Early Girl Eatery Review in Asheville, North Carolina
Local Business Reviews,  Wining & Dining

Early Girl Eatery Review: The Heart of Asheville Brunch

Eating a meal between early morning and the start of the afternoon is a simple thing, but brunch is an entire vibe. Something about the choice to eat a large meal instead of two smaller ones conveys relaxation, connection, and usually fun, given that it’s one of the rare times I see people sipping a champagne-laden bellini or mimosa at 11:30 am. 

While various restaurants do a great brunch in Asheville, my favorite brunching standard is Early Girl Eatery. You’ll know it if you’ve wandered the city even a bit – between their three locations and the distinctive vintage logo of a young girl holding a huge tomato. 

On the quieter stretch of Wall Street, you’ll find this tasty downtown flavor depot, which has been operating since 2001, when downtown was a much quieter and less tourism-friendly destination. 

The team has always put a premium on making food that wasn’t just made from scratch but also sourced as responsibly as possible, from buying local and organic where available to rotating the menu to make the best use of seasonally available food items that taste the best at the peak of freshness.  

Early Girl Eatery Drinks
All images courtesy of Early Girl Eatery

In many ways, the humble Southern favorites served at this cafe ignited the foodie culture in Asheville – when you taste truly fresh, flavorful food, even in very familiar formulations, it really sets you on fire! 

So whether your standard Early Girl order is the Two Egg Breakfast served with home fries and a biscuit or their Organic Tofu Scramble Breakfast full of curry, onions, mushrooms, and spinach, you can feel assured that everything you’re eating is truly wholesome.

You’ll know Early Girl’s location from a block away on a brunching Sunday, because there’s always a little crowd milling and waiting for a table, but I’m here to let you know – you can order anything on the Early Girl menu any time of day, and they are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Frequently, if I pull up to Early Girl for dinner on a weeknight, it’s actually pleasantly quiet and a great place to catch up with a friend.

From the airy windows that bring the natural light to the simple art that adorns the walls, it becomes clear that the masterpiece of Early Girl Eatery is the food – from every table, meals that have many different colors on them will draw the eye. 

Early Girl Eatery Waffle

If you’ve never been one of those people (like I have) who cranes your neck to see the neighbor’s plates as part of your menu selection process, then you may become a convert today – it’s just that inviting to pick something based on how fresh and lovely it looks coming out of the kitchen. 

Two items are tied for my favorites on the menu. First, there’s the Spinach & Mashed Potato Cakes. They’re a great example of how preparing familiar ingredients in an unusual way makes for a truly unique experience. 

A bit like a latke or potato pancake, the spinach and potato cakes are crispy on the outside and perfectly soft in the middle, and they pair great with the housemade tomato gravy. Add on a side of over-medium eggs so I can get some jammy yolk in there, too, and sop up any remaining tasty goop with a biscuit? Sign me up.

The other is the Apple & Berry Salad, which pairs great with the raspberry vinaigrette. The combo of goat cheese, candied pecans, fruit, and spring mix is already a refreshing and top-notch combination, but you also get to pick a hearty protein for on top. 

Early Girl Eatery Pancakes

While their fried chicken makes a great rich addition, I tried the Smiling Hara Tempeh, partially because I haven’t eaten tempeh in a while and I always like trying new plant-based proteins at a restaurant to give me a benchmark for how they should taste when I prepare them at home. 

If you’re looking for a savory plant-based protein with a top-notch texture, this is the one: much less wiggly and moist than standard tofu blocks, the tempeh was the star of this salad, which also featured many excellent flavors. In my opinion, a good salad should taste great no matter which items get speared for any given forkful, and the tempeh, apple, and berry salad passed this test with flying colors. 

While at any given time you may encounter seasonal variants on the menu, your standard options begin with breakfast food. A whole section of sweet and cinnamon-y Biscuit French dishes, as well as waffles and pancakes, are good options if you come in with your sweet tooth hankerings.

Or try the various omelets and scrambles, including the very popular Yam Scram, which combines your eggs with local pork sausage, mushrooms, glazed sweet potatoes, bacon, and green onion – the perfect melding of savory and sweet!

Early Girl Eatery Review

The sandwich menu sports both burgers and chicken sandwiches, as well as a portabella mushroom sammie and a Beyond Burger, making it a good spot on the menu for vegetarian and vegan options. 

The main-courses menu for lunch and dinner is a symphony of Southern favorites, from meatloaf to fried chicken, with a tempeh-topped bowl dish called the Cali Bowl to satisfy those who want veggies, housemade sauces, and black beans over rice. 

While I’ve often been in a coffee mood when I’m at the Eatery, where they serve a micro roast called Jags Head, it’s far from the only drink option. They often have craft mimosas – keeping with the craft-iness of downtown Asheville – where they revamp a cocktail to be a spritzer version, often adding some kind of bubbly to it. 

One final exhortation is that you simply have no choice if you’ve got a biscuit coming with your meal: on the table, you’ll see Imladris Farm’s jam, and even if you’re rarely a jam person, you should give it a try. It’s locally produced and reminded me that jam makes a biscuit into a dessert par excellence. 

My companion raved about the Pulled Pork Plate and loved its extensive portions the last time I was there. The service was relaxed and warm. I imagine on a more bustling night, we might have been brought a check with greater speed in spite of us just sitting there and chatting for a while, but the calm attitude of the space, combined with a willingness to make dietary preference tweaks to menu items, was just lovely. 

Early Girl Eatery Feature

I’ve eaten at the West Asheville location as well, though, and on the weekday morning that I stopped in, it was just full enough that I felt a twinge of guilt about taking up a table as a solo diner. I knew I would be in and out, though, so I enjoyed my window-side view of Haywood Street, relishing the fun and funky atmosphere that manages to pervade most of West Asheville. 

While I haven’t personally eaten at the South Asheville or Charlotte locations, they seem to have figured out the multi-locations consistency by my estimation – I get the feeling you’ll have an incredible meal no matter where you go.

I imagine that many of the successful restaurants in downtown look up to the Early Girl Eatery model, since everyone who loves their restaurant would love for it to have this kind of staying power in an area that has been marked by big change over the decades. 

Early Girl Eatery has been featured in a variety of magazines, and while you are spoiled for choice in downtown now, that wasn’t always the case – there’s now a blueprint for a successful Asheville restaurant that draws people in from out of town, and that wasn’t really the case in 2001. 

I recommend feeding your brunch hankering, no matter what time of day, at Early Girl so that you can enjoy the experience that people have had for almost 20 years now of top ingredients prepared creatively and soulfully. 

Downtown Asheville: 8 Wall St., Asheville.
West Asheville: 444 Haywood Rd. #101, Asheville.
South Asheville: 1378 Hendersonville Rd. Suite A, Asheville.

Have you been to one of Early Girl Eatery’s Asheville locations? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!


Laura finally got to move to Asheville in 2021 after a decade of visits and hangouts here. She loves the food, the coffee shops, and the riverfront in Asheville. Laura is always finding something new and wonderful to try.

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