At the risk of having my cool local's card revoked, I'm sharing some of the best hidden gems around Asheville. The places locals love that you don't see on the big blogs and travel magazine websites. Restaurants, breweries, and coffee shops that are low key and on the low down, but impress us Asheville folk in a big, big way.
Whenever I travel to other places I always want to sniff out the undercover high points to feel like I truly experienced a town's vibe. So here I go, taking you behind the proverbial velvet rope to introduce you to some of Asheville's best-kept secrets.
Simple Cafe & Juice Bar
Located: Haywood Road, West Asheville
With a focus on organic fruits and veggies, Simple serves yummy juices, smoothies and breakfast items followed by sandwiches, soups, and salads until 5PM. Although not posted on their website, they do have a great kids menu and kid's nook stocked with educational toys and books. Try the Acai Bowl and the Vegan Banh Mi.
Located: Sweeten Creek Road behind Biltmore Village
A pub style craft brewery, you can sip your beer by the riverside or under the covered patio while listening to good tunes (their playlist always stands out, very good). Rise Above Deli serves up casual food at Hillman with a focus on slow-cooked meat sandwiches along with some vegetarian options. Try the Reuben, one of the best in town.
FlorA & Forage
Located: Haywood Road, West Asheville
This botanical dream world is an aesthete's happy place. A full-service floral design studio, workshop, and green thumb's gift shop, Flora is where you get your flower fix. Connected to the studio is their coffee shop, Forage, serving up the same dreamy decor but with java and pastries to boot. Be sure to pop in to Bagatelle Books (located next door) to pick up a used or rare book.
brewery Cursus Keme
Located: Biltmore Village
This word-of-mouth-only brewery is slowly popping up on people's radars. Set on a big grassy plot at the end of Thompson Street (well after the rusty fences and old buses that'll make you think you're lost), Cursus Keme resides in what was once a tractor trailer repair shop situated by the Swannanoa River. The name (loosely translated to "courses" and "alchemy") is a tribute to the cycles of and advancements in brewing throughout history. The building is a sweeping, timbered beer hall with surprisingly swanky bathrooms and outdoor picnic tables perfect for families so kids can play in the grass along the river.
Whistle Hop Brewing
Located: Fairview, NC
This indoor-outdoor playground for all ages features two train cars overlooking killer mountain views. Serving up their own craft beer (with mid-range ABVs, so you can have more than one!), Whistle Hop welcomes families and pets. Games and activities include a fire pit, badminton court, corn hole, disc golf, and board games. Kids can run out their energy while adults relax in sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Food truck on site with kid's menu options as well.
Located: Montford Ave, between North Asheville and Downtown
This quaint Italian neighborhood restaurant occupies an old church building that's over a hundred years old. Featuring house-made pastas and locally-sourced ingredients, Chiesa exudes the warm, friendly, soul-hugging atmosphere you want in an Italian eatery. You'll probably meet the owner as he circulates and chit chats with his loyal regulars. Go while it's comfortable outside for a seat on the patio.
Located: Brevard Road, South Asheville
Set in a 1930s stone cottage, Ivory Road serves three meals a day with an afternoon tea service to boot. Their scratch-made food and pastries are, quite frankly, exquisite, and many items can be made gluten free. Breakfast is served all day while lunch starts at 11AM. Weekday worker bees can roll up to their new AM Coffee Drive Thru! They serve beer and wine, and they do cater. I highly recommend their salads -- they're full of healthy, delicious ingredients!
Located: Hendersonville Road, South Asheville
"Pho" real the best Vietnamese/Asian cuisine you'll find! Their amazing signature pho noodle dishes come in two sizes and will fill up the hungriest belly. Be sure to try their Banh Mi sandwiches, too, with either chicken or pork belly. Consider ordering your food to go as their small restaurant space fills up quickly! Beware: they're closed on Tuesdays.
Located: Charlotte Street, North Asheville
Coffee and cocktails: what else do we need, right? The Waterbird excels in those two categories and at everything in between, including tea, juices, and food. Start your day in their gorgeous vintage-inspired space with a cup of coffee and a light breakfast ranging from bagels to huevos rancheros. Continue on with their lunch service (beginning at 11AM) that offers everything from small bites to burgers. End the day with a hand-crafted cocktail tailored to your palette.
Located: New Haw Creek Road, East Asheville
The latest concept from Bouchon's Michael Baudouin, RendezVous serves French comfort food in a laid-back atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Located in a renovated church, RendezVous also has an outdoor bar with a Pétanque court for casual afternoons and evenings spent with friends. Go Monday through Wednesday for all-you-can-eat Moules Frites. Be sure to order the Boeuf Bourguignon with a glass of red to warm you up on a chilly evening.
Where do you like to go around Asheville that not many people have heard of? I know, I know, if you share it it won't be a secret anymore. That's the risk we take I guess! Luckily in Asheville we have so many wonderful, local spots dishing out great food and beer there won't be a shortage of awesome places to patronize!
Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to come by The Tony Townie today! Your support and social shares mean the world!