If you are looking for a more upscale dining experience in (and around) downtown Asheville, these are my top picks. From old standbys to up-and-comers, this list touches on our favorite places to toast and celebrate. Most of these restaurants serve lunch and dinner, so be sure to check out their full menus on their websites for a better idea of their offerings!
Curaté is often hailed as Asheville’s best restaurant. While some locals disagree on the subject, Curaté offers a fun and authentic Spanish dining experience in the heart of downtown. The atmosphere feels celebratory, and the wine and cocktail list backs up this vibe. Don’t miss their signature (and indulgent) dishes: pan con tomaté, jamón Ibérico (try all 3 varieties), croquetas de pollos, and potatas bravas. If you can’t get a reservation, arrive before the dinner rush and grab a spot at the bar.
If you are looking for an upscale brunch, lunch, or dinner experience- Table has you covered. Table uses local and regional meats, cheeses, and produce for their farm-to-table menu. Try the decadent swiss chard and ricotta fritters, hanger steak, or Carolina crudo tuna. If you want to keep the party going, head upstairs after your meal to the Imperial Life cocktail lounge.
Smoky Park Supper Club
Smoky Park is billed as the largest shipping container restaurant in the United States. Nestled along the French Broad river in the River Arts District, Smoky Park serves up seasonal wood-fired food and craft cocktails. Arrive by bicycle, car, or boat… And stay for the live music, riverside ambience, and delicious shareable plates. Menu highlights include comforting dishes like spicy crackerjack popcorn, cast-iron grille cheese, charred and creamed local kale, house sausage, and Apple Brandy Farms sirloin with roasted cauliflower puree and pan-seared mushrooms.
If you are looking for a fresh twist on Southern comfort food, Chef John Fleer of Rhubarb has the answer. Try the flavorful house pickled vegetables, Mongolian barbequed lamb ribs, Heritage pork meatballs, local lettuce salad, wood roasted sunburst trout, or grilled Ashley Farms half-chicken. We recommend grabbing a few of the smaller plates and local cheese board to share at the start of your meal- there are so many gems on the menu, you don’t want to miss them! As chef and owner John Fleer notes, “Sharing food is tranformative.”
Upscale and traditional Mexican cuisine shines atLimonéswhich is tucked away from the hustle and bustle off Biltmore Avenue on Eagle Street. Stop by for a cocktail and snack, weekend brunch, or celebratory dinner out. Every dish is bursting with bright flavors and pairs well with their extensive selection of margaritas. Local favorites include the ceviche verde, slow braised short rib nachos, seared sea scallops, and tequila lime beef fajitas. Start your weekend brunch with a cup of hot chocolate and churros for the table to share.
Make an evening out of it and plan to stroll along Wall Street before your dinner at Cucina 24. We recommend ducking into MG Road for a pre-dinner cocktail. The wide range of elevated Italian food will please everyone in your party. Enjoy staples like fresh bread, traditional pasta, and pizza or try innovative dishes like their sunny egg & black truffle, potato, and onion jam small plate. Your only problem will be deciding which dishes to order!
Do you have a favorite Asheville restaurant that isn’t listed? I would love to hear from you. My wife and I love the variety of cuisines and price points available- there is truly an option for every occasion and craving! This is just one quality that makes Asheville a wonderful location for your retirement or second home.