Asheville, North Carolina, is a small mountain town with a tremendous amount of character. And I found its food scene impossible to resist. Expect local fare and establishments with very distinct personalities. By using this guide, I hope you’ll discover the wealth of what this mountain has to offer hungry visitors.
French Broad Chocolates is a local bean-to-bar chocolate shop that has earned national recognition. Enjoy a gorgeous box of truffles that comes complete with a bow, à la Tiffany’s. Swing by the shop — located in the heart of downtown Asheville — to pick up a cup of impossibly smooth Durham, North Carolina-based Counter Culture coffee. Sweets, as you might expect, dominate this menu. Look forward to cakes, brownies, crème brûlée, cookies, ice cream, coffee and tea — but the real highlight here is the drinking chocolate. French Broad serves a thick and rich hot chocolate that you’ll think about for months after you’ve tasted it. Order the plain dark chocolate or try the salted caramel option if you’d prefer a drink with more character.
Don’t let the all brick and the dark, industrial-looking exterior of Vortex Doughnuts — located just a few blocks from French Broad — fool you. Inside, you’ll find a welcoming, light-filled interior complete with modern décor, a wooden bar, and a chalkboard menu board behind the counter. Freelancers could easily spend an entire day downing drinks and doughnuts while they hammer out their latest assignments. Customers should expect made-from-scratch and locally sourced doughnuts in addition to coffee, tea, milk and soda. I loved the vegan doughnuts. Many vegan options are too crumbly or bland, but these delivered a sweet punch that should accompany all doughnuts. I especially preferred the chocolate peppermint doughnut, which was perfect for the chilly weather.
Cozy up to the bar and sip on a craft beer or enjoy your pie alfresco at All Souls Pizzeria. The ingredients here taste straight-from-the-farm fresh — the restaurant even mills its own flour and polenta from organic grains. And the clam, chile, oregano, cream, and mozzarella pie I had was dripping with sauce and balanced the ingredients out just right. If you’re searching for a spot that feels quintessentially Asheville, All Souls does the trick.
If you like to drink your coffee in a memorable setting, you’ll find it at Double D’s Coffee and Dessert. Head inside the red double-decker bus to order coffee, espresso, and pastries, pretending you’re in London, if you want. I know this marks my third coffee shop, but with all the health benefits of java, you might as well drink as much as you can.
No trip to Asheville would be complete without a visit to The Biltmore, perhaps Asheville’s most famous attraction. The luxurious property is the largest privately owned home in the country. The Biltmore is a stunning, endless modern-day castle, each room more opulent than the next. It’s home to a few on-site restaurants, but a winery tour is included in the price of admission. I wasn’t too impressed with any of the vino, but at least it was free.
It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that a city as hip as Asheville is home to more than a handful of vegan restaurants. Plant is the kind of upscale vegan dinner-only spot that you’d only find in a big city or a small town like Asheville. The lights are low and the setting is surprisingly romantic — candles included. I recommend the hearty rosemary fries with mayo, especially to those of you who think vegan cuisine can’t be tasty. The curry tofu served with bok choy was spicy, texture-rich, and just filling enough.
From vegan delights to hip coffee shops, Asheville is the type of city that’s home to just about any cuisine you’re searching for. You just have to know where to look.