Old Europe Pastries Review in Asheville, North Carolina
Local Business Reviews,  Wining & Dining

Old Europe Pastries Review: Delicacies in Downtown

My husband and I have to have good snacks on hand if we’re going to watch the “Great British Baking Show,” a lightly competitive baking show featuring truly scrumptious and delicate treats. One of the categories that is easiest to understand by watching seasons and seasons of this show is patisserie

It refers to things that would probably get the umbrella term “desserts” in the United States, but are specifically a variety of delicate, constructed pastries and cakes that are popular all over Europe but maybe most famously so in France.

When we think patisserie, we think desserts with layers, with perhaps some puff pastry but also a layer of cake, some mousse, or some fruit jam, a combination of flavors that comes together both artistically and for flavor. Patisserie is what I think Old Europe Pastries in downtown Asheville does better than anyone else in town. 

Old Europe Pastries Review
Image courtesy of Old Europe Pastries

Certainly, you can eat something sweet in many places around town, and you definitely should. But when it comes to a brightly lit and colorfully-filled case of dessert options, served alongside European coffee in a classy but understated shop with an outdoor terrace on pretty days… well, no one beats Old Europe!

I first found and loved Old Europe because I’d just run the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5K through downtown Asheville. It’s both my favorite and least favorite tradition for Thanksgiving; favorite because it gets me active and helps me work up an appetite that really renders all the dinner flavors in surround sound, but also least favorite because so much of that 5K is uphill and downhill because, well, mountains! 

Anyway, on one particularly chilly Turkey Trot day, my family and I were chilly and tired and ready for the next cup of caffeine, and lo and behold, Old Europe was open. While I mostly remember the delicious warmth of the coffee, it was clearly a popular spot on a holiday, with lines out the door to get both the warm bean juice and the case full of sweets.

Old Europe’s been a staple of downtown Asheville since before downtown Asheville was really a destination. They opened in 1994, meaning they are cruising into their 30th year of operation. The owner immigrated to the US from Europe, bringing with her a diligent passion for creating incredible desserts. 

Their business is a combination of walk-up purchases, cafe style, and catering and special orders – if you want to impress someone in your life, make it a priority to get them an Old Europe cake! 

The most popular menu items change, I’m sure, but a few stand out among the thousands of reviews written about this shop over time. Their tiramisu is consistently praised as divine, with layers of white cake soaked in brandy and coffee, sandwiching mascarpone cheese cream and whipped cream. Their delicate, rotating-flavored macarons are both a perfectly textured mouthful of sweetness and gluten-free due to the use of almond flour. 

Best Dessert Places in Asheville NC Old Europe Pastries
Image courtesy of Old Europe Pastries

The other options you’ll find, though, are equally tempting. On a given day, you might find breakfast pastries, including croissants, banana bread, muffins, and even quiche. 

There’s a selection of classy-looking cookies like the Ishler, a sandwich of walnut lemon shortbread filled with apricot jam and dipped in chocolate, or the oatmeal date bar filled with date puree and covered with an oatmeal crust. Beautiful slices of cake – from a berry torte to a hazelnut napoleon – jazz up the bakery case alongside eclairs, cheesecake, and so much more.

Most Recommended Dessert Places in Asheville NC Old Europe Pastries
Image courtesy of Old Europe Pastries

There are delicious drinks available, from the very European sparkling Perrier water to cold brew coffee, and the shop serves alcohol as well. That being said, when I’m hanging out in the evening with a friend who doesn’t drink alcohol, we often gravitate to Old Europe because they are one of the only spots that is open seven days a week until at least 10 pm that has much more to draw you in than just the alcohol. 

When you sit down for a treat here, it feels much more like living in Europe, where cafes recognize that needing a little espresso and a dessert late at night after a languid dinner is just part of the culture. 

In practice, Old Europe is a destination for people who have finished their dinner downtown, done a little turn around the bustling streets, and settled in for something to satisfy the sweet tooth. You will find that, unless the weather is truly bad or you’re downtown on an early weeknight, it’s pretty much always bustling with customers.

They had a charming and cozy spot on Broadway for a long time, but in recent years, they picked a spot with a much more open feeling and enough room to really form a line. Ironically, this spot was pretty much right across the street from the old spot! You could literally turn around and see the new spot when you accidentally show up at the old one expecting to get a cheese danish and a cup of coffee. 

I find the new spot so classy, with big mirrors on the wall to increase the spacious feeling of it, a classic color palette of gray and black, with smart-looking hexagonal tiles on the floor. The creamy marble bar and tables tie everything together nicely, with a few sidewalk tables you can choose if your main goal is some excellent people-watching. 

There are wrought iron details and a simple impressionist painting on the wall, but the main attraction is the big open front window with a bar, where the artwork on display is the street life of Asheville. 

Because their hours are so plentiful, you don’t always have to make a serious plan ahead of time to make a stop at Old Europe. It’s best enjoyed in a carefree spirit, slotted into some unexpected downtime on a trip, or as a much-needed moment to breathe in your busy Asheville life. I hope you get to indulge in something sweet there soon!

Old Europe Pastries: 18 Broadway St, Asheville.

Have you been to Old World Pastries in Asheville? 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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