Hop over to Asheville for great eats, drinks & more.
If there’s one thing Asheville is known for, it’s the breweries (So. Many. Breweries!). The first time I visited “Beer City USA,” I naturally went on a lengthy brewery-hop, stopping for a cold one at all the go-tos: Wicked Weed Brewing, The Funkatorium, Bhramari Brewing… I could go on.
I’ve since learned there’s much more to this eclectic, vibey mountain town than breweries—including a host of nicknames (also dubbed the “Paris of the South”). Of course, you have the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains with tons of trails to trek (pro tip: hikes before hops), a thriving eclectic arts and culture scene (think the South Slope Mural Trail, the River Arts District, etc.), and a rank of restos putting the small-but-mighty mountain town on the map (hey, 2022 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant Chai Pani).
On my recent return to Asheville with fellow Raleigh Mag teammates, we made our way through the “Land of the Sky”—eating, drinking and resting our heads between bites and sips… including a night’s stay at The Omni Grove Park Inn, which was by far the most surreal and palatial hotel I’ve ever experienced. Here’s a taste of what we, well, tasted—a great bucket list for those who’ve never been to AVL or who, like me, were just doing Asheville wrong. Hoppy trails!
Don’t ask us how to pronounce the name of this James Beard Award-winning staple by chef Katie Button, but do ask us what our fave tapas were. Answer: the croquetas de pollo (aka creamy chicken fritters), patatas bravas (crispy fried potatoes topped with a tomato and garlic sauce) and gambas al ajillo (sauteed shrimp served in a tasty broth that must be sopped up with the side of bread). Oh, and get the sangria—trust us. curatetapasbar.com
Son of a biscuit! You haven’t lived until you’ve had a biscuit from this Asheville mainstay—seriously, they’re that good (perfectly fluffy, flaky and buttery—100% worth the inevitable wait). Spring for a plain biscuit and load up on the vast selection of jams (we tried them all, so no judgment) or indulge in one of the biscuit sandwiches—the fried green tomato biscuit won us over. biscuitheads.com
With everything made in-house—from the pickled veggies to the french fries to the ice cream—or sourced locally, this cozy, approachable resto was a standout. We could just taste the freshness of the soup of the day (a comfortable chowder when we visited) and the shrimp and grits (with blue corn grits providing a nice touch). And you’re gonna wanna save room for that aforementioned homemade ice cream. Delish! chestnutasheville.com
La Bodega by Cúrate
We originally went to this pandemic-born all-day Spanish cafe, market and wine bar for a simple—yet super-satisfying—sandwich, but ended up snacking on a host of delicious pintxos, including the olive oil potato chips with marinated olives, short rib empanadas, jamón, potato and onion omelet, and so much more. And, naturally, on our way out, we grabbed a bottle of sangria from the market to take home. Salud! curatetapasbar.com/la-bodega
As the name would suggest, this ethereal restaurant and bar is full of treasures—from the locally built fixtures and furniture to the plethora of plants to the floor-to-ceiling shelves lining the wall behind the bar to the incredible edibles and libations themselves (think seasonally rotating small plates and unique cocktails). We thought of it like a botanical Dram & Draught—with food, of course—and it was a vibe. sovereignremedies.com
Burial Beer Co.
We all know how good Burial’s beer is thanks to its happening Transfer Co. Food Hall outpost in DTR—NTM the eye-catching (and sometimes dark) can designs that you just can’t forget about… But at the craft brewery’s OG Asheville taproom, it was the frosé that we were drawn to (you can’t blame us—it was 100 degrees in the middle of July!), and, boy, did it hit the spot. burialbeer.com
Botanist & Barrel
Our in-cider scoop? Get one (or both!) of the cider flights so you can try a variety of unique offerings from this Cedar Grove-based cidery/winery, as well as a make-your-own charcuterie board with local cheeses and meats. And pop a squat in the charming tasting bar/bottle shop to while away the day. It doesn’t get much cheddar than that. botanistandbarrel.com
Getaway River Bar
“Outta the way in a good way” is this laid-back beach-esque bar in the mountains, another concept from Charlie Hodge, owner of Sovereign Remedies. Though on a complete opposite end of the spectrum from the hip downtown AVL sip and sup spot, this riverside dive with waterfront Adirondacks, outdoor bar area and indoor pool tables promises equally good drinks (Our faves? The killer painkiller and rum runner slushie). So chill. getawayontheriver.com
Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville
If you want to feel like a VIP, book a room at this trendy hotel (recognized as the 2021 Best of Choice Hotel of the Year for the Cambria Hotels brand) boasting sophisticated rooms, high-tech amenities and front-row seats to downtown AVL—with gorge mountain views to boot (aka the best of both worlds!). Upon arrival, we were treated to a glass of Champagne, and, once we left, gifted a thank-you jar of honey. It’s the little things, right? cambriadowntownasheville.com
The Omni Grove Park Inn
I’d like to think of this stunning resort as a Great Wolf Lodge for adults. Instead of a waterpark, there’s a nationally recognized subterranean spa, a pristine Donald Ross-designed golf course, and a host of great bars and restaurants. After a satisfying dinner on the Sunset Terrace overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, we rec enjoying a nightcap in the lobby cozied up by the fire, or going down to the always-fun Elaine’s Dueling Piano Bar for weekend entertainment. omnihotels.com
Kimpton Hotel Arras
It’s all about location, location, location—and this historic bank-turned-boutique hotel in Pack Square is smack in the middle of all the action, walkable to almost all of the food and bev spots mentioned here, plus other faves like Wicked Weed Brewing and The Orange Peel. Pro tip: Before venturing out, grab a ’tail at the hotel bar, District 42. Cheers! hotelarras.com