West Asheville’s one of the most enticing parts of town, chock full of cafes, vintage clothing stores, and with Carrier Park and the River Arts District right around the corner. If you’re going to visit this fine section of my hometown, I figure you’re going to want to eat, at some point in the day, and so I’ve taken a look at some of the best places to eat in West Asheville.
Asheville’s known as a regional hotspot for vegan and vegetarian cuisine, and you can find it at its best here at the Gypsy Queen in West Asheville. Specializing in Lebanese street food, Gypsy Queen offers all the staples you'd expect of Mediterranean fare: hummus, baba ghanouj, falafel wraps and—in a break from tradition—vegan poutine. They are, after all, known for toom-and-tahini fries.
For the carnivores among you, they’ve got lamb, beef, and chicken shawarma, sold by the plate or the quart. Wash it down with a bottle of jun from Shanti Elixers, a local brand of fermented green tea.
Hours: 11:30am to 9pm, daily.
Located on Haywood Road, one of West Asheville’s main arteries, the Universal Joint prides itself on a casual neighborhood atmosphere, rotating local beers, and a dog-friendly patio. Their menu’s split between Tex-Mex and mix-and-match Americana. The former means pork belly tacos, Southwest chicken quesadillas, while the latter lets you choose between bison patties, bean patties, angus chuck, or chicken, and pair it with everything from smoked bacon to pimento cheese.
It’s the perfect place to catch a game with friends and a cold drink, or simply relax after a long day of hiking the Blue Ridge.
Hours: 11:30am to midnight, Sunday through Thursday. 11:30 to 1am, Fridays and Saturdays.
If you’re looking for not only dining in West Asheville, but fine dining, look no further than Jargon. Here they serve what they call “New American,” which means eclectic, unconventional, and upscale, but without the requirement of formal attire. This season’s menu includes summer squash croquettes, saffron pappardelle with Calabrian chili sausage and South Carolina peaches, double-cut pork chops with bacon-sherry gastrique, and whole roasted trout served with—wait for it—trout caviar.
For dessert you can delight in an orange creamsicle brulee or malted milk ganache. Or, you can go next door to the Hop for some of Asheville’s but ice cream, in a cornucopia of flavors you can find nowhere else.
Hours: 5pm-9pm Sunday through Thursday. 5pm-10pm Fridays and Saturdays.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and more importantly, my favorite. And so it's with great pride that I can hold up the Sunny Point Café as not only one of the best breakfast restaurants in West Asheville, and not only one of the best places in Asheville, but one of the best places for breakfast in the entirety of Western North Carolina.
What makes it so great? Well, Sunny Point puts the “Southern” in Southern breakfast. Eggs benedict with fried green tomatoes, omelets de jours—with ingredients from the on-site garden—French toast stuffed with cheese and sausage, shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles with pimento cheese, and of course, house made biscuits. Round out your brunch with a candied pecan latte or a margarita, and I promise you will feel greatly invigorated.
They also offer weekly dinner specials, starting at 4pm. Tuesdays offer burgers and beer, with drafts for only two dollars. Thursdays see a specialty tequila-based libation, and Saturday's half off all bottles of wine. If you take a particular liking to any of Sunny Point’s dishes, you can even find their recipes on the café's website.
Hours: 8:30am-8:30pm, Tuesday through Saturday. 8:30am-2pm Sundays and Mondays.
Out of all the fine restaurants of West Asheville, I find myself going out for ramen at Itto more often than not. The reason is quite simple: I will do anything for a ramen-soaked egg. But even if you don’t share my tastes in that regard, I think you’ll find Itto serves some downright dazzling East-Asian tapas.
I’m talking a crawfish tower with chopped avocado, dynamite shrimp, takoyaki balls, crab rangoon, grilled whole squid, cheese karokke croquettes, and fried oyster with yuzu. That’s not even getting into the ramen. You can get it with pork, or tofu, and with a variety of broths from miso, to curry. My personal favorite is the deluxe, with black sesame oil and chasu pork.
As any well-versed diner knows, seafood and ramen are salty affairs. That’s why Itto offers a slew of refreshing local beer and sake, including mango nigiri and takara plum wine. And now as a final note: tempura cheesecake. That is all.
Hours: Noon to 10pm, daily.
Gypsy Queen Market and Deli
807 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28806
784 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
715 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
Sunny Point Café
626 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
Itto Ramen Bar & Tapas
630 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806