The Best Restaurants In Downtown Asheville

Where to dine in downtown Asheville, from food halls to award-winning restaurants.

Downtown Asheville restaurants are typically the go-to for locals and visitors looking for an excellent dining experience in the area. You’ll find everything to charming walk-up spots to reservation-only eateries, hidden gems and crown jewels.

So, let’s chat our top picks for where to dine in Asheville. As you’ll see, it’s a mix of spots! We wanted to include something for everyone, so hopefully you find a perfect spot or two for your next meal out.

We’ll start with a table of contents and a map to show you the lay of the land before we dive into descriptions for each. Bon Appétit!

This article highlights restaurants in downtown Asheville with a focus on dinner spots. Don’t miss our other downtown Asheville food guides, including where to have breakfast downtown, our top picks for lunch and even a list of downtown Asheville coffee shops.

Where To Dine In Downtown Asheville

Below is a map of the downtown Asheville restaurants highlighted in our guide. As you’ll see, most of the restaurants are pretty close to one another. After all, downtown is quite small! The only outlier is Little Bee Thai– but it’s just on the edge of downtown and easy to get to. Plus, parking is better there!

The only other area of Asheville that rivals the culinary scene of downtown is West Asheville. In fact, we think you could make West Asheville restaurants the centerpiece of a weekend itinerary. And you can do the same with downtown Asheville, of course. The bonus of downtown is that everything is walkable and there are a ton of great hotels in the area.


Below you’ll find our top dining picks for downtown Asheville. You really can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants on this list.

Seasonal dishes in a historic building (and a weekend brunch!)

Chestnut is the perfect upscale restaurant for a date night in downtown Asheville. Their seasonal and unique menu includes medium plates as well as larger entrees and charcuterie boards.

The menu has an upscale feel but overall Chestnut is approachable and extremely enjoyable. We love the outdoor tables on Biltmore Ave when the weather is nice. In addition to daily dinner, Chestnut offers an excellent weekend brunch available 10 to 2:30 Friday through Sunday.

Not only is the food great, but the building is pretty cool too. It’s over 100 years old!


Great food in a historic spot downtown

Benne on Eagle is an Appalachian soul food-inspired restaurant with a seasonal menu. You’ll find dishes like catfish florentine, trout & curry and stewed beef & rice.

For brunch, don’t miss the chicken & waffles with hot honey or the shrimp & grits with andouille sausage. Benne on Eagle also has brunch cocktails, like a mimosa, bloody mary and their signature ‘Mo Benne Blues’ with vodka, blueberry, lemon and lavender.

Benne on Eagle is located at the amazing Foundry Hotel property that encompasses the majority of a full city block. They serve a can’t miss brunch in addition to their dinner menu. Dinner is only served Tuesday through Saturday but brunch is daily.

Benne On Eagle


Small restaurant with great food (perfect for a date!)

Table is a fantastic restaurant in downtown Asheville with a focus on local fare and delicious flavor combinations. The menu isn’t overwhelming but includes more than enough to find something for everyone.

We always recommend starting with Heidi’s bread because it’s such a treat! It’s a great size for sharing and comes with a side of cultured butter. From there, well… the menu is known to change! But there’s always something great to try.

The ribeye for 2 or more is typically on the menu and is great if you aren’t dining alone. Otherwise, prepare for leftovers! The steak tartare is also a crowd favorite, as well as the schnitzel when available.

It’s a great place and quite small, so make sure to make a reservation for Table in advance! We especially recommend it for a date night in Asheville.

Table is in Chef Jacob Sessom’s portfolio, along with All Day Darling (Montford) and Golden Hour and The Roof at the Radical Hotel (River Arts.)


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Must-try casual Indian restaurant in Asheville

When we talk about Asheville’s crown jewels, you can rest assured that Chai Pani is on the list. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a casual Indian street food restaurant that won the 2022 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant.

It’s a cool space and the food is extremely flavorful, whether you are enjoying okra fries, a fish sandwich or their Sloppy Jai.

What really stands out for us with Chai Pani is the atmosphere and the branding. It’s perfectly noisy (and makes for an easy pick for the best kid-friendly restaurants in Asheville.)

Note: Chai Pani moved to South Slope in May 2024. It’s just south of downtown AVL now (less than a 10 minute walk.)


Date-night worthy spot for pizza downtown

Contrada is an upscale, walk-in-only pizza restaurant in downtown Asheville. It is located next to its sister restaurant, Cucina24.

Contrada’s menu is small but offers a variety of delicious pizzas, such as the puttanesca with anchovies and olives, or the patate with potatoes and rosemary. They also have a great selection of Italian wines, cocktails, and Peroni. For dessert, don’t forget to try the Sicilian pistachio gelato!

Contrada is a very cozy restaurant with only a few seats, making it the perfect place for an intimate date night.

Contrada


Lobster nachos and churros in an upscale setting

Limones in downtown Asheville is a must-try Asheville restaurant. Their food is excellent, the menu is inventive, the location is great and the drinks + dessert are downright fantastic.

Make reservations in advance to secure a table or you can try to grab a seat at the bar. We recommend splitting a few plates like the lobster nachosstreet corn, the three cheese relleno and the short ribs barbacoa gordita. They have larger dishes as well but we can’t get enough of the appetizers!

Whatever you do, make sure to finish off your dinner at Limones with their churros and sipping hot chocolate.

Limones


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Locally-loved diner in downtown Asheville

The Med is an excellent and iconic diner in downtown Asheville with excellent, upscale food. They are open for breakfast and lunch and, unless you go early, you can expect a wait.

We like to tell people to order anything at the Med! All of their dishes are delicious. For breakfast, we love anything with their sausage and the breakfast potatoes. And the breakfast salad with arugula, house-pickled veggies, bacon, potatoes and eggs is also a fun option.

For lunch we recommend their fried chicken sandwich, the classic patty melt or their Med burger. Grab a stool at the counter or relax in a booth.

One thing to note is that parties of 4 or more may have to be split up because of limited seating and booth size.


Steakhouse in downtown Asheville with open-flame grilling

Located at the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville, Asheville Proper is an excellent fine-dining restaurant. Renowned for its expertise in flame-grilled steaks, this restaurant not only delivers on flavor but also creates a captivating sensory journey.

Asheville Proper’s menu includes small plates and salads, a few non-steak entrees like duck, fish and a tofu ‘steak’ and a whole host of options from the grill. The ribeye is an excellent option and all steaks come with a choice of one sauce. Sides are a la carte and never disappoint.

The location is absolutely stunning, with marble floors, high ceilings and gorgeous light fixtures over the bar.

Asheville Proper


Vegan restaurant with an on-site kombucha bar

Rosetta’s Kitchen is the perfect destination for vegan food in Asheville. It’s a cool space located in the heart of downtown with outdoor seating and a kombucha bar downstairs.

Rosetta’s offers plant-based lunch and dinner options that feature vegan versions of comfort food, such as mac and cheese, burgers, and fried chicken. You can get their full menu at the Buchi Bar.


Upscale Japanese restaurant with outdoor dining

Ukiah is an excellent spot for Japanese food in downtown Asheville. They have a fun menu with everything from duck hot pot to smoked pastrami short rib. You’ll even find a smoked Carolina pork shoulder with fire roasted kimchi on the menu!

It’s a great place for a group, especially if you are looking to try several different dishes. If you are up for it, try the Sake Flight!

Ukiah


Award-winning Spanish tapas restaurant

Cúrate is an excellent Spanish tapas restaurant in downtown Asheville. They were the recipient of the 2022 James Beard Award for Best Hospitality, though they were a hometown (and visitor) favorite long before that.

Their menu includes Spanish tapas, excellent wine options and decadent desserts. As far as tapas go, we have loved everything we have tried.

The chistorra & chips is a great place to start while you check out the menu. The sauteed mushrooms are also fantastic, as well as the piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese.


All-day Spanish eatery in downtown Asheville

Speaking of Cúrate… La Bodega is an all-day Spanish café, market and wine bar by the same team. It was born during the pandemic as a grab-and-go market but changed with the times over the years.

Today it has expanded to an order-at-the-counter cafe on the lower level and a wine and pintxo bar upstairs.

We love La Bodega’s downstairs cafe for a quick breakfast just as much as we enjoy lingering over a longer meal upstairs. You should opt for the ‘La Bodega Experience’ tasting menu for a fun night out.

And if you want to take a few goodies home with you, the market has great imported finds. You’ll find everything from a tin of Bonilla a la Vista chips to spices, vinegars and more.


Food hall with great eats in a cool space

The S&W Market is Asheville’s only food hall and it’s located downtown in the historic S&W Building. It’s the perfect place if you are dining with a larger group. There are several vendors in the same space and you can grab a seat anywhere.

You’ll find a variety of vendors at S&W, from fried chicken sandwich experts Buxton Chicken Palace to newcomer Gourmand for wine and charcuterie.

S&W also has hot dogs, ice cream, Peruvian food and a Thai street food spot. As well as a Highland Brewing taproom and cocktail bar The Times.


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Flavorful Middle Eastern food in a casual setting (and great for takeout!)

Baba Nahm is an an excellent Middle Eastern restaurant in downtown Asheville. Their food is fresh and it’s fast, too. Which makes them a top pick of ours for takeout in Asheville.

They have a build-your-own offering where you choose your protein (chicken shawarma, tabrizi style meatballs and falafels) and then decide how you want it served. Options include a pita bowl, a hummus bowl, a stuffed pita sandwich and even a Lebanese platter with rice + lentil salad.

Baba Nahm is located in the Grove Arcade and you can either dine inside, outside or take it to go. They offer online ordering and counter service.


Cafe with great pastries, a local market and delicious fare

While The Rhu isn’t open for dinner, we wanted to include them on our downtown Asheville dining guide because it’s such a great spot. You can expect order-at-the-counter service, cafe vibes and a small market area with local goods.

The menu is creative, with options like a Dirty South Biscuit that includes pulled pork pimento cheese and greens and a turkey + kale slaw sandwich.

They also have a ton of great baked goods. We especially love the brownie! Many of the kitchen-less local coffee shops sell pastries from The Rhu, so you may have had one of their croissants somewhere else!

It feels small when you enter but there is plenty of seating upstairs (take the door to the left.)


Farm-to-table restaurant with a seasonal (by the day!) menu

Rhubarb is a farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Asheville with an ever-changing menu. It’s great for groups or as a fun date night restaurant in Asheville.

Every single dish at Rhubarb is sure to impress, from the creative combination of flavors, the beautiful presentation or the freshness of the ingredients. Whether you’re indulging in a perfectly seared steak or savoring a vibrant vegetarian creation, each plate is a work of art.

Rhubarb offers a Sunday brunch with delicious menu items like their famous Appalachian Breakfast with local Chop Shop’s breakfast sausage and pepper relish. We also love their chopped cobb salad if it’s closer to lunchtime.

*Rhubarb is a part of Chef John Fleer’s portfolio, along with The Rhu.


Elevated Mexican Caribbean fare with an outdoor patio

With its festive atmosphere and colorful decor, Salsa’s in downtown Asheville is a great spot for elevated and delicious Mexican fare. Their outdoor patio on the side is perfect for people-watching. It serves as the path to One World Brewing downtown so there’s a lot of action.

Salsa’s menu features a wide range of authentic yet elevated Mexican dishes, from sizzling fajitas and mouthwatering tacos to flavorful enchiladas and fresh guacamole.


Great beer, awesome people-watching and delicious pub fare

Wicked Weed’s original location in downtown Asheville is a great option for dining with a group in downtown Asheville. They have excellent food and a great outdoor patio that allows for excellent people-watching.

Wicked Weed has a vast selection of award-winning beers as well as an on-site kitchen with excellent food options. Try one of their signature flights if you are indecisive or like to sample several brews.

For food, we recommend the kimchi fried chicken, fish & chips and the ‘Asheville hot’ chicken sandwich. They also have a Bavarian platter that comes with a giant soft pretzel, kielbasa, bratwurst, sauerkraut, pickles, beer cheese and Lusty Monk mustard.

Guide To Asheville Breweries

Thai restaurant in the heart of downtown Asheville

Suwana’s Thai Orchid is an excellent destination for Thai food in downtown Asheville. It’s just across from the AC Hotel and is a great spot both for Thai takeout and for dining in.

Top dishes include their drunken noodles, Thai fried rice and any of their curries. We especially love their green curry and their Massamun curry. The Massamun curry is topped with diced tomatoes and is always flavored to perfection.

Suwana’s offers online ordering and they’ve always had it ready when we arrive.


Hawaiian-inspired BBQ with outdoor seating

Huli Sue’s is a Hawaiian-inspired BBQ restaurant located in downtown Asheville’s Grove Arcade. They offer a fun twist to the barbecue we know and love. Make sure to check out our guide to Asheville BBQ if you’ve got a craving for Carolina-style, though.

Huli Sue’s has a nice, bright dining room and a great outdoor patio. Their brisket just melts in your mouth and they have fun sides like grilled pineapple and sweet Maui onion chips.

If it’s your first visit, check out The Sampler to try all their BBQ offerings!

Huli Sue’s


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That wraps up our downtown Asheville restaurants list! If you are looking for more dining options in Asheville, make sure to check out our list of the best restaurants in Asheville. Our food and drink page is also a great place to see what’s happening in Asheville’s dining scene.

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