Asheville’s food scene easily rivals that of any other city in the country. From sophisticated four-star fine dining to unique plant-based cuisine to down-home Southern fare, food fanatics will find a world of extraordinary options. With so many dining choices available in this mountain hotspot, making a selection can be tough. Luckily, we’re here to help. In no particular order, here are the 10 best restaurants that you don’t want to miss while visiting Asheville.
If you arrive at Limones expecting burritos and tacos, you’re in for a surprise. Instead of those Mexico street-food stalwarts, you’ll find a much broader variety of Mexican specialties like ceviches and a blistered polano pepper oozing with three types of cheese. Share an order of lobster nachos for a starter and wash it down with a tamarindo margarita, a drink you’ll be hard-pressed to find outside of Mexico. Limones serves Sunday brunch and dinner nightly. You’ll need reservations at this upscale restaurant.
A favorite among gastrophiles, Chestnut has become something of an institution in downtown Asheville. Perhaps that’s because Chestnut elevates simple foods to an entirely different level. Take the deviled eggs, for instance. By adding roasted jalapenos and candied bacon, Chestnut turns these perennial Southern finger foods into something truly remarkable. Chestnut’s bartenders are also well-known among locals who tout their unique approach to mixing traditional flavors. The dinner menu changes frequently and includes both small plates and full-sized entrees. Brunch is offered on Saturdays and Sundays.
3. Biscuit Head
Expect to stand in line at Biscuit Head, but expect it to be well worth the wait. You’ll be rewarded with huge cathead biscuits stuffed with meat or slathered with house-made specialties like bananas foster jam, bacon butter or spicy pesto butter. If biscuits and gravy is more your speed, you’ll have six varieties from which to choose at Biscuit Head. Prefer eggs, Benedict? Choose from three, including a Cajun version with andouille and Creole mustard. Reasonably priced, this west Asheville eatery is open for breakfast and lunch.
4. High Five Coffee Bar
The people-watching is almost as good as the coffee made from locally roasted coffee beans at the High Five Coffee Bar in downtown Asheville. Baristas here receive specialized training in how to create the perfect cup of Joe. Along with the typical coffee drinks you’d expect to find in a coffee shop, High Five also offers fruit smoothies, loose-leaf teas, kombucha, house-made bagels and pastries. WiFi is available for two hours with every purchase.
5. Buxton Hall Barbecue
There’s a reason Bon Appetit magazine named Buxton Hall Barbecue one of the best new restaurants in the nation. In a landscape dotted with Carolina barbecue joints, Buxton Hall stands head and shoulders above the crowd. Don’t take that to mean it’s an overly fancy place. It’s not. It’s the slow-roasted, vinegar-infused pork and flavor combinations that make Buxton Hall a crowd-pleaser. Try the RC Cola baked beans and leave room for a piece of banana pudding pie.
6. The Well-Bred Bakery and Cafe
Tucked behind a quaint iron gate in Biltmore Village, you feel special from the moment you enter The Well-Bred Bakery and Cafe. The courteous staff will help you navigate the pastry-laden menu. You’ll find both breakfast pastries and specialty confections guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth, including gluten-free and vegan diets. The cafe serves savory bites for lunch and brunch, such as a unique approach to chicken salad with curry, raisins and almonds.
7. The Chocolate Fetish
Equal parts art museum and chocolatier, the Chocolate Fetish features a tantalizing display of sweet treats, truffles and confections to tempt your taste buds. The long-time owners of the shop create all the recipes, and their artisan daughter molds and crafts the chocolates into truly inspired creations. While all the candy is tasty, the truffles are truly spectacular. Pick up a box to bring home to a friend and grab one (or two or three) for yourself.
8. Sunny Point Cafe
You can’t get fresher food than at the Sunny Point Cafe in West Asheville. The restaurant operates its own garden adjacent to its dining room. Everything from herbaceous garnishes to colorful salad fixin’s are grown on-site. This little gem of a restaurant offers plenty of options for vegetarians and vegan diners along with hearty fare for meat lovers. (The fried chicken and sweet potato waffle sandwich topped with pimento cheese and jalapeno jam is particularly tasty.) Just be prepared to wait. Sunny Point is small and very popular among out-of-towners and locals alike.
9. Corner Kitchen
Be sure to make reservations at this upscale farm-to-table eatery in Biltmore Village. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Corner Kitchen features fresh takes on classics like the mushroom pot pie or pecan-crusted mountain trout topped with a bourbon sauce. Given its proximity to the entrance of Biltmore Estate, Corner Kitchen is usually quite busy and parking can be challenging. Be sure to arrive in enough time to find a spot.
10. 12 Bones
Budget-friendly prices, generous portions and a fast-moving line make 12 Bones a favorite barbecue joint. Along with ribs, brisket and pulled pork, 12 Bones has some of the best side dishes around. Jalapeno cheese grits, corn pudding and smoked potato salad are certainly worth a try. Though meat is the star, 12 Bones offers vegetarian-friendly side dishes. Be aware the tables are small and won’t accommodate large groups, and both 12 Bones locations keep very limited hours.
Since Asheville’s culinary delights seem to know no bounds, selecting a restaurant is time-consuming. But don’t get bogged down in the choices. Use our list of favorite Asheville restaurants to plan all your memorable meals in this delightful mountain town.