International Restaurants Bring Asheville's Food Scene to Life
Now that you had your fill of coffee and biscuits from some of Asheville's delicious breakfast and brunch places, it's time to start thinking about lunch and dinner. Fortunately, there's plenty of enticing and inventive food to try. If Asheville does anything well, its experiment! That includes the food menus at many local restaurants. When it comes to eating, Asheville has been called a Foodtopian society. There are over a dozen active farmer's markets, 250 independent restaurants, and at least 7 microbreweries. Food artisans and chefs help to make Asheville's food scene energetic, diverse and, of course, delicious.
Many restaurants have joined the farm-to-table initiative, using fruits, vegetables, and meats in their menus that are grown locally by farmers and gardeners in the Western North Carolina area. Slow Food Asheville also helps raise awareness and organizes local food events that celebrate the tailgate markets, organic growers, and amazing restaurants in the area. The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association promotes the variety and growing number of independent restaurants in the area.
Let's begin with a tour through Asheville's incredible international food scene. You may think that to get food like this, you'd have to travel to a big, urban area. But no! From Italian, Caribbean, Japanese, Indian, French, and more, Asheville restaurants compete with much larger cities to bring local and tourists eclectic and exciting food
First up, whether you're craving a Mango Lassi, Dal, or Tandoori Chicken, Asheville is home to several top-rated Indian restaurants. Head over to Mela on Lexington, recommend by The New York Times. It features live entertainment, a lunch buffet and a full bar. Just a few blocks over is Chai Pani serving up hot, delicious Chaat, or Indian Street Food. It's perfect for travelers and locals looking for affordable, yet tasty bites. Chai Pani uses local and natural ingredients whenever possible in their menu.
Bueno Sera! If you're looking for a classic Italian meal, Asheville Italian food scene can't be beat. From pizza, to versatile wine lists, to fine dining and intimate bistros, Italian restaurants in Asheville capture something special. Strada Italiano, right in the heart of downtown, offers a creative and elegant dining experience, filled with fresh antipastas, salads, seafood, and regional wines. Or take-out with one of their "Tuscan Picnic Baskets", perfect for a romantic evening for two. Vinnie's in North Asheville is known as a neighborhood Italian restaurant, offering a variety of delicious linguine with clams, eggplant parmesan, and much more.
French comfort food is served up at Bouchon. Enjoy crepes, fresh goat cheese, simple salads and an extensive wine list. For sushi lovers, try Wasabi, Kubo, or Kanpai, all serving a variety hot, healthy noodle soups, hand rolls, tempura and saki. Zen Sushi on Merrimon Ave is another local favorite Japanese restaurant.
The list of Asheville's international food wouldn't be complete without mentioning Salsas, a Mexican Caribbean restaurant that's been located downtown since 1994. Hector Diaz, the owner, aimed to create a menu with innovative and daring amounts spice, flavor, and hot sauce. The owner went on to open Modesto in 2006. Located in the Grove Arcade, Modesto offers a wood fire kitchen that cooks up local and seasonal Italian style food and house-created cocktails.
Independent restaurants in Asheville continue to flourish year after year, thanks to the many chefs and food artisans. Some have lived here all their lives, and some have come from all over then country and across the world. A recent addition to the restaurant community is HomeGrown on Merrimon Avenue, which serves up comfort food from local farms and seasonal ingredients. We hope growers, farmers, and restaurant owners will continue to make the food scene here in Asheville such a unique and satisfying experience.