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, North Carolina, offers an opportunity to rethink your own menu. Check out these restaurants for their food—and consider borrowing a page or two from these chefs’ playbooks.
Given Asheville’s small size, the number of taco joints that call it home may be surprising.Taco Billy distinguishes itself with all-day breakfast and a menu that packs in variety—from the vegetarian “Support Group” 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 jalapeno crema on a flour tortilla. Want to be more like Billy? Add breakfast tacos to the menu, and check the box for a low-food cost 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 biscuit-devoted 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 varieties of gravy. Jason and Carolyn Roy, the husband and wife owners, appeal to the instincts of the Southern eater, proving true the old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Knife and Fork
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.