There truly is nowhere quite like Asheville. Between its almost mythological mountain culture and a long history of attracting the quirky and creative, this North Carolina gem is full of unique things to do whether you love the outdoors or like to wander streets full of French-inspired buildings. Of course, when you visit, one of the best things to do is check out its incredible restaurant scene! From Southern classics to innovative global cuisines, here are all my picks for where to eat in Asheville.
Where to Eat in Asheville (and Drink!)
Nothing quite says Southern food like some fluffy, buttery biscuits. With three locations around Asheville, you do not want to miss stopping by Biscuit Head at least once on your trip. Founders Jason and Carolyn Roy opened up their first location in 2013 with aim of combining their love of Southern cooking and commitment to keeping things local into the most perfect biscuit creations.
You can get a classic biscuits and gravy dish but there are also tons of sandwich options as well.
Benne on Eagle
Located in The Block, Benne on Eagletakes its inspiration from a Ghanian Adinkra symbol known as Sankofa, roughly translated as “go back and get it.” From the name to the décor to the menu, everything about this restaurant is inspired by the revitalization of a neighborhood that was once known as Asheville’s Black Wall Street.
James Beard Finalist Chef de Cuisine Cleophus Hethington has put together a menu that celebrates the culinary traditions of the African diaspora. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, be prepared for some truly mouthwatering takes on classic Southern favorites. Stop by after a Hood Huggers tour to learn more about the neighborhood’s history.
Edna Rhyne Distilling Company
In a city known as Beer Town USA, Edna Rhyne Distilling Company stands out for its spirits. Founders Chris Bower and Rett Murphy make sure to incorporate North Carolina into every spirit they create. Using the “ancient art of the hills,” they infuse their spirits, made of heirloom corn and grains, with foraged greenery and special mixes that have been passed down through generations.
You can visit their tasting room in Asheville’s Biltmore Village neighborhood. Stop by after visiting the iconic Biltmore Estate.
This one is for my vegan readers, though even vegan food skeptics will be raving about Plant. Opened in 2011, fruits and vegetables drive the menu. Led by founder and owner Chef Jason, the team here strives to constantly redefine the meaning of vegan cuisine. Do not skip the cheese board when you come.
What happens when you take Italian dishes and culinary traditions but use local Appalachian ingredients? The incredible Cucina 24. Situated in downtown Asheville, this Italian restaurant has been around since 2008 and was started by Chef Brian Canipelli after he moved to the area in 2003. Canipelli exclusively sources ingredients from North Carolina farms, breweries, distilleries (yes, Edna Rhyne is found here!), and gardens to create fresh and authentic Italian dishes. The menu changes daily to reflect produce options and seasons, but whatever you get, be prepared to feast!
Session Cafe & Bar
Located on the ground floor of the historic Citizen Times Building, Session Cafe & Baris part of the community aspect to Citizen Vinyl, a company that celebrates and continues the analog traditions of music recording.
Once you’ve checked out the record press and Coda Analog Shop, stop here for some deli classics, artisan coffee, and/or apertivo cocktails. All ingredients are sourced from local Asheville companies – Sunburst Trout Farm, Farm to Home, Chop Shop Butchery, and Eat More Bakery.
Chai Pani often tops most lists of where to eat in Asheville and for good reason! Ever since Chef Meherwan Irani set up shop in 2009, he’s been introducing locals and visitors to the incredible flavors of Indian street food. Irani mixes both Indian spices and Southern ingredients to create truly unique dishes. They recently even won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant.
If you only order one thing here, make it the okra dish. You will not be disappointed.
P.S. Pani also has a spice brand called Spicewalla Brand. If you find yourself wishing you had some of the spices from your meal to take home with you, you can!
Buxton Hall Barbecue
Another of Chef Irani’s restaurants, this time in collaboration with pitmaster Elliot Moss, Buxton Hall Barbecue is the place for BBQ in Asheville. The restaurant combines the traditions of Southern barbecue joints, like the many mom and pop varieties Moss grew up with in South Carolina, with innovative techniques to create some seriously delicious dishes.
The duo keeps it local, getting their pigs from Vandele Farms in nearby Lake Lure, and to keep food waste at a minimum, they make sure to use every part of the animal. If you’re with a group, get the smorgasbord option so you can try a variety of menu items from pulled pork to brisket and more.
Also, while you’re there, take a minute to appreciate the historic building in which it’s located. Through its 80+ years of history, it’s been everything from a paper sales company to a wood-floored roller rink!
While many restaurants in Asheville offer gluten-free alternatives, very few operate in an entirely gluten-free kitchen like Posana. With a warm atmosphere, this romantic farm-to-table restaurant in Historic Pack Square sources its seasonal menu items from over 65 local farms and businesses.
Their travels inspired Founders Peter and Martha Pollay in the fact that they wanted their restaurant to be the spot locals would recommend to out-of-town visitors to Asheville. After all, whenever they visit somewhere new, they specifically seek out local-recommended spots themselves and are never disappointed.
Craving some tapas? Head right over to Cúrate, an authentic Spanish restaurant that’s been well loved by locals for well over a decade. Run by Chef Katie Button, Cúrate is often seen as the beginning of Asheville’s rise as a foodie destination. Both the restaurant interiors and the menu will transport you straight to some quaint Spanish town. The best way to enjoy it is to order a number of the tapas and split with your friends!
If there’s a line between casual and refined dining, James Beard finalist Chef John Fleer is the master of walking it. Initially inspired by the “culture of food” while visiting Italy in college, Fleer built a storied career before opening Rhubarbin 2015. Whether it was as Mary Tyler Moore’s personal chef or transforming the luxurious Blackberry Farm in Tennessee into a top-tier hotel for dining, Fleer knows how to take the restaurant experience and turn it into something more.
With Rhubarb, Fleer wants guests to experience good food and good company in one. Sourced from local farms, the menu here is full of elevated American cuisine that truly represents Fleer’s concept of “foothill cuisine.”
Sunny Point Café
An absolute institution in West Asheville, Sunny Point Café is the ultimate in comfort food. This family-owned, independent restaurant is literally open from dawn to dark and utilizes a made-from-scratch, farm-to-table approach for their entire menu. They even have a garden next to the restaurant that you can walk through.
If you’re spending a weekend in Asheville, you will very likely find a line to get in, but I promise it’s well worth the wait! And, in case you were wondering, you can order breakfast for dinner.
Craving some authentic Mexican? Look no farther than Limones Restaurant,a staple of Asheville’s gastronomy for years. Chef Hugo Ramirez brings the flavors of his hometown, Mexico City, and combines it with his French-influenced Californian culinary training to create some seriously delicious dishes. Do not skip the ceviche! And, of course, like any good Mexican restaurant, the margarita menu is inventive and extensive.
Zebulon Artisan Ales
While there are plenty of breweries to visit in Asheville, if you want a really unique experience hop on over to nearby Weaverville to check out Zebulon Artisan Ales. On Fridays and Saturdays, this small brewery focuses on “historical, forgotten, and mythological” beer styles and classic Belgian and French farmhouse styles. Because they prefer to try something new with each brew, every visit will offer up something different from your last.
The S&W Market
With a history going back to the 1920s, The S&W Marketis Asheville’s very first food hall and a premier example of stunning Art Deco architecture. Originally it was designed to hold a location for the S&W Cafeteria chain from Charlotte.
Today the interior has been revitalized while maintaining its Art Deco styling and has both a bar and a taproom for Highland Brewing Company, Asheville’s original craft brewery. Additionally, it houses five food stalls including Buxton Chicken Palace (a spin-off of Buxton Hall Barbecue), Bun Intended, Farm Dogs, Peace Love Tacos, and The Hop Ice Cream.
And there you have it! A nice, big list of where to eat in Asheville to add to your itinerary. As you can see, this mountain town is home to a thriving and innovative community that both respects its mountainous location while allowing space for all sorts of cuisines from around the world to find a home. One thing is for sure, you will not be let down by the food here.