top of page

Best Restaurants in Asheville—A Local’s Perspective

The other day I read an article in the Citizen-Times. Turns out little old Asheville’s ranks number nine on Tripadvisor’s Traveler’s Choice awards for the best food destinations not just in NC, not just in the South, but in the entire nation. 

That’s top ten, baby. But what’s not being accounted for here is the fact that Asheville sits just short of 100,000 inhabitants. Where else can you find so many awe-inspiring restaurants in so small a town? I mean number one’s New Orleans; they’re a mammoth in comparison.

So I ran the numbers and it turns out, pound for pound, Asheville has the best restaurants in the whole country. I’m organizing my own awards ceremony as we speak. There’ll be live goats.

But in the meantime, I figured I’d check out what Tripadvisor’s many tripaholics are saying about the Paris of the South. What are these reviews and these “traveler’s choices” that landed us in the top ten anyways? 

I’ve covered award winning restaurants before, but this time, I wanted to see what the people of the world think, and what I can say in answer to their top five picks.

best restaurants in Asheville - fried fish
Image from Unsplash

Now I fancy myself a sort of expert on the subject of eating things—especially in Asheville—so imagine my surprise when I came upon an entry I did not recognize. But then I took a look at their menu. Buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches. Fried Carolina catfish po’ boys. Brunch complete with eggs benedict and country sausage sage gravy. 

Something was ringing a bell here, and then I figured it out: when I knew Fork Lore, they were the Roux at the Hilton Biltmore Park.

Same location, different name, revamped menu with a redoubled focus on those comforting dishes famed in Southern hospitality, plus a bar stocked with the finest local brews. It's an all-around good deal; attached to a hotel in south Asheville’s epicenter for shopping and dining, while just a short drive away from downtown, and the Blue Ridge’s southerly trails.

Not a bad first pick, tripaholics. Not bad.

Hours: 6:30am to 10pm, Monday through Thursday. Open until 11pm Fridays. 7am to 10pm Sundays. I recommend a show at the Regal, followed by dinner right here.

best restaurants in Asheville - mexican food
Image from Wix

To quote a wise man from an age long ago: “I love Mexican food.” The wise man was me, and the long ago was last week, but his words still ring true in the hearts of many, as evinced by this standout among the best restaurants in Asheville.

You’ll find La Rumba in east Asheville, seldom sung in comparison to say downtown or the west, but with plenty of awesome things to do in in its own right. The WNC Nature Center for one. And lunch at La Rumba for another.

What can I say? The allure of Latin fare, as always, is that unimpeachable combination of steaming tortillas and perfectly marinated meat. Whether you get it in their street tacos, their carne asada, or guajillo short ribs sourced from local favorite Hickory Nut Gap Farms, you’re in for a treat.

Hours: 8am to 9:30pm, Monday through Saturday. Closes at 8pm on Sundays.

best restaurants in Asheville - sliced steak
Image from Unsplash

As we head up Tripadvisor’s favorites here, we start to get a little more high profile. That said, I don’t think I’ve covered Jargon yet, but by golly it's a west Asheville icon, sitting right between installments of Dobra Tea and the Hop. It doesn’t get much more local than that. 

Here they serve what gourmands call “New Americana,” which is to say, whatever the chef darn well feels like. Which is okay by me when their eclectic menu—every shifting with the availability of fresh ingredients—comes up with pork loin katsu and sunburst farms trout a la caviar. 

If you’re in town for a special occasion, Jargon might just be the place for you. Chic ambience, unbeatable presentation, cultured cocktails, and mouth-watering desserts. In short, one of the best restaurants in Asheville for celebrations and memorable meals.

Hours: 5pm to 9pm, Sunday through Thursday. Open until 10pm Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations recommended.

best restaurants in Asheville - plate of oysters
Image from Unsplash

With the amount of accolades Jettie Ray’s got under their belt, it was no surprise to find them ranked among the best restaurants in Asheville. 

Located off Charlotte Street, just north beyond the bustle of downtown, frankly I can’t think of a better place for fresh seafood in all of WNC. As far as weight class, I’d say they’re like Jargon; you come here for fine dining, and special occasions. Or to satisfy the sudden longing for a few dozen oysters. That situation I’m sure is familiar to one and all. 

Aside from their namesake, here you can enjoy all the highbrow classics rendered from the sea’s bounty: duck and shrimp gumbo, bouillabaisse, whole chilled lobster, and Siberian caviar, rounded out with bread service from the equally famous OWL Bakery. 

And if you’re like me, and sometimes simple gets it done, I recommend the fish & chips or a shrimp po’ boy, both exemplars of the South’s great seafood tradition. Bet you didn’t think you’d find all that up here in the mountains.

Hours: 5pm to 9pm, Sunday through Thursday. Open until 9:30pm Fridays and Saturdays. Closed Mondays. Reservations recommended.

best restaurants in Asheville - lasagna
Image from Unsplash

Finally, at the top of the list, one of the restaurants that landed Asheville among the top ten places for food in all of the USA, I give you our very own Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian. Of course it's gonna be an Italian restaurant, right? Spaghetti wins again. 

And you know, as far as Italian restaurants in Asheville are concerned, I have to agree with Tripadvisor’s sources here. They’re the best at what they do. Specifically, I am thinking of the garlic knots. If you know, you know.

Usually I go for something cheesy: baked ziti or twice baked lasagna if I’m feeling crazy. It pairs so nicely with the knots. But then again, if I feel the need to “Feed my blood,” in the immortal words of 1987’s Moonstruck, you can bet I’m having chicken marsala or a bowlful of meatballs. 

I got to say, if these restaurants represent how the people of the world see dining in Asheville, well, I’m proud. They picked some good ones. 

Hours: 4:30 to 9pm, Sunday through Thursday. Open until 9:30pm Fridays and Saturdays. Find them both in north Asheville, off Merrimon Avenue, as well as in the south. 

Businesses Mentioned

Fork Lore


43 Town Square Blvd, Asheville, NC 28803

La Rumba Restaurant Latino

(828)-505-2128 105 River Hills Rd suite C, Asheville, NC 28805



715 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806

Jettie Rae's Oyster House


143 Charlotte St, Asheville, NC 28801

Vinnie's Neighborhood Italian (North)


641 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804

Vinnie's Neighborhood Italian (South)


1981 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville, NC 28803


Immaculate cottages in Asheville

Asheville Cottages

"The cleanest place I've ever stayed"

We hear that all the time.


Each of our immaculate and luxurious cottages offer crystal clear hot tubs, fireplaces, gas grills, rocking chairs plus more, WAY more.

Search "Cleanest cottages in America" to see what we mean.

bottom of page