DILLARD, Georgia, Feb. 24, 2013 –A meal at the Dillard House is a true Southern gastronomic experience.
Come hungry is good advice, but it hardly prepares one for the size of this meal. Jokes aside, the Dillard House meal is a great introduction to Southern cooking for anyone who may be unfamiliar with it.
Just be prepared to take a nap afterwards. The folks at The Dillard House wouldn’t have it any other way.
The dessert bar caught my eye as I walked into the dining room. “I can’t wait for that,” I thought to myself.
As we pulled up to a table, the waitress suggested we help ourselves to some soup, cheese and crackers while we waited for the hot food to arrive. Not thinking about what was to come, I opted for a few slices of cheese, deviled eggs and chili.
As we returned to the table, we saw a waiter and a waitress piling food on our table – so much, it required two people to unload the bounty. In hindsight, they should have delivered a second table to handle this feast, which looked like an appropriate amount of food to serve a family of 12, not two.
There must have been 12 million calories on the table before us, from country ham to ribs to fried green tomatoes. All the major Southern food groups were represented here: fried, butter, salt and sugar.
This Smorgasbord has to be one of the best deals going. The restaurant is more or less a sit-down buffet, requiring minimal effort to refill one’s plate. Best of all, when the table runs out of a particular dish, the restaurant’s staff will happily bring you as much as you can stand to eat.
They’ll even pack a to-go box.
The Dillard family’s ties to the region date to the late 18th century, when Capt. John Dillard was granted 1,000 acres as a reward for his service in the American Revolution. To make peace with the local Cherokee Indians, Dillard, the story goes, traded various items, including a jug of apple brandy, a coonskin cap, a muzzle-loading rifle and $3 in cash.
Starting in the early 20th century, Arthur and Carrie Dillard opened their house to boarders, marking the start of what would be a long tradition of hospitality. In the 1950s, the family expanded the restaurant and added a hotel.
Throughout its history, a number of celebrities have stopped in for a meal, from Thomas Edison to Henry Ford to Walt Disney. Today, the Dillard House prides itself on offering a true country experience in addition to a warm place to stay and a filling meal.
The House is located along U.S. Highway 441 in the Little Tennessee River Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains and two miles from the North Carolina border. The location is beautiful and far away enough from civilization to let you forget about the worries back home for a few minutes.
After the epic meal, the grounds are the perfect way to walk off a few calories and delay the inevitable drive back home.
Todd DeFeo is an award-winning reporter and marketer, but his true passion is seeking out the bizarre roadside attractions, one-of-a-kind roadhouses and unique destinations that make the world worth exploring. He is also editor of The Travel Trolley travel blog.
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