#53 of 26 Asheville Restaurants

The Esmeralda

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The Esmeralda - Fine Dining & Breathtaking Mountain Views in Chimney Rock, NC
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

The Esmeralda combines fine dining with breathtaking views of Lake Lure, the beach, the Village, and the mountains. Professional staff, diverse menu options, and spacious seating make this inn-restaurant hybrid a standout dining spot for two or two dozen.

- The SmokyMountains.com Local Expert Team

Built by Colonel Tom Turner in 1891, The Esmeralda was later named after the book by Frances Hodges Burnett. Since then, it has been rebuilt several times, serving as a post office, hideout, and movie set before becoming the iconic inn and restaurant it is today. A unique blend of top-notch service, fresh, seasonal ingredients, rustic ambiance, and captivating lake and mountain views, The Esmeralda is a classy pick for any dining occasion.

The rotating menu sets The Esmeralda apart from other restaurants in Chimney Rock, NC. Whether you arrive in snow boots or flip-flops, you’ll experience the freshest, seasonal ingredients, many of which are sourced locally. This process supports the local community and brings out the best flavors and nutrition in the dishes. If you find the seasonal menu too limited, their blackboard specials offer even more seasonal freshness.

The Chef’s Table gives you a front-row view of Chef Keith Chinn in action as he prepares your dishes. We loved this experience because it shows the care and attention to detail with which your meal is prepared and adds fun and charm to the overall experience. You can also sign up for cooking classes!

The Esmeralda’s wooden decor blends nicely with large windows and ambient lighting. The overall atmosphere captures the inn’s rustic history, giving off a warm and inviting feel. It’s fine dining in a lakeside cabin at its best. Whether you’re stopping in for a romantic dinner, a family get together, or a celebration with friends, The Esmeralda offers something for everyone.

Some of our favorite dishes at The Esmeralda included:

Shrimp & Grits Spring Rolls
Start off your meal with a fun combination of Asian & Southern cuisine. The Esmeralda marries shrimp and creamy parmesan grits in savory tasso gravy. The couple honeymoons in a classic spring roll wrapper and is sent along with fresh local lettuces, a sherry vinaigrette, and a comeback sauce that will entice you to come back for another helping. But you’ll want to save room for the main event.

North Carolina Rainbow Trout
A dish that goes perfectly with the sparkling view of the surrounding Lake Lure, The Esmeralda’s rainbow trout is a treat for both the eyes and taste buds. Crusted in cornmeal, the local trout is served with an exquisite tomato & farro risotto, grilled spring onions, and zesty citrus preserves.

Loch Duart Salmon
No seafood lineup is complete without salmon. The Esmeralda’s take on the classic fatty fish combines Asian and Italian inspirations. Sourced fresh from Scottish waters, the salmon is glazed with soy and served with fluffy miso-ginger rice and baby bok choy. The tartness and zing of the dish is completed with a tart lemon confit, blistered heirloom grape tomatoes, and a light ginger broth.

Duck Three Ways
Whether you’re a fan of the aquatic fowl or looking for something gluten-free, The Esmeralda’s delectable duck dish is a winning pick. Pan-seared duck-breast combined with a confit croquette and cracklins makes for an explosion of exquisite flavor. The dish is balanced out with a classic parmesan risotto served with wild mushrooms and a light cherry glaze.

The Angus Burger
Sometimes you just want a big ol’ half-pound burger without any frills. Made from hand-ground Angus beef grilled to your ideal level of doneness, this single and hunger-busting entree is served on a toasted bun alongside what else but house-cut French fries.

Insider Tips:
-Due to the popularity of the inn for hosting special events such as birthday parties, wedding rehearsals, and other celebrations, we recommend calling in advance to make a reservation. Doing so will ensure that you can enjoy the atmosphere and the best food and service The Esmeralda has to offer.
-Booking a stay at the inn lets you enjoy a freshly prepared complimentary breakfast served every morning between 8:30-10am.