If you ever wonder what makes the vegetables at the Dillard House so special, we will let you in on their secret--a 600 acre farm where they raise the corn, beans and okra served family style with an array of meats and other vegetables.
John Dillard and his son James bought 4 lots of 250 acres apiece in the valley of the Little Tennessee River in 1821, but Dillard and his family had moved to the area in 1794. A Revolutionary War veteran, John served under General Andrews Pickens during that war and later conflicts, although those were without the blessing of the fledgling U.S. government. The purchase of the land in 1821 was signed by his son James.
John died in 1842 at the age of 82. His son James became Justice of the Peace for the county and was elected to the state house in 1824. Andrew Jackson Ritchie, who founded the Rabun Gap-Nachoochee School, was a direct descendant of the Dillards.
In 1913 the home that became the Dillard House was built along the road that would become U.S. Highway 441. Located just south of the Georgia-North Carolina line, Dillard is nestled in the rugged mountains of northeast Georgia in Rabun County. Outdoors recreation is the main attraction, with fishing, hunting (in season) and hiking the major draws. In 1917 Arthur and Carrie Dillard rented a room to a circuit riding preacher and the rest is history.
A large sign marks the entrance to the Dillard House, and if traveling south on U.S. 441 you will have to pass through the town of Dillard to get to our stop. The grounds are beautifully kept with flowers in bloom whenever possible. During the Christmas the dining room was decorated in festive splendor with a large tree and roaring fire nearby.
Two dining areas are available, formal and informal, but we are partial to the informal. After a day of hiking at Tallulah Gorge or Rabun Beach one doesn't much feel like dressing up for dinner, and family style has always had an attraction for us. The wait was minimal, but can be long. To avoid a long wait we plan visits mid-morning or mid-afternoon. During leaf change the stop is extremely popular, and would be best to visit on the weekdays.
It seems that the fried chicken and vegetables are the dishes by which family style restaurants are judged, and Dillard House rates an A+. Two types of chicken are served, baked and fried. The fried offers a deep, dark breaded crust that was hot. Underneath tender and juicy meat steamed with every bite. The baked chicken was covered in a tangy barbecue sauce and was as juicy as the fried. Barbecue is a Georgia tradition and the Dillard House includes a plate of pulled pork and barbecue ribs with a tangy red sauce on the side. Smoked on premises, both are excellent.
Two types of squash and a unique okra dish highlighted the vegetables, although fried okra is also served depending on the day. Other vegetables served included traditional string and lima beans, diced potatoes and applesauce.
We would heartily recommend a visit to the Dillard House on any outing to Rabun County.
Yen Ching Chinese Restaurant
Ray's On The River
Dalton W&A Depot
Swallow at the Hollow