Time passes without end. You can write a monument to your hometown’s culinary excellence, but one day—inevitably— it will become dated. New restaurants open in Asheville like the rhododendrons blooms in spring. That is my dilemma.
Rather than go back and re-write the “Best Indian Restaurants in Asheville,” or what have you, every time a new restaurant rises to the top, I’ve engineered an ingenious solution. I’ve chosen lumping over splitting. Aggregation over separation. In short, I’m just shouting out the most fascinating restaurants in Asheville that’ve opened in the past six months or so, and hoping you get as excited about them as I am.
This season of new openings is a good one. Not that the next season will be anything to sniff at, I'm sure.
This entry caught my eye on one cold downtown afternoon. Wandering as I do, I passed by the Grove Arcade and noticed a sign for Hawaiian barbecue. “That wasn’t there before,” I said to myself. Indeed, it was not there before. But before what? I cannot say.
In any case, if you’ve come to Asheville to sample the local BBQ, you’ve got to put this place on your list. Huli-marinated chicken, beer battered shrimp, and “Loco Moco" (Your choice of meat with French onion gravy and an over easy egg) stand out alongside their more traditional BBQ fare, such as pulled pork sandwiches and ground brisket burgers . Pair your meal with a tropical cocktail and/or a thick slice of lilikoi cheesecake for added delight.
Hours: Thursday through Monday, noon to 8pm. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
At long last, South Asheville has come to enjoy the breakfast-y privileges that Early Girl has long provided to the West and downtown. Those who know me know I love my breakfast, and Early Girl serves it all day, every day. Suffice to say: I’m in their corner.
But we’re not just talking about any old breakfast here. We’re talking about farm-to-table Southern breakfast. Biscuit French toast, fried chicken and waffles, buttermilk pancakes and twelve-hour slow-roasted pork. Yes, slow roasted pork is a breakfast food. Welcome to the South.
Hours: 8am to 8pm, every day.
This self-described “casual Hispanic kitchen” serves up quality arepas in the famous South Slope brewing district, where you can find some of the best beer in Asheville. Personally, if I’m hankering for a night on the town with my coolest compatriots, I don’t see why I wouldn’t suggest a few arepas to get us in the mood.
You can get them with ropa vieja, pork shoulder, chorizo, or pepiada. You can get them with a side of tostones, mamposteao, amarillos, or my favorite: yuca fries. South Slope, watch out.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11:30am to 5pm. Closed Mondays. Visit before 330pm for a special deal on “lonchera,” served with rice and beans, escabeche salad, and pickled cabbage.
Nestled up in the northern end of the River Arts District, this offshoot of Bull & Beggar serves sophisticated burgers in a casual atmosphere. Their double cheeseburger might be familiar to you, but once you get into lobster rolls with fire roasted green chillies, pressed pork on Spanish style buns, and vada pav with tamarind chutney, you know you’re in some serious foodie territory.
Take your meal to their outside seating and enjoy the fair weather of one of Asheville’s most iconic districts. Maybe not in March. It’s a bit cold. But in proper Spring and Summer, now that’s a good warm time. And made all the better by Baby Bull’s “Burger Mondays:” a burger, fries, and a beer (or soda) for only $10.
Plus, $5 bottles of Lambrusco. That wouldn’t be the first drink that comes to mind when I think “hamburger,” but now that I've heard of the pairing, it seems like a pretty good idea.
Hours: Noon to 9pm. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Closes at 8pm on Sundays. Note that the kitchen takes a well-deserved break from 3pm-4pm.
Today’s culinary journey ends with us back in downtown Asheville, where many of the best restaurants can be found. Holeman and Finch lies on Biltmore Avenue’s final stretch before it crosses with Patton at downtown’s center. Not a bad location if you ask me.
This eatery rides the line between fancy-casual and casual-fancy, all steeped in the cuisine of Appalachia. If that makes any sense at all. What I mean is: you can order a cheeseburger or fish and chips, but you’d be missing out on some downright extravagant items on the upscale side of their menu. Oysters, charcuterie, cast-iron rabbit, roasted bone marrow, veal brains, and madeira wine.
If that sounds decadent enough, just take a look at their brunch. Frittatas with duck confit, sourdough griddle cakes, country pork chop schnitzels, and build-your-own bloody mary’s. Sounds to me like the epitome of dining in downtown Asheville.
Hours: Monday through Wednesday 4pm to 10pm. Thursdays and Fridays 4pm to 11pm. Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 10pm.
Huli Sue's BBQ and Grill (828)-505-0397
1 Page Ave SUITE 150, Asheville, NC 28801
Early Girl Eatery (South)
1378 Hendersonville Rd Suite A, Asheville, NC 28803
134 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
1 Roberts St, Asheville, NC 28801
Holeman + Finch Asheville
77 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801