What comes to mind when you think of Elkin, NC? Maybe you think of an idyllic riverside trail town; a charming respite for the travel-weary hiker. Perhaps you think of it as the food epicenter of the Yadkin Valley with farm-to-table cuisine to accompany your weekend vineyard tour. Both visions are correct, and for those in the know, merging the two together is when the magic happens!
Check out these top food and trail pairings in downtown Elkin for picnic-friendly fare and the perfect spot in town to enjoy them!
Topping off our list is The Wisdom Table.
Located at the corner of Bridge and Main, The Wisdom Table is first and foremost, an upscale wine bar. Did you know that this historic Elkin building, which used to be a department store, also has a large retail space? The Wisdom Table has bottles of wine and beer to go, and an ever-expanding selection of gourmet picnic food in refrigerated coolers. Stop by for a bottle of Prosecco or a cool German Hefeweizen and pair it with Serrano ham and a wedge of creamy Italian cheese, Sommelier and proprietor Jeremy Stamps recommends the Pecorino al Tartufo (truffle cheese) paired with an Adami Prosecco. You’ll feel like you are backpacking through the European countryside!
The upscale eats from The Wisdom Table require a majestic trail location, so we recommend The OverMountain Victory trail. Head west on Main and cross Big Elkin Creek. Take a left at the sign marker just past the bridge and keep walking. Enjoy the grassy, tree-lined path but hold your amazement for the large sandy beach along the river’s edge approximately .5 mile in. There’s plenty of room to spread out and pop that bottle of bubbly while listening to the river rush over the rocks nearby.
Next on our list is the Yadkin Valley General Store, located at the far east end of Main St. One of the original Amish-inspired stores in the Yadkin Valley, this store is a backpackers snack paradise. Pick up pre-portioned noms like Brushy Mountain trail mix (our favorite flavor is the Bootleggers Blend) or fresh maple candy that will travel easily for long distances. Next, choose a cool craft lemonade to wash it down. This store will be undergoing renovations in the summer of 2022 and will reopen with a focus on provisions for thru-hikers, section-hikers, and river-goers alike, including ready to eat sandwiches and camping gear. Owner Jimmy Gardi has some amazing ideas for camping, fishing and conoeing, so be sure to ask about their expansion while you’re there!
The snacks from the General Store travel well, so gather your goodies and head northwest toward the Elkin-Allegheny Rail Trail. Originally the site of the Elkin-Allegheny railroad, a path down West Main will take you past the original ticket office which is now Maggy’s Place, a cute short-term rental. The trail begins in the municipal park and runs alongside the Big Elkin Creek. There are picnic benches along the path and even access to the creek by the waterfall. This is also a great spot to bike and is perfect for kids and pets!
Our next stop is Barking Coyote Cafe. This location is a picnicker’s paradise with all sandwich orders prepared to-go and a vast retail shop of ready-to-eat spreads, salads and pastries. Our top three picks here include: 1. The quiche- Farm fresh eggs and local cheese pair with a buttery crust in a melt-in-your-mouth experience. 2. The chicken salad- Good on crackers or bread or straight off the fork, the Barking Coyote manages to turn this summer salad into a sought-after staple. 3. The scones- If you time your visit so that the scones are still warm from owner Jody Hartle’s oven, you might never leave the shop. They are made fresh daily and are the best you’ll taste anywhere this side of the pond! They’re really that good! The menu changes weekly so call ahead to check their hours and plan your feast.
Because many of the pre-packaged items from The Barking Coyote require refrigeration this picnic is best enjoyed close-by alongside the Big Elkin Creek. The perfect spot overlooks the library on the greenway beside the church at the Overmountain Victory Trail’s intersection with West Main Street. The large grassy area is perfect for a picnic blanket or relax on one of the peace benches. This is just a short walk west through downtown and is nestled squarely in between Elkin’s downtown commercial district and historic West Main neighborhood.
Rounding out our list of picnic-friendly eats is downtown Elkin’s newest eating establishment, The Yellow Door Cafe. While the restaurant is new, having opened in the spring of 2022, guests familiar with the Elkin food scene will be no stranger to Chef Jeff Taylor. In addition to being a full sit-down restaurant with breakfast and lunch offerings, this location has a divine dessert counter with delicacies made daily. We recommend dipping in and choosing something to go. Our favorite is the bread pudding. This dessert comes with a side of glaze that will have you licking your fork at the end. Don’t worry, no judgment here! Ask them to warm it for you before you head out. They have a beverage cooler in the works for late summer 2022 as well.
The location of the Yellow Door is next to the Yadkin River. This makes it perfect for a waterside picnic just before launching your own watercraft. Take the path behind the restaurant under the bridge to the left and wind through the camping area to the dock. The pier ends in a wide floating platform where you can spread out and watch other river-goers float by.
We hope you have enjoyed exploring downtown Elkin and will plan a day of hiking and food soon! Staying in Elkin for longer? Check out these other downtown restaurants where you can relax and enjoy a meal without having to be on the go!
Written by Erin Proctor Johnson, owner of Elkin Eats.
Follow her Instagram for the best plates all over Elkin!