#137 of 86 Asheville Restaurants

Universal Joint

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Universal Joint: Cozy Dive Bar with an Innovative Menu of Instant Classics
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Imaginative dishes served in large portions is what Universal Joint does best, though they have a friendly atmosphere and great service to boot. With their frequently changing daily specials and draft list, you are sure to find what you are hankering for at every visit.

- The SmokyMountains.com Local Expert Team

Right at the corner between Haywood Road and Sandhill Road, you will find one of Asheville’s best kept secrets, Universal Joint. Through the renovation of an old gas station, they created a cozy eating space that can really handle a crowd. You can come sit at the bar and enjoy your meal and great conversation or lounge in the dining area instead. On nicer days, you can sit at the tables in the outdoor dining area and people watch to your heart’s content.

This eclectic dive bar serves up innovative dishes on the regular and provides the perfect setting for chatting with friends, family, and neighbors. On their menu, they have the full array of tasty bar snacks plus burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and more. They have a small menu for the kids as well with traditional fare, like chicken fingers and grilled cheese. No matter what you order, you can trust it will arrive prepared to perfection and in humungous portions.

Their draft list is ever changing, so you can pair new brews with your favorite appetizers and meals to experience them in a whole new way. In addition to their draft list, the daily specials also change day to day, keeping everyone on their toes. The combination of delicious food and cold brews frequently has this location busier than you might believe, though their quality of service never declines.

Some of our favorite dishes: 

Cheese Curds
Though just traditional bar fare, their cheese curds are amazingly delicious, bite after bite. Their lightly-seasoned batter fries up crispy and perfectly sticks to the flavorful cheese. They are served piping hot and in huge portions, giving you enough to share with a friend.

Universal Fries
If you want to share some delicious snacks with a group, then Universal Fries is where it’s at. Choose from French fries or tater tots, and then await the masterpiece to arrive. It will not disappoint either, arriving at the table topped with plenty of cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, scallions, and jalapenos. Ask for the large house ranch so you and your friends can dip to your satisfaction.

Bison Smokehouse
Although their beef burgers get most of the attention, the Bison Smokehouse promises to take your dining experience to the next level. As if their bison burger was not flavorful enough, they add a generous portion of smoked bacon, swiss and cheddar cheese, and fried onions over the top. Then, they pour on the sweet barbecue sauce to complete the burger of your dreams.

Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla
For a spicy kick, you can confidently order the Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla. Starting with a large tortilla, they add grilled chicken, cheese, spicy black beans, and cilantro-corn salsa before folding it over and frying it up. Once it’s done, a little bit more salsa and sour cream gets added to the top to round out the amazing flavors.

Avocado Tacos
To skip the meat while still getting your fill, the Avocado Tacos are a wise choice. They are assembled with avocado at the bottom, then fried onion, tomato, and spinach for a blast of fresh flavor. They drizzle the jalapeno aioli over top to give the avocado and other toppings just a bit more zing.

Whether you love traditional bar food or something a little more sophisticated, you can easily find what you are looking for at this eclectic Asheville restaurant.

Insider Tips:
– If you want to visit this dive bar, you will have to take the time to search for available on-street parking as their side lot is not for customers. After bank hours, you can park at the Wells Fargo Bank across the street, though spots there are limited as well.
– Their outdoor dining area is pet-friendly, so feel free to bring your dog along. They will even bring out a dish of water to keep your pet cool and refreshed. Smoking is allowed in the outdoor dining area as well, and quarters are a bit tight, so dine inside if you value fresh air.