The gorgeous mountain town of Asheville clearly loves its food, with 13 active farmers markets, more than 250 independent restaurants, and 21 microbreweries in a city of fewer than 100,000 residents. From Mediterranean to vegetarian, four-star to down-home, Asheville has eateries that both embrace the Southern traditions of its mountain home and explore well beyond its borders.
And then there’s the beer. In fact, it’s such a popular beer town that major breweries like California’s Sierra Nevada and Colorado’s New Belgium have even set up shop here. It seems there’s a brewery on every corner, and brewers are getting experimental, introducing new styles, funky ingredients, and any little twist they can to get people talking. And they do; loyal locals and pint hounds from all over frequent the bars, breweries, and pubs here.
With such a robust food and beer scene, it can be daunting to pick out where to go—to ease the planning process, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite restaurants and breweries in Asheville.
Buxton Hall Barbecue
What’s a trip to North Carolina without barbecue? When Buxton Hall (32 Banks Ave., 828-232-7216, 11:30am-3pm and 5:30pm-10pm Tues.-Sun.) opened in August of 2015, it was after months of anticipation. It seemed Chef Elliott Moss had been serving up ’cue at every event and in every parking lot in town, but he was perfecting his technique and building this beautiful restaurant. Buxton is a blend of old-school barbecue at its best, and Moss spanned the Carolinas to create his menu. Chicken Bog (rice, chicken and sausage) from the low country of South Carolina is right there beside Eastern North Carolina whole-hog barbecue; South Carolina Barbecue Hash; and smoked sausages, fried catfish, smoked chicken, all accompanied by an excellent selection of classic barbecue sides.
The Admiral (400 Haywood Rd., 828-252-2541, 5pm-10pm nightly) in West Asheville has been a foodie destination since it opened in a humble cinderblock building in what was once “the wage-earning side of town.” Blue-collar roots or no, they serve some distinguished and much-lauded New Southern food that keeps the kitchen on its toes with interesting techniques and seasonal ingredients. It’s small, but cozy and chic while somehow retaining a dive-bar vibe. The cocktails aren’t half bad either.
All Souls Pizza
This popular spot in the River Arts District has gotten creative with pizza in a typical Asheville fashion. All Souls Pizza (175 Clingman Ave., 828-254-0169, 11:30am-5pm Tues.-Sat., 5pm-10pm daily) mills their own flours and polenta from organic grains and source meat, produce, and cheese from as close to Asheville as they can. It pays off in your first bite. You’ll be hooked whether you go with a plain cheese pie; smoked shrimp, chilies, and mozzarella; country ham, egg, and mozzarella; or watercress, leeks, goat cheese, and mozzarella.
Katie Button, a James Beard Award semifinalist who cooked at legendary restaurant elBulli in Spain, serves a Spanish tapas-style menu in this stylish eatery housed in a former 1920s bus depot. The table de jamón (a selection of three delicious and very different Spanish hams) and the pulpo a’la gallega (octopus and paprika with potatoes) are good dishes to share. There are also a number of vegan and gluten-free selections on the menu. The can’t-miss street dish that people rave about is the berenjenas la taberna—fried eggplant drizzled in wild mountain honey and garnished with rosemary. There’s a lot of energy in Cúrate (11 Biltmore Ave., 828-239-2946, 11:30am-10:30pm Tues.-Thurs., 11:30am-11pm Fri.-Sat., 11:30am-10:30pm Sun.) partially because the long bar faces the kitchen, putting everyone from chef Button to her expert kitchen brigade on display.
Wicked Weed Brewing
Wicked Weed (91 Biltmore Ave., 828-575-9599, tasting room 3pm-11pm Mon.-Tues., 3pm-midnight Wed.-Thurs., 3pm-2am Fri.-Sat., 3pm-11pm Sun., restaurant 11:30am-11pm Mon.-Tues., 11:30am-midnight Wed.-Thurs., 11am-1am Fri.-Sat., noon-11pm Sun.) has an excellent tap room and restaurant just a couple of blocks off Pack Square. They feature some two dozen beers in their tasting room, with Belgian red ales, fruit-forward sours, IPAs, and even a handful of porters and stouts. A few blocks away they’ve opened the Funkatorium (147 Coxe Ave., 2pm-10pm Mon.-Thurs., noon-midnight Fri.-Sat., noon-10pm Sun.), a brewery featuring only sour and wild ales. Head over on a Wednesday for live bluegrass, and be sure to order some of their excellent bar snacks.
Hi-Wire (197 Hilliard Ave., 828-738-2448, 4pm-11pm Mon.-Thurs., 2pm-2am Fri., noon-1am Sat., 1pm-10pm Sun.) came into Asheville with one location on the South Slope and quickly expanded to a spot they call the Big Top (2 Huntsman Place, 4pm-10pm Mon.-Thurs., 3pm-midnight Fri., noon-midnight Sat., 1pm-10pm Sun., tours 5pm and 6pm Fri., hourly 2pm-5pm Sat., and 2pm and 3pm Sun.) near Biltmore Village. They focus on lagers, pale ales, and IPAs, and their winter brew, the Strongman Coffee Milk Stout, is a local favorite.
Wedge Brewing Company
Located in an old warehouse in the River Arts District, Wedge (37 Paynes Way, Suite 001, 828-505-2792, 4pm-10pm Mon.-Thurs., 3pm-10pm Fri., 2pm-10pm Sat.-Sun.) has more than a dozen brews on tap, including pale ales, pilsners, and a Russian imperial stout flavored with raspberries. Their strong relationship with the local food trucks that park outside makes this a great hangout for beer and grub any evening.
Bonus: Asheville Brews Cruise
Feel like brewery-hopping? To sample a variety of Asheville’s great microbreweries, hop on an Asheville Brews Cruise. The enthusiastic beer experts will shuttle you from brewery to brewery in the Brews Cruise van (to book: 828-545-5181, from $59) to sample some beer, learn about the growth of Asheville’s beer scene, and gain some insight in the art and craft of brewing. Stops include the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company, The French Broad Brewing Company, and Highland Brewing Company—Asheville’s very first microbrewery.
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