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Don’t Let Food Take You Out of Your Vacation: Al Fresco in Helen

It’s early fall, just before the Oktoberfest rush. This is a great time to be here in the Blue Ridge Mountains because it’s beautiful, comfortable, and easy to get around. You don’t go to the mountains to just see them out of the window—you want to feel the air, hear the sound of water running—you know, the whole sensory experience. In Helen, you don’t have to choose between being outside and a vacation from your usual cuisine. Fall is for Al Fresco dining! Whatever your meal goal, we have a spot: casual local fare, an elevated away-from-it-all culinary experience, a rootsy family picnic, or a party.

Troll Tavern

Quick and festive, on the river

The Troll Tavern is, as the name suggests, under a river bridge where tubers float by all summer. You can troll them (just kidding; be nice) or simply appreciate the scenic luster of the surrounding fall foliage. The German-ized pub food gets great reviews across the board, but the grilled reuben is known for its soft rye bread and huge size. It comes with a savory German mashed potato salad you simply have to experience to believe.

Nacoochie Valley Guest House

Back in time, off the clock

Bernie’s Restaurant is part of a small luxury bed and breakfast five miles from downtown. This house still looks much as it did when it was built in 1920 and has private gardens and lush views you can enjoy. The small staff is all about personalized service and fine dining that feels familiar. If you want to catch up with an old friend, Bernie’s is great for a leisurely meal, dessert, coffee, and maybe a stroll outside.

Try the crispy roast duckling with l’orange sauce—it’s a special dish entirely appropriate for experiencing in this peaceful place. You get a seasonal vegetable “du jour,” so whatever it is, it’s fresh and up front with flavor.

North GA BBQ

Patio or picnic

In case you forget what country you’re in, this is some of the best pork BBQ and Brunswick stew anywhere. The consistently moist meat and several signature sauces and sides earn a place on the Al Fresco list.

Get the Barbecue plate with potato salad and coleslaw. Have someone else order a Brunswick stew so you can try it or get a to-go cup of it on the side. North GA BBQ has outdoor patio seating, and there is a riverfront park a few hundred yards away, making it a great place to picnic.

Paul’s Margarita Deck

The Hunt for Deck Oktober is Ubër

Paul’s is the most happening party spot in Helen, with great walking-around and drinking food options. There are 10 large screen TVs—yes, they do show your game. The largest porch in Helen literally overhangs the Chattahoochee River. Try a bratwurst dog or angus burger and some jalapeno poppers on the side. If you’re fun cocktails, you can count on frozen signature drinks and any custom combination of liquor and mixer you can imagine. Check their calendar for live music too.

For other kostlich dining options in our gorgeous corner of the world, click here now!

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