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As soon as the words “food tour” left my mouth, my hus­band was in. For our sec­ond anniver­sary, my hus­band and I planned a cruise. We just want­ed to relax, eat good food and sun­bathe, so we booked a typ­i­cal Caribbean cruise, with the excep­tion of one port stop: Havana, Cuba.

Want­i­ng to stay away from the over­priced cruise excur­sions, we did our research and found a local food tour com­pa­ny. We were beyond excit­ed. I even made a cal­en­dar count­ing down the days until we were sip­ping Moji­tos — REAL Moji­tos, and eat­ing Ropa Vie­ja in sun­ny Havana.




And then, like a bad night­mare, my hus­band had a sim­ple out­pa­tient surgery a week before the cruise and the recov­ery time took longer than antic­i­pat­ed. Much longer. Just like that, our Moji­to sip­ping, Ropa Vie­ja eat­ing dreams were shat­tered. We had to can­cel our cruise while my poor hus­band recov­ered. We were heart­bro­ken. Not like, “heart­bro­ken, heart­bro­ken,” you know — but the kind that made you want to close all the blinds, wrap up in a blan­ket, cry your eyes out and eat a gal­lon of ice cream for three days straight. Not say­ing we did that or anything…..

After a week or so passed and we were out of our funk, we decid­ed to take a cou­ple days vaca­tion to make up for the can­celed trip. We already planned to vis­it my par­ents over the July 4th hol­i­day, so we tagged on a cou­ple vacay days before­hand. With it being short notice and a hol­i­day week, we end­ed up book­ing a place in the cozy town of Cashiers, N.C. — right out­side of High­lands, N.C. Nei­ther of us had been there, it was a two hour dri­ve from Atlanta and a cou­ple hours from my par­en­t’s place. It was­n’t our trop­i­cal cruise but it sound­ed relax­ing and folks from Atlanta escape to High­lands all the time to avoid the sum­mer heat. So, we packed our bags and head­ed to the mountains.




Besides tak­ing our bikes to ride around, we did­n’t real­ly plan much. We only knew on the first day we’d stop in High­lands to explore and get the lay of the land. We’d eat some lunch and pos­si­bly do some shop­ping before head­ing over to Cashiers to check-in to our condo.

Right away, we noticed the tem­per­a­ture was a delight­ful 20 degrees cool­er than it was in Atlanta! Did I men­tion Atlanta is swel­ter­ing in the sum­mer­time? Because it is. We strolled, with­out break­ing a sweat, look­ing for a lunch spot. While there were some big name spots to dine, such as  Old Edwards Inn or Wolf­gang’s, we want­ed some­thing more unique to the area.

Nes­tled in a cor­ner off the main road, we found a charm­ing American/Asian fusion restau­rant, Wild Thyme Gourmet. While enjoy­ing a glass of rosé on the patio, we sipped on the soups of the day: a wild mush­room bisque for me and a seafood stew for my hus­band. We both felt as though we were sit­ting on the banks of the Mediter­ranean, only instead of ocean views, we were gaz­ing upon the Appalachi­an moun­tains. We pol­ished off lunch with the salmon BLT,  the per­fect gate-way sand­wich for some­one like me, who was just start­ing to like fish, and a burg­er for my hus­band. I promise, the man will nev­er turn down a burg­er when pre­sent­ed the option!


© Din­du Lama

Think­ing our lunch at Wild Thyme Gourmet could­n’t be topped, the next day, we head­ed out to the Cashiers Farm­ers Mar­ket, a quaint mar­ket fea­tur­ing local pro­duce, canned goods and fresh­ly baked goods.  We searched out a high­ly praised BBQ joint appro­pri­ate­ly named On the Side, since we found it on the side of a build­ing. On the Side serves take-out only, with pic­nic tables adja­cent to the park­ing lot. Offer­ing deli­cious sides such as mac-n-cheese and baked beans, with chips and a drink, the BBQ pork sand­wich was as tasty as they come! After brows­ing through the farm­ers mar­ket, which cre­at­ed quite the appetite,  BBQ was the per­fect meal — in a restau­rant that should­n’t be missed.

Find us on the side! ©Tara Buff




While it seemed like Moun­tain Fresh Gro­cery & Wine Mar­ket was anoth­er spe­cial­ty gro­cery store, I soon dis­cov­ered it was any­thing but. So many piz­za box­es left the store dur­ing the lunch and din­ner hours, you’d think it was a piz­za place!  Plus, a line wrapped around the build­ing wait­ing on their break­fast. Sta­tioned on the out­skirts of down­town High­lands, this gro­cery store offers a vari­ety of spe­cial­ty goods and wine, as well as a full breakfast/lunch bar plus break­fast and grill menus. We heard great things about the break­fast there and it did not dis­ap­point. Not one bit. The waf­fles were out­ra­geous­ly huge and had the per­fect bal­ance of crispy-ness on the out­side with a soft inte­ri­or. The oat­meal, while a health­i­er option, com­bined fla­vors of nut­ti­ness from the pecans and wal­nuts as well as sweet­ness from the fruit top­pings and maple syrup driz­zle. While the line for break­fast was long, it was most def­i­nite­ly worth the wait!




On our last night, we decid­ed to have an ear­ly din­ner at a tapas place around the cor­ner from where we were stay­ing. Expect­ing to have a good meal, we were pleas­ant­ly sur­prised when we had one of the best meals we’ve ever expe­ri­enced. I’m sure I gained 10 lbs from that meal alone. Locat­ed with­in a strip mall known as Sap­phire Val­ley Vil­lage Shoppes, Table64 is a tapas and wine bar with a fine din­ing expe­ri­ence. Accord­ing to our wait­er, the own­er / chef was born and raised in the Cashiers area, went off to school at the Culi­nary Insti­tute of Amer­i­ca in New York, returned home after grad­u­a­tion and opened Table64. Lucky for us! Some of our favorites of the night includ­ed: Duck Con­fit Egg Rolls, Shrimp & Corn Beignets, and Smoked Pork Bel­ly. I’m drool­ing just think­ing about them!


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While we may not have been jet set­ting to Cuba or the Caribbean, we still had a great time and enjoyed some real­ly deli­cious food along the way. What was once undis­cov­ered ter­ri­to­ry in our eyes, the pic­turesque towns of High­lands & Cashiers, N.C. are now at the top of our week­end get­away list!




From Los Ange­les, you can fly into major air­ports in either Atlanta, GA or Char­lotte, NC. From Atlanta, it is a 2.5 hour dri­ve north and from Char­lotte, a 3.5 hour dri­ve west. There are also small­er, region­al air­ports locat­ed in Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC.  Both of which are just under a 2 hour drive.

Nicole is a new­bie mom liv­ing on a prayer and cof­fee! She’s a free­lance writer/marketer based out of Atlanta, GA who enjoys good food, spend­ing time with friends & fam­i­ly, & Sat­ur­day morn­ings at the farm­ers market.