5 Things: Best Restaurants in Asheville

Summer is cranking up, which means vacationing is about to start in earnest. 

I have friends text me a lot asking about great places to eat or grab drinks in Asheville, so I thought I'd publish a list here in hopes that anyone planning a trip could take advantage! 

(This list features some of Asheville's more upscale restaurants, but I'll definitely do another post later this summer that includes more casual dining - because nothing beats a greasy piece of pizza, am I right??)

1. Limone's. 

Easily my favorite restaurant in Asheville. Limone's is the best place I've ever eaten upscale Mexican food, and every person I've taken here has been gobsmacked. This cozy spot, seating no more than 75 or so people at a time, is perfect for whatever occasion - date night, dinner with family, drinks with a friend. The lobster nachos are a must-have, and if you have a sweet tooth, definitely order the pot of house-made hot chocolate, served with a side of homemade churros. I mean, come. ON. 

2. The Admiral. 

Oh-so-amazing. Your socks will be knocked clean off. During my last visit there, I got to enjoy beet tartare with smoked honey sauce and goat cheese, a course of bone marrow, and a dessert featuring house-made deconstructed s'more. ...S'MORE. Yep. You heard me. (Personal perk: I'm friends with the pastry chef. #winning.) It's fine dining in a wonderfully comfortable setting. The Admiral is another small restaurant - almost missable when driving past it - which makes it even cooler that you get more for your money here: at 11 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, the tables and chairs are cleared out of the dining room and it turns into an old-school dance party. And when I say old-school, I mean it - the DJ spins oldies tracks you've never heard. Trust me - you'll have the time of your life. 

3. Nightbell. 

Chef Katie Button owns two famous restaurants here - Nightbell and Cúrate. Cúrate gets a little more press and is much harder to get into, but I think Nightbell is every bit as good. Serving gourmet tapas, Nightbell's atmosphere is as enticing as its menu. And the tapas are some of the most creative dishes I've ever eaten. When Jordan and I went, we started with a "Deviled Egg," which was a whole egg shell containing an egg, pickled trout, and topped with a delicious corn sabayon. It blew us away, and it will blow you away, too. The cocktails are as creative as the menu, so be prepared to drink your weight. 

4. Sunset Terrace at Grove Park Inn

I know, I know. Natives of Asheville will be rolling their eyes at this addition, because there is certainly better food in this city. But if you're visiting, this is one of the best ways to experience how truly magnificent the Blue Ridge Mountains are. Book a table at sunset and watch the orange glow disappear behind the mountain range - if it doesn't take your breath away, I'll pay for your dinner. 

5. Zambra

Another incredible tapas restaurant. Like most menus in Asheville, this one is designed around what's seasonal and locally sourced. There's a menu of the items that stay year-round, and a separate menu of the seasonal and DELICIOUS options that rotates. The atmosphere here is dark, full of twinkle-lights, and super fun for a girl's night out or a date night. If it's warm and you can get a seat outside, even better - you'll feel like you're dining in an Italian alleyway somewhere. Great service and WONDERFUL food. 

Other great places: Bouchon, Posana, Cucina 24, and Table. 

Happy eatin'!