Few cities do fine dining quite like Asheville. Here, local ingredients reign supreme, while eclectic menus nod to both Appalachian traditions and global fare. Whether you’re craving New American farm-to-table meals, French comfort food, or a Brazilian steakhouse, you should have no trouble pinpointing a restaurant that fits your current cravings.
If there’s a downside to the Asheville area’s amazing culinary scene, it’s the struggle to choose among so many excellent restaurants. To streamline the selection process, we’ve highlighted several local favorites worth checking out this summer:
1. The Admiral
The rotating menu at The Admiral provides a fresh experience with every return visit. Simple, yet sophisticated, the restaurant’s top dishes emphasize fresh ingredients prepared with meticulous detail. Don’t be surprised if your meal includes subtle, yet memorable touches such as coriander flower or maple-sherry vinaigrette.
2. Red Stag Grill
Discover the appeal of the rustic-chic steakhouse concept at the Red Stag Grill. Outdoorsy decor never looked so sultry or sophisticated as it does under the low lights of this Asheville favorite. On the menu, you’ll find European concepts paired with ingredients from local providers, such as chicken breasts from Joyce Farms or cheddar from Ashe County Cheese.
Enjoy authentic Spanish cuisine in a lively tapas restaurant featuring an all-Spanish wine list. Whether you sip wine, beer, or a craft cocktail, you’ll love pairing your favorite beverages with fried eggplant, stuffed piquillo peppers, or sautéed mushrooms at Curate. Don’t worry about dietary restrictions; a variety of vegan and gluten-free options are available. No matter what you order, you’ll soon agree with the ethos of Chef Katie Button: sharing good food and friends can bring about a curative effect.
4. 131 Main Restaurant
Take in the scene at Biltmore Park as you dine on the covered porch of Asheville’s 131 Main Restaurant. Inside, the environment is just as lovely, thanks to gas lamps and a hickory wood fire grill. The varied menu offers something for everyone. Seafood lovers, in particular, will be pleased, as the dinner menu includes crab cake salad, cedar plank salmon, and rainbow trout. Don’t forget to order a martini or a bottle of local beer.
5. Vue 1913
If you adore all things art deco, you will fall head over heels in love with the aesthetic and ambiance at Vue 1913. As an integral part of Asheville’s Omni Grove Park Inn, this sophisticated restaurant features a brasserie format that perfectly showcases the chef’s best selections. This is your chance to get dressed up for date night and sample premium dishes featuring foraged mushrooms, goat cheese, spiced pecans, and a variety of other enticing ingredients.
6. Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Despite its status as a nationwide chain, Ruth’s Chris Steak House deserves a spot on your Asheville culinary to-do list. Self-described carnivores can always count on this trusty restaurant to deliver a delicious and sizable meal. As part of Biltmore Village, Ruth’s Chris boasts as upscale a vibe as its surroundings. Order a perfectly seasoned ribeye or filet — and be sure to indulge in a craft cocktail or slice of cheesecake.
7. Limones Restaurant
Explore a unique take on Mexican cuisine at Limones Restaurant, where you’ll find the intense, yet compelling flavors of Mexico City in strong supply. The chef’s California training also plays heavily into the menu, which shows touches of French inspiration. Feel free to try memorable options such as pork tenderloin al pastor, duck carnitas enchiladas, and ginger-saffron shrimp, as well as several desserts worth sampling. The intimate setting makes your creative meal that much more enjoyable.
Romantic, yet casual, this restaurant has an eclectic menu inspired by global flavors and traditions. The location is as impressive as the menu, thanks to the hard work of owners Sean and Shelly Piper. They’ve put their heart and soul into restoring the historic building in which Jargon is presently situated. Order trout, gnocchi, or an indulgent dessert cocktail. No matter your food or drink preferences, you’re in for a memorable culinary experience.
9. The Bull and Beggar
As yet another trendy destination making the most of the rustic chic look, The Bull and Beggar stands out with its spacious bi-level layout and its impressive wine list. If you’re primarily interested in the food, be prepared for a regularly changing menu featuring everything from classic dry-aged ribeye to fried quail eggs.
10. Posana Restaurant
Fitting in perfectly with the sensibilities of the Asheville locavore movement, this farm-to-table restaurant–Posana–serves delicious meals chock full of unprocessed ingredients from dozens of the area’s finest farms. The inviting dining room has a warm glow, but hanging flower baskets and a lovely view make the patio experience particularly enjoyable. The menus change on a regular basis, but you’ll likely encounter chicken or pork from Joyce or Heritage Farms, as well as local vegetables and great selections from the wine cellar.
11. The Blackbird Restaurant
Modern sensibilities meet southern tradition at The Blackbird Restaurant, where local produce, fresh catches, and excellent microbrews have a distinctively Carolina feel. Vegetarians and vegans appreciate the variety of meat-free options served here, while wine aficionados will no doubt enjoy examining the restaurant’s extensive list. The weekend brunch is worth attending if you get the chance; get ready to pair a tasty mimosa or grown-up coffee with brioche French toast or huevos rancheros.
12. Table Asheville
The essence of Asheville cuisine can be found at this strategically named restaurant. Featuring updated selections every day, the Table Asheville’s New American menu is lovingly selected by Chef Jacob Sessoms, who is clearly passionate about local culinary traditions. The urban-inspired restaurant has an intimate feel. Attentive service will make you feel pampered, with the staff members’ infectious enthusiasm guaranteeing that you leave with a smile on your face — and the intention to return soon.
Enjoy a taste of France with comfort food that will have even the pickiest eaters trying creative dishes. Palate-selected French wines are categorized by region to make you feel as if you’re taking a tour of France from the heart of Asheville. Bouchon recipes may be French-inspired, but the ingredients come from nearby, with offerings from Fork Mountain Farms, Jasperwood Farms, and Mountain Select Natural Products heavily featured.
Take your tapas experience to the next level at this Mediterranean-inspired establishment, where you’ll find a festive atmosphere that reflects the meaning of the name Zambra: “gypsy dance of celebration.” Exotic wines and enticing flavors force your senses to take notice, while romantic lighting and decor provides a visual feast to match the menu. Imported cheeses and marinated olives can be found on the cold tapas menu, while grilled garlic shrimp and stewed chickpeas are available when you crave something hot.
Family-style meals exemplify the homey feel of Appalachian cuisine at Rhubarb. Chef John Fleer believes that the experience of sharing food can be transformative. He sets out to remind visitors of this with his uncomplicated, yet trailblazing menus. Feast on classics such as hoppin’ John or get fancy with a cocktail from the R-Bar. After you’ve eaten your fill of mountain cuisine, you’ll be ready to stop by the adjacent bakery known as The Rhu to pick up fresh bread and pastries.
If you’re in the mood for a refined culinary experience, treat yourself to a fancy Italian meal at Cucina24. Perfect for date night, this trendy spot provides five-course meals that expose you to all the best flavors from Italy — and all the best ingredients from local purveyors. While some of the vegetables or spices will likely be new to you, there’s no reason to worry if you’re ordinarily a picky eater; all ingredients are lovingly prepared to appeal to many types of visitors. Expert wine pairings further elevate the already delicious cuisine served here.
17. Brasilia Churrasco Steakhouse
When you’re hungry but still want a sophisticated meal, you can’t go wrong with the all-you-can-eat approach at the Brasilia Churrasco Steakhouse. You could create an excellent meal from the salad bar alone, although, of course, the main attraction is the meat. Attentive staff members ensure that your glass is never empty while also giving you enough space and time to truly savor your meal.
You deserve a night out with loved ones, taking in the best of Asheville’s magnificent culinary scene. Treat yourself to a meal you’ll never forget. You’ll quickly realize why fine dining is such an integral part of the Asheville experience.