Traversing downtown Asheville, North Carolina, like a local means walking. And, since you can’t be underdressed in Asheville — running shoes, flip-flops, boots of any kind and age are the norm — ambling blocks between food and drink stops can feel like an escape from the norm.
I’m asked weekly where to go in Asheville. So much is notable, both old and new, that I’ll focus here on downtown with a promise to highlight other districts soon.
So, you want to go to Cúrate? Yep, locals love Katie Button’s mecca of tapas too. Here’s how to get in: go at 2:30 p.m. Sit at the bar and chat with a sous chef and enjoy the skill of this staff at its best.
A skip away is the reopened Asheville Art Museum. The expansion is wrapped in glass with collections of 20th and 21st century American Art, including 15 newly acquired works from the opening exhibit Appalachia Now! If it’s Thursday, then Perspective Café (on the fifth floor) is open until 9 p.m.; plan for fantastic small plates, noteworthy cocktails and mountain air on the sculpture deck.
No trip to Asheville is complete without a lap through Tops for Shoes; the store, nearly a block long, carries every brand you covet in every imaginable size. The sale room is the stuff of legend.
5 Walnut wine bar offers a fantastic by-the-glass list and feels just right after brewery stops. Live music is on the calendar every night, and there is usually a sociable dog or two under a table and a knot of locals who will dance with friends and tourists alike.
End a day in Asheville at The Montford Rooftop Bar. Chef Philip Bollhoefer runs a stellar kitchen with a smart, delicious cocktail program and the views are everything you drive up the mountain for.
- The Foundry Hotel, Curio Collection (in the restored Foundry & Supply Co. complex and home to Benne on Eagle)
- Hyatt Place Downtown
- Cambria Hotel Downtown
- Thirsty Monk
- Burial (because you need a donut hole with your stout)
- Bhramari (order the pickled eggs with marmalade)
- Cultivated Cocktails (sip a cocktail and then buy the ingredients to make it at home)
- Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar
- High Climate Tea
- All Day Darling (what we’re missing in Greenville in so many ways)
- Over Easy Cafe
- Button & Co. Bagels
- Posana (you’ll never know this is a dedicated gluten-free kitchen)
- Chai Pani (delicious plates each and every time by the dream team of Meherwan Irani)
- 67 Biltmore
- Aux Bar
- White Labs Kitchen & Tap (a fermented kitchen means yeast dough pizza, pickles and shrubs)
- Red Ginger Dim Sum
- Cucina 24 (start next door at their sip and snack purveyor: Contrada)
- Benne on Eagle (Chefs John Fleer and Ashleigh Shanti pay culinary homage to The Block)
- The Greenhouse, by Noble Cider
- The Times (order the inexplicably good Talking in Cursive)
- Sovereign Remedies (food and drink driven by farmers, foragers and chef Graham House)
- The Imperial Life
- The Montford Rooftop Bar
Get a membership
- Little Jumbo (perfectly priced, perfectly made cocktails and parking, practically downtown)
- Top of the Monk
- The Crow and Quill (unmarked bar with a wall of whiskey)
South Slope trifecta
- Catawba Brewing Co. (drink like a local)
- Vortex Doughnuts (apple fritters are for the early birds)
- Buxton Hall Barbecue