The railroad has always been a vital part of Dillsboro, NC and the town’s economy, especially during the late 19th century. The train would bring travelers to town and many of those visitors would stop by the Jarrett House to rest, relax, and eat, while awaiting the connecting train. The house itself has since become a historic landmark and currently serves some of the best food in Western North Carolina.
Frank Jarrett bought the inn in 1894 and was able to capitalize on the burgeoning tourism industry of the Smoky Mountains as people from other parts of the country flocked to the region. The Jarrett Inn gave the people who rode on the railroad a place to stay. Meanwhile, the food made the Jarrett House famous all over the country. From his wife’s fried ham and redeye gravy to the biscuits that seemed to float off the plate, this was truly southern food in an authentic southern setting.
Their menu is a huge draw still and whether you are there for lunch or dinner you are in for something special. It’s family favorites with a southern flare and all the sides are served family style. For lunch you get to pick your entrée from selections like fried catfish, fried chicken or chicken and dumplings (the chicken and dumplings are incredible). For dinner you will see some of the same options as lunch but with the inclusion of country cured ham, mountain trout and pot roast. Every meal includes a family style portion of the following: Cole slaw, candied apples, buttered potatoes, green beans, pickled beets and hot biscuits. You will feel like you are back in your grandmother’s house for Sunday lunch. One thing will really stick out on the menu though and that is one of their desserts: vinegar pie! Don’t let the name fool you; it is delicious. Imagine pecan pie without the pecans.
Stepping foot in the dining room of the Jarrett House is like stepping back in time. They have captured the feel of the early 20th century. From the table cloths to the stem ware, there is not a detail they have missed. You can look at the nick-knacks on the wall or the furniture in the hall and the look of the antiques really sets the scene. You have just stepped off the train. You are ready to check into your room and brush the travel dust from your clothes. You are hoping for a good meal but you are not really prepared for the mounds of food that await you.
Next time you are in Dillsboro walk across the main street to the Jarrett House for a meal. Step back in time and pull your chair up to the table. Order the country cured ham and experience southern style salt cured ham. Order the chicken and dumplings and sop up the juice with a homemade biscuit. Be sure to order a slice of vinegar pie for dessert; trust me, it is better than it sounds. Visit the Jarrett House; it will be an experience you will talk about for years to come.