They Call It “Foodtopia…”
Ever wonder just how many restaurants there really are in downtown Asheville? Well, I came up with the list below by closing my eyes and visualizing downtown, one street at a time, one restaurant, cafe, or wine bar at a time. The only requirements to get on this list: The venue must be downtown, and must serve food. Zoom in on the map above, and most of the places listed below will pop into view. Click on the links to visit each venue’s FaceBook page.
I sometimes describe myself as the “Downtown beat-cop of local food writers.” This is my beat:
5 Walnut Wine Bar – Wine, cheese, nuts, people. Always packed with downtownies having fun. Live music. Tiny space.
51 Coxe – Sounds like: An All Nude Male Dance Revue. Is: A food truck lot.
67 biltmore downtown eatery + catering – Fresh, healthy food, served deli style, dine-in, take out. Big, sunny space, kid friendly, nice people! Best of Asheville
Addissae – Asheville’s only Ethiopian restaurant. Off the beaten path, behind the International District. Gluten free, windowless, dark, soothing.
Aloft Asheville Downtown – WXYZ, Asheville Bar, re:Mix, and re:Fuel are all inside of this hotel on Biltmore.
Asheville Brewing – An Asheville local fave. Many popular local beers, OK food at OK prices. Giant jenga and corn hole. Kid friendly.
Asheville Direct – This is like, a convenient store type of thing, wiht nothing but local stuff, including food.
Asheville Yacht Club – Slick Willy’s Good Eats is in the Asheville Yacht Club. Straight forward bar food 4pm to 1am everyday.
Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria – Big, hardy pizza, and other standards. Beer on tap. A local fave. Family friendly.
Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar – Most unique atmosphere in downtown. Small snacks, cheese boards, wine, coffee, sweets, and champagne.
Bens Tune Up – Asian fare and locally brewed beer and saki! Good deep fried things. Live music and other events. A local fave.
Bhramari Brewhouse – In-house brewed beer, full menu, good burgers, good brunch, live music, outdoor deck.
The Bier Garden – An Asheville standard from back in the day. Full menu. Bar food. Drinking crowd. Drink your way “around the world.”
The Blackbird – It looks like the Aloft hotel restaurant, but it’s not, it’s indie. Mediocre food, and a “famous” coconut cake.
Blue Dream Curry House – International curry in the AVL International District. Great people, family friendly, big space, no tipping.
Bomba – Tacos and much much more. Great food. Teeny tiny space. Also great espresso, sweets, and other fare.
Bouchon Bistro – French food. The last time I ate there, I had an artichoke that was the consistency of a pine cone. I’ll have to go back and try again.
Brasilia Churrasco Steakhouse-Asheville – Meat meat meat and more meat!
Burgerworx – Great, greasy, flat, soft-bun burgers, with your choice of toppings, wrapped in foil, served with awesome fries. I love their burgers!
Buxton Hall Barbecue – Fantastic Carolina style BBQ, very authentic, the real deal, no joke. Chef Elliot Moss and crew are some of the Best of Asheville. I<3 It.
Cafe 64 – Decent food at decent prices. Quiet, friendly, sincere. Never at the top of my list, but I should go more often.
Carmels Kitchen & Bar – Some of the best outdoor seating in Downtown. Good pizza, decent food at decent prices. Full bar, full menu.
Chai Pani – Indian street food from Chef Meherwan Irani and crew. Good golly, that’s good thali! Best of Asheville.
Champa Asian Cuisine & Sushi Bar – I’m not sure if I’ve been here or not.
Chestnut‘s -This is my buddy, Chef Joe Scully‘s place. He rules, it rules. Lunch, Brunch, Dinner, Drinks. No joke: Chestnut is consistently great and one of the Best of Asheville. Listen to Chef Joe and I on AVL Food Fans by clicking HERE.
The Chocolate Fetish – Awesome truffles and other chocolate delights. Check out the chocolate sculptures, and “I Love Lucy” conveyor belt!
Chocolate Gems – More great hand-made chocolate right downtown! Awesome gelato too, and coffee drinks. A few tables and chairs.
Chop House Asheville – Steaks and such. Went once, long time ago. Will have to go back.
Chorizo Latin Fare – One of the only places to get desayuna in downtown Asheville. Outdoor seating.
City Bakery – Best house cup of coffee, consistently great sandwiches and other breakfast, lunch fare. Baked goods. Counter service. Fast, reliable. Best of Asheville.
Creperie Bouchon – Crayyyyyyps!
Cucina 24 – Among the cream of the crop in downtown eateries. Chef Brian Canipelli and crew bring creative, high-end, intelligently sourced ingredients to Italian cuisine.
Cúrate – Chef Katie Button‘s first restaurant remains one of the Best of Asheville. Spanish style tapas. Great coffee, drinks, desserts, and brunch. Listen to an interview with Chef Katie Button and FoH guru Anita Elliott HERE.
Dobra Tea (Asheville, NC) – Tea, snacks, and groovy feelings. Though a Nat’l chain, the calm, peaceful, atmosphere is some of the Best of Asheville.
Doc Chey’s – Mediocre Asian food from this Nat’l chain.
Double D’s Coffee and Desserts – Not a place for a latte and lap-dance, as the name might suggest, but Asheville’s most unique cafe is inside of a doubledecker bus!
EarlyGirlEatery – One of the oldest downtown eateries is still so popular, there are lines out the door nearly every day. Home-style cookin’ in a big, noisy space.
Farm Burger Asheville – Another small chain that kinda fits in with Asheville. It’s a great tourist sponge, sucking them up, and keeping them out of other local faves.
Foggy Mountain Brewpub – Dark & quiet inside, great outdoor seating. Off the beaten path. Fantastic chicken Alfredo. Chicken wings are some of the Best of Asheville.
French Broad Chocolates – You’ve read about it, you’ve heard about it, you’ve dreamed about. Well, this it. Chocolates, coffee, and other stuff.
French Broad Food Co-op – Primarily a small, healthy convenience/grocery store, FBFC also has a nice little hot bar featuring local restaurants, plus coffee, and 3 tables.
Hana Japanese Restaurant Asheville – More mediocre Asian food from a small chain.
Haywood Park Cafe – The strangest, loneliest cafe ever, located right in the middle of downtown. I dare you to find it.
Heiwa Shokudo – Asheville’s oldest sushi place is still a local favorite. Tiny space, outdoor seating, kid friendly.
High Five Coffee – Best espresso drinks in downtown Asheville according to Chef Joe. Great snacks, sweets, paninis, etc. Beer and soda too.
Hopey & Company – There’s a cafe inside the Hopey and Co on South French broad. Espresso drinks and snacks and sandwiches available.
Hyatt Place Asheville Downtown – The rooftop bar and lounge is slated to open in June 2016, and will serve food and drinks to the public.
The Imperial Life – Owned and operated by Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table and Tod’s Tasties, Imperial Life is one of the cooler cocktail bars in town, with a great menu.
Isa’s Bistro – Big, open, spacious, great service, great food by Chef Duane Fernandes and crew. Great place for brunch.
Izzy’s Coffee Den – Truly den-like, windowless coffee joint, with very limited snacks. The stereo music is usually some of the Best of Asheville.
Jack of the Wood – An Asheville staple. Irish-themed food, burgers and such. Beer beer and more beer, plus live jig music sometimes.
Jackson Underground Cafe – I found the food and atmosphere to be horrible, but some downtownies love it. The price is cheap, at least.
Jerusalem Garden Cafe – Downtown Asheville’s only Middle-Eastern restaurant, great atmosphere, great decor. In the international district!
Josephine’s Asheville – FOOD CART – Specialty Hot Dog’s from the coolest cart downtown.
Karen Donatelli Cake Designs – Karen’s pastries are the Best of Asheville! Plus coffee, and light lunch fare like chicken salad on a croissant.
Kathmandu Cafe – Tibetan food in the international district. Great decor and atmosphere.
Kilwin’s Chocolate’s, Fudge, and Ice Cream – This is a chain, but it’s one that I happen to like. I always thought it must be fun to work at a Kilwin’s.
Korean House – It’s Korean food, Yo. The very bright lighting made me uncomfortable, but the food was good.
Laughing Seed Cafe – An old Asheville fave. Vegan and Vegetarian fare in a large, interesting space. Outdoor seating.
Lab – House-brewed beer and bar grub.
Lex 18 – Appalachian Supper Club & Moonshine Bar – Asheville’s most themed-out restaurant. Full menu, full bar.
Lexington Corner Market – Downtown’s only bodega serves coffee, sandwiches, and other food items.
Liberty House Cafe – Located on liberty street, serving PennyCup and 1,000 Faces coffee and lite snacks.
Limones – California style Mexican food. Small room, nice decor, great service.
The Lobster Trap – Fresh lobster flown in daily from Maine, yo. Great food, great lively atmosphere, super nice people, including Chef Mike McCarty.
Local Provisions – Chef Justin Burdett‘s new venue. Fancy eatin’, farm to table. Brunch.
Loretta’s Cafe – An old Asheville fave! Great people, lot’s of space, healthy food, and beverages.
Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe – Enjoy coffee, and light snacks while surrounded by books, nerds, and old people.
Mamacita’s Taqueria – One of the locals’ all-time forever-faves. Great, healthy, Mexcian-style food at very reasonable prices. Best of Asheville year after year.
The Market Place Restaurant – Chef William Dissen‘s venue on Wall Street is HUGE and really nice inside. Locally sourced, farm-to-table food.
Mayfel’s – Very popular with tourists, offers outdoor seating and “NOLA” style fare. I happen to think they also have the most effed-up hours in downtown Asheville.
The Mediterranean Restaurant – One for the TRUE downtownies. Open at 6am, and serving traditional diner-style Greek and American food.
Mela Indian Restaurant – Big space, good Indian food. Full bar. Nice atmosphere.
Mellow Mushroom Asheville – The BEST Mellow Mush in the country, Yo! Our Mellow Mushroom is something special, and for families especially, it is Best of Asheville.
MG Road – Awesomely dark, hip, retro-mod bar with a rotating food menu of creative themes and guest chefs. One of the Best for Asheville for sure!
Modesto Trattoria – Outdoor seating on Page Ave in the Grove Arcade building.
Mojo Kitchen & Lounge – Constantly winning Best of Asheville for their wings and tacos, Chef AJ Gregson and the Mojo crew rule. Home of the Bluegrass Brunch.
New Mountain Asheville – A sprawling live music venue with The Sol Bar inside, featuring coffee, tea, “tastes and treats.”
The Nightbell – Chef Katie Button‘s other restaurant is one of the Best of Asheville for sure. Beautiful, dark atmosphere, great food, and a very sophisticated drinks program.
Noodle Shop, Asheville – More Mediocre Asian food. We need better Asian food in this town.
Nutz About Fudge – It’s pretty much a lot of fudge. Like, tons and tons of fudge.
Old Europe Pâtisserie – Great sweets and coffee! Really nice people! Best of Asheville.
Olive or Twist – Dancing, drinks, and bar food. Large, dark, old-school space. Creepy statue outside.
oneFIFTYone Boutique Bar & Kitchen inside the Hotel Indigo – Serving breakfast & dinner, open to “anyone who’s hungry.”
Over Easy Cafe – Limited hours. Selection of yummy breakfast standards. Limited space indoor and out. Nice decor, nice people.
Packs Tavern – Frickin’ HUGE space, great booths, family style, sports-bar-ish. The food used to be better, but for family night out, it’s fine.
PennyCup Coffee at the YMI – Great coffee, super nice people, light snacks, big space, in Asheville’s historic YMI Building. Check out the mural! Best of Asheville. Listen to an interview Master Roaster Bill Tanner by clicking HERE.
Poppy Hand Crafted Popcorn – There’s a smaller version of the shop on Merrimon Ave located inside the Grove Arcade building.
Posana – Chef Peter Pollay and crew make food that is truly some of the Best of Asheville. Great atmosphere, great location, nice people. Great for brunch.
Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge – Great space, small & cozy, sit inside the vault if you can. Outdoor seating is usually smoke-filled :( Their burger is the Best of Asheville,
Roman’s Deli Asheville – An old-school holdout. My friend/official co-stalker Rick says “If you don’t love their burger, I’ll pay for it!”
Red Ginger Dim Sum & Tapas – I’ve only been there once for dinner and it was disappointing. I’ll have to give it another try. Also: Dim Sum & Tapas? WTF?
The Rhu – Beautiful space, lots of room and sunshine. Deli style service, featuring the food of Chef John Fleer and crew, from Rhubarb.
Rhubarb – Chef John Fleer and crew live here. One of Asheville’s top-rated venues. Good place for brunch. I hear their Sunday dinner kicks ass.
Rosetta’s Kitchen – Another old Asheville locals’ fave that’s been around for a million years. Great, healthy food, really nice people.
Salsa’s Mexican Caribbean Restaurant – For over two decades Salsa’s has been an Asheville standard. Large, creative dishes in a small, busy space.
Santé Wine Bar and Tap Room – Great outdoor seating away from the tourists and crowds, wine on tap and by the bottle. Good menu. I like the pizza.
Scullys Asheville – For the drinking crowd. Full menu, bar food.
The Soda Fountain – Located inside Woolworth Walk, great traditional soda fountain food. Get a hot dog and milkshake. The most bad-ass chicks in town work here.
The Southern Kitchen & Bar – Outdoor seating, food, and drinks for cigarette smokers.
Sovereign Remedies – Great space, super-nice people, GREAT food and drinks. Lunch, brunch, dinner, bites. Farmer Sunil’s Sunday Supper is something special. Best of Asheville.
Storm Rhum Bar and Bistro – Chef Owen McGlynn and crew are keepin’ it real. Quiet, dark room, great food, great desserts, full bar.
Strada Asheville – Chef Anthony Cerrato’s Italian joint. Sometimes I’ve had awesome food here, sometimes, not so much. I’m not sure why that is.
Suwana’s Thai Orchid Restaurant – People frickin’ love this place. I can take it or leave it. Nice space, good service, but mediocre food in my opinion.
Table Asheville – Chef Jacob Sessoms‘ Table restaurant is definitely one of the Best of Asheville, Fancy eatin’, elegant atmosphere, great service, great food!
Thai basil (aka Thai Tara) – Big space, nice atmosphere. I used to love Thai Basil, but haven’t been since it turned into Thai Tara. I’ll have to go back.
Trade and Lore Coffee – Brand new! Great space, great coffee, sweets, nice people.
True Confections – Pastry Chef Carole Miller knows how to bake stuff! Her house-made twix bar is awesome! She also offers a pretty full lunch menu and good coffee.
Tupelo Honey restaurant – The lines to get into this place are crazy. It’s completely worth missing if you ask me. Pricey, mediocre food from a small chain.
Twisted Crêpe – Good crepes! Good prices. Kind of a depressing atmosphere, but whatevs. It takes, like 2 seconds to eat a crepe, and then you’re outta there.
Twisted Laurel – The menu seems confused, and the food I ordered was pretty mediocre. Great space though, with tons of potential.
Uptown a la Cart – FOOD CART – Usually found on the corner of College and Haywood. Dogs, sausage dogs, veggie dogs & fresh squeezed lemonade. No web site or FB page available.
Vortex Doughnuts – My guys at The Vortex’s make coffee that is some of the Best of Asheville, and the donuts are getting better and better. Now I want one.
Wasabi Asheville – Great space, very lively, tight fit, bustling and noisy. It’s fun to sit at the bar, but I find the food to be less than amazing.
White Duck Taco Shop – Pretty good tacos in wacky combos. Big, bench-style seating . Lines out the door most of the time. Closed on Sundays.
Wicked Weed Brewing – Super-popular with the tourists. Outdoor seating galore. I find the food to be nothing special. Beer drinkers love this place.
Wicked Weed Funkatorium – An offshoot of Wicked Weed Brewing, this seems to be the mellower little sister of the two.
World Coffee Cafe Asheville – The coffee ain’t great, and the food is pretty bad, but the people watching is awesome, and the space is cool and secretive.
Zambra – An Asheville classic, and a personal fave of mine and my GF’s. Great food, great atmosphere, great service, truly one of the Best of Asheville for sure.
FOOD TRUCKS AND CARTS
Amazing Pizza Co.
Appalachian Chic Food Truck
Avery’s Hot Dogs
Belly Up Truck
Chef Daddy’s Food Truck
The Coffee Pedlar
Deli Llammma Food Truck
Grateful Roots Food Truck
Motorcycle Coffee Club
Out of the Blue Peruvian Fusion Cuisine
Ron’s Taco Shop
Sugar & Snow Gelato
Salt & Smoke
• CURRENT COUNT: 118 BRICK ‘N’ MORTARS + 11 FOOD TRUCKS + 8 FOOD CARTS =
137 PLACES TO GRAB A BITE TO EAT IN DOWNTOWN ASHEVILLE
And there you go. That is officially an ASSLOAD of eateries, Yo. I’m sure I left some spots out, so please let me know in the comments below if I’ve missed any.
If you have questions for me, about where to eat, or what to eat, just PM me through my FaceBook page!
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Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.