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Best Delis in Asheville—A Local’s Perspective

If you’re a longtime reader of Asheville Cottages, then you know talking about my hometown’s most tantalizing restaurants is one of my favorite activities. I’m more than drawn to it. I'm compelled. Sometimes I snag people off the street and shout: “Would you like to know about a great place for chopped brisket with awesome flavor and reasonable prices?!”


Usually they run away, but sometimes, to my satisfaction, they stay and listen. I’m here to help, after all. But in my fervor for highfalutin delicacies sometimes I overlook the simpler parts of Asheville’s food scene. That down-to-earth, heart-warming fare that keeps us all going in fine health and finer spirits. 


Take the humble sandwich, for instance. They’re often overlooked, but with the right selection of cold cuts and condiments, you’ve got yourself a lunchtime delight, perfect for an intermission in your exploration of downtown Asheville, or to wrap-up and take on a hike. What follows are the hottest places in town to grab yourself some sandwiches, in other words, the five best delis in Asheville. 


best delis in Asheville - roast beef sandwich
Image from Wix

Situated in Biltmore Park, south Asheville’s premier shopping and dining district, if you visit on the right day of the week and you may witness a man here wolfing down a sandwich and dark roast coffee with all the gusto of a hunger-crazed castaway. That man is me, and that sandwich a muffuletta, a bacon-egg-and-cheese, or any one of their exciting weekly specials. Pair it with a prime pick from their pastry cabinet, and you’ll be more than ready to take on the day. 


It’s a no-frills kind of place. They do sandwiches and they do them right, plus salads, breakfast bowls, and invigorating smoothies, perfect for an afternoon snack. Combine all that with fast and friendly service and you can see why Mosaic is one of the best delis in Asheville, especially among south Asheville locals. 


best delis in Asheville - dinner spread
Image from Unsplash

A longstanding staple among downtown eateries, Roman’s Deli is strategically situated just down the street from Harrah’s Cherokee Center and Malaprop’s Bookstore, with the Grove Arcade standing another five or so minutes away by foot. That’s to say: Roman’s makes for a convenient stop between visiting some of downtown Asheville’s foremost spots for shopping, site-seeing, and general entertainment.


And what’ll you find here? Well, nothing less than a selection of grass-fed local beef burgers, hot pressed paninis, and South Slope beer, all of which won Roman’s a spot among the twelve best delis in all of North Carolina. If you find yourself downtown, during your visit to Asheville I highly recommend stopping in and seeing for yourself.


Hours: 9:30am to 2:45pm, Monday through Thursday. Closed Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.


best delis in Asheville - cheesesteak sandwich
Image from Wix

What we got on our hands here is a cheesesteak shop, what many scientists consider a close cousin of the deli. It's a maximalist branch of the sandwich family, brought to us by those brave Philadelphians who once said “Sure, there’s meat in this sandwich, but what if there was more?”


That about sums up the philosophy at South of Philly, because they’re not just stopping at the original cheesesteak, folks. They’ve got buffalo chicken phillys, they’ve got Sweet Baby Ray’s steak phillys, they’ve got chicken-bacon-ranch philly’s, by golly, they got phillys with meatless meat. It’s a cheesesteak cornucopia out here, accompanied by poutine, crispy onion rings, and donair egg rolls, plus hearty slices of New York cheesecake for dessert.


As you can see, if you want your sandwiches big and bold, South of Philly is the deli in Asheville for you. And with the Asheville Mall sitting just a couple minute’s drive away, it’s a great spot to combine with some gift shopping, or loitering at Barnes and Noble, one of my own favorite afternoon activities. 


Hours: 11am to 10pm, Mondays through Saturdays. Closes at 8pm on Sundays.


best delis in Asheville - sub sandwich
Image from Unsplash

Located down Sweeten Creek Road from Biltmore Village, not far from great antiquing further north along Swannanoa River Road, not to mention the famous Biltmore Estate, Old School Subs prides itself on house-made rolls, and locally sourced ingredients, much of it coming from one of Asheville’s awesome farmer’s markets. Combine that with reasonable prices and subs stacked high with some of the finest meats in town, and you can see why I consider this place one of the best delis in Asheville.


But keep in mind the secret is out on this one. Come lunchtime it’s a hotspot for hungry locals. My recommendation is to order ahead, take it to-go, and enjoying your Old School sub picnic-style, off the Parkway.


Hours: 11am to 4pm Monday through Friday. Closes at 3pm on Saturdays. Closed on Sundays.


best delis in Asheville - sandwiches
Image from Wix

Back in downtown, we’ve got ourselves another local institution, serving great sandwiches both hot and cold since 1998, plus local craft beer. It is Asheville, after all.


Like many of Asheville’s downtown eateries, here at Loretta’s they’re not afraid to get creative with the menu, to really advance our shared understanding of the humble sandwich. Take "Nick's Pastrami Carnival,” for instance, jam packed with black olives, creole mustard, swiss and cheddar cheese, and of course, slice after slice of NY pastrami. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to use two different cheeses in a single sandwich; pure genius. 


Or take their number-one best seller, the “Heartbreaker:” chicken salad and hickory smoked bacon on house-baked light wheat. Bacon and chicken salad? A surprising combination, but more than functional. And without Loretta’s I doubt I would have stumbled upon it myself. 


Even beyond all that, they’ve got a great selection of vegetarian sandwiches, starring tempeh and ripe avocado. Suffice to say, this deli in Asheville has got a little bit of everything you could want from a sandwich spot, plus a great location, just across the street from my go-to downtown parking lot, and one block north of Dobra Tea.


Hours: 10:30am to 4pm, Monday through Friday. Closed on the weekends.


Businesses Mentioned

Mosaic Café

(828)-676-2446

1 Town Square Blvd Suite 150, Asheville, NC 28803

Roman's Deli & Catering

(828)-505-1552

75 Haywood St, Asheville, NC 28801

South of Philly

(828)-820-5422

4 S Tunnel Rd Ste 600, Asheville, NC 28805

Old School Subs & Deli

(828)-277-7750

55 Sweeten Creek Rd #131, Asheville, NC 28803

Loretta's Café

(828)-253-3747

114 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801




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