10 Reasons to Drive to Asheville, NC

By Christopher Hassiotis  |  December 21, 2015
Credit: Cúrate

At just over three hours away — four if you avoid the interstate and take more scenic mountain roads — Asheville, North Carolina, makes for a great winter getaway. While temperatures remain warm down here, this funky mountain town will likely provide the sort of scenery you want when thinking “winter.” Long a bastion of farm-first cuisine and overflowing vegetarian spots reflective of its hippie scene, Asheville’s dining has diversified in recent years. It’s rich in eating for such a small city. Here are 10 can’t-miss spots.

  • Biscuit Head 

    This homage to the iconic Southern baked good has two locations in town. Order a hefty biscuit (gluten-free available too!), then select from one of seven varieties of gravy. You can also opt for a sampling from the jelly bar. Hungrier? Go for a meat- or veggie-laden biscuit sandwich.

    417 Biltmore Ave.; 828-505-3449
    733 Haywood Rd.; (828) 333-5145

  • Plant

    In a city awash in vegetarian cuisine, chef Jason Sellers’ Plant stands out. The 100% vegan restaurant uses local ingredients in thoughtful combinations, drawing on a diverse array of culinary traditions — from European to Southeast Asian.

    165 Merrion Ave.; 828-258-7500

  • Credit: Courtesy of Curate


    Spanish cuisine has been hot in Atlanta for a while, but it’s just as popular in Asheville. From cheese and charcuterie to grilled and fried bites, this Asheville Spaniard celebrates traditional fare paired with an array of regional wines, beers and specialty drinks. An open kitchen adds to the warm, bustling vibe in a narrow, cocoa-hued space — once a circa-1927 bus depot – and you can watch for an expansion to come in the next year.

    11 Biltmore Ave.; 828-239-2946

  • Chestnut

    Blending the charm of homestyle cooking with the vibe of an upscale tavern, this handsome Downtown spot turns out stellar New American worth sampling. Seasonal fare’s front and center, often sourced as locally as possible, and the occasional European flourish shows up on the menu. Don’t miss weekend brunch.

    48 Biltmore Ave.; 828-581-9442

  • The Admiral

    Providing West Asheville with an innovative, daily, global menu, the Admiral’s deceptively divey exterior — it’s just a modest, almost nondescript, cinderblock building — hides culinary delights. A bevy of artful small plates allows for sharing and sampling, while larger plates carry satisfying New American entrees.

    400 Haywood Rd.; 828-252-2541

  • Chai Pani

    Atlanta fans of Decatur’s Chai Pani should check out the original, located here in Asheville. You won’t find the bright colors and pop decor to the same degree as in ATL, but the food’s just as flavorful, drawing on a number of varieties of Indian street food.

    22 Battery Park Ave.; 828-254-4003

  • White Duck Taco Shop

    There’s nothing fancy about the decor at this counter-service taqueria, but that hasn’t stopped people from lining up out the door for the globally inspired cuisine. Tacos veer traditionally Mexican, sure, but also incorporate Korean, Thai, Greek and American flavors. White Duck’s growing quickly — the restaurant recently opened South Carolina and Tennessee locations to complement the two Asheville spots, and there are more to come in 2016.

    1 Roberts St.; 828-258-1660
    12 Biltmore Ave.; 828-232-9191

  • Tupelo Honey Cafe

    Tupelo Honey’s one of Asheville’s most visited restaurants, for good reason. The Downtown spot and its multiple spin-offs turn out comforting, accessible Southern fare and all-day breakfast: grits, biscuits, omelets, scrambles and a can’t-miss sweet potato pancake topped with spiced pecans and a to-die-for whipped peach butter. Since opening Downtown in 2000, Tupelo Honey’s added a Southside iteration as well as numerous regional branches — one’s opening in suburban Atlanta in early 2016.

    12 College St.; 828-255-4863
    1829 Hendersonville Rd.; 828-505-7676

  • Rezaz Mediterranean Cuisine

    Drawing from across the spectrum of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, this Asheville spot wows with flavorful bites and creative presentations. You’ll find culinary influences from Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Italy and Lebanon, among others. Opt for the five-course tasting menu at the chef’s table for a full experience.

    28 Hendersonville Rd.; 828-277-1510

  • Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack

    You may be in North Carolina, but Rocky’s nods to its western neighbors with its rendition of Nashville-style hot chicken. Can’t handle the peppery heat? Don’t worry, the fried chicken’s default setting is “plain,” but you can upgrade all the way to the just-for-the-bold XX Hot. Southern sides and other soul food and barbecue fare round out the menu. Both locations also offer daily specials.

    1455 Patton Ave.; 828-575-2260
    3749 Sweeten Creek Rd.; 828-676-3222