Carmel’s Kitchen & Bar

Carmel's Kitchen & Bar: Upscale Southern Food w/ Custom-Crafted Cocktails
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

After shopping at Grove Arcade, stop by Carmel's Kitchen & Bar for Southern-inspired dinner and drinks. You'll appreciate the chill, yet trendy atmosphere — and the restaurant's sophisticated take on comfort food that stays true to Asheville's southern roots.

- The Local Expert Team

A top choice among locals, Carmel’s Kitchen & Bar delivers charm and sophistication to Grove Arcade. Despite its understated elegance, the restaurant appeals greatly to families. In the evening, however, it transforms into date night central. with couples enjoying a satisfyingly relaxed ambience.

Southern-inspired entrees with a twist dominate Carmel’s enticing menu. Vegetarians report a sufficient selection, but vegans may not be pleased by the emphasis on cheese, butter, and eggs in most meat-free options. Several selections accommodate those with other dietary restrictions. For example, visitors can order any pizza with a gluten-free crust.

Brunch lovers, get ready for some exciting news! Carmel’s has an extensive menu for Sunday morning and afternoon. Top selections include quiche (featuring rotating ingredients), fried green tomato & over easy egg sandwiches, and catfish reubens. Sometimes, brunch is accompanied by live music on the patio.

Don’t forget to order drinks with lunch or dinner. The restaurant’s draft beer list includes several porters and pale ales poured straight from the tap. Many guests favor the rotating selection from local favorite Highland Brewing Company. Can’t decide? Order a flight with five samples of local brews.

In addition to its vast beer selection, Carmel’s serves several delectable cocktails. Classics such as mojitos and Moscow mules are sure to please, as are originals like the Goombay Smash (dark rum, coconut rum, apricot brandy, pineapple juice, and orange juice) and the Green Thumb (gin, lime juice, club soda, muddled cucumbers, and mint).

When the weather cooperates, there’s nothing quite like relaxing with comfort food on the vast patio. There is also plenty of seating available indoors, where you’ll appreciate the chic, yet chill atmosphere. Don’t expect to be in and out in a jiffy; some visitors complain of slow service, although others appreciate the restaurant’s relaxed approach to dining.

A few of our favorite menu items include:

Grilled Cheese on Sourdough
This popular sandwich may be simple, but it sure is satisfying. Choose two of several available cheeses, including Swiss, American, goat, mozzarella, cheddar, or gorgonzola. Amp it up with avocado, fried green tomatoes, or pecan-smoked bacon for an extra charge.

BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza
Featuring homemade dough that is hand-tossed on a daily basis, Carmel’s pizzas are sure to please. Any selection will leave you craving more, but the BBQ pulled pork pizza is especially likely to induce drool. This delectable pizza features red onion, mozzarella, Cheerwine BBQ sauce, cilantro, habañero relish, and a hint of lime, plus, of course, juicy pulled pork. Substitute the standard crust with a gluten-free option for an extra fee.

Fried Chicken & Grit Cakes
This Southern classic features chicken breast from family-owned poultry business Springer Mountain Farms. The fried chicken is served over cheesy grit cakes. The dish also features bourbon butter, collard greens, and a unique honey drizzle.

If you stop by for Sunday brunch, keep it simple with a classic omelet. Choose from American, Swiss, cheddar, or mozzarella cheese. For an extra fee, you can add pimento cheese, bacon, ham, onions, or mushrooms. Amp up the protein by opting for a version made exclusively from egg whites — also available for an additional fee.

Banana Pudding Crème Brûlée
No meal at Carmel’s is complete without dessert. You’ll struggle to choose when gazing at a dessert menu stocked with classics. Feeling adventurous? Try this unique creme crème brûlée, featuring banana liquor wafers, vanilla bean custard, and bruléed sliced banana.

The meals and desserts at Carmel’s Kitchen & Bar accommodate both picky and adventurous eaters. The menu may initially seem overwhelming, but friendly staff members are happy to provide suggestions based on your unique preferences.

Insider Tip:
Keep an eye on the official Carmel’s Facebook page. The restaurant regularly hosts jazz concerts and other special events, which it promotes via social media.