When you love the business, there’s no such thing as a day off. Whether you’re traveling to a new city for a family vacation or to visit friends, the local restaurant scene is always calling your name. A stop in Asheville, NC, offers an opportunity to rethink your own menu. From traditional Southern dishes and new takes on old classics to locally sourced food, this city has got it all. Check out these cool restaurants on your Asheville road trip for their fine food—and consider borrowing a page or two from these chefs’ playbooks.
Given the small size of Asheville, the number of taco joints that call it home is surprising. Taco Billy distinguishes itself with all-day breakfast and a menu that packs in variety—from the “Support Group” vegetarian taco, made with cumin sweet potatoes, pecan and black bean hummus, roasted pepitas, avocado, spinach and coconut crema on a plantain tortilla, to the “Morita,” which includes morita chili-stewed pork and potatoes, tangy slaw, cilantro and jalapeño crema on a flour tortilla. Want to be more like Billy? Add breakfast tacos to the menu and check the box for a low-cost food item with a high profit margin.
Chef-owner Adam Bannasch is on the city’s growing list of transplants, trading New Orleans for Asheville when he opened Zambra. Now, crowds gather at his new spot, Copper Crown, where diners get full-on Cajun cuisine. Here, Bannasch incorporates regional preferences into the cuisine—adding local trout dishes to the menu alongside gumbo and blackened snapper.
Asheville wouldn’t be a true Southern city if it didn’t have a devoted biscuit restaurant. At Biscuit Head, patrons can get a biscuit any way they want it, as long as it’s Southern. Stuffed with catfish, topped with pulled pork or smothered in seven gravy varieties are just a few ways Biscuit Head will specially prepare a biscuit. Jason and Carolyn Roy, the husband-and-wife owners, appeal to the instincts of the Southern diner while stating the true adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Tons of restaurants in Buncombe County boast their connections to local meat and produce purveyors, but none go as far as Knife and Fork. Chef-owner Nathan Allen leverages his surroundings and forages unique ingredients from the lush Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s as hyper as hyperlocal gets, with most dishes featuring some type of wild, western North Carolina fauna. Take a page out of Allen’s book: Let the restaurant’s immediate environment inspire the menu.
Check out more Asheville recommendations from Food Fanatics Chef Denny Trantham.