Dining in Asheville—A Local’s Perspective
It’s been my pleasure to cover a great many restaurants in my time writing for Asheville Cottages. The research process is a reward unto itself. But I figured with the sheer quantity of information I’ve but together on dining in Asheville, I better take a moment to really meditate on which restaurants are the most worthy of a traveler's time.
That’s a tougher nut to crack than you may think. On the one hand you got taste; ever elusive taste. Will your taste match my own? I hope so. I think I got pretty good taste. On the other hand you got competition. There’s simply so much good dining to choose from.
But with great travail I believe I have whittled down the subject of dining in Asheville into a usable form. May your journeys be delectable.
1: On Cafés It’s no secret that I’m a fan of coffee, and its role in fueling vigorous site-seeing and things-doing is universally understood. So, you want a cup of coffee in Asheville, maybe some breakfast or lunch as well. Where do you go, what do you do?
Well, I often find myself choosing between Green Sage South and Ivory Road Café. Both lie in south Asheville, my own slice of town. I think, if you have to decide between them, the relevant consideration is that of the dietary. Green Sage prides itself on a great selection of vegan and vegetarian fare. Not to say their omnivorous menu is anything to sniff at. Indeed, I’m quite a fan of their sausage omelets. But it’s good to know you have that choice. Ivory Road, meanwhile, offers a spread of shady, secluded outdoor seating, and killer sandwiches.
As to the matter of the superior coffee, I’m afraid I'm no help to anyone: I take mine any way it comes. But if you are something of a connoisseur, you can take a more in-depth dive into the subject right here.
2: Downtown and The Tapa Economy
Now most people when they hear “dining in Asheville,” they think downtown. And they think right. You can’t find a finer, or more eclectic assortment of restaurants—all within walking distance to each other—anywhere else in WNC.
The cuisine that most often rises to the top is Chai Pani’s Indian street found, right across the street from the Grove Arcade. And I’ll tell you, it’s some good food. It’s James-Beard-Award-winning food. The only downside is everyone knows it, so if you want a taste, you’re simply going to have to count on waiting a while for a table.
The other key to dining in downtown Asheville is the tapas. I’ve found you really can’t find tapas outside of a city’s center. The reason? I cannot say. Gravity? Possibly. Anyways two of my favorites are Red Ginger—serving lightning-quick dim-sum—and Zambra, with it’s romantic interior and delightful, classic Iberian tapas.
Sometimes, you’re not in the mood for anything fancy. Sometimes, you just want cheese on bread. Sometimes, it’s time for pizza.
And when that time comes around for me, I look no further than the fittingly named Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. They’ve got locations all across town—one of which doubles as favorite theater—and not only do they deliver pizza, wings, cheesy bread, and pickle fries, they deliver locally-brewed beer. And that, my friends, is a pretty good deal.
Maybe it’s just because I live here, but I believe South Asheville has some of the most underrated dining in Asheville. In particular, I’m referring to Conosur and Khao Thai Cuisine.
Now Conosur is a little far-flung. Not so much South Asheville as south-of-Asheville. Mill’s River, in fact. But their menu is filled to bursting with some of the best Latin-fusion you will find anywhere. Cuban sandwiches, choripan montados, butifarras, chorillana, paella, and yuca fries that you’ll be writing home about. You just can’t find a lot of these dishes anywhere else.
Khao Thai serves my favorite pad thai in town, and I am more than partial to pad thai. Likewise I recommend their curries, fried rice, and spicy catfish with eggplant. For a special treat, I’ll order the fried crispy lotus root, and perhaps a Thai tea. All that on top of their prices and portions being extremely reasonable.
I think if I had to choose just one restaurant in Asheville to keep it would be Abeja’s. And it’s not just me. Go in on a Sunday morning and you’ll see just how popular this place is with us locals. And for good reason. There’s such care put into their dishes. From the chilaquiles to the ricotta pancakes, it’s breakfast at it’s very best.
What takes Abeja’s up a notch is it’s specials. Not only do they showcase the talent and creativity of their chefs, but as they change every few weeks, you’re always given a chance to try something new. That’s what keeps me coming back. And if you become a frequent visitor to Asheville, it’ll keep you coming back too.
Green Sage South
1800 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville, NC 28803
Ivory Road Café and Kitchen
1854 Brevard Rd, Arden, NC 28704
22 Battery Park Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Red Ginger Dimsum & Tapas
82 Patton Ave Suite 100, Asheville, NC 28801
85 W Walnut St, Asheville, NC 28801
Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company
675 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804
4195 Haywood Rd, Mills River, NC 28759
Khao Thai Cuisine
2145 Hendersonville Rd, Arden, NC 28704
Abeja's House Café
1550 Hendersonville Rd #116, Asheville, NC 28803