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Benne On Eagle
Photograph: Courtesy Benne On Eagle

The best restaurants in Asheville for a delicious meal

The best restaurants in Asheville combine Southern culinary traditions with fearless innovation and creativity

Written by
Jenn Rice

Hungry? The South is packed with thrilling foodie destinations. That should go without saying but say it, we will, and few regions on the planet blend culinary quality and homely comforts like here. Asheville is very much at the forefront of this, and North Carolina’s creative hub is all about brilliant restaurants that are focused on foodie innovation as they are, you know, good food. The best of both worlds? Welcome to Asheville.

Asheville has gained a reputation for being a hipster-heavy city, and that is not a bad thing at all. It means a culinary scene committed to reviving traditions in a modern context, and the diners are the winners. The best restaurants in Asheville demand your attention, and they usually throw in some of the country’s best craft beer along the way. Yes, please.

Best restaurants in Asheville

This Indian street food-inspired eatery is loved by locals and tourists alike, and it has recently earned a James Beard Award in the Outstanding Restaurant category, so you can see why it's so popular. In addition to the excellent curries, crispy kale pakoras and lime-kissed matchstick okra fries have deservedly earned wide acclaim, but if you want your mind blown, try the butter chicken. This signature dish is a North Indian favorite and is made with marinated and seared chicken in an aromatic tomato cream sauce with butter and jaggery. 

If barbecue is your thing, visiting the Buxton Hall Barbecue is a must. Set in the high ceilings of the historic South Slope space—an artfully renovated 1930s-era roller-skating ring—pitmaster Elliott Moss wood-smokes locally sourced meat for hours, but in addition to the extremely popular slow-cooked pulled pork, the smoky fried catfish and buttermilk fried chicken have equally earned developed their own cult followings. Many sides are cooked in the coals under the pig, soaking up that intense flavor. No, you are dribbling.


Inside a happening Spanish tapas restaurant and bar housed in a 1927 bus depot (and a top drop-off point for Uber drivers in the area), Chef Katie Button takes diners on an edible journey through prized Spanish small plates. With a literal translation of 'cure yourself,' Cúrate will no doubt cure snack attack cravings with its hyped charcuterie bar. Think cured meats, Spanish cheeses, and a sinful dessert list, with a cool, curated list of vermouth, sherry, and cider on tap. The restaurant also offers more filling items like paella, sandwiches, grilled meats, and fried delicacies.  

Located in The Block (Asheville’s historic business district), Benne on Eagle has carefully created a menu that uses flavors, ingredients, and dishes from the African diaspora, utilizing local and regional sources to bring the experience to this magnificent North Carolina restaurant. The dinner menu contains mouthwatering delights like fried catfish and smothered pork chops, plus this impressive eatery offers an equally impressive breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, grits, toast, and tea.


Go for the best cocktail creations in Asheville, but stay for the food. This place has a way of reinventing the wheel by turning simple, locally sourced ingredients into edible pieces of art. The menu is a delight, featuring dishes like Cajun Pineapple Heritage Pork Collar and Chimichurri Apple Brandy Beef Tri-Tip Steak in a well-lit space that resembles an old-school pharmacy.

Chef John Fleer livened up the dining scene in Asheville with a menu of beautiful dishes that give diners a true sense of place, as he relies heavily on Buncombe County’s farms and purveyors for menu inspiration. Expect to see a hefty list of North Carolina cheeses, an entire 'eat your vegetables' section, and Southern-inspired bites with a culinary twist. Sit at the chef’s table, order a beer, and glimpse into the open kitchen to view where the magic happens. This rustic, chef-driven restaurant in the heart of downtown will satisfy even the pickiest vegetarian palate.


The West Asheville restaurant has been around for over a decade and keeps its finger on the pulse of what diner desires. What do diners want? Delicious food, of course. The chill atmosphere, romantic lighting, minimalistic interior, and ever-changing menu draw the crowds, and the food does the rest. Altogether, a fine dining restaurant with dive bar vibes, situated in a cinderblock building. The amped-up wine list is just the cherry on top.  

Chef (and owner) Hugo Ramirez serves original and appetizing reworks on the cuisine of Mexico City (Hugo's hometown), and the menu changes roughly every week or so depending on what produce and ingredients are available locally at the time. The cocktail list is delightfully extensive, and the restaurant also offers a vast range of fabulous craft beers. 


This cozy eatery has grown from a humble pop-up to a brick-and-mortar eatery offering a fusion of European food culture with Appalachian ingredients and flavors. Located in the super-stylish River Arts District, Vivian is a firm favorite among locals and visitors alike. The menu rotates with the seasons and the availability of local produce, but consistency is king at Vivian's. Leave room for dessert because, obviously, you should always leave room for dessert.

Cucina 24 is an Italian restaurant with a Southern touch, perfect for date night. Chef Brian Canipelli's dishes shimmer and shine, traditional Italian intertwined with regional ingredients as if the two were meant for each other. The restaurant works closely with local farms to ensure the freshest produce, something that becomes apparent from the very first bite.


If breakfast at any time of day is your thing, then this unassuming spot on Haywood Road is nothing short of an oasis. The menu is extensive, and everything is made from locally sourced ingredients or grown from its on-site production garden. At weekends, patience is required as every local knows how good the food is here, but Sunny Point Cafe is worth the wait.

This tiny doughnut shop has some of the South’s best doughnuts. The menu is simple and easy to navigate—pick from one of four doughnut flavors (including a seasonal option that changes weekly), grab a cup of PennyCup Coffee, and wait (im)patiently while they’re fried to order in front of you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when the time comes to devour a hand-shaped, piping-hot treat that eats more like brioche pastry than a basic doughnut.


Occupying a modest outlet on Patton Avenue, this Mexican restaurant is extremely popular with locals, who pour forth to sample the delicious and extensive menu. Specialties include birria, pupusas, caldo de res, and pollo con mole plus, of course, there's a wide variety of tortas, tacos, burritos, tamales, and quesadillas on offer. There are vegetarian versions—that might not appear on the menu—of many of the dishes, so don't be afraid to ask. There's also a food truck that sometimes makes its way around the neighborhood.

You are in the South, so barbecue is a must. Roll up your sleeves and dive into drool-worthy ribs smoked slowly over hardwood for hours and doused in Cheerwine or blueberry chipotle sauce. For a lighter intro, dip your toes into the side plate (not literally) and the 'just a taste' meat menu. Bonus: The Wedge Brewery is just across the way if craft beers are your thing.


An impressive menu awaits you at Nine Mile, named after the location in Jamaica where Bob Marley was born. Chilled-out vibes complement pasture-raised chicken, line-caught trout, and tuna, with a variety of other seafood and an impressive selection of salads, pasta, and rice dishes. But the zesty array of fresh vegetables really stands out. Just a quiet word in the server's shell-like, and they'll make almost any dish vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and/or dairy-free.

A no-frills, super affordable taqueria with seriously good eats. It’s cheap, plus the tacos are innovative, and there are several locations throughout the city due to popular demand. Fillings are quirky but appetizing, and everything is a la carte, so bring a crew of friends and order multiple items to taste it all—and obviously wash it down with a local beer or two. Keep an eye out for the massive duck.

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