Skip to Content

20 Great Downtown Asheville Restaurants (For First Timer!)

Asheville is a city of food lovers, filled with some of the best downtown Asheville restaurants to choose from.

However, I will be stating different restaurants, from American cuisine to global bites, Southern comfort food, and so on.

Hence, this town is best known for its wealth of independent restaurants that offer seasonal, made-from-scratch meals with top-notch hospitality.

Trust me, Asheville provides you with a delicious breakfast at one of the top restaurants. Even if you want quick bites, grab freshly brewed coffee and bagel from coffee shops and bakeries in town.

Then, for your main dishes, there are different international restaurants and old-school Southern cuisine. International cuisine like Spanish tapas, firewood pizza, and Indian street food.

Lastly, end your day on the bar rooftop, patio, or coffee shop in downtown Asheville. 

Best Downtown Asheville Restaurants

1. Pack’s Tavern

Best Downtown Asheville Restaurants

Jeff Bergman / Flickr

There are many family-owned downtown Asheville restaurants, but they are nothing compared to Pack’s Tavern.

However, this restaurant is located in a historic building across Asheville’s Park square park. And has over 35 rotating taps, eclectic eats, and live music.

Also, the food here is outstanding and serves an all-day menu that consists of nachos, artichokes, dip, spinach, tavern pretzel, bar cheese, fried pickles, and so on for starters.

While for its entrees, Pack’s Tavern offers you brisket mac and cheese, lobster, fish and chips or bison, and beef stroganoff.

In addition, it offers one of the best pizzas in downtown Asheville. A firewood pizza with fresh dough that is made daily.

Interestingly, you can select your own favorites like the Pack’s supreme or chicken pesto, carbonara, and margarita. Not to forget, this spot only offers a beer list like ginger beer, root beer float, and draft root beer.

Visit Pack’s Tavern on Mondays – Sundays from 11 AM – 11 PM.

Address: 20 S Spruce St, Asheville, NC 28801

2. Chai Pani Asheville

Best Downtown Asheville Restaurants

Pulaw / Flickr

I do not have enough words for how incredibly over-the-top delicious this place is; there is a reason why Chai Pani Asheville is crowded and ranked as the best or one of the best downtown Asheville restaurants.

Let’s start with the kitchen; chef Meherwan Irani has been nominated for the James Beard award four times.

However, this spot offers Indian street food that is flavorful and mouthwatering. You should try its signature Indian spiced cocktail, okra fries and chicken pakoras, and its corn bhel or bhel puri.

Hence, it offers gluten-free and vegan-friendly options. When dining with family or friends, try the family package, which consists of saag paneer or butter chicken served with rice, naan, raita, and daal.

Meanwhile, it offers Indian sandwiches like chicken tikka marinated in chili, ginger, and garlic. Or paneer tikka roll marinated in yogurt and lime rice.

However, you can complement it with a glass of mango lassi, a chilled yogurt drink, or a pineapple turmeric soda.

Address: 22 Battery Park Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

3. Early Girl Eatery

Best Downtown Asheville Restaurants

Nubby Tongue / Flickr

There are a lot of downtown Asheville restaurants to eat from, with a well-done kitschy vibe, creative dishes for vegetarians and gluten-free folks, and locally sourced ingredients.

However, Early Girl Eatery is for sure the centerpiece of brunch culture. There is much to choose from here if you are vegetarian or gluten-free. The menu is helpfully labeled with “v”s and “gf”s, so it is easy to spot what you can eat if one or both of those diets is your thing.

Hence, if you are gluten-free, it offers a veggie breakfast or yam scram, or organic tofu scramble. Then add your sides like Southern gravy or salad, banana bread, or stone ground grits.

Then to its main menu, start your breakfast with Early Girl coffee and a shot of Jameson or Baileys. Also, try the biscuit French toast, Bow to King, which is the most popular dish on the menu with fried chicken tenders, fresh biscuits, and fruits.

Trust me; if you love farm fresh food and a good energy vibe, you are going to love this place.

Visit daily from 8 AM – 8 PM.

Address: 8 Wall St, Asheville, NC 28801

4. Wicked Weed Brewing Pub

Best Downtown Asheville Restaurants

Thomas Cizauskas / Flickr

If you are visiting Asheville for beer, there are a lot of breweries that serve food and also have a rotating food menu. But Wicked Weed Brewing Pub is the best of all the brewing downtown Asheville restaurants.

Although it is not the most extensive food menu in Asheville, it has something for everyone on its menu. Firstly, try its hummus with veggies and a large selection of sandwiches, salads, and burgers.

Then after 5 PM, you can find additions like mussels, steaks, and pork chops to add to your orders. However, this spot specializes in West Coast-style hoppy beers, barrel-aged sours, and Belgian. So it is hard to choose just one brew that you want.

Interestingly, there is also a cornhole game area for friends to play a game or two. Also, they have about four sours on tap with a ton of other sours available to purchase by the bottle, so if you love sours too, then give this spot a go.

Address: 91 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

5. Chestnut

Best Downtown Asheville Restaurants


Since 2012, Chestnut has always been the place to come downtown for creative cocktails and gastric cuisine.

Always make sure to add this spot to the list of the best downtown Asheville restaurants you will be visiting. However, the dishes are made from scratch and cooked with locally sourced ingredients from farm to table.

And the menu changes seasonally, but the favorite few items on the menu are kept. The food is phenomenal, and you should try the Winter Citrus Salad, which is probably the best kale salad you will ever have.

Even the quality, creativity, and portion sizes are well worth the price of the food. Also, the local flowers on the table and the dishes are on locally made pottery.

The presentation is refined but simple, and the textures, flavors, and experience are just outstanding. Overall, it is a pleasantly quiet environment with quick service and fantastic food.

Address: 48 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

6. Mayfel’s

Best Downtown Asheville Restaurants


Food is good, and Asheville is full of great restaurants. However, the experience is what you will remember more.

This is why Mayfel’s is the one restaurant you will never forget when you visit. It has a great environment for people to watch and flavorful meals. With live music just across the street, thanks to the weekly drum circle, it’s hard not to enjoy this place.

Speaking of its menu, it serves Louisiana-inspired meals to its customers, like the Kodiak with smoked salmon, the karma with veggies, Asheville scramble, French toast steak, and eggs, to mention a few.

Besides, this spot is one of the best downtown Asheville restaurants that are dog friendly, so bring your dogs and enjoy an outdoor brunch.

This place is a must to go in downtown Asheville, and it is worth every bit of the wait.

Visit only on Mondays – Sundays from 10 AM – 3 PM. Note, Mayfel’s is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Address: 22 College St, Asheville, NC 28801

7. Jerusalem Garden Cafe

Best Downtown Asheville Restaurants

Jeff Coward / Jerusalem Garden Cafe

Located right in downtown Asheville, near Pritchard park, with lots of food options nearby, with a few parking spaces on the street.

One of the unique downtown Asheville restaurants where you can watch belly-dancing on Friday and Saturday nights.

Hence, the Jerusalem Garden Cafe is filled with colored lights, and you can sit on comfy cushioned chairs. If it is the weekend, celebrate with mimosas.

Then on weekdays, order the gyros, falafel, meat and seafood dishes, and grape leaves. Furthermore, this spot offers you the most delicious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food while in downtown Asheville.

Indeed, everything here is remarkably fresh and well-seasoned. The flavors are incredibly well balanced across the plate, allowing for fresh ingredients to shine and authentic spices to accentuate.

Also, they have several beers and wines for the Middle East as well.

Address: 78 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

8. Mellow Mushroom Asheville

Best Downtown Asheville Restaurants

Chris Lanzarotti / Flickr

What more can you expect from pizza? The crust, freshness, and good taste. Then make sure to find your way to Mellow Mushroom Asheville.

No doubt, this spot is among the best downtown Asheville restaurants that serve the best pizza. It is the local’s favorite, even the tourists.

However, the pizza comes in three different sizes: small, medium, and large. And you get to choose your toppings yourself. Toppings like meats, cheese, and veggies. Or try the mighty meats, the great white house special, or the backyard BBQ pizza.

Asides from pizza, this spot also offers burgers, meatballs, avocados, and many more. Also, the service from the staff is always served with happiness and a smile. Even when they are really busy on the weekend, the service is always excellent, friendly, fun, fast, and awesome.

Then there are so many on tap. From local breweries to art house brews and even the most known commercial beers. If you can’t find a libation here to satisfy your cravings, then nowhere will have a brew to your liking.

Visit Mellow Mushroom Asheville Mondays – Sundays from 11 AM – 9 PM.

Address: 50 Broadway St, Asheville, NC 28801

9. Plant



Not just one of the best vegan meals in downtown Asheville, but hands down one of the best downtown Asheville restaurants to have your meal.

However, this restaurant really highlights what plants can taste like if you provide patience, understanding, and skill in your dish.

Hence, Plant uses locally sourced organic, gluten-free ingredients in making its dishes. The atmosphere is earthy contemporary with an open grill and many plants, and outside has metal tables and chairs with comfortable enough cushions.

And now the food, start with the crispy potatoes, and the something nice grits. Next, try the cheese plate. The magical flavors of the different cheeses mixed with the golden beets and bread are genuinely innovative and intoxicating.

Then end your meal with the crème brûlée and carrot cake; vegans or vegetarians alike will enjoy everything about Plant.

Also, the staff are friendly, and they are very knowledgeable about where each ingredient comes from.

Note, don’t let the name or menu scare you off. If you are a meat eater, step out of your comfort zone and have a great meal with new flavors, seasonings, and fun at this restaurant.

Address: 165 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

10. Posana Restaurant

Posana Restaurant

Posana Restaurant

Located just across park square, Posana Restaurant serves American cuisine with fresh and locally sourced ingredients.

However, it is one of the few best downtown Asheville restaurants that offer a gluten-free kitchen. Whether you dine indoors or on the outdoor patio, this restaurant sure makes your dining experience special.

Then, for your dinner, start your night with hush puppies, octopus, gnocchi, fresh salads, beets, and homemade soup of the day.

Hence, for the main menu, try the chicken with harissa sweet potatoes, fried tofu, seafood, steaks, and lamb rack with veggies.

Also, for the desserts, try the seasoned pie, Tres Leches cake, and flourless torte. Note, get a reservation early because they fill up quickly and don’t pressure you to move out once you have finished your meal.

Well, I can’t say enough about this restaurant, the service, the chef, and the food. If you are in the area, do yourself a favor and visit.

Address: 1 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Going Outer Banks by any chance? Why not check our list of things to do in Outerbanks, North Carolina?

11. Social Lounge

Social Lounge

Social Lounge

Do you need a place where you can get the freshest ingredients, also with a cozy rooftop view? The Social Lounge is one of the best downtown Asheville restaurants that can offer that, and for weekend brunch too.

Besides, this restaurant serves delicious Southern cuisine, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menus.

However, its breakfast menu consists of shrimp and grits and breakfast bowls paired with seasonal cocktails that will cure your weekend hangover. Also, fresh salads and vegan lox.

Then for the sides, try the French toast, and complete it with a la carte sides like gluten-free bagels, waffle fries, maple onion, and fresh fruits.

Hence, Social Lounge is one of the most famous Italian restaurants in downtown Asheville. Trust me; you will find an extensive dinner menu that is (catered by Strada).

Lastly, it has a modern craft cocktail bar that does it right. Rooftop bar and DJ that overlooks part of the city, nice place to chill and drink quality drinks. Bartenders are friendly too.

Address: 29 Broadway St, Asheville, NC 28801

12. The Market Place

The Market Place

Shutterstock / The Market Place

Speaking of the restaurant, The Market Place is exceptional. Chef Dissen and his team have created a dining experience that cannot be compared to other downtown Asheville restaurants.

The easy pace of service sets you at ease, as the crew makes you feel welcome and cared for but not rushed, with a balance of being there when needed but not obstructive at all.

However, the food menu is a Southern home style, an upscale flair, and a farm-to-table type of restaurant. Then the wine list is extensive, and their craft cocktails do not disappoint.

For its menu, order the omelet of the day, eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, and Billy D’s fried chicken salad. They are not heavy, cloying, or overpowering, just perfectly cooked and crafted food.

Then there are the desserts; try the dark chocolate & Dulce DE Leches brownie, accompanied by a sweet potato crème brûlée and their huge signature cinnamon roll.

Also, top your meal with an espresso and the best dessert wine Bodegas Toro Alba la 1990, and you will be fully satisfied and at ease.

Address: 20 Wall St, Asheville, NC 28801

13. Isa’s French Bistro

Isa’s French Bistro

Artit_Wongpradu / Isa’s French Bistro

No doubt one of the most iconic best downtown Asheville restaurants, Isa’s French Bistro is just the perfect place for a charming breakfast or brunch in downtown Asheville.

It has plenty of seating inside and outside; downstairs looks like it has a room for special events too. Lovely interior, high ceilings, and a bright, modern, and inviting ambiance. Also, the food is excellently prepared and full of flavors; a lot of care goes into each ‘from scratch’ dish.

You can start with the Parmesan Fri ties, an excellent combination of fries, duck powder, truffle oil, scallions, graded Parmesan, pecorino, a sunny-side-up duck egg, and some aioli.

Hence, the appetizers are also great. The lamb chops are flavorful and accompanied by lots of fresh veggies.

Make sure to complement your meal with the drink of your choice. You can try the C’est La Bee, which is light, refreshing, and tastes like summer. Also, the Vie En Rose tastes like if Christmas were to throw a garden party.

This is the spot for you if you are looking for a modern eclectic dining experience in Asheville.

Address: 1 Battery Park Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

14. Asheville Chocolate

Asheville Chocolate

Asheville Chocolate

So here is the deal: you cannot keep sleeping on Asheville Chocolate. The owner is the sweetest human ever; the shop is super cozy and welcoming, and it has great seating and a great location downtown.

Of all the chocolate stores in downtown Asheville, this spot is one of the best downtown Asheville restaurants for chocolate and truffles.

However, this restaurant has blessed the city with some amazing gelato, perfect for warm summer nights. And the dark chocolate vegan gelato is by far the most amazing chocolate you will ever eat.

This spot offers chocolate alone and serves drinks like coffee, local tea, hot chocolates with affogatos, and mochas with homemade ganache.

Address: 25 Broadway St, Asheville, NC 28801 

15. Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co.

Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co.

Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co.

When you crave the best pizza in downtown Asheville, choose the local favorite, Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co.

Find your way to Coxe Ave. for delicious sandwiches, chicken wings, and pizza. Also, vegan and gluten-free pizzas are included.

However, this spot is the epitome of colorful and flavorful pizzerias. Their pizza options are truly unique and exhibit a perfect range of tastes, textures, and styles.

Furthermore, the many artworks will keep your eyes dancing, and the built-in theater will ensure hours of entertainment.

Also, the staff are all super friendly; there is no bad thing to say about this spot. Though it is a pizza place in downtown Asheville, but it is one of the best downtown Asheville restaurants that offer pizza but with a movie theater in it.

It has a unique feel as they give it a movie franchise theme to the place and plenty of beer on the menu.

Address: 675 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804 

16. Crave Dessert Bar

Crave Dessert Bar

Crave Dessert Bar

Unlike many other downtown Asheville restaurants, Crave Dessert Bar stays open until midnight.

However, when you are visiting downtown Asheville, just stop by at the spot for dessert, hookah, and dinner drinks. Order its signature beauty & the beast style jar over a smoky old-fashioned or its deliciously flavored hookah.

Meanwhile, this restaurant is not the best spot when it comes to gluten-free and vegan desserts, but it still has a few options to choose from.

Still a must-visit for dessert lovers. The presentation is just amazing, and the taste is impeccable, with just the right amount of sweetness.

Hence, the creme brulee has a proper sugar crust packed with flavor, the chocolate cake is soft and moist, and the bourbon cheesecake is simply beautiful.

Also, the service here at this restaurant is excellent, and they offer hookah to boot. It is a great hangout spot for drinks, food, and desserts and has a great ambiance with outdoor seating.

Visit Crave Dessert Bar on Tuesdays – Sundays from 5 PM – 12 AM.

Address: 41 N Lexington Ave Suite # 100, Asheville, NC 28801

17. Limones


Library Fashionista / Flickr

Imagine dim chandelier lighting in historic buildings with mirrors and art, two smaller rooms, and a cozy bar. Enjoying intimate conversations with friends or partners.

Then Limones is just one of the best downtown Asheville restaurants that con-fit such an imagination. It is charming and romantic and makes your visit a memorable one.

Interestingly, you will find chef Hugo Ramirez, a Mexican who moved to Asheville from San Francisco. He offers a simple yet classic Mexican and French-inspired cuisine.

For starters, he offers you a drink that includes fresh ceviche, which can be mixed with dragon fruits or lobster nachos.

Onto the next, which is the entrees, you can try the scallops, enchiladas with vegan cheese, ramen short ribs, and BBQ fish.

Then the fun part is the dessert; this spot offers Mexican-inspired desserts like the Tres Leches Cake or the churros. They will want to make you visit often.

Also, it offers Mexican coffee, Spanish dessert wines, and of course, cocktail lists for its guests.

Address: 15 Eagle St, Asheville, NC 28801

18. Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge

Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge

Carrie Turner Photography / Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge

The Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge is everything a great bar should be. It is the local’s favorite casual downtown spot for drinks, delicious pub food, a mellow vibe, outdoor seating, and the best staff around.

Hence, the favorite is the Asheville Love Affair. It is the perfect combination of flow and bubbly. It is just so good and has daily drink specials as well.

Speaking of its menu, it is consistent and fast. You are sure going to love the tacos, the Caesar salad, and, of course, the fantastic vault burger with fingerling potatoes.

Do not expect fancy; this is one of the best downtown Asheville restaurants that is quintessential but don’t be surprised when you find yourself wanting to be a regular.

The best part is that this place has a full bar and stays open till 2 AM on the weekends. So even if you are a second-shift restaurant worker, you can swing by and get some delicious gourmet food and craft beer or cocktails.

Great place all around!

Address: 7 Rankin Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

19. Buxton Hall Barbecue

Buxton Hall Barbecue

Buxton Hall Barbecue

Wonderfully delicious Southern meal. The smell as soon as you walk into the restaurant is so enticing that it’s so hard to wait to sit at the table and order.

However, Buxton Hall Barbecue is among the best downtown Asheville restaurants that locals always recommend. The meat is a whole Eastern style.

Hence, the moistness and texture are simply something that cannot be replicated; it is extremely flavorful and does not need sauce. But since they offer an Eastern sauce, then add some anyway.

The Lima beans are savory and perfectly cooked. Also, the collards are simply out of this world.

Sincerely, there is a balance of savor and sweetness; the spice is perfect and in the right proportions.

Furthermore, they have a bar with a great selection, and the service is really quick and friendly.

Also, there is a sauce bar where you can get a variety of wholly needed sauces. Like the watermelon, which is lightly seasoned with barbecue rub.

Buxton Hall is worth a day trip to Asheville on its own.

Address: 32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

20. Strada Italiano

Strada Italiano

Strada Italiano

Fantastic upscale Italian restaurant from top to bottom. From a smooth reservation process and warm greetings from the host to fabulous upstairs seating for parties, with great lighting and spectacular service.

Firstly, the cocktails here at Strada Italiano are prepared with purpose and perfection, the calamari is lightly breaded and crisp, and every entrée is fresh like an authentic Italian grandma is in the kitchen, making it from scratch.

Also, there are lots of homemade gluten-free options, which are rare to find in any other downtown Asheville restaurants that serve authentic Italian meals.

The gluten-free pasta with the Marsala is excellent, then you should try out the rice with duck, so the whole food plate can be reinforced with good solid carbohydrates and proteins.

If you are in the mood for Italian food in Asheville, I highly recommend you to come here. Especially if you have digestive issues.

However, this spot also has a small but delightful bar upstairs to accommodate upstairs drinkers. Go experience what handcrafted Italian is all about in style. Even the pasta is homemade and fresh daily. You can tell the difference.

Address: 27 Broadway St, Asheville, NC 28801

Final Remarks

Downtown Asheville is packed with so many wonderful restaurants that serve authentic Italian dishes, fresh seafood, and Mexican dishes, to mention a few. You will also find upscale restaurants, cafes, and restaurants that take you back in time.

Whether you are looking for sushi, chocolate, burgers, fresh salads, pizza, or BBQ, downtown Asheville has it all.