Get us in your inbox

Benne On Eagle
Photograph: Courtesy Benne On Eagle

The best restaurants in Asheville

Southern food goes far beyond fried chicken and biscuits, as you’ll discover with the best restaurants in Asheville

Written by
Jenn Rice

There’s no denying that Asheville’s creative vibe and culinary spirit have fueled the growth of a roaring and wide-ranging restaurant scene. Try turning down a warm buttermilk biscuit, a platter of crispy fried chicken or a big ol’ bowl of shrimp and grits. We dare you. And while you can find all the above in Asheville, the city’s food scene has so much more to offer. With a continuously growing population, an abundance of regional farms and a brewery scene like no other (one of many things to do in this North Carolina city), Asheville continues to evolve and serve as one of the South’s most exciting food cities. Now’s the time to plan a trip and check out the best restaurants in Asheville. 

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, then a visit to the Buxton Hall Barbecue is a must. Set in the high-ceilings of the historic South Slope space—an artfully renovated 1930’s-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. Even many of the sides are cooked in the coals under the pig where they soak up that intense flavor.


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 side offers more filling items like paella, sandwiches, grilled meats and fried delicacies.  

Located in Asheville’s historic business district, the Block, 2022 James Beard finalist Cleophus Hethington 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 pretty special North Carolina restaurant. The dinner menu contains mouthwatering delights like crawfish, catfish, trout and lamb, 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. Chef Graham House has a way of reinventing the wheel by turning simple, locally sourced ingredients into edible pieces of art. Monday’s Recession-Proof Mixology (RPM) offers budget-friendly classic cocktails and a late-night food menu while Whisk(e)y Wednesdays showcase interesting libations with, you guessed it, whiskey. Brunch is an affair to remember, with classics like buttermilk waffles, steak and eggs and seasonal omelets. All in a well-lit space that resembles an old-school pharmacy.

Chef John Fleer livened up the city’s dining scene 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. It’s wise to 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’s palate.


The West Asheville restaurant has been around for over a decade and continues to keep on the forefront of what diners want: delicious food. Its chill atmosphere, romantic lighting, minimalistic interior and a globally inspired ever-changing menu of small, is what draws in the crowd. 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.  

In the 20 or so years that it's been open, Limones Restaurant has remained a firm favorite for local residents. Chef and owner Hugo Ramirez offers some original and appetizing reworks on the cuisine of his home town, Mexico City. The menu changes roughly every week or so depending on what produce and ingredients are available locally at the time. At the time of writing, the dinner menu included offers such as Harissa blend pork tenderloin, sea scallops and Sumac grilled lamb tenderloins and filo bakery’s flourless chocolate torte with fruit-chipotle sauce.


Chef Patrick O'Cain, an Asheville native, whips up visually stunning East Asian dishes like dumplings, ramen, Korean fried chicken and more, in a no-frills former gas station. Lunch features a more mainstream, straight forward menu (check out the dumpling boat, where you pick 20 dumplings of choice) and dinner service takes it to next level. Tuesday’s build your own ramen night is a popular evening for locals.

This cozy eatery has grown from humble beginnings as a 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 has established itself as a firm favorite among locals and visitors alike. Most menu items rotate with the seasons and the availability of local produce, but signature dishes include the Nordic deviled eggs stuffed with smoked fish, potato and cornichon, topped with caviar, the 14oz ribeye steak dinner plus vivian’s famous steak sauce and of course the chocolate fudge cake.


An Italian eatery with a Southern touch that’s perfect for date night. While a romantic and quaint spot for date night, solo diners do not fret—post up at the chef’s bar and drool while watching the team make pasta by hand. Chef Brian Canella keeps it real with traditional Italian intertwined with regional ingredients. And there are two ways to conquer his menu: a traditional approach with “the classics” and a more out there menu that entails experimental bites called 'what we’re cooking.'

If breakfast, at any time of day, is your thing, then this unassuming eatery located on Haywood Road is nothing short of an oasis. There's very little that isn't on offer here and everything is made from locally sourced ingredients or even grown from its on-site production garden. At the weekends, patience is required as every local knows how good the food is here, from sausage and cheese-stuffed French toast, carrot hotcakes, or locally lauded shrimp and grits.


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 eatery 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 an 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.


First off, the River Arts District is all the rage right now. Secondly, you’re in the South, so barbecue is a must. Roll up your sleeves and dive into drool-worthy ribs that are smoked slowly over hardwood for hours and doused in either Cheerwine or blueberry chipotle sauce. For a lighter intro, dabble into the side plate (pick four) and the 'just a taste' meat menu. Bonus: The Wedge at Foundation is just across the way if craft beers are your thing.

An impressive menu awaits you at Nine Mile, apparently named after the location in Jamaica where Bob Marley was born. Chilled out vibes complement pasture-raised chicken, line-caught trout and tuna, together with a variety of other seafood and an impressive selection of salads, pasta and rice dishes. But the zesty array of fresh vegetables really stand out, more so here than any other restaurant we can remember. 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.


    You may also like
    You may also like

    The best things in life are free.

    Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

    Loading animation
    Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

    🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

    Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!