While it may be changing soon, North Carolina is a notoriously tough place to trawl for happy hours. Selling alcoholic beverages at a discount in the early evening or late afternoon was against the law starting in the 1980s, an effort that was intended to cut down on drunk driving.
While legislators are trying to make laws that are more friendly and less restrictive to the craft beverage industry that has blossomed in NC (while, of course, still not encouraging drunk driving!), many restaurants and breweries in Asheville have found other ways to make a visit to their fine establishments appealing.
In Asheville, you’re more likely to find a combo price for a drink and a meal (like a burger and a beer night) or a half-price wine night that lasts the whole evening. Appetizer specials are also popular, and they have the added benefit of making sure you get something to nosh with a round of after-work drinks.
That being said, Asheville thrives on a seasonal, rotating menu, and restaurants have to update prices based on factors like inflation and other rising costs they experience, so instead of highlighting particular deals (in case they go up in price or rotate the current special), we’re giving you some ideas for what the yummiest spots for a happy hour timed outing would be, and also focusing on places that have had special deals in the past so that you can hopefully take advantage when you visit.
If the deal you want is the main reason you want to go to a particular restaurant, message them on Instagram or call them ahead of time to make sure you get the experience you were longing for!
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The Best Happy Hour Spots in Asheville
1. Archetype Brewing
Great for: Archetype is known for flavorful farmhouse-style beers that run the gamut from classic to truly unusual. Their taprooms are fun and friendly, and at their South Slope location, you can get some nibbles from 4pm to 6pm for a reduced rate, even if your beers are the same price as usual due to NC law.
Specials: 50% off sharables (a section of their menu) is the main happy hour deal we found.
Timing: Get these deals from 4pm to 6pm on Wednesday through Sunday at South Slope!
Location: 39 Banks Ave, Asheville.
2. Cantina Louie
Great for: Cantina Louie serves up fresh and flavorful Mexican food in a fun atmosphere! They also offer such a wide variety of specials that you’re likely to find something at a good deal, no matter when you happen to stop by this South Asheville mainstay.
Specials: Every day of the week has a drink special – like Monday’s discounted margarita flights or Thursday’s specialty margarita. There’s also Monday night kids’ specials on meals, lunch specials on food, and a taco Tuesday deal that will keep you coming back over and over!
Timing: Pretty much any day of the week you’ll find something on special, but you can always stop by from 2pm to 5pm any day for “Appy Hour,” half-priced appetizer time!
Location: 2 Gerber Road Suite c101, Asheville.
3. The Grey Eagle Taqueria
Great for: The Grey Eagle Taqueria offers excellent tacos right in the same building as The Grey Eagle Music Hall venue, making it a good stop if you are hungry or thirsty before a show (or during!). It’s got a very laid-back vibe earlier in the day, with a pretty patio to boot.
Specials: While they don’t always run weekly specials, locals can get a “taco punch card” that gives perks for eating more tacos at The Grey Eagle!
Timing: Sometimes the chef will whip up a taco or an empanada that is a little different and “off menu” – but there’s no telling how long it’ll stick around!
Location: 185 Clingman Ave, Asheville.
4. La Bodega by Cúrate
Great for: La Bodega fashions itself after the bar-restaurants that are so plentiful in Spain, with daily special meals and a simple, fresh, and flavorful menu full of sandwiches, tapas, and larger meals called “raciones.” They host event weeks, like the recent Sherry Week, where they offer special drinks for a limited time, and they have daily meal specials called the “plato del día.”
Specials: Constantly rotating, but the best option is to just stop by and try whatever is fresh and advertised as the of-the-moment drink or meal.
Timing: Varies, and usually specials are part of an event rather than an ongoing happy-hour special.
Check out our review of La Bodega!
Location: 32 S Lexington Ave, Asheville.
5. Pack’s Tavern
Specials: Each of the seven days of the week has a special. At the time of writing, specials on Bloody Marys and mimosas were the Sunday plan, while a deal on Shock Top on draft and a cocktail known as the Blackberry Blossom were available on Saturdays.
Timing: All of the specials are day-specific but not time-specific! They’re likely to be updated over time, though!
Location: 20 S Spruce St, Asheville.
6. Rye Knot
Great for: Rye Knot has an extensive scratch-made menu as well as being a place that brews its own beer and distills its own liquor – Rye Knot does it all! Tucked away in North Asheville, there’s ample parking and you’ll find not only daily specials but new specials each week.
Specials: A recent week’s specials included buy one, get one meatloaf and salads with protein, special taco deals on Tuesday, and half price on selected wines for all of Wednesday.
Timing: Deals are only good for the week when they are announced on the website or social media, so check before you want to go, but most deals are good for their dinner service hours, 4pm to 9pm.
Location: 868 Merrimon Ave, Asheville.
7. Taco Billy
Great for: While I got hooked on Taco Billy due to their craveable breakfast tacos, the food here is simple, fresh, and perfectly seasoned, making it just as good all day long, including at happy hour time.
Specials: Affordable draft beers on Wednesdays and a deal on frozen margaritas on Thursdays have been staples in the past.
Timing: Specials are by day, not by time, and because there are three locations (two brick-and-mortar locations and a food truck), make sure that you’re going to the right spot after checking out their social media or website for updates on specials.
Location: 201 Haywood Rd, Asheville.
8. Vinnie’s Italian
Great for: If you’re looking for a classic, flavorful, and rich Italian meal, Vinnie’s Italian is the place to get it! Maybe not your light nibbles with a beer spot, but for a gathering that might last longer than the typical happy hour timeframe, you will love both the original location on Merrimon Ave and Vinnie’s South.
Specials: From a half-price wine night and Friday’s special on martinis to nights when you can get the famous lobster ravioli, housemade gnocchi, or a chef’s pasta special.
Timing: Each special runs on a particular day of the week for all of the dinner service.
Location: 641 Merrimon Ave, Asheville.
Location: 1981 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville.
Tips for Affordable Bites and Sips in Asheville
The reality is that recent inflation and general upheaval in supply chains have made this a tough season for restaurants and bars, which may not be offering quite as many big specials as they might have previously. So, when you want to support our local food scene but still save a few dollars here and there, here are some of the ways you can do it.
- I’m a big fan of planning one evening of cooking a special meal at home and saving the difference in cost between that one night’s meal and a night out to put toward a future meal out. Essentially, rather than two happy hour experiences, one “special” home meal and one night out with a slightly bigger budget.
- Consider the two-stop evening out on a warm night – start with a drink at your favorite bar or brewery, then take a pre-packed picnic to a local park or down by the French Broad River!
- Follow your favorite restaurants and bars on social media to see if they have last-minute tickets to their special events, one-time special meals, or other experiences that are so unique that they are worth the sticker price.
- While a lot of restaurants cannot spare deep discounts on happy hour meals, many still choose to do dine-to-donate events, offering some benefits to local nonprofit causes from the proceeds on a given night. While your personal meal won’t be cheaper, you’ll be channeling some of your costs into a good cause that matters in Asheville, and that can feel easily as good as a discount.
- Even if it’s a big occasion, try some of the more casual spots in town for a more affordable and still incredible meal: I frequently opt for All Day Darling, White Duck Taco, and Baby Bull for a meal with friends that I know is neither going to break the bank nor disappoint in the flavor department.
- Most of all, don’t scrimp on tips to save a dollar or two on a meal out! Tipping well is a big part of how our hospitality workers keep up the good work. If you happen to be getting a happy hour or daily-special deal, tip on the original price, too, since they still served at the same standard level!