This post is inspired by my dear Theresa! Here we go!
I've received countless emails from friends and family headed for a long weekend in Asheville, asking me for recommendations.
Asheville will always be my second home. I've been at least once a year since I was a kid, even when we lived abroad I managed to get down there! I lived there for four years and since we moved back to Indiana, I've been going several times a year for yoga training.
Where do I even start...Let's break it down and just focus on restaurants today. Because I always stay with Lis I can't really recommend lodging. However, I do encourage you stay downtown if possible so you can walk to everything and eat and buy ALL THE THINGS. Shopping is a whole other post...we'll get to that eventually.
These are not all the great restaurants...that would be way too long a post. These are my personal favorites, which I return to again and again.
If you can get in (call in advance...they take reservations & are always booked out at least a couple weeks), this is hands down the best tapas I've had outside of Spain. Super authentic, but at the same time very accessible and delicious. Great atmosphere, although somewhat cramped. Great service.
I've been going to this restaurant since I was a little kid. An Asheville tradition. Since they are rapidly expanding (now have 12 locations!), I'm getting nervous, but this is the original location and you just can't beat it. Two suggestions: the Cheesy Grill and Tomato Soup or the Veggie Plate with brussel sprouts, fried corn on the cob, and mac + cheese.
Upscale Indian. Hipster Indian. Whatever you want to call it. This is excellent Indian food, with a very glowy ambiance. It was my first experience trying Indian food back in the day, so it holds a special place in my heart. Great lunch buffet as well. I love their Baingan Bharta.
Three words: Mexican Caribbean fusion. One of the most unique menus I know of and it is so good. Insane cocktails and for dinner, I recommend the Sweet Potato + Mole Enchiladas.
OUTSIDE OF DOWNTOWN
Duh. Go there for breakfast. Get there early...like, as in, when they open. It's worth it. Don't be deterred by their slightly lackluster website. It's the best breakfast in town. Located in West Asheville, not far from the center of town.
Used to be only out in the River Arts District, but now has a location in Pack Square as well. Go all in and get the queso.
The standard "best BBQ ever" restaurant. Old school, but still hip with the cool kids. Obama went there and stuff. It's good. Now with two locations: South Asheville and the River Arts District.
Super odd location: North Asheville on Merrimon in the top level of a shopping center. Go for lunch, two rolls for $7 plus miso soup & salad. WHHHA!?!? They also have a ridiculously unorthodox sweet potato tempura roll that is to die for. It was dangerous having this one within walking distance of Lis' house and my old house on Chatham. Carry out was all too convenient.
I rarely make it down to Biltmore Village when I'm in town, except to go drool at Sticks Furniture at New Morning Gallery and to take advantage of the massive lululemon down there. However, this one has been there for years and is just plain good. A little fancier, good for special occasion date night or something like that.
I have so many memories of this place it almost hurts to write about it. Watching the Oscars and NCAA tournament there as a kid, falling asleep during that one movie where Cate Blanchett plays Bob Dylan, meeting up with my lit professors for pizza and beer, sitting out on the patio with Brae, and sobbing my eyes out during my second viewing of Into the Wild. All the while gorging myself on Highland's Gaelic Ale and the Shear Delight pizza. Also was within walking distance from my house while living there. This is Asheville.