Asheville has emerged as one of the South’s top destinations—and the food scene is a big reason why. Its restaurants rival those of larger metropolitan areas, both in terms of creativity and quality of ingredients. And while this quirky city in the Blue Ridge Mountains honors its regional heritage with barbecue and biscuits, it has also embraced global cuisines, ushering in a new era for Appalachian dining tourism.
Forget calories and relish the best versions of decadent morning favorites. Stop by Biscuit Head for its eponymous quick bread paired with meaty or vegetarian gravies. For a full-on breakfast of champions, opt for the Asheville benedict served with scallion cream cheese, tomatoes, and roasted red peppers. On the sweeter side of the carb spectrum, Hole Doughnuts crafts circular drops of heaven. Of its three standard freshly fried yeast doughnuts, we recommend the toasted almond sesame cinnamon. When it comes to seasonal varieties, the team experiments with unexpected herbs, spices, fruits, and florals, such as orange clove, cranberry ginger, and hibiscus.
Chai Pani brings India’s street food culture indoors, offering a modern take on chaat (savory snacks) in colorful surrounds. Chef Meherwan Irani’s creations are so addictive that you’ll yearn to return for such flavor bombs as kale pakora, aloo tiki chaat, and sev potato dahi puri (pictured), all washed down with a mango lassi. For something totally different yet equally worldly, visit White Duck Taco Shop, where unconventional fillings perplex and please a devoted clientele. Travel via your taste buds—stamping your passport in Vietnam, Korea, and Thailand with banh mi tofu, beef bulgogi, and Bangkok shrimp—or stick with new-world eats like jerk or spicy buffalo chicken.
Craft beer is a religion in Asheville, and there are dozens of taprooms to choose from. Make a sudsy day of it, hitting up breweries around town including Wicked Weed, Wedge, Green Man, and One World.
Cúrate is always packed with sophisticated diners sampling authentic Spanish tapas that recall idle afternoons spent imbibing and indulging. The seasonal menu is heavy on jamón in the form of croquetas and charcuterie, but there are plenty of non-ham options, too, including a veggie-forward paella. To embrace meat in all its Southern glory, make a beeline to Buxton Hall Barbecue. Chai Pani’s chef Irani teamed up with fellow James Beard nominee Elliott Moss to launch this down-home eatery that marries an urban atmosphere with country classics like whole hog pulled pork with a vinegar-based sauce, as well as dynamite baby lima and butter beans.