For my money, Asheville has some of the best restaurants in the entire Southeast. From tapas to tacos, I’ve covered quite a few of them. So, I asked myself: what’s missing? Nothing less than the regional food of WNC; a small yet stunning piece of that mouth-watering institution that is Southern cuisine.
Strap in and loosen your belt, because this week’s tour of the best Southern food in Asheville is chock full of comfort food, soul food, barbecue pits, and biscuits. Sounds like the perfect fuel for a hike through the Blue Ridge, if you ask me.
Starting in Asheville’s famous South Slope brewing district, Buxton Hall serves up their barbecue Eastern Carolina style. I’ll give them a pass on that “Eastern” part, because with their in-house butchering, and NC pigs, you know they’ve got commitment to the fine art of pork-smoking.
Their dinner menu changes daily, but here’s a little sample of what you might expect: BBQ mussels, and fried catfish with BBQ mop. Chicken bog, craft beers, bourbon-Cheerwine slushies, and of course, platters heavy with good old pulled pork. It’s some of the best barbecue in Asheville, and that’s saying something indeed.
Hours: Lunch served 11:30am to 3pm, Tuesday through Sunday. Dinner 5:30pm to 9pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Mondays.
I contend that at least fifty percent of Southern cuisine's allure lies upon the humble biscuit. When biscuits are good good, they’re real good, and Biscuit Head bakes some real good biscuits.
And yet, as the old saying goes, “A man cannot live on biscuits alone.” But not to fear. At Biscuit Head you can pair your breadstuffs with bacon, pimento cheese, country ham, siracha sausages, fried chicken, and five kinds of gravy. It’s a wonderful fusion of some of the best food of the South, all pulled together by the time-honored biscuit.
Hours: 8am to 2pm, weeklong.
Just north of downtown, Home Grown has long been a staple of Ashevillean comfort food, with a commitment both to local nonprofits, and keeping it green. In their homey yet eclectic interior, diners enjoy plates of buttermilk chicken, meatloaf, redneck pot pie (stuffed with BBQ chicken and cheesy grits), and some of WNC’s famous sunburst trout.
So there’s the comfort, but where’s the Asheville? Tempeh patty melts, tofu BBQ sandwiches, local beer, and jun from Shanti Elixers.
Hours: 11am to 9pm Thursday through Monday. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Ten-dollar bottles of wine on Monday nights.
A local favorite, Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack nails its Southern-classic namesake with such aplomb that many Ashevilleans forget their chicken is not Asheville style, but Nashville style. Many of my close acquaintances still think I’m from the latter, so I understand the confusion.
An order of their famous fried chicken starts off with just crisp breading and light spice. From there the heat is piled on to-taste. And the chicken doesn’t just come fried. Chicken wings with scratch-made dressing, and chicken pot pie. Rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, chicken and waffles, chicken salad, chicken thrown in a toasted roll and topped with pimento cheese and bacon. It's chicken out the wazoo and when you pair it with such signature Southern sides as fried green tomatoes or sweet potato casserole, any visitor here will soon become a regular.
Hours: 11am to 9pm weeklong. I advise you get in line early, especially on the weekends.
A newcomer to Asheville’s Southern food scene, Daddy Mac’s Down Home Dive is swiftly making a name for itself with their downright decadent menu, and live music on the nightly. This new South Slope eatery serves everything from pulled pork and pimento cheese eggrolls to chipotle catfish po’ boys, with tater tot poutine in between.
Some other highlights include Cheerwine BBQ wings, a “brick of fries,” and bar-be-cue-terie plates, piled high with pulled pork, brisket, and candied bacon. That’s not to mention the mac itself, served in skillets stacked high enough to constitute a whole meal. As the icing on the metaphorical cake, somehow Daddy Mac’s wrangled their way into a trio of proprietary beers, brewed locally by Green Man, just down the street.
Hour: 11am to midnight weeklong, 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. They offer an abbreviated menu past 10pm.
Buxton Hall Barbecue (828)-232-7216
32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Biscuit Head (South)
1994 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville, NC 28803
Biscuit Head (West)
733 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
371 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Rocky's Hot Chicken Shack (South)
3749 Sweeten Creek Rd, Arden, NC 28704
Rocky's Hot Chicken Shack (West)
1455 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28806
Daddy Mac's Home Down Dive
161 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801