If food is your passion and new discoveries are your style, Asheville is the place for you! Asheville has its own unique culture in all facets of life and its cuisine is one of the most notable! Our food is known for its international flair but also has something for everyone. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, meat-loving, or somewhere in between, Asheville has something for you!
While there are very few restaurants I wouldn't recommend in Asheville, here are a few of the must-try places that can’t be missed!
By: Jordan Doty, Asheville Free Walking Tour
In Asheville, there are many excellent taco joints, but White Duck Taco is the local favorite. They have taco of all different varieties, from Korean Beef Bulgogi, Bangkok Shrimp, Steak and Cheese, and even Duck Mole. They also have the option to substitute jackfruit for every flavor, making all of their tacos vegetarian as well. In addition to wonderful tacos, they have an excellent house margarita for $7 as well as a spiked Cheerwine (the local soda of North Carolina, which tastes somewhat similar to a Cherry Coke). Finally, the location itself is something to be experienced! The restaurant is inside an airplane hanger right by the river. You have options to sit outside at picnic tables, right by the water, and drink local craft beer from the beer bus. This spot simply can’t be beaten!
This is our first locally owned distillery in Asheville. When you arrive, you are able to taste each of their spirits in a complimentary tasting and then enjoy whichever you liked best with one of their excellent craft cocktails. The best part is, they are only $6! To be clear, this is the cheapest cocktail in all of Asheville and the absolute best. Each of the bartenders enjoys creating new and unique beverages and are happy to help you create your own as well! Each of their spirits (rum, whiskey, gin, vodka, liquors) are excellent, but our favorite here at Asheville Free Walking tours is, by far, grandma’s coffee liquor recipe. If you have the chance to tour with us, we will be sure to stop by Cultivated on the tour to give you a taste of these one-of-a-kind spirits!
This is a hidden gem in downtown Asheville. The Underground Cafe is, as it says, underground and often overlooked; however, if you visit once, you will be back! This cafe serves delicious coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and bagels and even has a well-priced lunch menu with healthy meal options. Also, Asheville Free Walking Tour’s favorite aspect of this local joint are their, made fresh daily, donuts and their creative flavors. For example, they have a butternut squash donut with a white chocolate drizzle that is a wonderful spin on pumpkin spice. The “everything but the bagel” is a donut with everything bagel seeds and spices with a lovely salty-sweet combination. Of course, they also keep it classic with the OG original glaze as well as a “Simpsons” donut that is strawberry with sprinkles. Whatever your style, you will find something you love at the Underground Cafe.
Asheville has been named “beer city” for many years across many different travel magazines and top ten lists all over the country. Asheville currently has over 30 breweries downtown alone, and Twin Leaf should not be missed. They are locally owned and run and always put a fun twist on their beer production and flavors. For example, Asheville is known for creative funky beer styles like sour beers. Twin Leaf created a “Peachy Arsonist” that was a sour beer made with local peaches that were pitted and squeezed right on the bar floor. If you want to taste some local beer with a flare, put Twin Leaf on your brewery list!
This “Indian street food,” brings a flavor and spice that brings visitors from all over the country and/or the world for its authenticity and bold taste. They have a lovely ambiance with a lively Bollywood atmosphere. While they do have the typical Indian curry dishes that we know and love, they also provide their guest with the opportunity to try something new and unique from anything they have ever tried before!
Chef Katie Button, popular on many different food network programs, provides a delicious Spanish cuisine experience. They have tapas, sangria, and Paella that takes me right back to the streets of Spain. Because of its popularity, this restaurant is often booked for weeks in advance; therefore, it's recommended that you make reservations as early as possible. They do allow walk-in guests to sit at the bar for drinks and appetizers, but if you want the full experience it is important to plan ahead. This is also a pricey restaurant option, but, as they say, you pay for what you get!
This is yet another quirky Asheville favorite. This pizza place is most known for its unique delivery style. Instead of your pizza arriving at your house in a car or motorcycle, they deliver in a pizza delivery hearse because, yes you guessed it, “their food is to die for.” So, check it off your bucket list and worry your neighbors when the pizza delivery hearse arrives at your house party with some yummy pizza pies!
This Jamaican style restaurant has something for everyone. Nine Mile offers rice and noodle dishes with flavorful vegetable toppings and proteins like meat and tofu. The “Nine Mile” is a personal favorite with blackened chicken, rice, Caribbean style salsa, and black beans. Each meal also comes with garlic bread and a side salad with a house Tahiti sauce that is known throughout the community. They also have an extensive craft brewery beer list on tap at all times.
These are only a few of the amazing restaurants and local hangouts that Asheville has to offer. We recommend joining our tour to taste some of these and get a more extensive list of all of the wonderful places to visit during your stay here in Asheville.
*The places that have been starred are places that we actually get to visit and taste while on the downtown tour with Asheville Free Walking Tours
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