Watauga Lake Offers Several Great Eateries

Watauga Lake has long been known as one of the more beautiful lakes in the United State and numerous sources rank it as one of the three cleanest lakes in the country as well. One of the more common questions that we receive from potential visitors is, "Are there any restaurants on the lake?"  There are only a few choices, but what the area might lack in quantity – they more than make up for in quality.

The Captain’s Table and Lakeshore Marina is probably the longest operating restaurant on the lake and they have consistently offered great steaks and seafood for several years.

They are open March through October, Wednesdays through Sundays. The schedule for Wednesday and Thursdays is to open at 4pm and Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11am.

The Captain’s Table specializes in seafood and also serves tasty steaks, chicken and specials of the day such as crab cakes, barbecue ribs, seafood platter and fresh fried oysters.  You can park your boat at their dock and walk up the hill to the restaurant or stay at their cabins on site and stroll to the restaurant. The food and service are great and the view spectacular. Reservations recommended.

Visit their website at

The GRILL at Mallard Cove

Okay this may not be the name of the place, but there is a great little grill located within the Mallard Cove Marina ran by a husband and wife team that offers all of the normal service you’d expect from a small marina such as boat slips, gas and oil – and fishing supplies…but the grill cooks up some of the best burgers, chicken sandwiches, nachos and chees and more!  They cook the burgers on a gas grill out on the deck and while the "amenities" are very basic, you will enjoy the food and atmosphere.

Note: They have several, very friendly dogs running around and some of the biggest Carp that you’ll ever see that are all being fed way too often daily. Occasionally they’ve had some good old guitar-picking entertainment going on during weekends.

The Cove Ridge Marina Grill

There was some talk that they would not be open for the 2008 Summer season but that is not the case. Gary Hicks of Sycamore Restaurant in Elizabethton, TN is proud to announce that he is bringing "the best burger in town" to the Cove Ridge Marina Grill this summer season. Gary has been in the catering and restaurant business for the past twenty years.
His gourmet home-style hamburgers are prepared fresh everyday, and never frozen. With so many menu options, the Grill is guaranteed to have something you will enjoy.

They offer great burgers, mesquite chicken sandwiches, fish sandwiches, pizza and tons more!

They are open Friday, 10am – 8pm; Saturday, 10am – 8pm; Sunday, 11am – 6:30pm.

Shirley’s Home Cooking gets our "TOP CHOICE" for Lake dining!

That’s pretty much it from eateries ON the lake, however what may be the best restaurant in the area (within a five minute drive from Lakeshore Marina and Watauga Lake is "Shirley’s Home Cooking", located on Hwy 67 just down from the intersection of Hwy 321 and 67.

The restaurant is owned and operated by Grant and Shirley Sharpe with help from their sons Forrest and Jeff, daughter-in-law Angie, and grandchildren Austin and Kaylyn. Austin helps with breakfast and Kaylyn helps out in the Country Store. The Country Store has a wide variety of quilts, candies, wooden toys and various other handmade items.

Shirley’s has a lot to offer, including great food, live music, and a family atmosphere. They also offer carry-out and can accommidate large parties. Shirley’s cooking, which she learned first-hand from her mother, has made her restaurant one of the best in the area.

Grant is the original "chicken fryer." He started the mouthwatering tradition of some of the best fried chicken you will ever eat. And after some training, he passed on the tradition to his son, Jeff.

Shirley’s opened in 1990 with only threee tables, serving mainly local diners. However, word of Shirley’s homemade family style meals spread fast and renovations throughout the years allows Shirley’s to seat around 300 customers.

All the menu items at Shirley’s are made from scratch and if you order your meal family style, "just like at grandma’s," it’s all you can eat.

The menu items in the meat category are boneless breast fried chicken, fried country ham and Black Angus roast beef. Also on Friday’s meny is country fried stead with white gravy, Saturday is meat load and on Sunday chicken livers is the extra meat.

The vegetables are slow, cabbage, cornbread salad, fried apples, macaroni-and-cheese, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, soup beans, green beans and sweet carrots.

The homemade desserts are hot fudge cake, yellow cake with carael icing, peach, straqberry and cherry cobblers, banana pudding and "when Shirley takes a notion" pineapple upside down cake.

If breakfast is your meal, you should give Shirley’s a try. Family-tyle breakfast consists of fried country ham, sausage and bacon, biscuits and homemade sausage gravy, fried apples, grits, fried potatoes and eggs made to order. Shirley’s is open for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays from 8am until 10am.

Family-style is serious business at Shirley’s and it starts in the kitchen where Angie spends most of her time. With help from Becky, Judy, Mary and Travis, the prepare, dip up, and deliver the 13 platters of food to the waiting customers who have traveled far and wide to experience a meal at Shirley’s.

If you are looking for the best meal around…check out Shirley’s!

Visit their website at