A picturesque mountain town with historic architecture, a thriving arts scene and an increasing number of notable restaurants and craft breweries, there are so many food-centric reasons to visit Asheville, but how do you fit a bunch of must-visit outings into one day? Check out our wham-bam foodie itinerary below.
Photo by ExploreAsheville.com
Breakfast: Donuts at Hole Doughnuts
You haven’t had donuts like these before. This unassuming spot (with a decked out blue truck out front) serves handmade yeasted donuts that are fried to order right before your eyes using wooden sticks to flip the dough. They’re glazed and delivered to you seconds after being removed from the fryer for maximum freshness (and enjoyment). The resulting donuts have a unique texture: crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Flavors include vanilla glazed (an instant classic), toasted almond sesame cinnamon (a sweet and salty combination), cocoa rub and a weekly changing seasonal flavor (like rosemary bourbon and redbud violet bergamot). Pair with a cup of small batch, locally roasted coffee.
168 Haywood Road; 828-774-5667
Photo by Amy Wester
Mid-morning snack: Biscuit sandwich at Biscuit Head
The saying that everything is bigger in the South definitely rings true at these daytime cafes from a husband-and-wife team committed to local foods, where massive cathead biscuits take center stage. It’s not uncommon to see a line around the corner for customers craving hearty biscuit sandwiches like the mimosa fried chicken biscuit (sweet potato butter, Sriracha slaw, poached egg) and country ham biscuit (fried green tomato, cheese egg, red-eye gravy), biscuit Benedicts or biscuits à la carte to be savored with a selection of housemade gravies, jams and spreads.
Multiple locations, 733 Haywood Road; 828-333-5145
Visit the original location on Haywood Road then stroll along this key street in West Asheville, or, for a more scenic backdrop, head to the Biltmore Estate, George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre property complete with gardens and a winery.
Photo by Abigail Abesamis
Lunch: Babyback ribs at 12 Bones Smokehouse and beer at Wedge Brewing
A local barbecue institution known for its slow-smoked ribs and homemade sauces, 12 Bones’ new home in the River Arts District is covered in huge, colorful graffiti murals and is adjacent to a Wedge Brewing outpost. Order some bones (six in a half rack and 12 in a full rack) and classic sides like collard greens and corn pudding, then take a seat at one of the picnic tables outdoors for some sunshine and prime views of the wall art.
12 Bones Smokehouse: 5 Foundy Street; 828-253-4499
Wedge Brewing: 5 Foundy Street; 828-253-7152
Afternoon snack: Tacos at White Duck Taco Shop
Head into the heart of the River Arts District, a collection of studios and galleries housed in former factories and historical buildings along the French Broad River, to the original outpost of this buzzy Southern chain, located in a former hatchery building. An ever-changing menu of imaginative tacos shows just how versatile this food can be, with unexpected fillings like mole-roasted duck and shrimp and grits.
Multiple locations, 1 Roberts Street #101; 828-258-1660
Photo by Sarah Snyder
Bonus picnic lunch option: The Rhu
For those looking to soak in even more of Asheville’s natural beauty, this Downtown bakery and cafe from chef John Fleer (Rhubarb, James Beard finalist for Best Chef: Southeast for 2017) offers a takeaway picnic option — complete with a basket — filled with a sampling of its locavore fare. There are a variety of baskets to choose from, or you can create your own custom assortment.
10 South Lexington Avenue; 828-785-1799
Take your basket and go to one of Asheville’s many scenic vistas including Craggy Gardens, a short drive from the Downtown area with picnic tables and panoramic views.
Photo by Dustin Hall
Afternoon drink: Beer at The Funkatorium
A U.S. craft-beer destination that got its start with Highland Brewing Company, a trip to Asheville wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a brewery (or two). Make your way to South Slope, Asheville’s brewery district, and visit The Funkatorium, the East Coast’s first taproom fully dedicated to barrel-aged sour and funky beers. Grab a beer and learn about Wicked Weed Brewing’s unique barrel-aged brews on regularly scheduled tours of its barrel house.
147 Coxe Avenue; 828-552-3203
Photo by Johnny Autry
Pre-dinner snack: Pickled plates at Local Provisions
Take a short walk or drive to downtown Asheville for some pre-dinner bites at this critically acclaimed eatery by executive chef Justin Burdett. Pickled and preserved elements (like radishes and ramps) shine on modern, ingredient-driven plates inspired by Southern cuisine. In line with many of Asheville’s culinary destinations, dish components are made in-house and ingredients are sourced locally when possible.
77 Biltmore Avenue; 828-424-7815
Photo by ExploreAsheville.com
Dinner: East Asian fare at Gan Shan Station
Housed in a refurbished gas station, this hip North Asheville kitchen from an Asheville native and McCrady’s alum serves up creative East Asian–inspired plates (think rice bowls, ramen and not-to-be-missed Korean-style chicken wings). Take a seat at the bar and watch the open kitchen in action, and make sure you save room for dessert.
143 Charlotte Street; 828-774-5280
Photo by ExploreAsheville.com
Dessert: Seasonal sweets at Buxton Hall Barbecue
Though best known for its slow-smoked Eastern North Carolina–style barbecue, this South Slope barbecue spot from James Beard–nominated chefs Elliott Moss and Meherwan Irani supplies desserts from an in-house bakery helmed by pastry chef Ashley Capps. With the same commitment to local and seasonal products as the restaurant, the dessert selection often changes. Past offerings include chocolate peanut butter pie and coconut cream puffs.
32 Banks Avenue; 828-232-7216
Explore Asheville’s dynamic Downtown area before heading to The Omni Grove Park Inn to watch the sunset.
Photo by The Omni Grove Park Inn
After-dinner drinks: Sunset Cocktail Terrace at The Omni Grove Park Inn
To end the day, order a handcrafted cocktail or local beer and watch the sun set behind the Blue Ridge Mountains from this choice alfresco venue. Classic cocktails are offered alongside regionally inspired libations made using local ingredients. For a full meal with mountain views, the nearby Sunset Terrace prepares hand-cut steaks and fresh seafood.
290 Macon Avenue; 800-438-5800