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The best Asheville bars and restaurants

Omni Grove Park Inn

Asheville, North Carolina is one of my favorite U.S. destinations, in part because of its amazing food scene. When it comes to food and drink, the city has it all. Options run the gamut, from fine dining to swanky speakeasies to casual taco joints. After four trips, I finally feel like I’ve made a big enough dent in my bar and restaurant to-do list to compile a guide to the best Asheville bars and restaurants. So read on for a selection of my favorite spots in this Blue Ridge Mountain hotspot!

(Looking for more Asheville tips? Check out this complete city guide, the perfect three-day itinerary and my review of the Foundry Hotel.)

THE BEST ASHEVILLE BARS AND RESTAURANTS

COFFEE

Flora Asheville
Flora table

Flora – This beautiful Asheville establishment is one of my favorites in the entire city. Combine excellent coffee drinks and the loveliest flower and plant shop, and you have yourself a winner. I can’t ever leave this place without an armload of pastries “to save for later” and crystals that I don’t know why I’m buying. You have to go! 

(The combined-flower-coffee-shop trend is one of my favorite things ever. Check out my other favorite, Communal Coffee, in this post!)

Trade and Lore – I’ve actually only been to the Charlotte outpost of this specialty coffee shop. But if the Asheville location is anything similar, it’s certainly worth a visit. It’s community-focused, sourcing from local purveyors, and the coffee is solid.

BREAKFAST

The Rhu
Poblano soup

The Rhu – The Rhu is an offshoot of popular restaurant Rhubarb, which we’ll get to in a minute. With its prime downtown location, it’s a perfect spot for grabbing coffee or baked goods in the morning. But if you miss breakfast, it’s got a great array of soups, sandwiches, and snacks, too. 

Sunny Point Café – To be honest, I haven’t visited Sunny Point in years, so I can’t speak to how good it is now. But I remember solid comfort food (perfect for a weekend brunch) and a VERY serious line out the door. If you’re planning a visit, go early to beat the crowds!

BimBeriBon

BimBeriBon – If you have dietary restrictions, run—don’t walk—to BimBeriBon. It’s got as accommodating a menu as I’ve ever seen. And it’s health-focused to boot—there’s no gluten or refined sugar in the entire restaurant! Even if you don’t have eating constraints, you might want to give it a try. I had the cinnamon roll and can assure you that you’d never know it wasn’t the real deal.

Owl Bakery – This sweet little bakery in West Asheville makes its pastries daily using organic flour, butter and sugar, and it sources local ingredients for its condiments and fillings. It’s also just down the road from Flora if you want to do a little café-hopping. But don’t blame me if you wind up with more pastries than you can handle in one day!

Pisgah Inn views
Pisgah Inn

Pisgah Inn – If you have the time (and the wheels) to do an excursion outside the city, I can’t recommend a sunrise drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway enough (followed by breakfast at the Pisgah Inn, of course). Mills River Valley Overlook is a great place to watch the sun peek above the mountains. Afterward, you can watch dawn become morning through Pisgah Inn’s panoramic windows less than 10 minutes down the road.

Biscuit Head – This is another one for all the gluten-free folks out there. If you want a biscuit (you are in the South, after all), this is the place to get it. Their GF option totally tastes like the gluten-containing version in the best possible way. 

LUNCH

Gan Shan West
Gan Shan West food

Gan Shan West – This ramen joint is always my first stop for Asheville food. The ramen and assorted pan-Asian small plates are excellent, and I love the playful decor (think palm-print wallpaper and plastic action figurines that mark your table). Gan Shan West is a sister restaurant to Gan Shan Station, but this one is my personal favorite!

The Waterbird tables
The Waterbird

The Waterbird – The Waterbird has everything from breakfast and coffee drinks to lunch-and-dinner food, plus a killer cocktail list for later in the day and evening. Also, you won’t find more on-point design between its beautiful bar, exposed-brick interior and flamingo wallpaper in the bathroom.

Chai Pani food
Chai Pani

Chai Pani – Chai Pani translates to “tea and water,” but it’s a misleading name for a restaurant whose food steals the show. It’s a low-key establishment serving up top-notch Indian street food, from chaat to sandwiches and more. The uttapam in particular blew me away! Beloved by locals, Chai Pani now has a second location in Decatur, Georgia.

Flowers

All Souls Pizza – If you’re looking for a place to dine al fresco, look no further than All Souls Pizza. It has a beautiful garden complete with picnic benches and plenty of flowers, making it the perfect place to eat out on a summer afternoon or evening. Oh, and the pizza’s not half bad, either.

Taco Billy tacos

Taco Billy – You can’t miss this roadside taco shop thanks to its brightly colored exterior—and you shouldn’t. Whether you come in for breakfast or lunch, you’ll have an array of options. And like many of its fellow Asheville establishments (and many on this list), Taco Billy sources locally as much as possible. 

DINNER

Table Asheville food
Table Asheville

Table – Not to play favorites, but Table is my favorite. Dinners here are not just good—they’re damn near perfect. It’s the kind of place where I trust that even if the menu item doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, it’s going to be one of the best things I’ve ever had. I’ve now been twice, and both experiences were fantastic. 

Rhubarb – When I went to Rhubarb a few years ago, I would have put it in the same category as Table, but I’ve heard lately that it may have gone downhill a bit. I can’t confirm that myself, but I can tell you that my experience sitting at the chefs’ counter would have been enjoyable no matter the quality of the food. If you go, please let me know how it is!

Benne on Eagle
Benne on Eagle

Benne on Eagle – Located inside the ultra-hip Foundry Hotel, this newcomer is rooted in cultural heritage. Through its menu, it pays tribute to what was once a thriving block in a predominantly African-American neighborhood—and the restaurant has helped revitalize the block, too, after years spent in disrepair. Read more about the area’s history here before you explore it, and definitely make a reservation while you’re at it.

The Bull and Beggar – Located in Asheville’s River Arts District, The Bull and Beggar offers New American food and a stellar wine list in what can only be described as a warehouse-chic setting. Beware of crowds (or join in!) on “Burger Mondays,” when the restaurant serves its famous double cheeseburger and fries for just $9.99.

Smoky Park Supper Club

Smoky Park Supper Club – One of my Instagram followers recommended Smoky Park, and it became an instant favorite. Set along the French Broad River, its outdoor dining space could not be more picturesque. I also love the “supper club” concept (Smoky Park’s website describes it as a “mid-century, midwestern tradition of family and friends enjoying food, entertainment and fabulous hospitality in a beautiful country setting”).

Curate

Curate – If you’re looking for Asheville’s buzziest restaurant, this might just be it. Better come plenty early to put your name down if you hope to eat at Curate, a Spanish tapas restaurant that also serves up paella and features its own vermouth bar. If you can’t snag a table, head to the bar for cheese, charcuterie and drinks. 

Cucina 24 – The power was out when I dined at Cucina 24, so I only had access to a limited menu. But even under the circumstances, it was a great place for an upscale Italian dinner. Its downtown location also couldn’t be more convenient or walkable. 

DRINKS

Little Jumbo sign
Little Jumbo

Little Jumbo – Little Jumbo perfectly combines vintage decor with a great cocktail list and a laid-back neighborhood vibe. While the cocktail list is impressive, the bar is not at all pretentious. The best part? You won’t have to wait long for a drink: Each cocktail contains five ingredients or fewer.

Sovereign Remedies – Don’t be surprised if the menu in this dimly lit cocktail bar makes you feel as though you’re about to order a potion. It features wild plants and herbs in heavy rotation, and it revolves around what’s available through local farmers and foragers—ensuring you’ll try something here that you can’t get anywhere else. Sovereign Remedies has a solid food menu, too, if you want some late-night eats to pair with your cocktail.

Omni Grove Park Inn

Omni Grove Park Inn – Sunset at the Omni Grove Park Inn is an absolute must while in Asheville. You can’t beat its mountain views, making it the perfect place to enjoy a drink on a summer evening. If you’re there in the winter, definitely still go—you can bring the party inside to the lobby, which has rocking chairs lined up in front of a fireplace so big, you can stand up inside it!

Battery Park Book Exchange – Book lovers, rejoice. This is hands-down the best way to spend a rainy day in Asheville: Order a bottle of bubbly at the champagne bar and take a seat in front of a live band inside the Battery Park Book Exchange. Afterward, you can browse their selection of thousands of volumes.

Pint of beer
All Souls Pizza

Asheville breweries – I won’t pretend to be an expert on Asheville’s brewery scene. As a gluten-free consumer, beer is no longer really my jam. But I will say that you won’t want for options in this city. It boasts more breweries per capita than any other in the U.S. Try at least one while you’re in town! I’ve been to Green Man and Wicked Weed, which both had relaxed and fun atmospheres.

STILL ON MY LIST

Antidote – This speakeasy doesn’t discriminate. It hypes its cocktails, spirits, beer and wine with the tagline, “Cure for the common cocktail.”

The Crow and Quill – This bar counts more than 500 whiskeys in its collection, which includes more than 900 spirits in total. It also touts an “extensive” beer selection as well as live music.

Gan Shan Station
Gan Shan Station food

MILES MATH

If you’re going to be eating out anyway, might as well maximize the points and miles you’re earning as you do it, right? For dining, I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar at restaurants. Jake does even better, using the American Express Gold Card to earn 4 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar. The Citi Prestige will also rake on dining, netting 5 ThankYou points per dollar, although recent changes to its other benefits have scared many users away. And if it’s cash back you’re after, consider the Capital One Savor, which pulls in 4% on dining purchases.

For more on how to choose a travel rewards credit card that’s right for you, check out the 52 Cities free resource library. You can also register to join me on an upcoming masterclass!

And for more on Asheville, check out my complete city guide, my full review of the Foundry Hotel, and the perfect three-day itinerary for first-timers.

Hope you enjoyed this guide to the best Asheville bars and restaurants! Do you have any favorites I missed? Leave them below in the comments! >>

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Asheville bars and restaurants
Asheville bars and restaurants
Asheville bars and restaurants

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Carly

January 2, 2020

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