My Town

Katie Button’s Asheville, North Carolina

The Cúrate chef plays tour guide in the city she calls home

Photo: Stacey Van Berkel


Born in South Carolina but raised in New Jersey, chef Katie Button always imagined returning to the South one day. “My husband and I looked all over North Carolina and when we came through Asheville we thought it was perfect,” Button says. “It’s a smaller community but has so much to offer—hiking, biking, great food, artisans of all kinds, and wonderful independent shops and breweries.” A year after putting down roots, Button, who worked for José Andrés and Ferran Adrià, opened Cúrate, with a focus on Spanish tapas and Old World tradition. Customers were always asking about a place for after-dinner drinks, and three years later Nightbell was born, serving classic cocktails and modern American bar staples. Even with two restaurants, she still finds time to explore her adopted hometown. “Living here is exciting because you feel like you never have opportunity to do everything on your bucket list,” she says. “But we chip away at it.”

Photo: Courtesy of Curate

Inside Cúrate.

7:45 a.m.

Start Your Day Right: “The first place I go to is Hole. It is this amazing doughnut shop in West Asheville. Everyone is making doughnuts these days, and piling on crazy toppings. Hole isn’t like that. All the doughnuts are all fried to order. They are these puffy yeast doughnuts and there are just three or four flavors a day. The plain glaze is my go-to, though. They are very lightly glazed, so they still have this nice savory component. Try to get there first thing in the morning because they get busy fast.”

9:00 a.m.

Meet the Farmers: “From there, head to the farmers market. There are several, but I typically go to North Asheville Tailgate Market (it reopens for the season on April 1). I like it because it feels quaint and idyllic—very walkable. It is exactly how you would picture a farmers market. The experience is like walking down one long winding market street.”

11:00 a.m.

Explore the Blue Ridge: “Try to fit in a quick hike before lunch. Catawba Falls is a good one because it’s a short ride from downtown, so it’s easy to get out and back. It’s very family friendly, too. It ends at the waterfall. But if you have time, you can do a more advanced hike and climb to the upper falls.”

Photo: Courtesy of Explore Asheville

Catawba Falls is just a short ride from downtown.

1:30 p.m.

Lunchtime: “There are a couple of smaller places around town that are doing a really great job. One is Wild Ginger, which is a Vietnamese place in South Asheville. Get a bowl of pho to warm up after hiking. Or try Taqueria Muñoz in West Asheville for really great authentic Mexican food. I love the chicharrón taco—basically, the pork rind taco. Sometimes I order what the person at the table next to me ordered to try something different. You won’t leave unsatisfied.”


3:00 p.m.

Explore the City: “I might walk around downtown and do some shopping. LP, K2, and Old North are few favorites. Then head over to the River Arts District. (It’s not really walkable from downtown but it’s a short drive.). There’s so much in that area—galleries, studios—that its fun to just wander. While I’m down in that area I would pop in the Wedge Brewery for a beer. Or the Bull and Beggar, next door, for snacks and a cocktail.”

Photo: Photo courtesy of Wedge

A sampling at Wedge Brewery.

7:30 p.m.

Make a Dinner Date: “I recently had the best dining experience at Cucina 24. Brian Canipelli is the chef there and he recently put his menu—sort of farm-to-table Italian—together so you can order a tasting menu of his most creative, interesting stuff. Just put the decision-making in his hands and let him wow you. I had this roasted celery root dish topped with shaved Parmesan and anchovies and butter—it was one of most delish things I’ve ever eaten.”

Photo: TK

Roasted carrots, burnt honey, grapefruit, and black pepper in an antipasta dish at Cucina 24.

9:45 p.m.

Listen: “We are so lucky in Asheville to have some great venues. The Orange Peel is a great one and is right downtown. The Grey Eagle, in the River Arts District, is a little smaller but gets some interesting bands too.”


Save some time for the Biltmore Estate, too:

“The Biltmore is definitely worth seeing. The house is just gorgeous. And once you are on the property, you really are allowed to wander. Lots of locals buy seasonal passes, which let you just use the grounds for hiking and biking and other outdoor activities. I love that there is something for everyone. But it could take an entire afternoon.”