Best Restaurants In Downtown Asheville Locals Actually Like

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Explore Western North Carolina’s unique culinary scene with the best restaurants in Downtown Asheville, handpicked by local foodies. From farm-to-table fare to international cuisine, there’s something for every palate and budget. Dive bars with the best burger included! Even find a menu for Fido.

Best Restaurants In Downtown Asheville Featured image with sweet potato dish
Lunch at Ukiah

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Social Lounge

Bowl of eggs and fries at Social LoungePin
  • Centrally located rooftop restaurant
  • Reservations: Highly recommended
  • Price Range: $19 – $35
  • Cuisine: Italian, Late Night, Brunch with vegan, vegetarian, and GFO
  • Address: 29 Broadway St, Asheville, NC 28801

The Social Lounge is our top pick for Sunday brunch downtown with live music, scenic views, and the freshest ingredients. Their hearty breakfast menu features an array of salads, vegan lox, shrimp and grits, and breakfast bowls paired with seasonal cocktails sure to cure any weekend hangover. Afterward, head to Pack Square Park for a festival.

Because Social Lounge is the sister restaurant to Strada, one of the most popular Italian restaurants in Downtown Asheville, find a shared pasta, entree, and pizza dinner menu. This is also a great late-night bar option. Chef Cerrato owns equally worthy Gemelli, a casual Italian eatery on the edge of North and West Asheville.

For more breakfast, brunch, and early lunch options in Downtown Asheville, try Hemingway’s Cuba, The Market Place, and Early Girl Eatery.

Jerusalem Garden Café

  • Vibrant and unique casual dining experience
  • Reservations: Suggested; we’ve never needed them
  • Price Range: $16 – $25
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean and Middle Eastern (Morrocan)
  • Address: 78 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

One of our favorite places to eat in Downtown Asheville for lunch, Jerusalem Garden Cafe boasts a vibrant yet serene space filled with brilliantly colored lights and comfy cushioned chairs. If it’s the weekend, celebrate with brunch mimosas.

On any weekday or weeknight, devour falafels, meat and seafood dishes, gyros, and grape leaves. While you’ll encounter spice, Jerusalem Garden Cafe’s food isn’t too spicy/hot (I have ulcerative colitis, trust me). Even better, catch belly dancing on Friday and Saturday nights. This is a dining experience you won’t soon forget.

Laughing Seed Cafe

  • Organic, locally sourced food with outdoor patio
  • Reservations: None
  • Price Range: $12 – $20
  • Cuisine: International Vegetarian with vegan/GFO
  • Address: 40 Wall St, Asheville, NC 28801

While Plant is our go-to dedicated vegan restaurant, Laughing Seed Cafe is one of the best Downtown Asheville restaurants for vegetarian cuisine. We’ve even booked Valentine’s Day here – heart-shaped veggie burgers included – and enjoy Laughing Seed for both a casual lunch and dinner.

Laughing Seed Cafe serves up no-frills but delicious sandwiches, bowls, and salads. Order a smoothie, mocktail, or tropical cocktail along with juice and kombucha. I love eating here after a Wake Foot Sanctuary session with the bestie. Plus, Laughing Seed is located in the heart of Downtown Asheville.

If you are looking for more vegan and vegetarian options, head to Rosetta’s Kitchen for vegan soul food. Their queso is life, and they give back to the community. And, read more about eating lactose and dairy-free in Asheville (we are both lactose intolerant and pros here).

Chai Pani

Chicken pakoras at Chai PaniPin
  • James Beard-award winning Indian street food
  • Reservations: None
  • Price Range: $10 – $18
  • Cuisine: Indian with vegan, vegetarian, & GFO
  • Address: 22 Battery Park Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 (moving to South Slope spring 2024)

Foodies and visitors alike will tell you that Chai Pani and Cúrate (Spanish tapas and sherry), winners of the James Beard Award, are two of the best restaurants in Downtown Asheville. Samantha Brown dropped by for her show, Best Places To Love. Plus, The New York TimesGQ Magazine, and New York Magazine have all featured Asheville’s top Indian food restaurant.

Executive Chef Meherwan Irani’s Indian street food is mouthwatering, flavorful, and unique. Be sure to order the okra fries and chicken pakoras. We love the corn bhel and bhel puri as sharable plates. Of course, find curry and rice. The Indian-spiced, craft cocktails are divine.

Huli Sue’s BBQ & Grill

  • Historic Grove Arcade restaurant with patio
  • Reservations: Yes, but we’ve never made them
  • Price Range: $12 – $30
  • Cuisine: Texas BBQ with Hawaiian flavors and kids’ menu
  • Address: 1 Page Ave Suite 150, Asheville, NC 28801

The historic Grove Arcade is where it is at for people-watching, shopping, the famous Battery Park Book Exchange, and a little piece of Asheville history. Huli Sue’s Barbeque and Grill is such a great addition; we love them for fresh eats, fun cocktails, and a menu you won’t see anywhere else.

Enjoy sandwiches, salads, burgers, Hawaiian, and BBQ all deliciously executed. Pair your poke with tropical cocktails, mocktails, and local brews. Afterward, explore Asheville’s roast-worthy coffee shops like Summit, Well Bred Bakery and Café, or Bebette’s, all in the Grove. Heck, even take this guided AVL coffee tour, which tends to sell out.

Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge

Burger at Rankin Vault Cocktail LoungePin
  • Relaxed dive bar with famous burgers
  • Reservations: None
  • Price Range: $5 – $15
  • Cuisine: American snacks, appetizers, handhelds, and cocktails
  • Address: 7 Rankin Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

If you know us from our other “best of” restaurant articles, someone will always do a double-take at our suggestions for Apollo Flame (the best subs in town) and Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge. Rankin is a great meet-up spot with friends. Plus, they boast the best burger in Downtown Asheville after Baby Bull in the River Arts District.

Rankin features creative cocktails including an “Ashevillian Love Affair,” boozy lemonade and tea, and margaritas. Along with handhelds and hot dogs, find bar food like chili, tater tots, nachos, and fresh salads. Of course, you also cannot go wrong with Downtown Asheville’s Farm Burger. Rankin just has more character.

Ukiah Japanese Smokehouse

  • Divine “fine” dining experience with indoor and outdoor seating (dog-friendly patio)
  • Reservations: Recommended, especially for dinner
  • Price Range: $18 – $65
  • Cuisine: Japanese Soul Food meets Southern BBQ
  • Address: 121 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Ukiah is one of those hidden gem, food-transforms-into-art Downtown Asheville restaurants with a gorgeous ambiance, including an outdoor stone fireplace. Enjoy memorable fusion cuisine; you know Asheville and North Carolina are famous for their BBQ.

Although not quite a sushi restaurant, Ukiah boasts a raw menu with sushi-grade fish and oysters. They also serve shrimp cocktail, different varieties of dumplings and buns, ribs, and meat skewers. Find ramen, a la carte plates of veggies, and of course, cocktails and dessert.

Baba Nahm

  • Terrific grab-and-go option with minimal indoor and outdoor seating
  • Reservations: None
  • Price Range: $7 – $14
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern Street Food with vegan, vegetarian, and GFO
  • Address: 1 Page Ave Suite 139, Asheville, NC 28801

If you love hummus, falafels, and all things bowls, Baba Nahm is one of the best “fast food” Asheville restaurants downtown. It’s super simple: choose your protein, pick your style (GF pita!), and add on all of those great Middle Eastern toppings. It’s convenient, cheap, and delicious.

Asheville Brewing Company

  • Our go-to for the best pizza around with local brews
  • Reservations: None
  • Price Range: $15 – $20
  • Cuisine: Brewpub with GF crust and vegan options
  • Address: 77 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Asheville Brewing (Coxe Ave. location) is one of the best places to eat in Downtown Asheville for the entire family. Head here for delicious pizza, sandwiches, bowls, chicken wings, and a strong bar food menu. Take a picture with the hops wings. We bring all of our out-of-town guests here.

Famous for its craft beer scene, this brewery won’t disappoint. We most appreciate their rich stouts, funky IPAS, and porters. If you are exhausted after a day of hiking, Asheville Brewing is a great takeout or delivery option.

Beer, Beer, Beer: If you are looking for more Downtown Asheville brewery options with food, we love Wicked Weed Brewpub. Think hummus with veggies, burgers, and a large selection of classic sandwiches, salads, and wings. For larger entrees, enjoy mussels, steaks, and pork chops. And, if you want to brewery hop, be sure to check out this popular guided brewery tour.

Red Ginger Dimsum & Tapas

Dumpling at Red Ginger Dim Sum and TapasPin
  • Endless Chinese small plates that you will crave; dumplings!
  • Reservations: None
  • Price Range: $6 – $18
  • Cuisine: Dim sum and Chinese small plates with vegetarian and GFO
  • Address: 82 Patton Ave Suite 100, Asheville, NC 28801

We don’t know about you, but nothing beats pairing your Asheville beer adventures with Chinese dumplings. Red Ginger boasts of a sharable menu filled with Asian tapas. Enjoy basket upon basket of steamed shrimp and pork dumplings.

Red Ginger Dim Sum & Tapas suggests that you order two to three dishes per two people, and along with their namesake dumplings, select from sushi, fried rice, soups, Chinese pancakes, buns, skewers, seafood, and noodle dishes.

Note: For more great nearby restaurants in Downtown Asheville, try Tupelo Honey, Isa’s Bistro, and Early Girl Eatery.

Posana Restaurant

  • Dedicated gluten-free kitchen and fine dining; pet menu
  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Price Range: $12 – $48
  • Cuisine: Contemporary American
  • Address: 1 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

We are a half-Celiac household, and Posana is one of the only places to eat in Asheville with a dedicated gluten-free kitchen. Featuring contemporary American cuisine with a fresh and locally sourced menu, select from a variety of fresh salads, beets, hush puppies, octopus, gnocchi, and bread with spreads.

Then, enjoy mains like fried tofu, chicken, lamb, seafood, and steak. Desserts might include a flourless torte, Tres Leches cake, or delicious seasonal pie. Posana is also one of the best Downtown Asheville restaurants for couples. We get spotted here a lot.


  • Local ingredients, romantic, & open kitchen
  • Reservations: Highly Recommended
  • Cuisine: French Comfort Food
  • Address: 62 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Bouchon is your go-to French restaurant in Downtown Asheville, and a few of our readers make dinner at Bouchon part of their annual tradition. Romantic and dimly lit, Bouchon will transport you right out of the city and into France, especially with its impressive French wine selection and flavors. They pour cocktails with a generous hand. 

Select from delicious duck, steak, beef, chicken, and seafood entrées. Think Boeuf Bourguignon with their famous French fries. Cap off the night with a drink from nearby Crave Dessert Bar.

Christine and Tom selfiePin

Christine Frascarelli

Christine (pronouns: she/her) is the owner and lead writer of Uncorked Asheville. After falling in love with those gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, Christine and her husband Tom decided to call Asheville, North Carolina home. When her pointy Italian nose isn’t stuck in a book, Christine is adopting all of the kitties, getting lost in the forest, and drinking an ESB. She has a BA in English and History from Smith College, her MLIS from USF-Tampa, and is a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar - Indonesia. Christine also owns The Uncorked Librarian LLC with books and movies to inspire travel.


  1. Please review Trappe Door and Aryana in Greenville SC. My spouse & I recently discovered these 2 palatable pleasure spots on an overnight to the lively small town. To you & yours, Pam

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