The Best Outdoor Dining in Asheville—A Local’s Perspective
Asheville is renowned both for its excellent cuisine, and inspiring environs. It is only natural to try and join the two. One approach would be to venture out into the Blue Ridge wilds, and make the best of your portable griddle, and several cans of beans. This tactic would certainly encompass the “outdoors” bit of “outdoors dining.” Yet by my own experience (crunchy rice, a tomato, eaten like an apple), I find that camp-cuisine simply does not compare to the richness of Asheville’s dining institutions. Indeed, I say the best balance of food and nature lies in the patio, the courtyard, and tables under the sun. Thus, I invite you to read on, and discover some of the best outdoor dining in Asheville.
As has come up before on this blog: beer is a big deal in Asheville. With the myriad of pubs, bars, and taprooms which dot the city, it should come as no surprise that at least one such enterprise will venture into any discussion of the best outdoor restaurants in Asheville, NC.
Wicked Weed’s Brewing Pub deserves special mention thanks to its expansive street-side patio (dog-friendly, of course), and position within downtown’s South Slope—famed for its proliferation of breweries.
Furthermore, the Orange Peel—one of Asheville’s foremost music-venues—lies not a five-minute walk away. Wicked Weed’s menu consists of pub-fair, lamb, gumbo, burgers, and of course, a healthy selection of local craft beers. Outdoor dining in Asheville can mean a great deal of things, so multifarious is the city. For Wicked Weed, it means a blend of the urban, the local, and the lively.
Timing is Everything: Open from 1130 to 11 at night—or 1 in the morning, on Fridays and Saturdays—a cool, open-air weekend evening at Wicked Weed seems quite enticing, but be warned: everyone else has the same idea. And while weekdays are certainly less busy, I’d say the truly optimal time for your visit to Wicked Weed must coincide with an event at the Orange Peel.
Some fifteen months ago, I experienced a shock of cataclysmic proportions. There I was, driving down the streets of shaded Savannah, when I glanced to my right, and saw a familiar sign: “Mellow Mushroom Pizza.” I commented to my compatriots that I was astonished to see such a familiar face so far south of Asheville, which I took to be the birthplace of Mellow Mushroom.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that Mellow Mushroom was a national phenomenon, originating from Midtown Atlanta. This of course, is a testament to how seamlessly the chain has incorporated into Asheville’s cuisino-cultural biosphere; they are demonstrative of the city’s signature funk, mellowness, and surprising décor. Similarly to Wicked Weed, Mellow Mushroom hosts a street-side courtyard, but trades the South Slope for downtown’s heart, and pub faire for pizza—the crust imbued with Appalachian spring water.
For outdoor dining in Asheville with a focus on style, classic Itallo-American cuisine, and easy access to downtown’s many excitements, Mellow Mushroom is the go-to choice.
Timing is Everything: This pizzeria is open from Sunday to Thursday, 11am to 930pm, with hours extended to 11pm on Fridays on Saturdays. The restaurant finds itself busiest exactly when you may expect: on the weekends, around dinnertime.
To clarify: this restaurant is unrelated to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Standing alongside the French Broad at the edge of West Asheville and the River Arts District, the Smoky Park Supper Club occupies near two acres, and makes the best of such prodigious property via extensive outdoor seating.
Dually notable for being the largest American restaurant built of shipping containers, and a seasonal menu currently offering oysters, muscles, and roast chicken, it is no wonder that the Supper Club is somewhat of a local phenomenon.
Out of all outdoor restaurants in Asheville, NC, I have no doubt the Supper Club is one of the largest, and most well-positioned, lying in proximity to both art-studios and the authentical Ashevilleian flair of the western neighborhoods.
Timing is Everything: To best enjoy this paragon of outdoor dining in Asheville, one probably requires reservations. For brunch, they are non-negotiable, and otherwise well-advised due to the restaurant’s relatively limited hours (open from 5 to 9pm, with some variation), and general popularity.
Courtyards and the cuisine of Louisiana both hold special places in my heart. How fantastic that Asheville rolls these two pleasures into one via Mayfel’s, an eatery on downtown’s off-mentioned Patton Avenue. Although their courtyard seating is seasonal, their dog-friendly, covered, street-side patio is open year-round.
Likewise, their menu offers reliable fare in the vein of jambalaya, etouffee, and po-boys, with a brunch-selection to match. For outdoor dining in Asheville with an affinity for cultured, Cajun cuisine, look no further than Mayfel’s.
Timing is Everything: Mayfel’s is open from 9am to 10pm weeklong, except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays, on which they are closed. I suggest aiming for brunch, as noontime sees a significant rise in patronage, especially on Saturdays and Sundays.
For as long as I live, breathe, and enjoy my coffee black, I believe OWL Bakery will find its way into all my musings on the subject of food. Located in West Asheville, what OWL lacks in convenient parking it more than makes up for in atmosphere and ingredients.
They provide light faire with a French flair, and superb deserts and drinks. Due to these efforts, I find myself here with my sister—who first introduced me to it—whenever we have the time. Recently, OWL has added tables set up in a kind of backyard, enclosed and separated from the surrounding sidewalks, lending the area a peaceful quiet that other urban bakeries must envy. Although not necessarily as restaurant-y as other outdoor restaurants in Asheville, NC, OWL Bakery is no culinary lightweight.
In the apparent simplicity of their menu there lies a delicious depth which propels them to the top of my suggestions for outdoor dining in Asheville.
Timing is Everything: Coffee and pastries may be procured from Tuesday to Sunday, from 8am to 6pm. However, their brunch/lunch is only served until 2pm. Plan accordingly.
Wicked Weed Brewpub
91 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
The Orange Peel
101 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
50 Broadway St, Asheville, NC 28801
Smoky Park Supper Club
3141, 350 Riverside Dr, Asheville, NC 28801
22 College St, Asheville, NC 28801
4545, 295 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806