Eat Like a Local in Asheville, NC

I am very fortunate that restaurant executive recruiting is a job that I can do based from almost anywhere. After several years of moving around the country and expanding my horizons, I have decided to put my roots down back in the town where I attended college: Asheville, NC. Asheville has wonderful people, scenery, culture, architecture, and quality of life, and fortunately it has become a foodie’s town, too, filled with unique, independent restaurants.

I’m going to let you in on some my favorite local gems:

Asheville, NC

Biscuit Head: A comfort food experience to make your head explode. This fast-casual spot in hip West Asheville has a decadent, wildly creative, scratch menu with face-sized biscuits and choices to please everyone. Ever-changing specials always include a bacon of the day (i.e.: chili pineapple, pecan praline), gravy of the day, and an irresistible self-serve jam bar with a mind-boggling array of fresh jam, flavored butters, and hot sauces. Don’t forget coconut-stewed callaloo collards and smoked chevre grits.

Nine Mile: Asheville’s historic neighborhood, Montford, has rambling Victorians, bed-and-breakfasts, and vintage bungalows. Right in the middle of this enchanting residential area is a bustling Jamaican restaurant, Nine Mile, with a cozy bar and an open kitchen. Portions are generous and every entrée includes a green salad and “natty bread.” I’m kind of addicted to their spicy jerk tomato sauce.

Ben’s Tune Up: Ben’s Tune Up has to be experienced to be believed: the only restaurant in the world that combines kitschy “Ameriental” food, craft cocktails, and a decayed automotive repair theme. The building is a stunning remodel of one of the crumbling mechanic shops found in the south end of downtown, with communal outdoor seating in an urban garden-like setting. Nosh on dumplings, yakitori, and ramen noodle bowls, or family feasts of Peking duck and suckling pig. Stay for some of the best late night dance parties in town.

Ben's Tune Up

Luella’s BBQ: Another local BBQ establishment in town has gotten more press because President Obama has dined there twice, but if I had to entertain politicians and foster diplomacy, I’d bring folks to eat at Luella’s on Merrimon Ave. for the brisket, fabulous sides, and great live bluegrass music.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge: Named after the river that flows through town, this place has a fanatical focus on artisan, organic, fairly-traded, living-wage paying, and highest-quality sourced chocolate treats. You can’t go wrong with any of their desserts or rich “liquid truffles” in an array of flavors. It fairly buzzes with groups of friends, families, dates, and solo seekers of finely crafted and curated chocolate delicacies. Live jazz frequently distracts from the long line, and there’s a small retail section.

My list could go on and on with places like Zambra, Dobra Tea, Tod’s Tasties, and Kathmandu Café, but I’ll stop here — before I’ve even mentioned the beer.

If you want more insider tips on Asheville, or if you need to recruit outstanding executive talent for your restaurant company nationwide, don’t hesitate to contact me: Rebecca Patt at rebecca.patt@wraysearch.com.

Rebecca Patt specializes in executive recruiting for the restaurant industry. Need to recruit top leadership for your team? Contact her at rebecca.patt@wraysearch.com

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