In previous blog posts, I detailed my favorite spots for casual and fancy dining around Asheville. What if you’re just in the mood for a splash of fresh coffee and a light bite? These are my top spots in downtown Asheville for coffee, dessert, and drinks.
Asheville’s Top Spots for Coffee & Dessert
High Five Coffee
With two downtown Asheville locations, High Five is the convenient (and delicious) choice. Their Rankin Avenue store is located by the Rankin Vault and the back entrance to Tops Shoes. High Five baristas go through a robust training program that ensure your beverage is prepared to perfection. High Five brews Counter Culture beans, the product of a 20 year old coffee company hailing from neighboring Durham, NC. High Five’s mission is twofold: serve great coffee and be nice to people. Both of these credos are immediately evident when you walk through the doors.
Located on Lexington Avenue, The Rhu is little sister to local-favorite Rhubarb. Chef John Fleer created this outpost as a place to celebrate local produce and makers. The Rhu offers a coffee menu, pastries, breads, and lunch items. You can dine in or grab a box to-go. For last minute shoppers, Rhu offers loaves of bread, Looking Glass Creamery, cheese, jams, and nut butters to-go. They also have a well-curated wall of giftables like handmade cutting boards, cookbooks, and kitchen accessories.
Trade & Lore
Trade and Lore opened on Wall Street earlier this year to a warm reception. The interior is open and well-appointed, making this the perfect place to meet a friend for a visit or work for an afternoon. The coffee shop is located off the busy downtown beaten path beneath the Flat Iron Building. Go for their $2 drip coffee, stay for their freshly baked vegan and gluten free cookies.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge
The Lounge opened to accommodate the overflow from French Broad’s original chocolate shop and factory. The eatery now serves coffee, cake, ice cream, hot chocolate, assorted breads and pastries in addition to their famous truffles. Since Dan and Jael Rattigan met at a wedding in 2003, their story has taken them from the Midwest to Costa Rica to Asheville. They still own and operate a cacao farm in Costa Rica, which exemplifies their commitment to the chocolate-making process and fine ingredients.
Best Places to Grab a Drink in Asheville
Montford Rooftop Bar
For mountain vistas with downtown convenience, I recommend the Montford Rooftop Bar. Perched at the top of the new Hyatt Hotel, the Bar has sweeping views of Asheville from the inside and the deck. Order the house special Montford Mule and the meatballs for a spectacular afternoon or evening outing. Since the bar is on the edge of downtown, I suggest checking out my favorite Italian restaurant, Chiesa, before or after your trip to the Rooftop.
If you love live music and wine, look no further than 5 Walnut. A different live music act plays nightly and you can manage some superb people watching from the street-facing stools. Try their blended wines on tap, the smoked trout dip, and their famous cheese platter. 5 Walnut is a great place to hang in the early evening, right in the middle of the bustling downtown neighborhood.
Near Trade and Lore, MG Road is a cocktail bar beneath Indian street food restaurant Chai Pani. While MG Road has the same owners as Chai Pani, the focus is on expertly crafted cocktails. Relax in the plush chairs or pony up to the bar- you can’t go wrong at this spot. If you get hungry for a nibble, MG Road serves a selection of Indian bites from big sister and upstairs neighbor Chai Pani.
Since Asheville is Beer City USA, we can’t leave out the myriad of local craft breweries. Favorites include Catawba, Green Man, Burial, Twin Leaf, Wicked Weed, Hi Wire, One World, and Highland Brewing. In addition to these local haunts, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing recently opened their second location in Asheville along the French Broad River.
Is your favorite spot missing from my round-up? Let me know! Asheville’s food and drink scene is growing so rapidly that it is hard to keep up, but I am always eager for the “next best place” to try.