From nationally renowned fare to local love, charismatic Asheville, NC, is weaving history with hipster to create one of the South’s most dynamic destinations. On the city’s vibrant streets, you’ll find talented musicians, colorful art deco architecture and local shops perfect for perusing. And that’s just downtown.
From countless picturesque hiking trails to the famed Biltmore Estate, Asheville is surrounded with opportunities for mountain adventure — and, of course, working up an appetite.
These days, Asheville’s dining and drinking scene may be its biggest draw. The city offers some of the best restaurants in the Southeast, innovative cocktail bars and a craft brewery scene that has earned it the title Beer City USA. Make reservations for an evening at a James Beard Award-winning restaurant, or settle in for an afternoon of sipping and sampling at a local brewery. Check out this list of favorites for a guide to Asheville before you go, and then, however you choose to indulge, you’ll be glad you paid a visit to this charming mountain town.
Where to Dine
32 Banks Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
James Beard nominees Elliott Moss and Meherwan Irani’s latest venture is serious about its all-wood, slow-cooked, whole-hog barbecue. Chef and pitmaster Elliott has a taste for tradition with seriously Southern sides like picnic macaroni salad and spicy collard greens. And don’t skip dessert at this modern ’cue joint. The chocolate-bourbon pie is a creamy, haute-meets-homey concoction sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.
733 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC 28806
In case the giant, fluffy, buttermilk biscuits themselves weren’t enough to lure you into this hip West Asheville cafe, there’s a gravy flight and a jam bar (don’t skip the apple butter) that should do the trick. Decadent options like the mimosa fried chicken biscuit with sweet potato butter, Sriracha slaw and a poached egg are the perfect way to start a day full of exploring.
11 Biltmore Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
The South gets a taste of Spain at this bright and convivial tapas destination housed in a historic 1920s bus depot. South Carolina-born Chef Katie Button earned her chops at Spain’s famed (now closed) El Bulli under Jose Andres. Pull up a stool at the restaurant’s 20-foot bar with its view into the open kitchen and order savory small plates like fried eggplant drizzled in wild mountain honey or lamb skewers marinated in Moorish spices and served with homemade pickles.
7 South Pack Square, Asheville, NC 28801
For a conversational twist on dinner, spend a Sunday evening at this rustic chic restaurant where award-winning Chef John Fleer’s Sunday Suppers have become a city staple. The weekly dinners, which take place at community tables inside the cozy, barn wood-accented restaurant, are hosted by a local farmer and include a three-course, family-style meal.
22 Battery Park Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
At this lively and colorful restaurant, you’ll find the au courant crowd indulging in Indian street food with a modern American twist. Be sure to order the matchstick okra fries tossed with lime and seasoning or the Sloppy Jai, a playful take on the Sloppy Joe made with spicy lamb hash. It’s a strictly walk-in restaurant, so plan on arriving early — or, better yet, enjoy a cocktail at its downstairs sister bar, MG Road, while you wait.
Where to Drink
32 S. Lexington Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
Just around the corner from Chef Katie Button’s original venture, Curate, this sleek lounge comes complete with indie music and a dance floor. Indulge in luxurious savory bites like delicate triangles of grilled cheese sandwiches with truffle butter or creative desserts like the Morning Buzz, made with coffee-glazed chocolate mousse cake, donut cremeux, toasted coconut sorbet and black cardamom sprinkles. But the stars of the show here are the expertly crafted signature cocktails. Touches like housemade bitters and fragrant foams make for drinks perfect for sipping late into the evening.
19 Wall St., Asheville, NC 28801
It’s the bar and lounge for Chai Pani, but this upscale cocktail cave with its innovative elixirs feels worlds away from the upstairs Indian street food restaurant. Known for hosting popular pop-up restaurants, its most recent endeavor was the two-month Libation Migration, which hosted bartenders from around the country. While the cocktails themselves are tasty, it’s the well-curated selection of spirits that makes this spot a favorite for those who enjoy harder-to-find bourbons, rums or gins.
91 Biltmore Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
Regardless of your affinity for hops, Wicked Weed is a must-stop on any Asheville drinking tour. For brew aficionados, the local favorite is known for its West Coast-style hoppy ales, Belgian beers and barrel-aged sours. For everyone else, it’s a great spot to get a taste of the city’s beer culture. So take a tour of the new Funkatorium, the East Coast’s first sour and funky beer dedicated taproom, or find a seat or order a flight on the always busy pub patio.
92 Patton Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
There are three locations of this brewpub around town, but you’ll want to head to the original bright blue downtown destination for the authentic experience. With more than 30 rotating craft beers and ciders on tap — including house-brewed selections — there are a variety of flavors. And with rare releases and exclusive beers, it’s no surprise this laid-back spot is consistently named one of the country’s best beer bars.
Where to Stay
36 Broadway, Asheville, NC 28801
At this recently renovated downtown boutique hotel, you’ll find 14 luxury suites all offering the charm of exposed brick walls, high windows and reclaimed hardwood floors. Its cozy, historic vibe pairs well with modern amenities including plush linens, sleek kitchens, contemporary decor and in-room massage service. And in true Asheville fashion, this property is locally focused. In addition to being within easy walking distance of downtown restaurants, shops and bars, the hotel features artwork from local artists, soaps from a local maker and even chocolates on your pillow from a local chocolatier.
Enjoy your visit, and if you snap any pics at any of these Asheville hot spots, make sure you post them to Instagram and tag us: @StyleBlueprint
Want more Asheville spots? Check out this article we wrote in 2013 that still has many of our favorites: Asheville: Where to Eat, Drink and Have Fun