Inspired food in Best of Boone, is the perfect place to fulfill your Mexican cuisine cravings. 

The most special part of Los Arcoiris, also affectionately known as “Los,” is the community the restaurant has created. 

“Our clientele base consists of three generations and some of our employees have been with us for many years, that helps us a lot in keeping consistency in flavors and service,” said Alfredo Alvarez, general manager and co-owner of Los Arcoiris.

Boone residents, App State students and even visitors to the area can find a sense of family when they come to Los. The

Customers reach for chips and salsa at Los Arcoiris on March 6. The delicious appetizer is one of the many reasons people are drawn to Los.
(Hayden Wittenborn)

consistency in the food and atmosphere provides a feeling of homeliness to returning customers and a place for newcomers to build memories over delicious meals.

“Since we are a family-owned restaurant, we treat customers same as family, including our employees,” Alvarez said. “Building friendships and strong relationships over the years with people is very important.”

The family-owned business first opened in Boone in September of 1991. Since then, members of the family have expanded the business throughout western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee to extend the community and traditions of Los across the region. 

While the community and atmosphere of Los is exceptional, the food is what ties it all together. Los provides a variety of options for their customers, including many vegetarian options and kid’s plates. This restaurant is perfect for anyone who wants to explore new food, families and groups with different palates and picky eaters or people who appreciate Mexican cuisine. Some of their most popular dishes include ACP, fajitas and their notably-large burritos. 

If you are hoping to order something new next time you go, or you want to enhance your Mexican food experience, Los always has something new to try. 

“Something new that I really recommend right now is the quesabirrias or birria tacos,” said Alvarez. 

Next time one is craving something flavorful and made with love or is looking for a new favorite restaurant, Best of Boone voters recommend Los Arcoiris to support a family-owned business and experience a small taste of Mexican culture here in the High Country. 

Best New Food Restaurant: Fizz Ed

By El Shedrick

Since its opening last November, Fizz Ed has brought bright new colors and innovative beverages to Boone in a service-focused environment. Fizz Ed aims to be an inclusive space for everyone in the Boone community. Fizz Ed takes their first Best of Boone title with their win for Best New Restaurant. 

“I felt like there was a space here in Boone for a place that was fun and welcoming and bright, and inviting to everybody,” said owner Amy Forrester. “We wanted to provide options that would be exciting for everyone in the group.” They offer vegetarian and gluten-free options, but also fun comfort food, and a full alcoholic bar with thoughtful non-alcoholic options as well. 

In addition to their variety of food and drink items, the restaurant also hosts different family-friendly events, like Sunday trivia nights. Family trivia is from 6:30-8 p.m., and at 9:30 p.m., the bar shifts to its late-night trivia geared towards customers who are over 21.

Mike (left) and Amy (right) Forrester on Feb. 27 stand beside Fizz Ed’s iconic mural of Mike Forrester’s father, Dave, who wrestled professionally in the 1970s and 1980s. Mike and Amy Forrester are the owners of Fizz Ed on Howard Street, which had its grand opening on Feb. 1. (Taylor Ward)

“We are going to continue building our events and our nightlife,” Forrester said. “I really would like for people to know that when they come here, there is always going to be something fun happening. That’s my push moving forward, is just to continue to provide those fun opportunities.”

The support for the restaurant has been strong right out of the gate. 

“The community has been incredibly supportive,” Forrester said. “Opening in the middle of winter, we kind of thought it would be dead constantly, but we see the same people over and over which is really nice. I feel like we’re bringing people back. I definitely feel like not only the university community, but the local community has been really supportive.” 

Within their first three months of opening, Fizz Ed has successfully created a welcoming space for everybody to feel celebrated, while providing some delicious food and drink along the way. 

Fizz Ed is located at 260 Howard St. and they are open every day from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Best of Boone: Best Asian-Inspired Cuisine

By Ann Korwan

Located in the heart of downtown on King Street is Sabeing, a Thai, Vietnamese and sushi restaurant that truly has something for everyone. Between the friendly staff, reasonable prices and delicious food, it’s no wonder that Sabeing is the 2024 winner of Best Asian-Inspired Cuisine in Boone.

Before getting to the door, you can smell the flavorful aromas that will make your mouth water and make you even more excited to dig into the food. Everything comes out fresh and steaming, prepared by some of the friendly staff who take great pride in their jobs.

Sammie Buchanan, one of Sabeing’s front-of-house staff members, has been working at the restaurant since 2018. Buchanan was thrilled to hear the restaurant had won and quickly shared the news with her coworkers.

“The owners, Allen and Pam, have taught me so much and taken care of me throughout the years,” Buchanan said. “We are one big family here.”

Sabeing Boone King’s popular pad thai on March 2. Sabeing is located at 454 W. King St.
(Devon Richter)

Buchanan went on to say how hardworking the owners are, making it clear they are passionate about the restaurant and care about their employees.

“We are all grateful for the support from this town and from our regulars and will continue to provide the ‘Best of Asian-Inspired Cuisine’ to Boone,” Buchanan said. “Also, I eat here each day by choice. Quality food, quality people.”

Despite being takeout only, Sabeing continues to thrive by offering Asian-style comfort food, like pad thai, drunken noodles and pad see ew, to name a few of their popular dishes. The sushi menu also provides a wide variety of choices for customers, ensuring everyone is able to find something that suits their taste.

Sabeing is located at 454 W. King St. and is open Monday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Orders can be placed online, over the phone and in-store and can be enjoyed on the patio space outside the restaurant or at the comfort of one’s home. 

 Best Coffee: Espresso News

By Briley Turpin

The Tuesday morning after spring break, Espresso News was bustling with students and Boone locals eager to catch up after a week off. The frigid outside air had people lingering by the door for warmth as they waited in line for the promise of a hot, reliable cup of coffee. 

Espresso News, the comfy little coffee shop in the heart of downtown Boone, has been a staple in the community for 30 years. It almost feels as though the shop has a cult following, and for good reason. For the sixth time since the inception of Best of Boone, Espresso News has won Best Off-Campus Coffee yet again.

“Abide no hatred” sign hanging over the espresso workstation in Espresso News on March 4. Espresso News roasts their own beans every week and bakes pastries in-house daily.
(Emily Simpson )

Kathleen Petermann, a manager of the shop, said the establishment has been through many iterations, but the community it has built has remained the same over the past few decades.

“Some things have always been the same — we have a long line of dedicated employees, many of whom still live in Boone or the surrounding areas, and we have always roasted fantastic coffee in-house,” she said. 

The love they have for their community goes beyond providing a gathering space for good coffee and comradery. Espresso News gives back to the community by donating to several groups in Boone.

“We have cultivated partnerships with OASIS, the Immigrant Justice Coalition of Watauga County, The Children’s Playhouse and Mountain Alliance,” Petermann said. “We really care about being a part of what makes Boone such an awesome place to live, and we love to support local groups that are aligned with that goal as well.”

Espresso News has a large selection of coffee and tea drinks, bakery items and even wine. They have rotating seasonal specials, such as the Yerba Mate with mango puree they released this spring. They also host fun events for the evening crowd. 

“If you are 21, you also don’t want to miss Feral Friday wine nights, typically the first and third Fridays of the month, where we serve natural and low-intervention wines by the glass, as well as sake and other delicious beverages,” Petermann said.  

The charm of Espresso News cannot be replicated in any community other than Boone. It stands as the perfect melting pot for the university and the larger community, bridging a gap in Boone.

Espresso News is located at 267 Howard St. and is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Best Biscuit: Vicious Biscuit

By Cameron Miller

With breakfast spots popping up all over town, competition for the Best Biscuit in Boone is vicious, and Vicious Biscuit has proven themselves to be the most…vicious. Walking in and taking one look at the colorful menu, it’s easy to see why.

Guests enjoy biscuits, juice and coffee for Sunday morning brunch on March 17.
(Ashton Woodruff)

Vicious Biscuit is the first-time winner for the new Best Biscuit write-in category for Best of Boone.

Manager Jeannie Hopkins said what sets Vicious Biscuit apart is the quality of their ingredients. Most of their sauces, syrups and butters, like their signature hot honey, are made in-house. They use only fresh, cage-free, steroid-free brown eggs, and fresh produce is ordered every other day.

“It’s a lot to stay on top of,” Hopkins said. “But if you want that quality, that’s what you have to do.”

When asked about Vicious Biscuits’ bestsellers, Hopkins said it was The Fat Boy “hands down.” The Fat Boy is a buttermilk biscuit piled high with a fried chicken breast and their signature pimento cheese topped with a drizzle of their hot honey. 

“But when people want that comfort food they go for The Vicious,” Hopkins said.

The Vicious Biscuit features a crispy chicken breast with maple sausage gravy and candied jalapeños on a cheddar jalapeño biscuit. 

They also serve other iconic southern staples like fried green tomatoes, which are featured in The Mater and The Crab Benny, Vicious’ take on the classic eggs benedict.

Hopkins said Vicious Biscuit is grateful for the welcome they’ve received from the community since opening last year and they look forward to continuing to be a part of the community in the future.

Be sure to check out their new Chicken Bacon Ranch biscuit that made its debut on March 11. Vicious Biscuit is located at 702 Blowing Rock Road and is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Best Breakfast: Troy’s 105 Diner

By Abby Buckner

Stepping into Troy’s is like stepping back in time. Metallic chrome accents gleam under the soft glow of neon lights, while the air is filled with the aroma of sizzling bacon and freshly brewed coffee. With its classic booth and counter seating, customers can make themselves at home in the cozy space.

Boasting a vibrant atmosphere reminiscent of an era marked by jukeboxes and soda fountains, Troy’s 105 Diner won Best Breakfast for the second year in a row. The electrifying 1950s feel, home-cooked fresh food and charming staff have made the diner the ultimate Boone breakfast spot.

The Mama Lu plate and hot chocolate plated on March 7. They offer many other breakfast specials like Flo’s Frenchie and Razzle Dazzle.
(Taneille Jordan)

It’s not just the ambiance that has locals and Boone visitors flocking to Troy’s in the morning. The star of the show is undoubtedly their classic menu options. Classic breakfast dishes like fluffy pancakes and hearty omelets are crafted with care along with many other breakfast staples. The menu features several breakfast specialties each with their own unique names like the “Mama Lu” and the “Country Cousin” to create a plethora of delicious and tailored plates to choose from

With breakfast served all day and lunch starting at 10:30 a.m., there is a bite for every craving. 

The lunch options take the diner flavors to new heights. With half-pound burgers, signature salads, sandwiches and homemade soups, Troy’s offers plenty of options, all under $15. The diner also features daily specials Monday through Friday. Consider finishing off the meal with a sweet treat and enjoy a Troy’s locally-acclaimed milkshake or homemade dessert.

Next time you are looking for some delicious nibbles, savor Troy’s award-winning breakfast and soak in the nostalgic retro charm of the diner. The diner is a timeless favorite that remains a beloved staple in the Boone community.

Best Sweets: Appalachia Cookie Company

By Rebekah Mann

Much like the scent of their cookies, Appalachia Cookie Company’s community impact is sweet, warm and welcoming. After dominating the category in the past three editions of Best of Boone, Appalachia Cookie Company has won Best Sweets for a fourth consecutive year. 

They serve classic cookie flavors like chocolate chip, sugar and snickerdoodle, but their menu also features flavors that can’t be found anywhere else. The Appalachian Gold cookie, also known as the Yosef, is just one example of the company’s unique recipes and doubles as a vegan and gluten-free option. The cookie combines chocolate chunks, coconut, cinnamon, pecans and more all into one recipe. 

The newest edition to their menu, a Lotus Biscoff stuffed cookie, also highlights their complex recipes. David Holloman, App Cookie Co. owner and founder, said he’s obsessed with the newest cookie. 

An employee decorates a half dozen cookies fresh out of the oven on March 6. Appalachia Cookie Company offers a large selection of gourmet cookies available for late night delivery.
(Leah Matney)

“It’s our honey peanut butter base but with cookie butter in place of peanut butter and white chocolate chunks, stuffed with a house made Lotus cookie butter and topped with a Lotus Biscoff cookie and drizzled in cookie butter icing,” Holloman said. 

Beyond their uniquely crafted recipes, App Cookie Co. also has a partnership with Boone’s Hunger and Health Coalition called the 30 Thirty Project.  

The 30 Thirty project is a subscription service where App Cookie Co. will deliver one dozen cookies of your choice to your doorstep on the first Monday of the month for $35 per month. In addition to receiving your cookies, the monthly fee also provides 30 pounds of food for a local family in need.

The idea for the project started when Holloman and his wife wanted to use the popularity of the cookies for something that had a direct benefit to the local community.

“The biggest challenge was finding a simple way that would easily translate donations to a product that customers could recognize, and that we could easily communicate that donation and its impact,” Holloman said. 

Since the program started about 10 years ago, Holloman estimates the project’s donations have helped contribute to eight tons of donated food.

Holloman said none of this work would have been made possible without the partnership and emphasized how much of a role the Hunger and Health Coalition played in making the project a reality.

“The program would not have moved forward without the late Elizabeth Young, the former director of HHC and a pillar in our community, who worked for countless hours with my wife and I to come up with a solution that would make the program work,” Holloman said.

Located at 208 Faculty St. behind Hungry Howie’s, their cookie menu offers a wide variety of choices that can be accessed seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. If one is simply wanting a sweet treat or would like to support the community, App Cookie Co. is the place to go.

Best Bar: Lily’s Snack Bar

By Pruett Norris

There are a number of bars in Boone. There’s only one with a neon “TATER WEDGES” sign in the window.

Lily’s Snack Bar has racked up Best of Boone awards since 2021, and this year is no exception. Lily’s is 2024’s Best Bar in Boone.

Trevor Moody, general manager of Lily’s, said the bar seeks to foster a community of inclusivity. One example is Lily’s reputation as drag night royalty.

“The drag scene in Boone has really flourished,” Moody said. “The opportunity came to us because we had set up the environment the way we did. A very intentional and safe place.”

Even when the bar faces criticism for its progressive or counter-cultural events, the Lily’s staff know how to handle it. Moody said growing up in the rural South enabled them to learn how to deal with pressure. 

“Those pressures also have a way of bringing communities together,” Moody said. “If anything, maybe it enables us to be a more active and vocal part of our community.”

Lily’s is certainly a vocal part of Boone. The bar prides itself on its commitment to the local rock scene. During Boonerang, Boone’s annual bluegrass festival, Lily’s hosts Doomerang.

General manager Trevor Moody prepares a Cosmopolitan for a customer on March 6. Lily’s Snack Bar provides locals and college students with daily food and drink specials.
(Leah Matney)

“Some people call it a counter-culture fest. We’re doing two nights of heavy music,” Moody said. “Punk, heavy, metal, sludge, doom, hardcore-adjacent loud rock and roll music.”

The event is a regional showcase in mid-June, featuring entirely Southeastern and predominantly North Carolinian bands.

Bands, drag and good vibes aren’t the only items on the Lily’s menu. The bar has a popular cocktail series centered around the Zodiac, and the Lily’s liquor bucket is iconic. The tater wedges are a cultural staple themselves. A constant since Lily’s opened, the tater wedges’ secret origin dates back to the owners’ childhood. 

“They grew up with a gas station in town that sold these awesome potato wedges they have some very fond memories and nostalgia for,” Moody said. “So the famous tater wedges were our attempt to recreate that. I think we hit the nail on the head.”

Moody revealed that the iconic Lily’s “TATER WEDGES” sign is actually in its second iteration. The first burnt out from sheer use.

“It’s fallen down, gotten knocked over, had drinks splashed on it,” Moody said.

Despite it all, the sign has remained as a neon beacon to the town of Boone to come in and join the party.

Lily’s Snack Bar is open all week from noon to 2 a.m. and can be found at 455 Blowing Rock Road, right across from the Holmes Convocation Center.

Best Brewery: Appalachian Mountain Brewery

By Briley Turpin

As rain poured down in sheets upon Boone one February afternoon, the employees of Appalachian Mountain Brewery braved the droplets, grabbing kegs and working as hard as ever for the stream of customers trickling in to warm up and escape the downpour outside. 

An oasis amongst the fast food and retail shops along Blowing Rock Road, AMB provides customers with a selection of 30 beers and ciders on tap brewed right here in Boone. AMB has been a staple in the community since it opened as the first brewery in Boone in 2013, so it’s no surprise they have won Best Brewery for the second year in a row.

Chris Zieber, owner and CEO of AMB, said AMB bought back the company from Anheuser-Busch within the last year. He said it is super exciting to have the company back under local control.

“For the local market, this means we’re gonna continue to invest in fun shows, like the summer concert series, and be able to kinda focus on the business,” he said. 

AMB has always been a community-focused company, and Zieber said he has loved watching the market grow and evolve over the past 11 years.

Zieber said that in the beginning, it was millennials who were driving the craft beer movement. Now, many of those millennials have families, and the market has changed.

A row of wooden beer taps engraved to spell out “Appalachian Mountain Brewery” set and ready to pour on March 1. Founders Nathan Kelischek and Chris Zieber bought back AMB in 2023 from Anheuser-Busch.
(Emily Simpson )

 “I think breweries are still super relevant, but the whole market has become more experience-focused rather than product-focused,” he said. “It’s really exciting to keep the Boone scene growing.”

In 2023, AMB partnered with Bojangle’s to create a hard sweet tea drink with a North Carolinian focus. The drink can be found at the brewery and participating stores and gas stations like Circle K, Sheetz and Walmart. 

As part of their community-focused mission, AMB has partnerships with several local and state-wide nonprofit organizations. The company regularly gives back by holding a monthly “pints for nonprofits” night where they host a local nonprofit and give back a dollar for every pint of the specific beer sold. Zieber said they also give directly to charity and host many volunteer events. 

“More than all of that, though, breweries are the community meeting place. Even though it’s not something we’re necessarily actively doing, but passively, just by being here, we are able to kinda encourage the community to come out,” he said. “That kind of stuff is super rewarding for us.” 

AMB is located at 163 Boone Creek Drive and is open noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

Best Smoothie: Stick Boy Kitchen 

By Lauren Lyerly

From their pastries to their sandwiches, Stick Boy Kitchen has more to offer than just good food; they have a variety of delicious smoothies. If you are craving something sweet, satisfying or healthy, Stick Boy has something for you. That’s why the establishment has won Best Smoothie for this year’s Best of Boone. 

Stick Boy Kitchen, which opened in 2013, followed the success of Stick Boy Bread Company, which was established in 2001. The restaurants have a strong connection with the community of Boone and serve to bring good quality food to the community. 

Stick Boy Kitchen, which offers eight smoothies in addition to a “build your own” option, also has a diverse menu containing numerous sandwiches, soups, salads and pastries. 

Lisa Pearce, general manager of Stick Boy Kitchen, has been with the restaurant for around 19 years and believes the smoothies’ success is due to their simplicity and nutritional value.

Stick Boy Kitchen’s Spring Green (left) and Mangoes & More (right) smoothies made on March 6 are just two of several delicious smoothies served on the menu. Both smoothies are made with an orange juice base and blended with fruits and veggies.
(Taylor Ward )

“The smoothies are made very simply with fresh ingredients,” Pearce said. “There are no extra sugars or fillers.”

Pearce described how the importance of customer service and a commitment to patrons and the community has contributed to the success of Stick Boy Kitchen. 

“We are very customer focused and driven,” she said. “I think our service style and our quality ingredients and our involvement in the community is what keeps us well known.” 

When asked about her favorite smoothie, Pearce said hers would have to be the PB&J as it is very filling and satisfying. 

Not only are the smoothies at Stick Boy Kitchen healthy and flavorful, but the service is attentive and quick, with staff always catering to patrons’ needs and concerns. The bustling atmosphere illustrates the quality of Stick Boy Kitchen’s food and the commitment the restaurant has to its customers. 

Stick Boy Kitchen, located at 211 Boone Heights Drive, is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m to 5:30 p.m. They are closed on Sundays. 

Best Food Truck: El Tacorriendo

By Ella Adams

App State students have spoken: there’s nothing better after a long day of classes than a stop for tacos at El Tacorriendo. For the sixth year in a row, the community has voted the business Best Food Truck in Boone.

Owner Alex León works on making one of El Tacorriendo’s most popular menu items, the ACP burrito, on April 2. (Ashton Woodruff)

The iconic red food truck sits on King Street across from App State’s campus serving up Mexican street food classics for students and locals alike. El Tacorriendo sports a vibrant atmosphere, with delicious smells wafting from the grill and Latin hits playing from a nearby speaker. The truck occasionally hosts live music in the evenings, advertised via the El Tacorriendo Instagram account.

The menu has staple Mexican dishes, like tacos, tortas and burritos, as well as unique creations like the original ACP wrap. There are a variety of meat options to choose from, including carnitas, al pastor and chorizo. There’s also an extensive vegetarian menu, with an assortment of meat-free Mexican classics. 

Co-owners Alex and Ashley León opened the business in 2015. 

“I feel like I can bring something to the community from where I’m from,” said Alex León, who is from Guadalajara, Mexico. 

He said people who have been to Mexico before will try the food El Tacorriendo and say it is just like the food in Mexico. 

His personal favorite menu items are the al pastor and asada tacos. For any new customers to El Tacorriendo, he recommends the popular ACP wraps and any of the tacos. 

“I love what we do, you know,” Alex León said. “I love cooking a lot and I’ve been doing it for a while.”

El Tacorriendo will be expanding to Asheville and opening a taco truck in the city within the next year, he said.

Anyone looking for a quick and delicious meal can visit El Tacorriendo next to Blue’s Brews at 362 W. King St. The truck is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Best Takeout: Come Back Shack 

By Meg Frantz

An order comes in just as one goes out and a timer starts on the screen. The order moves from highlighted green to yellow on the screen, signaling to hurry, and it is wrapped up as the highlight turns red. It’s handed to the customer just as the timer runs out, and another order appears in its place. 

Come Back Shack has won Best Takeout for Best of Boone for the past two years, making this year its third straight win, solidifying its spot as one of the best places to order takeout food for long study nights or post-shift grub.

Come Back Shack’s storefront ready for dinner rush on February 29. Come Back Shack is located at 1521 Blowing Rock Road and offers both drive-thru and mobile orders.
(Nicole Evans )

Come Back Shack is a family-owned business opened by Steven and Scott Prewitt and their wives, Janie and Allison Prewitt. The restaurant is right in the center of Boone, so people pass the establishment as they drive in and out of town.

The restaurant is renowned for its vast menu, spanning across chicken, beef and vegetarian options. They were voted Best Burger in the 2022 Strange Carolinas Best of NC awards, as well as one of the six best milkshakes in North Carolina by Best Things in North Carolina. They have also won Best Hamburger for Best of Boone every year since 2015.

Come Back Shack’s unique menu features a fried green tomato sandwich and a bacon patty melt on Texas Toast, separating it from other burger joints in the area. Their milkshakes range from chocolate to Nutella to blueberry, all prepared within minutes via drive-thru.

The restaurant has a rustic aesthetic with warm light and lots of laughter. 

“I like laughing and having fun. Having a lighthearted, friendly work environment is something that’s really important to us as a company,” said James Dedmon, who has been general manager of Come Back Shack for two months. “We all get along really well and utilize this as a happy harmonious work environment.”

Noah and Renae Jones, diners in the restaurant, said they come to Come Back Shack once every few months, though they don’t feel like that’s nearly often enough. They drive from Banner Elk whenever they’re craving a tasty burger, fried green tomato sandwich and a good time. Noah and Renae made a date out of their dinner at Come Back Shack before he left for a work trip.

Come Back Shack is open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 1521 Blowing Rock Road.

Best Food Delivery Service: DoorDash

By Jenna Guzman

It’s been a long day. You got home from work or school and immediately crawled into bed to shut out the world. After taking a nap or bingeing a show, you realize not only did you shut out further responsibilities, but you also forgot about how hungry you were. But you’re so tired; why cook when you can order food delivery? Flash forward about 30 minutes and you’re watching a tiny little car icon drive up to your home with your food of choice on the DoorDash app.

With the convenience of having food delivered to you in a matter of minutes thanks to an app on your phone, DoorDash has been voted as Best Food Delivery Service in Best of Boone for the second year in a row.

Regardless of one’s cravings, DoorDash has a little something for everyone. Food from many Boone staples, such as Come Back Shack, Mint Indian Cuisine, Lily’s Snack Bar and more, can be ordered through DoorDash. Chain restaurants in the area are also featured on the app, such as Zaxby’s, Papa John’s, Five Guys and others.

If one wants a meal they ordered in the past but forgot what exactly it was they ordered or the restaurant they got it from, no worries. DoorDash has a tab that shows past orders to reorder with just the press of a button — no need to go back on the menu and find all the things to add to the cart. 

For people who ordered food but don’t want to spend money on outside food for a second day in a row, one can also order groceries through DoorDash to cook at home the next time they are hungry. For students on or off campus without a car, DoorDash is a convenient way of getting groceries or non-food items delivered if the markets on campus are closed.

DoorDash delivers groceries or non-food items from stores including Lowes Foods, CVS, Walgreens, Food Lion, Speedway, Big Lots and more. 

Whether one is too tired to cook, doesn’t have a car, is at a get-together with friends or simply wants a late-night snack, all they need to do is place the order through the app and the food or items they need will be there in a matter of minutes. As long as the restaurant or store is accepting orders, one’s food desires will be fulfilled.

Best Grocery Store: Publix 

By Makayla Muñoz

From the bakery to the deli to other everyday items, Publix has a quality selection to choose from. There is food to grab on the go like fresh-made subs for something quick and easy.

Publix has won Best Grocery Store for the third year in a row and is ready to welcome shoppers for all their grocery needs. While quality products are always paramount, maintaining a positive environment is just as important and is something Publix achieves. 

“Workers provide excellent customer service by always offering to help bring out groceries to the car or simply to find items in the store,” said Larisa Traylor, a junior psychology major and Publix patron. “There is always someone nearby I can communicate with in the store.”

Publix, winner of Best Grocery category for the third consecutive year, offers customers products and services such as dessert platters, subs and weekly ad deals. (Kaitlyn Close)

The store has weekly ads that provide customers with lower prices on a mix of name brand and store brand items, along with a discount on the sub of the week.

Publix’s motto, “where shopping is a pleasure,” doesn’t just stop at their food, but extends to all aspects of the store such as presenting themselves with pride. 

“I like Publix because the store is always clean and organized,” Traylor said.

Along with Publix’s in-store customer service, they also offer catering services. From casual snack platters like their meat and cheese platters to their entree and dessert platters, they have a variety of choices to make a party pop. They have options like seafood, chicken, bakery and even platters made with children in mind. According to the Publix website, they even have catering consultants to help build a menu and plan events of any size for free.

Publix is located at 1620 Blowing Rock Road and is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Chloe Jenkins
Chloe Jenkins, Associate Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Chloe Jenkins (she/her) is a sophomore Public Relations major with a minor in Japanese.
Ann Korwan
Ann Korwan, Reporter
Ann Korwan (she/her) is a junior digital marketing major with a minor in communications from Charleston, West Virginia.
Meg Frantz
Meg Frantz, Reporter
Meg Frantz (she/her) is a freshman digital journalism major, with a double minor in political science and criminal justice, from Charlotte, NC. This is her first year writing for The Appalachian.
Katelin Potter
Katelin Potter, Reporter

Katelin Potter (she/her) is a senior with a double major in public relations and journalism with a minor in general business. She's from the Raleigh area and loves plants, bees, skiing and books.

Riley Proserpi is a junior digital journalism major and apparel design and marketing minor.
Thomas Turner
Thomas Turner, Reporter
Thomas Turner (He/Him/His) is a 19 year old junior at App State, majoring in journalism with a minor in English. This is his second semester working with The Appalachian.
El Shedrick
El Shedrick, Opinion Writer
El Shedrick (they/them) is a junior psychology major from Cary NC. This is their second year writing for The Appalachian.
Briley Turpin
Briley Turpin, A&C Editor
Briley Turpin (she/her) is a senior communications major with a criminal justice minor.
Cameron Miller, Reporter
Cameron Miller (he/him) is a senior journalism major with an art history minor from Statesville, NC.
Abby Buckner
Abby Buckner, Associate A&C Editor
Abby Buckner (she/her) is a sophomore professional writing major with a communication minor. This is her second year with The Appalachian.
Rebekah Mann
Rebekah Mann, Reporter
Rebekah Mann (she/her) is a junior with a double major in journalism and dance studies a minor in English.
Pruett Norris
Pruett Norris, Multimedia Editor
Pruett Norris (he/him) is a senior double majoring in English with a concentration in Film Studies and Electronic Media/Broadcasting. This is his second year with The Appalachian.
Ella Adams
Ella Adams, Managing Editor
Ella Adams (she/her) is a senior anthropology major.
Jenna Guzman
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Jenna Guzman (she/her) is a junior journalism and public relations double major with a media studies minor. This is her third year working for The Appalachian.
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Maggie Busch (she/her) is a junior English major, Communications minor from Albemarle, NC. This is her second year with The Appalachian.
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Landon Williams (he/him) is a Junior majoring in Commercial Photography from Winston Salem, NC. This is his second year with The Appalachian. 
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Ashton Woodruff (she/her) is a junior IDS Criminal Justice/Photojournalism major, and a Social Work minor. This is her second year with The Appalachian.
Taylor Ward
Taylor Ward, Photojournalist
Taylor Ward (she/they) is a sophomore undecided major and photography minor from Ocean Isle Beach, NC. This is their second year with The Appalachian.
Devon Richter
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Devon Richter (he/him) is a junior Fine Art Photography major, from Thomasville, N.C. This is his first year with The Appalachian.
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Leah Matney (she/her) is a junior with a digital marketing major and photography minor from Lincolnton, NC. This is her first year with The Appalachian.
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Nicole Evans (she/her) is a sophomore Fine Art Photography major, from Asheville, N.C. This is her first year with the Appalachain.
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Kaitlyn Close (she/her) is a senior Graphic Design major and Digital Marketing minor. This is her second year with The Appalachian.
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