Asheville has something for everyone: vibrant arts scene, bustling entertainment venues, and tons of outdoor activities. And that doesn’t even touch on what may be the most important decisions – where to stay and eat! With so many restaurants and hotels, it’s hard to choose between all Asheville has to offer. So here are some favorites that earn one TravelingMom’s Blue Ribbon for “Best Rooms and Restaurants” at this Blue Ridge Mountain city in North Carolina.
Ah, food and shelter: two primary needs in life. This is true especially when traveling. Food and shelter can make or break a vacation. When we travel, I’m always on the lookout for the best fit for our family on where to eat and sleep. Asheville, North Carolina, has plenty to choose from in both vibrant, fabulous restaurants and cozy, deluxe accommodations. Here are a few of our favorite spots that lure us to Asheville every chance we get.
Where to Eat in Asheville
Buxton Hall Barbeque
No trip to North Carolina would be proper without sampling the local BBQ. Buxton Hall ain’t your grandma’s barbeque (but it does have a banana pudding pie that will rival Grandma’s). When I heard it was run by two James Beard nominees, I knew it had to be good.
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Housed in a former skating rink, this barbeque joint combines slow cooked hogs with the eastern NC style of vinegar-pepper sauce. Combine it with home-cooked classics like collard greens, green beans, and mac and cheese. Add an inventive bar that serves a house slushie of cheerwine and bourbon. Top off the meal with smack-your-mama good desserts. The result: the perfect recipe for a quintessential North Carolina BBQ meal.
TravelingMom Tip: Get the hushpuppies and save room for dessert.
White Duck Taco Shop
White Duck Taco Shop has two Asheville locations, so we chose the River Arts District location for its artsy, casual vibe. Here’s the skinny: you can expect flavorful, fresh ingredients and an eclectic vibe. Picnic tables for outdoor seating adds to the low key, relaxed atmosphere.
Choose from the wonderful assortment of tacos listed on the colorful chalkboard, many of which have an international flair. Jerk chicken, Bahn Mi style tofu, and Bangkok shrimp are just some of the tasty offerings, which can be paired with chips and salsa 3 ways, mint watermelon, and beer, margaritas, and sangria to wash the tacos down. We scarfed down our selections with gusto: fish, duck, and Thai peanut chicken. Each one was more mouthwatering than the next!
French Broad Chocolates
Just around the corner from Buxton Hall is the French Broad Chocolate Factory. The chocolate selections here are amazing. From truffles to chocolate bars to brownies, there are flavor combinations like salted caramel, lavender honey, blood orange and chai latte. There are even vegan items. My favorite one? The S’mores chocolates.
Move over, Willy Wonka because they offer tours–no golden ticket required.
Traveling Mom Tip: Sign up in advance for a chocolate tour to learn about the process. Guided tours are offered on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. for $ 10.00. Lasting for an hour, the tour takes chocolate lovers through the entire process from cacao harvest and fermentation to chocolate bar. As if that wasn’t tempting enough, it also includes an in-depth guided tasting of their chocolate. Reservations needed.
TravelingMom Tip: One of our favorite things to do when taking a vacation is to hire a photographer for family photos. This is a special gift and souvenir that we cherish. We use Flytographer to book a local photographer located in the area that we're traveling to. Use this link and you will get $25 off your photo session.
When I asked friends where we should eat while in Asheville, the responses I got were unanimous: Cúrate. The restaurant’s name is pronounced coo-rah-tay and means 1. cure yourself and 2. eat spanish tapas. I would say it also means 3. Dang delicious dining!
Specializing in Spanish tapas, executive chef Katie Button’s pedigree is impressive: she worked at Jean Georges in New York and elBulli, Ferran Adrià’s world-renowned Spanish restaurant. I was thrilled to actually get to meet her during our meal. Talented, friendly, and a exceptional restaurateur, she does it all!
My favorite spot in the restaurant is the 22 seat marble bar that overlooks the exhibition kitchen. There’s something about watching the chefs cook that gives a deeper appreciation for your food. Not to mention it is quite entertaining to see.
Don’t settle for a table. The bar is food theater at its finest. Ben worked the saute station with such precision, carefully turning each shrimp individually. It caught our eye so much so that we ordered the dish (gambas al ajilio) and it lived up to the hype of being their most popular tapa. Other favorites included the cheese tray and the rossejat negro; think paella but made with thin noodles, squid in its ink, garnished with allioil (garlic and oil) and salsa verde.
Don’t know what to order? No worries! Ask your server for tips or better yet, just watch and see what is being prepared and say, “I’ll have one of those!”
TravelingMom Tip: Celebrating a birthday or anniversary? Be sure to request the special dessert: a divine mixture of chocolate, raspberry, and pistacio. Brava!
Over Easy Café
For a boho brunch of champions, this charming, laid-back cafe and juice bar boasts organic and vegetarian breakfasts in a comfy cozy setting. They pride themselves on free-range eggs and antibiotic-free meats farmed by reputable local producers. Where else can you find huevos rancheros, tofu scramble, a juice refresher, and thick-cut French toast on one menu? You guessed it: Over Easy Café.
Of course, the standard breakfast fare of eggs and (turkey) bacon, pancakes and omelets with lots of fresh squeezed juices and smoothies are here to delight your taste buds. Be prepared: it’s a popular spot, so get your name in and they’ll text you when your table is ready.
Where to Sleep in Asheville
Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate
For proximity to Biltmore Estate, the Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate can’t be beat. We selected this hotel for our one night stay to celebrate my husband’s birthday.
On the doorsteps of the Biltmore Winery and right in the heart of Antler Hill Village, this hotel is comfortable, convenient, and charming. We enjoyed having ice cream and checking out the farm animals before partaking some of the winery’s best offerings.
TravelingMom Tip: Shuttle service to and from the Biltmore House is offered to guests so you can sit back, relax and let them do the driving for you. And don’t forget a bathing suit so a dip in the pool can be taken.
Read more about GardenGeek TravelingMom Julie’s post, Explore History and Horticulture at Biltmore House and Gardens. Also, check out our Free in Asheville ideas and share with us your finds.
Want to be downtown and within walking distance of restaurants, shopping and bars? Then I suggest The Windsor Boutique Hotel. These downtown digs feel more like apartment living in the heart of all the action.
The Windsor is a boutique hotel with 14 luxurious suites reminding me more of an apartment than a hotel room. Each suite has a fully functional kitchen, washer and dryer, and a separate kitchen/living area, private bedroom (both king and queen available) with private bathroom.
Original 1907 exposed brick walls and a blend of contemporary and French furnishings add to the charm. The wide-planked floors throughout are made of wood reclaimed from barns in Tennessee and Virginia. And the pièce de résistance is the stunning atrium, which features birch limbs of varying sizes. Illuminated at night, it gives the guest suites a more outdoorsy, dreamy quality.
TravelingMom Tip: Book early as this one will sell out in advance. And there is also a two night minimum for Friday and Saturday stays. Bonus: it is PET friendly. (For a non-refundable $100 fee, dogs only, and no more than two pets permitted in any guest room and only allowed in the designated pet friendly room.