Explore the best River Arts District restaurants in Asheville, NC for tacos, BBQ, Polynesian, and more. Food trucks and breweries with food included!
One of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Asheville, the River Arts District (RAD) is filled with breweries, wine bars, coffee shops, and urban art.
And let’s face it, the restaurants in the River Arts District are pretty famous. Dine like a former President at one of Asheville’s most illustrious BBQ restaurants, 12 Bones Smokehouse.
Or, choose from baller bottles, wine glasses the size of your face, and charcuterie at the swankiest wine bar in town, Bottle Riot.
Luxuriate in one of Asheville’s most romantic fine dining restaurants, The Bull And Beggar. And, don’t miss its sister, no-frills burger joint, Baby Bull. It’s where the locals go.
If you are craving Hawaiian poke and Filipino lumpia, RosaBee’s awaits you. We are sure we probably don’t even need to whisper the name “White Duck Taco.”
So, with the plethora of River Arts District Asheville restaurants, how do you choose? Honestly, you should try them all.
However, as locals, we are sharing the best restaurants near the River Arts District in Asheville, NC that we love and recommend.
Please keep in mind that “best” is subjective; we’d love to hear your favorite RAD restaurants in the comments. Let’s get started!
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Delicious River Arts District Restaurants In Asheville
The River Arts District is one of our favorite neighborhoods in all of Asheville. Along with the foodie scene – endless breweries, coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants – the area is filled with culture, art, and outdoor activities. This district boasts the most street art, artist studios, and galleries in AVL.
Plus, enjoy vibrant street murals and the gorgeous RAD Riverwalk. The Riverwalk connects many of the scenic public parks and greenways along the French Broad River. After you pick a restaurant to eat at, make sure to read our local guide to RAD’s shops, breweries, and art galleries too.
1. 12 Bones Smokehouse
North Carolina is pretty well-known for its stellar BBQ. In fact, the BBQ is so good, the Obama family visited one of our personal top Asheville BBQ joints, 12 Bones Smokehouse (RAD location).
One of the most famous River Arts District restaurants in Asheville, devour BBQ at 12 Bones Smokehouse like a former president.
On their 2008 Asheville trip, Michelle and Barack Obama hiked Craven Gap and ate at 12 Bones Smokehouse – River location (they have a second location in Arden).
Barack Obama ordered the ribs. You’ll even see their picture on the wall.
12 Bones Smokehouse is known for its slow and long-smoked meats, using oak and cherry hardwoods. Everything they make is from scratch, and 12 Bones cooks old family favorites as well as new flavors.
Order ribs, pulled pork or chicken, and smoked turkey. Select either a sandwich or a platter.
True to Southern BBQ, pair your meats with delicious sides like cornbread, okra, mac and cheese, and beans. Don’t forget to head to the BBQ sauce station.
Sit inside with walls covered in guests’ signatures or outside on a picnic table ensconced in Asheville’s urban art scene.
12 Bones is a casual but delicious Asheville lunch option. They do not take reservations. Wedge at Foundation, one of our favorite Asheville breweries, sits next door.
Also, know that the 12 Bones South/Arden location houses their stellar brewery and a gorgeous Anthony Bourdain mural painted by Gus Cutty.
12 Bones brews their own beer for both locations.
12 Bones Smokehouse River | 5 Foundy St Ste 10, Asheville, NC 28801
2. Baby Bull
If you are hoping to fight that burger craving, we have the perfect place for you. Baby Bull is casual, local, and budget-friendly. Plus, they are centrally located for all of your River Arts District exploring.
Curated by The Bull and Beggar, Baby Bull is their handheld joint located down the street. Just look for the Asheville silo, one of the popular local landmarks.
Enjoy a no-frills establishment serving up one of the best burgers in all of Asheville. You may find lines out of the door depending on your timing and the season.
This is also one of the most budget-friendly River Arts District restaurants, perfect for families looking for a quick and easy meal.
Baby Bull has a kid’s burger and indoor and outdoor seating.
While you cannot make substitutions to Baby Bull’s small menu, they offer gluten-free bread. You may also leave off items like cheese.
Baby Bull’s special sandwiches rotate daily and seasonally; you might catch a lobster roll or fried fish, pork cutlet, or pressed pork sandwich along with your beef burger.
Sides include pork rinds, fries, and hushpuppies. A local favorite, Baby Bull hosts “Burger Monday,” featuring a burger, fries, and beer or soda for $13.99+.
This RAD spot is great for the warmer months, especially in the evening by the river.
Baby Bull | 1 Roberts St, Asheville, NC 28801
3. White Duck Taco Shop
One of Asheville’s attractions, White Duck Taco Shop promises the most eclectic tacos in town. Pull up to one of the picnic tables with your pooch along the French Broad River.
White Duck Taco is another one of the most famous River Arts District Asheville restaurants and attractions, especially for visitors.
With multiple locations, many argue that White Duck makes the best tacos in the city. (Personally, we are team Taco Temple, but y’all like what you like)
Sometimes the line sprawls out the door before opening. However, you can also catch slower times, if you are lucky. So, what’s the big deal?
We’d say the well-deserved hype is due to White Duck Taco’s rare taco creations. These are not your average tacos.
Think Chicken Tikka Masala, Crispy Chicken BLT, Bangkok Shrimp, Crispy Pork Belly, and Gyro-themed soft tacos along with a local brew. White Duck labels gluten-free items.
This is also a great River Arts District restaurant if you are traveling with young kids; White Duck Taco’s menu features kids’ quesadillas, chicken, and chips with queso and salsa.
And, for unique RAD restaurants, White Duck Taco sits inside a vibrantly funky shipping container.
They also have an abundance of outdoor picnic table seating. Devour tacos next to the French Broad River with your dog, family, and friends.
If it’s summer, you might catch people floating by, and this is another one of the best lunch places to eat in the River Arts District on a gorgeous day.
They have a large parking lot close to the RAD Riverwalk. If crowds overwhelm you, though, White Duck Taco might not be for you.
Read more about eating gluten-free in AVL – from a half Celiac household.
White Duck Taco Shop | RAD 388 Riverside Drive | Downtown 12 Biltmore Avenue | Arden 16 Miami Circle
For lesser-known River Arts District restaurants in Asheville, RosaBees promises delicious Polynesian cuisine. This hidden gem is the perfect location for a casual dinner date.
One of the most magical restaurants in Asheville, and our personal favorite, RosaBees is a must.
Serving up Hawaiian dishes, this Polynesian restaurant boasts poke bowls, a variety of unique fish dishes, and beef and chicken entrees paired with spicy and tropical flavors.
We’ve also enjoyed Indonesian dishes, and you’ll find Filipino-inspired appetizers.
RosaBees’ menu features equally delicious cocktails and desserts. They label items containing gluten with an asterisk.
We recommend making advanced dinner reservations.
This is a small and sweet RAD restaurant hidden among artist studios and shops. Find plenty of parking in the gravel lots out front.
RosaBees | 27 Foundy Street, Suite #20, Asheville, NC 28801
5. The Bull And Beggar
Nothing beats a delicious fine dining restaurant, especially if you are a carnivore. The Bull and Beggar promises the richest cuisine in a romantic setting.
Enjoy a decadent dinner at one of the best fine-dining restaurants in the River Arts District, The Bull And Beggar.
Tucked in between Bottle Riot and Wedge Brewing Company at Wedge Studios, this is one of the top RAD restaurants for meat lovers.
With a simple but extravagant one-page dinner menu, select from beef tartare, oysters, ribeye, duck, pork belly, and pasta.
Not to mention that The Bull And Beggar also makes one of the classiest charcuterie boards in the city.
For a romantic dining experience in Asheville, be sure to take in the dimly lit and cozy two-floor space with a small book bar.
Think brick and stone walls and chandelier lighting paired with a heavenly and gourmet dining experience. They also have some outdoor seating.
We highly suggest making advanced dinner reservations.
The Bull And Beggar | 37 Paynes Way #007, Asheville, NC 28801
6. All Souls Pizza
Craving the best pizza in Asheville? All Souls Pizza is a popular RAD joint for its indoor and outdoor seating and budget-friendly prices.
All Souls Pizza sits on the edge of RAD – across from The Grey Eagle Music Hall – and features artisanal pizza.
Enjoy mouthwatering seasonal plates like monkfish, clams, fried okra, and cauliflower along with heaping salads, sandwiches, soups, and olives.
Then, select from wood-fired pizzas with a gluten-free polenta crust option. We’d personally appreciate a vegan/lactose-free cheese option too. All Soul’s has beer and wine.
This is another one of the best Asheville River Arts District restaurants with outdoor dining. Pull up at a picnic table.
All Souls Pizza | 75 Clingman Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
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Food Trucks, Breweries With Food, & More
If you are looking for more unique places to eat in the River Arts District in Asheville, know that there are plenty of permanent and rotating food trucks to choose from. Many rotate among the breweries. You’ll also find food across concert venues and event spaces as well as near the artist studios.
7. Bottle Riot
One of our favorite River Arts District Asheville restaurants and gorgeous wine bars, Bottle Riot is where you go for wine tasting and small plates.
Bottle Riot is one of the best restaurants in the River Arts District with a huge wine selection.
Please just keep in mind that they don’t serve full entrees. However, you’ll love their spreads and snacks.
Like The Bull and Beggar, Bottle Riot has mouthwatering charcuterie. Order for the entire table or pick a meat or cheese board. Gluten-free crackers are available upon request.
Along with glasses of deliciously curated wine – red, white, and orange – and lavish baller bottles, Bottle Riot serves interesting spirits and boasts a simple cocktail menu.
Find classics like a Negroni and Old Fashioned. They also have Gin, Vodka, Irish Whiskey, Scotch, Brandy, and Tequila.
If you are looking for River Arts District wineries, don’t miss pleb urban winery, just downt the road.
Bottle Riot | 37 Paynes Way #009, Asheville, NC 28801
8. Guajiro Cuban Comfort Food
New in 2022, Guajiro Cuban Comfort Food is one of Asheville’s best food trucks. Located at the Asheville Cotton Mill Studios, devour casual and budget-friendly Cuban cuisine.
Some of the best restaurants in the River Arts District include its happening food truck scene – both permanent and rotating.
Guajiro is a permanent food truck, sitting outside of local artist Andy Herrod’s art bar, Great Wild Nowhere (be sure to check out his cool t-shirts; we own a red wild hog one).
While here, find both breakfast and lunch (Asheville is full of terrific breakfast spots).
Start with a traditional Cuban breakfast featuring rice and beans, ham croquettes, and sweet plantains. They also have egg sandwiches and omelets.
For lunch, select from soups, a variety of sandwiches, and larger platters like Cuban steak, roast pork, and pork chunks.
We can never resist a classic Cuban sandwich with yucca fries and fried plantains on the side. Don’t forget dessert – flan – with your Cuban coffee.
The Asheville Cotton Mill is also home to art studios and the Asheville Guitar Bar, a great AVL bar for the older crowd featuring live music.
Guajiro Cuban Comfort Food | 122 Riverside Drive Asheville, NC 28801
9. Chop Shop Food Truck
If you crave hot dogs and burgers, this RAD food truck is a must for all things meat. Located next to Wedge Brewery at Foundation, this casual spot is perfect with local craft beer on a picnic table.
The Chop Shop is Asheville’s local butcher, located on historic Charlotte Street in North Asheville.
You’ll find their premium and natural meats across the city at popular restaurants like Bone & Broth (right next door), which is also a terrific local tavern for date night.
Even better, the Chop Shop Food Truck – one of our favorite RAD restaurants with easy access to the Riverwalk – is typically open 7 days a week. Just keep your eye on the weather.
This is your go-to for gyros, hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and fries or chips.
They have gluten-free options including GF bread.
However, if you are vegan, you’d have to settle for a salad – so, this might not be your best option for food in the River Arts District (find vegan & veggie eats here).
Sit outside on one of the covered picnic tables, and play a round of cornhole. Be sure to grab a beer inside Wedge Brewing too.
Wedge brews up some of our favorite Lagers, Ambers, Pilsners, and Kölschs. Afterward, catch a movie at the Grail.
10. New Belgium Brewing Company
Located between the River Arts District and West Asheville, this nationally-recognized brewery is a great stop for a beer tour. Catch a rotating food truck with your delicious hoppy brew while looking out over the French Broad River.
One of the best restaurants near the River Arts District in Asheville is technically a massive brewery – but we are counting it. You know AVL is famous for its breweries.
New Belgium Brewing Company is one of Asheville’s top sightseeing attractions that locals also enjoy. Take a brewery tour before settling in at an outdoor picnic table or the indoor taproom.
There is plenty of space, and we most love that this brewery connects to the French Broad River Greenway and RAD Riverwalk.
People walk, bike, and skate here. Just a few access points include French Broad River & Carrier Parks.
Once you arrive, grab a beer and tuck into some food truck grub.
Just a few of the rotating food trucks you might see at New Belgium include:
- Cecilia’s Kitchen – With a brick-and-mortar North Asheville restaurant, enjoy sweet and savory crepes, empanadas, salads, and more.
- Bun Intended – Thai-inspired street food, including bao, fried rice, and steamed buns. Catch their Downtown Restaurant at the S&W Market.
- The Smokin’ Onion – A dedicated vegan food truck with loads of gluten-free options, including GF fried onion rings and pickles, veggie burgers, and gyros.
- Melt Your Heart – Gourmet grilled cheese.
- Root Down – Creole & Southern comfort food; catch them at Salvage Station too.
- Tin Can Pizzeria – Did someone say a food truck serving pizza? They frequent Whistle Hop Brewing as well.
For beverages, it’s safe to say that most beer drinkers probably have heard of Fat Tire or Voodoo Ranger IPA. That’s New Belgium.
Their beers tend to run a bit hoppy – for us – but we crave that seasonal Oktoberfest. New Belgium also has hard teas, seltzers, and juices as well as sour ales.
New Belgium is a family-friendly and pet-friendly Asheville brewery.
Discover even more local food around West Asheville, including our favorites around Haywood Road like Haywood Common and Thai Pearl.
New Belgium Brewing Company | 21 Craven St, Asheville, NC 28806
More Best Places For Food & Drink In The River Arts District
The River Arts District is both a local hot spot and a happening tourist attraction, especially with its plethora of bars, live entertainment, and terrific breweries. These are just a few more places to check out, including coffee shops and Asheville restaurants not all listed above.
RAD Restaurants & Venues
- Smoky Park Supper Club (350 Riverside Dr #3141) – Community restaurant and bar
- The Grey Eagle Music Hall (185 Clingman Ave) – Event space with live music and concerts with delicious tacos (The Grey Eagle Taqueria)
- Vivian Asheville (348 Depot St Ste 190) – European-influenced American cuisine
Asheville’s River Arts District Coffee Shops
- Summit Coffee Asheville (4 Foundy St. Suite 20) – Look for the RBG mural too!
- Penny Cup Coffee Co. (362 Depot St)
- Ultra Coffeebar (242 Clingman Ave Ext) – Near the NC Glass Center
- Grind AVL – (346 Depot St)
Read more about the best coffee shops in Asheville.
River Arts District Breweries
- Wedge At Wedge Studios (37 Paynes Way, Suite 001)
- Wedge At Foundation (5 Foundy St, Ste 10)
- Ginger’s Revenge (829 Riverside Dr, Suite 100) – GF beer
- Hi-Wire Brewing RAD Beer Garden (284 Lyman St) – Foot Hills Food Truck
- River Arts District Brewing (13 Mystery Street) – New in 2023
- Zillicoah Beer Co. (870 Riverside Dr – technically, Woodfin)
What are your favorite River Arts District restaurants in Asheville?
Where do you love to eat in Asheville’s River Arts District? What is your favorite River Arts District brewery? How about your favorite River Arts District coffee shop? Let us know in the comments.
P.S. The River Arts District restaurants are also close to Biltmore. We suggest dining here after a day touring the home, strolling the gardens, and wine tasting at Biltmore Winery.
Related Asheville Neighborhood Articles:
- Biltmore Village Dining
- Best Things To Do In West Asheville
- What To Do In North Asheville
- Guide To Historic Montford
- Moving To & Living In Asheville Guide
Save Your Favorite Restaurants Near The River Arts District In Asheville For Later:
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.