Asheville, North Carolina may be the best place within a hundred miles for live music and fine dining.
I'm about to give you the inside scoop on five of my favorite Asheville restaurants, as it can be hard to know where to start your culinary journey. Each of these offers a memorable dining experience and excellent culinary choices. Whatever your budget, taste, or schedule, follow along! There's an Asheville restaurant for every foodie here.
The Grove Park Inn
I already knew that West Virginia's Greenbriar Resort was where American Presidents would have taken shelter if the Cold War went hot. So I wasn't surprised when I found out that the US Supreme Court would have gone to Asheville's Grove Park Inn.
The list of famous people who have stayed at this Asheville landmark is a veritable "Who's-Who" of the famous and influential. (This is where Dr. Billy Graham held his 95th birthday celebration.)
The Grove Park Inn is an Asheville institution — even in West Asheville, you can see it from Patton Avenue as it winds down Patton Avenue just in front of the Post Office.
Mr. Grove earned his money in Florida real estate and "patent medicine" before coming to Asheville to develop more real estate.
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He didn't stop with the Grove Park Inn. Instead, he continued with going on to build downtown's Grove Arcade. As well as a planned community called, Grovemont, just East of Asheville.
Several years ago, I toured the display of Gingerbread House at the Grove Park Inn, stepped into the restaurant, and enjoyed a lovely meal. It's still an experience I remember with special relish.
To begin with, the entire atmosphere was exquisite, with window views overlooking Asheville and Town Mountain.
The food was impeccable, well-plated, and delicious. I especially remember the goat cheese they used in the dish, very soft and succulent. Of course, this cuisine will be top-notch. The Grove Park Inn is one of the most well-known hotels in the East.
Curate Tapas Bar
One Monday, I walked from Pack Square intending to try Jamon Iberico --- a variation of ham I'd read about in research I'd done.
This tasty treat is unique in two ways: first, the pigs are all one breed, and they're fed solely on mast --- acorns and chestnuts. After the hams are cut, they're left in piles of salt to cure.
I decided Curate Tapas Bar would be the best place to sample Jamon Iberico. It's an authentic Spanish restaurant in Asheville. The ham was great! Meanwhile, the atmosphere was just as impressive.
Pro Tip: It's a trendy place --- Miranda Lambert mentioned visiting it when she played in Asheville --- so patience is a virtue when dining here.
I arrived at Curate the first time only to discover they're closed on Monday, but that's how I ended up at Blackbird.
Located further down Biltmore Avenue near the Fine Arts Theater, this was one of the most unique dining experiences I've had. Along with the best chicken I've ever had.
Additionally, the server was the most impressive server I've ever had. He told me all about the chicken, including details of the French farmer that raises them. The chicken was so juicy I still remember it.
I was fortunate to get a lovely window seat near the corner with a fantastic view of Biltmore Avenue and Anson Street. Unfortunately, downtown Asheville was still busy, even for a Monday night. The seat was situated right across from the double-decker coffee shop.
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Its location is another excellent reason to stop at Blackbird. Not only is it convenient, but there's also a parking deck right behind the hotel it's in. So this restaurant is a win-win.
Rocky's Hot Chicken Shack
For a decade, there was one go-to place for my coworkers in Asheville: Rocky's Hot Chicken Shack. This is true cult food. People would literally eat there every day.
Rocky's is one of those places that show up on tv food shows. Their spice blend is so incredible --- or so I'm told --- that people go back again and again.
They even have a wall of photos of people who take their spicy challenge. (I know a guy who almost made it onto the wall. But they use a dry rub, and he sneezed in the middle of a bite.)
When I ate at Rocky's, I wimped out and went for the regular chicken, which was terrific. If you eat at Rocky's, don't forget about the sides or the fish --- both of which my colleagues loved.
Bread pudding and green beans were two sides I particularly remember them raving about.
Red Stag Grill
Travel has changed a lot --- mainly for the better, despite what it may seem sometimes. However, while I'm thrilled travel is more accessible, something has been lost from the days of The Orient Express. Fortunately, there are places we can go to enjoy the grand age of travel, and the Grand Bohemian Hotel is one of these.
Asheville's Grand Bohemian Hotel offers many reasons to visit, including lodging and an art gallery. But the Red Stag Grill is a whole reason on its own because of the food and the atmosphere.
This is the kind of dining establishment where the menus are in leather cases and backlit.
After my meal, I'll often grab some sparkling water and sit in the lobby. Pausing to admire the giant fireplace in the center, the collection of hunting guns, the chandeliers made from antlers, or just the art on display.
If you want to step into the world of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, this is the place. I've never had the opportunity to stay at The Grand Bohemian, but dining there is an experience I would recommend to anyone.
Where is Your Favorite Foodie Restaurant in Asheville?
Let us know in the comments below!