The Best Restaurants in Asheville, NC
Wining & Dining

A Local’s Favorite 16 Restaurants in Asheville, NC

Oh boy, it’s hard to pick only a few of Asheville’s best restaurants – there are too many! Our city is known for its outstanding food scene and farm-to-table dining, with many restaurants sourcing fresh ingredients from local farms and producers. Asheville also embraces a collaborative spirit among chefs, farmers, brewers, and artisans.

You’ll often find chefs working together to host joint dinners, where they showcase their talents and celebrate our region’s bounty. Festivals, pop-ups, food trucks, tastings, tours, and amazing farmers’ markets add to the mix of top-notch Asheville culinary experiences.

Overall, Asheville’s food scene is a dynamic mix of tradition, innovation, and sustainability. Whether you’re craving Southern comfort food – often reinterpreted with inventive twists – farm-fresh meals, vegan eats, or international flavors, you will find something delicious in our mountain town.

I’ve compiled a list of some of the best restaurants in Asheville. I’ve tried to include something for everyone, from child-friendly places to eat and breweries’ food trucks to award-winning restaurants, Southern comfort food, and perfect burritos. Pick your favorites from this list and have fun designing your own Asheville culinary tour!

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A Local’s Favorite 16 Restaurants in Asheville, NC

1. Explore Caribbean Flavors at Nine Mile

The Best Restaurants in Asheville, NC: Nine Mile

Named after Bob Marley’s hometown, Nine Mile’s first restaurant opened in historic Montford in 2008, and it rapidly became a favorite among locals and travelers. It’s now added two locations in West and South Asheville, but its flavorful, delicious Caribbean-inspired cuisine hasn’t changed at all.

You’ll love the laid-back ambiance, the colorful decoration, and the menu featuring bold, surprising island flavors. The menu is one of the most vegetarian-friendly in town, and all entrees are served with Natty Bread, made with locally baked City Bakery bread and dressed with an herby, garlicky spread of perfection. 

Don’t leave without buying a couple of bottles of their signature sauces to take home!

Locations: 

Montford: 233 Montford Ave, Asheville.

West Asheville: 751 Haywood Rd, Asheville.

South Asheville: 33 Town Square Blvd, Asheville.


2. Discover James Beard Nominee – Vivian 

Best Restaurants in Asheville, NC: Vivian
Image courtesy of Shannon McGaughey

Vivian in the River Arts District started as a food truck and became a brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2017. It is hands down one of the five best restaurants in Asheville, known for reinventing classic European and Southern dishes in a menu that honors tradition and creativity. 

You can expect a seasonal menu highlighting the best quality local produce, meats, and seafood and an impressive wine and handcrafted cocktails list. The ambiance is casual, and you’ll love the vibe of the neighborhood, which is full of art studios and shops. 

Vivian also offers one of the best brunches in town, and the desserts are to die for. I have yet to try something I don’t like! Definitely make reservations because this place is popular.

Location: 348 Depot St Ste 190, Asheville.


3. Try Nashville-Style Fried Chicken at Rocky’s 

Tops Restaurants in Asheville, NC: Rockys Hot Chicken Shack
 Image courtesy of Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack

Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack offers one of the best deals for your buck. The food is abundant and flawless, it’s family and budget-friendly, and nobody leaves hungry or disappointed. 

It serves everything chicken using only naturally raised birds sourced locally, and it’s famous for its Nashville-style hot fried chicken and the double-fried (not breaded) chicken wings. The fried chicken starts plain, and you can choose from eight levels of spiciness. 

Rocky’s has all the Southern soul food staple dishes, including Coca-Cola cake and banana pudding! You can visit their two Asheville locations in Arden and West Asheville or order online through four food delivery apps, so there is no excuse not to give it a try.

Locations:

West Asheville: 1455 Patton Ave, Asheville.

Arden: 3749 Sweeten Creek Rd, Arden. 


4. Get Your Cheeseburger Fix at Baby Bull

Most Recommended Restaurants in Asheville, NC: Baby Bull

Baby Bull in the River Arts District is one of Asheville’s hidden but not-so-hidden gems, located next to the famous Good Vibes Silo. It serves perfect cheeseburgers made with two 4 oz certified Angus Beef patties, American cheese, house bread and butter pickles, and caramelized onions on a Martin’s Potato Bun.

The rest of the menu is also outstanding, featuring some of the best lobster rolls, fried fish sandos, lamb gyros, and vada pav in town. The fries, hush puppies, and desserts also deserve applause. Be aware: the delicious shakes are addictive! You’ll enjoy sitting outdoors on a sunny day or a summer evening. 

Location: 1 Roberts St, Asheville.


5. Have Brunch at Sunny Point Café

Sunny Point Café on the iconic Haywood Road in West Asheville is celebrating 20 years. It was one of the first places I went to when I moved to town 12 years ago, and it’s still one of my favorite Asheville restaurants. 

I haven’t had anything I don’t love, and now that they’ve added the amazing Rabbit Hole Bakery next door, I just can’t imagine a better place to have brunch in Asheville.

They serve upscale Southern comfort food using seasonal, organic, locally sourced ingredients, some from the lovely on-site vegetable and herb garden. While they don’t offer reservations, you can wait outdoors by the garden, grab a cup of coffee at the bakery next door, or stroll on Haywood Road, West Asheville’s central street that’s full of fun and one-of-a-kind shops.

Location: 626 Haywood Rd, Asheville.


6. Satisfy Your Hunger at Mamacitas 

Best Restaurants in Asheville, NC: Mamacitas
 Image courtesy of Mamacitas

There is nothing like that perfect day of outdoor fun – hiking, chasing waterfalls, and playing in swimming holes – that leaves you with the kind of hunger that seems unsatisfiable… until you remember Mamacitas! Located downtown and established in 2004, they offer excellent Mexican food, including the best burritos in Asheville.

Their menu features many vegan and vegetarian options, and everything tastes fantastic and fresh. The burritos are giant! 

I love that they’re always playing Latino music, from Selena to Bad Bunny. You won’t be able to keep your body from dancing while you wait for the food. The service couldn’t be better, and some of the employees have been working there for over a decade, which speaks volumes about the business. 

Location: 77-A Biltmore Ave, Asheville.


7. Sample Spanish Tapas at Cúrate

Most Recommended Restaurants in Asheville, NC: Cúrate
Image courtesy of Curate

You’ve probably seen Cúrate in all the restaurant lists online, and the inclusion is for a legitimate reason. This downtown tapas bar opened in 2011 and is easily one of the best restaurants in Asheville. 

It won the 2022 James Beard Hospitality Award for its outstanding service, in which everything, from the food and the space to the business culture, aligns to give guests a fantastic culinary experience.  

The menu features classic tapas like patatas bravas and jamón ibérico, innovative dishes crafted with locally sourced ingredients, and an outstanding selection of Spanish wines, sherries, and cocktails. After living in Spain for some time, I can tell you that the taste is so authentic! Plus, you’ll love the bustling open kitchen.

Location: 13 Biltmore Ave, Asheville.


8. Savor Indian Street Food at Chai Pani

Most Recommended Restaurants in Asheville, NC: Chai Pani
Image courtesy of Chai Pani

Chai Pani is another James Beard award-winning restaurant in downtown Asheville, offering a creative take on Indian street food. Founded in 2009, it quickly gained a reputation for its intense flavors, lively atmosphere, friendly service, and commitment to authenticity. 

The menu is inspired by Chef Meherwan Irani’s upbringing in India and it features a mix of traditional street snacks and entrees with some modern interpretations of classic dishes. Everything tastes fantastic, and the combination of flavors and textures will take you on a trip to India’s bustling streets. The outdoor sitting area is lovely, too.

Location: 22 Battery Park Ave, Asheville.


9. Get Mexican and Korean Eats at El Kimchi 

Tops Restaurants in Asheville, NC: El Kimchi Food Truck
 Image courtesy of El Kimchi Food Truck

Asheville is known for its breweries – some even say it’s the city with the most breweries per capita in the country! Such a vast offering also brings food trucks that serve excellent, affordable food. El Kimchi Food Truck offers delicious Korean and Mexican food, and the combination couldn’t be better! 

You can have a kimchi quesadilla, dumplings, and bulgogi tacos – all in one meal! Find it at The Brew Pump, New Belgium Brewing, and Highland Brewing Company, and discover why it’s one of the best food trucks in Western North Carolina.


10. Eat Filipino Food at Neng Jr.’s 

Neng Jr.’s in West Asheville opened in 2022 and has already become one of the most recognized Asheville restaurants in the US. It attracts locals and tourists who want to be part of the trend and don’t want to miss this culinary adventure.

Chef Silver Iocovozzi’s restaurant has been featured in “The New York Times,” “Bon Appetit,” and the 2023 Time100 Next list. It was also selected as a 2023 Best New Restaurant James Beard Awards finalist. They open reservations at midnight 30 days ahead, so be ready!

Location: 701 Haywood Rd Ste 102, Asheville.


11. Sample Creative Tacos at White Duck 

Tops Restaurants in Asheville, NC: White Duck Taco Shop

White Duck Taco Shop is one of the best restaurants in Asheville for a quick yet great meal with kids and dogs. It has three locations in downtown, the River Arts District, and South Asheville, all offering pet-friendly outdoor seating. The one in the River Arts District (my favorite) is by the French Broad River!

They offer nontraditional tacos that taste amazing. Imagine Thai Peanut Chicken, Bangkok Shrimp, Mole-Roasted Duck, or Chicken Tikka Masala tacos. I love their queso and Mexican Street Corn. If you are looking for an easy, family-friendly restaurant in Asheville, this is it.

Locations:

River Arts District: 388 Riverside Dr, Asheville.

Downtown: 12 Biltmore Ave, Asheville.

Asheville/Skyland: 116 Miami Circle, Arden.

Hendersonville: 500 7th Ave E, Hendersonville. 


12. Dig Into BBQ at 12 Bones Smokehouse

Best Restaurants in Asheville, NC: 12 Bones Smokehouse
Image courtesy of 12 Bones Smokehouse

12 Bones Smokehouse is another signature Asheville restaurant. It opened in 2005 in a squat building in the River Arts District, long before the neighborhood became what it is today, and has now added another location and a brewery in Arden. It’s been featured in the national media many times, partly because President Obama ate here twice.

Everything they serve is made daily and from scratch, and they offer an original 12 Bones-style barbeque that combines flavors and recipes from all over the country. You can’t leave Asheville without trying the ribs with blueberry chipotle sauce. If you love their food, get a cookbook! 

Locations:

River Arts District: 5 Foundy St #10, Asheville.

Arden: 2350 Hendersonville Rd, Arden. 


13. Pay a Hot Meal Forward at Tastee Diner

Tastee Diner has to be one of the most unique places to eat in Asheville. Established in 1946 and reinvented in 2022, it serves a menu of creative diner food during the day and upscale tapas after dark. Since it sources its ingredients locally, the offerings change with the season. It’s open until 3 am for your late-night cravings!

The fun events and weekly deals, including Service Industry Nights, are awesome. The program Purchase a Wooden Nickel allows diners to purchase a $5 token to give another patron a hot meal. Chef and owner Steven Goff was unhoused in the past and advocates for humanizing our unhoused neighbors.

Location: 575 Haywood Rd, Asheville.


14. Go Vegan at Plant

Plant in North Asheville opened in 2011, and it’s considered one of the best vegan restaurants in the country and an Asheville staple. The best part? Non-vegans also love it because their food is delicious! Plant is a “vegan, 90% organic, often local, and mostly gluten-free” restaurant. 

It’s open for dinner, and you need to make reservations. If you didn’t make it on time to save your spot, head out to their nearby sibling café, Pulp + Sprout, which also serves fantastic vegan food in a more casual environment.

Location: 165 Merrimon Ave, Asheville.


15. Dine Alfresco at Sunset Terrace

Most Recommended Restaurants in Asheville: Sunset Terrace
Image courtesy of Omni Grove Park Inn

While Asheville features many restaurants with a view – from downtown’s rooftop bars to lovely mountain inns – Sunset Terrace at the Omni Grove Park Inn offers some of the best Blue Ridge Mountain vistas. It’s perfect for a family brunch or a romantic date night. 

It serves American food dishes that never disappoint since they’re made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Keep in mind that this is an outdoor dining venue. 

You must make reservations since it gets busy, but please make sure to save some time to explore the Grove Park Inn, one of Asheville’s best luxury hotels and a historical landmark.

Location: 290 Macon Ave, Asheville.


16. Have Pizza Night at 828 Family Pizzeria

828 Family Pizzeria in North Asheville has been cooking New York-style pizza since 1933, and it’s one of the locals’ favorite spots not only for pizza, calzones, and stromboli but also for other Italian dishes. They serve all the staples: antipasto, salads, fresh pasta, hot sandwiches, and amazing desserts (try the cannolis!). 

Of course, it’s Asheville, so the beverage menu includes some of the best craft beers from popular local breweries, such as Highland, Asheville Brewing Company, New Belgium, and Sierra Nevada.

Location: 946 Merrimon Ave, Asheville.

There you have it! The 16 best restaurants in Asheville, NC. What’s your absolute favorite restaurant in Asheville? Let us know so we can give them a try!


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Born in Argentina, Laura is a journalist who's lived in Asheville for 10 years. She loves all things Asheville, from the vast business scene to the beautiful nonprofits, magical people, and marvelous nature. She loves being involved in projects that are the change she wants to see in the world.

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