I’ve sampled just about every dish you can name during my official tenure as Asheville’s Most Sublime Food Taster. But I am a sucker for variety and so I have trouble picking any particular stint of gustatory research as my favorite. Yet, when it comes to Latin American food in Asheville, I can’t help but realize that many of the contenders rise into a special place in my heart.
“Why?” you ask, and “What’s so great about this Latin American food anywho?” Well, I’ll tell you; read on.
Launching straight into downtown, Hemingway’s Cuba is Asheville’s answer to that most inescapable of questions: “Where can I find a good Cuban sandwich?” Ashevile could hardly be considered a great city, I think, without at least delivering basic element of human life.
Of course, Hemingway’s serves much more than sandwiches. Their menu explodes with expertly seasoned pork, succulent steak, and all the tremendous sides one expects from a Latin American restaurant in Asheville, from mariquitas to tostones.
Even better, their terrace seating—atop the fourth floor of the Cambria Hotel—pairs with their breakfast and brunch menus to form one of the very best ways to enjoy a fair-weathered morning.
And What’s Near? The Grove Arcade, just across the street, for your shopping and dessert-ing pleasure.
Some ways north of Hemingway’s, beyond the hubbub of downtown, Chupacabra is one of those rare Latin American restaurants in Asheville that could be right for any occasion.
At first glance, it appears their menu is in line with traditional Americanized Mexican fair: nachos, quesadillas, etc. And that would be fine by me, cheese-lover that I am, but Chupacabra takes things one step further. Their kitchen mixes in unexpected dishes such as banh-mi tacos, krispy kreme bread pudding, and their signature Chupacabra Burrito, filled with coconut lime-leaf braised pork and bacon. Now that’s a mouthful.
Finally, for dinner, here one can find paella, tuna poke tartare, and a robust wine list, making Chupacabra suitable for portentous gatherings, as well as the low-key.
And What’s Near? UNCA’s beautiful botanical gardens, about a ten-minute drive away. Well worth working into a romantic evening or any day on which you have time to spare in the sun.
With one foot south of the border, one foot in California, and one foot in French haute-cuisine, downtown’s Limones delivers upscale dining with a Latin flare. It gladdens me to see grilled street corn on the same menu as lamb ragout and butternut squash ravioli. And I think it will gladden you too.
An evening at this Latin American restaurant in Asheville should be best sealed with a libation from Limones’ extensive cocktail and wine list, and churros with sipping chocolate. I’ve always said if I should be reincarnated, I would like to come back as a churro, and even better if I’m a Limones churro.
And What’s Near? The core of downtown, with plenty of site-seeing and shopping. I especially recommend Horse and Hero, one of my favorite galleries.
Conosur is one of the newest Latin American restaurants in Asheville, opening in 2018, and yet it has already become one of my favorites. Their menu blends café fare—burgers, sandwiches, plentiful coffee—with authentic Peruvian cuisine. If you are yet unacquainted with this delectable tradition, I report lots of eggs, lots of plantains, and supremely seasoned meat.
However, Conosur isn’t just a meat-fest. Their salads stand out as especially colorful and their vegetarian empanada, I am told, is to die for.
Now I haven’t had sufficient time for it, but in some special cases I make it my mission to try everything on a restaurant’s menu. Conosur makes the cut.
And What’s Near? Conosur lies in Mills River, south of Asheville proper, in a relatively unassuming location. However, it happens to be on the way to Dupont State Forest.
Like Conosur, Abeja’s is a casual café with the advantage of Latin flavor. But unlike Conosur, I have concluded my tour of their menu and for every entry I can say: go for it. Particularly, I’d like to call out their chilaquiles, or any one of their rotating specials. When it comes to dining in Asheville, I seek pleasant surprises, and most often I find them in Abeja’s specials.
What’s more, I would be remiss not to mention their enticing display of desserts. If they should have a tres leches in stock, then you’re in for a real treat, especially accompanied by unreasonable quantities of Abeja’s Guatemalan coffee.
Now if I haven’t yet made it clear, suffice to say Abeja’s sets my personal standard for Latin American restaurants in Asheville.
And What’s Near? An entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
15 Page Ave 4th Floor, Asheville, NC 28801
Chupacabra Latin Cafe
50 N Merrimon Ave Suite, Asheville, NC 28804
15 Eagle St, Asheville, NC 28801
4195 Haywood Rd, Mills River, NC 28759
Abeja's House Cafe
1550 Hendersonville Rd #116, Asheville, NC 28803