Las Dos Huastecas

Las Dos Huastecas

The first time I ate at Las Dos Huastecas was with my friend, Deborah. As this is as genuine a Mexican restaurant as you’re likely to find, down to occasionally having to guess at what you’re eating if you don’t speak Spanish, I was a little intimidated, but thankfully, I am not a picky eater and, since everything was delicious, it didn’t really matter if I could understand the menu!

Owned by Angelina Hernandez and in operation for nine years in our fair town, it is a combination of restaurant and Mexican grocery. It is simple, clean, down home and fantastic. Located in the same shopping center as former business of the week, N&N Florist, just west a bit of the intersection of Old Hwy 76/First Street and Collins Ave (the “T” intersection by Pizza Hut), it is easy to find and convenient.

My Spanish is minimal, at best, and I’m a nerd. If you ask Google to translate Las Dos Huastecas, it gives you “the two Huastecas.” Well, that wasn’t very satisfying for my insatiable need to know. I was able to turn up, courtesy of Wikipedia, that: “Huasteca is a geographical and cultural region located in Mexico along the Gulf of Mexico which includes parts of the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Puebla, Hidalgo, San Luis Potosí, Querétaro, and Guanajuato.” Since Las is a feminine article, I’m going out on a limb with a translation “two women from Hueastecas” as the meaning of the name! But I digress. What really matters here is the food, and there you will not be disappointed, whether you speak Spanish or not. Chips and salsa are provided, naturally, and I highly recommend you get the guacamole, which is to die for, and made fresh for each order. That freshness shows in every bite.

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Lilly Pad Village

Lilly Pad Village

Geza Csuros came to Blue Ridge ten years ago, and never left. That seems to happen a lot up here. Originally from Hungary, he was on vacation from his home in Naples, Florida and the natural beauty of this area, coupled with the desire for a less stressful lifestyle, made the move a no-brainer. He purchased property on Aska Road, just beyond the famous sluice where the tubers exit the mighty Toccoa, and opened a coffee shop. The success of the coffee shop led to live music on a beautiful deck he built himself, with guests able to bring their own refreshments (this was well before pouring licenses were available in our area) and linger to enjoy the great bands.

Over time, mini-golf, fishing and gem mining replaced the coffee shop & live music, and they constitute the Lilly Pad Village as it exists today.

The covered gem mining is a favorite for young and old, and the goal is an activity that provides both fun and education. Purchase a bucket of gemstone dirt and use the flumes to wash away the dirt and reveal your finds! One of the staff gem experts is with you during your visit to answer any questions and assist in not only identifying your treasures, but providing interesting information on each piece.

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Silk Road Traveler

Silk Road Traveler

Between preparing for the first annual TroutFest and a week of stay-cation, it’s been a while since we’ve had a business of the week! I love when serendipity steps in and throws what you need right into your lap; Monday night’s yoga class was held at Silk Road Traveler, and I knew from the moment I walked in that I had to feature them.

Estella Priede is the proprietor of what is actually a foundation (see theosophyfoundation.org and/or blavatsky.net), which maintains a storefront in downtown Blue Ridge, dedicated to ‘promoting the essence of oneness.’

Their website describes their offerings in a manner that I cannot improve upon...

Silk Road Traveler, nestled in the mountain city of Blue Ridge, Georgia, invites you to come and discover this enchanting specialty store, designed to be an enlightening shopping experience, where you can find products focused on enhancing your well-being, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We carry one of a kind jewelry pieces, made by local artists out of semi-precious stones and sterling silver, and our unique jewelry gathered from the four corners of the earth. Along with our distinctive gifts, fair trade artifacts, chimes and other singular items for the home and garden, we carry lanterns and specialty candles to light your cabins. We carry aromatherapy oils and homeopathic remedies, as well as natural lotions and soaps to soothe your body. Incenses to enhance your meditation and well being, and videos, audios, music and books, all by cutting-edge new thought artists and writers, to entertain and enlighten you.

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The Village Restaurant

The Village Restaurant

Every once in a while, I get a hankering for a veggie omelet that will not be denied. When the craving hit two weeks ago, I headed out with David to our favorite breakfast place, only to discover a “we’ve closed” sign on the door. I was heartbroken. David suggested we try The Village Restaurant, and off we went. 

Now, Blue Ridge has been a part of my life at some level for over 18 years. The Village has been there that entire time, and yet for whatever reason, I’d never been. I am so deeply grateful that we have now remedied that situation!

If you’re looking for high falutin’, ostentatious or pretentious, The Village Restaurant is not for you. Move along. BUT, if you’re looking for a place with vintage charm, down home grub, and local atmosphere, then keep reading!

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N & N Florist

N & N Florist

Blue Ridge, GA has been part of my life, first as a vacation retreat, then as home, for 18 years. As I chatted with Katherine at N & N Florist today, we attempted to come up with how long Copperhill, TN native, Becky Howard, has owned this business. Like Sue’s Burgers, and even our beautiful 3,300 acre lake, it’s just one of those things that’s “always been there.”

For factual accuracy, Becky has had the business for 24 years, but Jo Nichols owned it for 10 years prior to that, so it has been part of the fabric of Blue Ridge for quite some time. 

N & N is a full-service florist that will meet your needs with cheerful and professional service. Fresh arrangements are available in the shop, and with a bit of notice (7-10 days) they are able to accommodate special orders. Above the Rest has used N & N for years, and so it is with great confidence that I can tell you they will go above and beyond to get any particular flower you desire. They’ve never failed to deliver what our guests request!

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Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company

Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company

I missed a week in our Business of the Week/Getting to Know Blue Ridge series, but in all fairness, I had a plan. It just turned out that my plan was a very bad one!

Since last week marked the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, The Boro Inn Irish Pub seemed a natural choice. I stopped by early afternoon-ish on Monday, but alas, they were not open. So, David and I decided to pop in on St. Patrick’s Day. Needless to say, the atmosphere was not conducive to getting the back-story on the business. Revelers were everywhere, and we had a *really* good time, but I did not get a story. Fear not, I will try again in the future.

And, although this week’s feature is later than usual, it’s only because I learned so much touring the Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company that I had to do background research before writing this! Stick with me; I think you’ll enjoy, and gain beneficial knowledge as well.

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Blue Ridge Brewery

Blue Ridge Brewery

Pat and Polena Walker met in Austria. Pat was from Florida, but his parents were teaching abroad at the time. Polena, originally from Russia, happened to be there at the same time. They met, fell in love, married, and eventually returned to the U.S., landing in Fannin County. (Pat’s father had since bought land and a home here, so it seemed a natural choice.) 

How fortunate for us! As owners of the popular Blue Ridge Brewery, Pat and Polena have created a restaurant that is part casual-but-chic dining (front), and part bar/local hangout (back). The combination works beautifully. 

We have dined at the Brewery many times, and stopped in last night for a late dinner, opting to eat in the back bar (there are two) where the stage for the live music is located. While no one was performing last night, it was lively and packed with patrons of all ages. (Those preferring a quieter dining experience, and there were many, were having their meal in the front of the house.)

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Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

Sarah Auman knows gourmet living. As the proprietor of Out of the Blue, one of Blue Ridge, Georgia’s finest and most popular shops, she has, over the past 13 years, created a brand whose tag line of “gourmet living” could not be more appropriate.

Walking into her bright, charming, colorful store filled with culinary delights, fine wines from around the world, impressive French country linens and a plethora of beer selections is like walking out into the sunshine after a long day in a cave.

Sarah has been a fixture in Blue Ridge since 2003. Her store is dedicated to every detail of fine entertaining, style, and living. The selection of wines from around the world is impressive, but not as impressive as her knowledge of each one, and her unique ability to select whatever it is that you are looking for. I wanted an Old Vine Zinfandel that was lush, full-bodied and bold. She directed me to Earthquake, which is hands down the best wine I’ve had in quite some time. If you tell her what you like, she WILL match you with the perfect bottle. The key is her ability to listen; she loves interacting with her clients, and she pays attention. 

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The Chocolate Express

The Chocolate Express

Dennis and Linda took over the reins of The Chocolate Express, buying the company in 2008 after an exhaustive search of North Georgia for just the right business in just the right town.

Florida residents for a decade and half, they were ready for something new, and Dennis immediately recognized that Blue Ridge was THE town on his scouting trip

After a 10 day crash course in ‘biz-ops’ from the previous owners, they began their new life and have never looked back. Above the Rest has enjoyed a long relationship with them, as they provide the chocolates for our romance and other packages! They are truly wonderful people.

When you walk into their charming shop, you are pleasantly greeted, and maybe a bit overwhelmed by the selection of hand-dipped chocolates they sell. My personal favorite are the giant peanut butter cups, and the chocolate covered cherries, although the truffles are darn tasty as well.

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A Taste of Amish

A Taste of Amish

It’s a bit embarrassing that A Taste of Amish has been operating in our little town for 5 years, at two different locations, and yesterday was my first visit. It’s embarrassing because I hail from Pennsylvania Dutch/Amish country, and I absolutely love Lebanon bologna. And, A Taste of Amish sells it. So here I’ve been, a generally happy transplant to the South for 20+ years, and the one thing I miss like crazy is for sale, right here in my hometown. 

Suffice it to say, now that my ignorance of this has been cured, I shall never do without my beloved treat again!

Formerly located on First Street, and now occupying much larger space in the Dunbarton Farms shopping center (where Cohutta Feed and Cohutta Cove mini golf are located), A Taste of Amish offers a plethora of treats for your taste buds, as well as home décor, cookbooks, and miscellany. 

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Blue Ridge Cotton Company

Blue Ridge Cotton Company

The snow set us back a week in our “Getting to Know Blue Ridge – Business of the Week” series, but it’s gone and we’re back at it!

I’ve been dying to get into the Blue Ridge Cotton Company and check them out ever since our regular guests, Team James, raved about it during their visit last September. Today, I finally got there. (Hey, being a small business owner who is extremely hands on isn’t about eating bon-bons and lounging in your PJs all day, you know!)

Owned by Gary Steverson and Josh Durst, the Blue Ridge Cotton Company features “clothing, inspirational items, accessories, journals and gifts.” Well. Anyone who knows anything about me knows they had me at “journals.” It’s quite true; I suffer from a severe paper fetish. 

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Adventure Trail Rides

Adventure Trail Rides

We happened to be in the Cashes Valley area yesterday and saw a sign for Adventure Trail Rides. Ever curious, and needing a Business of the Week, we decided to check them out (translation: show up uninvited!)

Magan, the barn manager, was on the phone with a client when we arrived, but Olaf, her HUGE Mastiff/Rottie mix, kept us entertained while we waited. He looks intimidating, but he’s a big ole luv bug.

We also visited with two of the horses that were in the arena, Jethro being particularly sweet, and watched the antics of the many chickens that were running about. (Note to self: must get chickens!)

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Mesquite Grill

Mesquite Grill

I distinctly remember, several years back, having friends visit and heading out to one of our favorite ‘kid-friendly’ haunts, Monte Alban, for dinner. When the server came around to take our drink orders, one of our guests asked for a Corona Light, and we had to chuckle and advise that wasn’t an option. My how times have changed!

While Monte Alban still does not offer beer/wine (I believe their proximity to the church just a few doors down precludes them from obtaining a license), the owners have worked around this by opening a new establishment, The Mesquite Grill, in the former KFC building.

When you visit, you’ll quickly realize this is NOT just Monte Alban with a bar. The menu items are similar, but the food is distinctively more upscale. Don’t misunderstand, we love Monte Alban, but Mesquite’s offerings seem fresher with delicious herbs, interesting flavor combinations and the salad isn’t just a piece of tomato over a few leaves of iceberg lettuce.

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The Kiln

The Kiln

I walked into a spacious room with picnic tables, colorful mats laid out like place settings, nice music, and a friendly host, but this was no restaurant. No, I had entered “The Kiln”, the new pottery studio in the Hampton Square Building, the large brick building on the corner of Hwy 5 and Mountain Street (occupying the space next to Blue Jeans Pizza)

On this day, Spencer, who usually runs the kilns and finishes/polishes the pieces was pulling extra duty as manager, but on a typical day Sara Morales would be running the upstairs ops. Charming, courteous and helpful, Spencer is an absolute gem and a true asset to this business.

The clean, uncluttered space and modern décor immediately set a soothing mood. There was only one person busy at work when I arrived, but that rapidly changed during my stay. Lola, the young lady working on a Christmas tree plate during an outing with her grandmother, was doing a very nice job and enjoying herself immensely.

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Alpine Deli & Cafe

Alpine Deli & Cafe

There’s a new taste sensation on the block, especially if your taste runs to authentic German cuisine! 

Alpine Deli & Cafe, located in the former SunTrust Bank building at 204 W Main Street, is the real deal. Owner Henry Ferhmann came to the United States in 1955, and has a long history in the restaurant/deli business. His father developed the recipes for Schaller Weber and Boars Head brand sausages, the latter the brand of meats that are well known and loved in this area, and which he uses in their deli platters when providing catering services.

Henry retired to the Blue Ridge area in January of 2015, but quickly found himself eager to be in business again. “I’m a people person,” he said. “I enjoy providing jobs to young people and training/developing them.”

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L&L Beanery

L&L Beanery

Continuing our "Getting to Know Blue Ridge" Series!

When you come to Blue Ridge, you won’t find a lot of franchises crowding the streets, but that isn’t to say we don’t have a fine coffee shop. 

L & L Beanery, located in historic downtown Blue Ridge, offers gourmet coffee, drinks and a whole lot more.

Housed in the town’s historic bank building, it’s not surprising that in the original bank’s walk-in safe you find an amply supply of their valuables: coffee. With a huge stone fireplace and hearth, high pressed-tin ceilings and an eclectic mix of antique seating, L & L Beanery exudes the ‘olde tyme’ charm that abounds in Blue Ridge.

At The Beanery, as the locals call it, the coffee is always fresh, but blends vary each week. Grab a steaming cup of coffee, a smoothie, frappe, cappuccino, or latte, settle in with a newspaper, enjoy the free Wi-Fi, and chat with your neighbors.

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Fightingtown Tavern

Fightingtown Tavern

If you’re seeking something a little different, a little funky, and a lot FRESH for lunch or dinner, then you will want to check out Fightingtown Tavern, located at 511 E Main Street (above the Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company) in downtown Blue Ridge. 

Proprietors Rhonda & Jim Caruthers are all about the fresh in their menu offerings. Our extremely knowledgeable server, Jackie, explained, “Nothing is processed or frozen. The beef is local from Ellijay and grass-fed. We source local greens, and we even make our own sauces.” She wasn’t kidding either: they make their own ketchup and it is delish! 

Their website slogan is “Hard Rock Cold Brew” and the music is pumped up, so if you’re looking for a place to quietly snuggle and romance your honey, this might not be the best choice. But the tunes are great (grunge, rock classics) and the bar and patio are set up for fun!

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Indulgence Studio

Indulgence Studio

How often does the opportunity to get one’s hair styled by a Four-Time Emmy Award Winning stylist present itself to the average person? And, for a reasonable price? In a small mountain town? 

Well, if that small mountain town happens to be Blue Ridge, GA, home of Jack Morton’s Indulgence Studio, the answer is, “readily, but by appointment only please.”

A long-time fixture in Buckhead, Jack opened his Blue Ridge location at 287 Church Street nine years ago, dividing his time between the two. For the past five years, however, the mountains have been home to Jack full-time.

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Love Dogs and Cats Too

Love Dogs and Cats Too

Blue Ridge is most definitely a pet-friendly town, and Love Dogs and Cats Too has been a big part of that tradition for many years. Owner Ricki Smart has manned the helm of this must-visit shop for 8 years, and it reflects her passion for animals from top to bottom. 

Located at 777 E Main Street, on the other side of Depot Street from the train, the shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. 

The bakery-style dog treats, and treats in general, are a huge seller, but you will also find the highest quality pet foods, toys, collars, beds and all manner of products for your companion animals. 

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