If Asheville were a kingdom, it could make a moat out of all the beer that’s brewed there and isolate itself as a mountain empire. Thankfully, the Western North Carolina city is a welcoming one, and there’s a lot more going on these days than craft drafts. Asheville is also a major player in the coffee, cocktail, and Southern food scenes, not to mention a dreamy place for outdoor activities. If you bookmarked the foliage prediction map, you might well have noticed that peak color is now arriving in the mountains of North Carolina. Plan accordingly and bring this guide to a dozen new places to visit, including another worthy spot to sip a pint.
EAT and DRINK
Start with coffee at either the Waterbird on Charlotte Street, a charming nook that doubles as a cocktail bar by night, or Simple Cafe & Juice Bar in West Asheville. Simple is a new favorite for prop and food stylist Charlotte Autry, a regular G&G contributor who lives in Asheville. She orders the whipped ricotta toast and a Kale Mary juice, loaded with cucumber and tomatoes and kicked up with cayenne.
Meander to one of two local favorite brunch joints that have recently expanded: Early Girl Eatery, known for its rotating special eggs benedicts and homey charm on Wall Street recently added a second location on Haywood Road. And although it now boasts locations around the South, the original Tupelo Honey Cafe downtown is worth a pilgrimage (don’t miss the sweet potato pancakes). It recently added some needed square footage with a new bar and additional seating.
James Beard Award-nominated chef Brian Canipelli has stayed busy the last couple years with his lauded Cucina 24 restaurant. Lately, he’s also taken over menu planning at nearby Burial Beer Co. and will help the team launch its hotly anticipated Forestry Camp brewery, bar, and restaurant near Biltmore Village. Set within six former Civilian Conservation Corps buildings and across two acres, the additional site is a couple miles south of the flagship and should be ready to open by the end of the year. If you’re in town the first weekend in November, stop by Burial’s Burnpile harvest festival with a preview of the bites to come from Canipelli.
In the hip River Arts District, plan for dinner at Vivian, the grownup brick-and-mortar iteration of a food truck. Josiah and Shannon McGaughey deliver Europe-meets-the-South dishes such as seared duck breast with muscadines, and a whole local apple wrapped in puff pastry and filled with almond cream.
Never overlook the Biltmore, the gilded-age Vanderbilt manse and estate. Fly-fishing and sporting clays have been mainstays for sporting enthusiasts, but a recent outdoor activities addition has taken flight—falconry on Thursdays and Saturdays. And here’s a cozy insider’s tip from decade-long Biltmore employee LeeAnn Donnelly: “We sell s’mores kits in Antler Hill Village and Winery,” she says. “They’re perfect for the weekend bonfires we host near the farmyard.”
Let someone else plan the rest of your afternoon or evening with recently launched culinary and crafts tours. The new Art & Agriculture Adventure Tour runs every Saturday afternoon and includes stops at a pottery studio to meet artists, and a creamery for farm-fresh cheese. To enjoy the best views with a hot toddy in hand, consider the Rooftop Bar Tours, which run almost every day of the week and combine history, panoramic views, and cocktails. The best part: a driver.
In the midst of a hotel boom in Asheville, the Cambria stands out for its epic Blue Ridge views and primo downtown real estate right next to the Grove Arcade shopping area. After check-in, relax at Hemingway’s Cuba restaurant and patio bar, where you’ll want to order the namesake daiquiri.
Three more stellar places will open by the end of the year:
By the end of October, rise and dine with Button & Co. Bagels, the latest offering from James Beard-nominated chef Katie Button (Cúrate and Nightbell.) A 30-seat café will feature an open kitchen where guests can see the plain, rye, seeded, and everything bagels being made. Local Three Graces Dairy will make a custom cream cheese-style schmear and smoked trout spread. Other guest purveyors to note: Benton’s country ham and regionally-beloved Lusty Monk Mustard.
In late November, the Foundry Hotel will open inside a renovated steel foundry (the one that forged the steel used in the Biltmore). Plenty of original character remains throughout the boutique inn, including exposed beams, brickwork, and signs pointing the way to the lounge and bar.
Set in the Foundry, Benne on Eagle restaurant will be helmed by James Beard-nominated chef John Fleer (formerly of Blackberry Farm and current chef-owner of Rhubarb and the Rhu bakery). Benne on Eagle nods to the foundry’s workaday history as well as the neighborhood’s soul food tradition with dishes like potlikker-braised chicken wings with chow-chow, crowder pea salad, and crispy quail with hot water cornbread. Expect an impressive beer list, too.