6 Casual and Less Expensive Lunch Spots in Asheville that We Recommend

Asheville's Foodtopian (is that a word?) scene is by know well known. But what about when you just want a quick lunch and you're not really looking for "all that"? I have a few reliable places where you can do just that. Here goes:

Taco Temple's  tacos and salad

Taco Temple's  tacos and salad

Taco Temple - it's on Charlotte St. slightly north of downtown. Owned by the same people who run the popular Mamacitas Tacos downtown, this place is slightly more upscale, but still down home enough. They make their own tortillas, have a bar, and really interesting tacos and even a great salad. 

Rosetta's - Vegetarian fare reminiscent of the 80's hippy food restaurants, you can go to the counter and order a Buddha Bowl (rice with their amazing peanut sauce, avocado, marinated tempeh, greens, seaweed) for under $10 and either sit inside or take with you. Quick and yummy.

Roman's - Great sandwiches right near the Pack Library downtown on Haywood St. They will even deliver to your door. Especially good is their grilled chicken salad sandwich.

Taco Billy - man oh man this place is great! It's on Haywood St in West Asheville (the "other" Haywood st). and has a walk up counter as well. Take my advice and get Mama's taco substituting avocado for the sausage on their plantain tortilla, and don't forget a side of their delicious green tomatillo salsa and chips. So, so good - and inexpensive.

OWL Bakery - just around the corner from Taco Billy in W. Asheville, this cute little bakery has some of the best bread and pastries in town as well as quiche and other tartines for a quick light-ish lunch. Or go to Taco Billy and then get your dessert pastry. But, oh my, you have to drive right by the now nationally famous Hole donut shop - might need to stop off there too. What a delectable corner that is in W. ASheville!

Gan Shan - well this isn't quick, but man is it good. Also on Charlotte St. just north of downtown, get their rice bowl with black bean chicken and you'll be a happy one. They are soon to open another place on that same delicious corner in West Asheville.

Taco Billy

Taco Billy

New Restaurant Find

It's not exactly a new restaurant, but rather, it is new to me - Storm Rhum Bar. I had been there for cocktails a few times with friends, and I'd been there for a photo shoot last year with Chef Owen, but somehow I had missed this gem of a restaurant until last Saturday night. What a find! My table of 6, well accustomed to the abundance of good restaurants in Asheville, all agreed that the food was superior, creative and delicious, and the service was great too. The veggie plate was one of the best I've ever had, and I'm not even a vegetarian. My friends raved about their fish entrees and the brussel sprouts, but it didn't end there. See for yourself. 

Storm is just a short walk from the Asheville Urban Nest too - another perk. Check it out next time you're in Asheville.

Chef Owen

Chef Owen

Where to Go with a Group in Asheville

Steve and recently went to NYC with our whole family of 13 to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday, and we realized what a challenge it is to be able to plan ahead to find places that you can reserve for a big group! So, I thought I would make a few suggestions for people who find themselves in the same bind. Some are very popular and require reservations way ahead of time, while others are lesser known secrets...all are places I consider to be top notch for good food and to offer a table where you can hear yourselves talk.

We joined a group last night for a Shakespeare reading group (!) at Jerusalem Garden on Patton Avenue. Jerusalem Garden has been open as long as I can remember (I arrived in 2000) but is one of those little places that we had forgotten about, as there are constantly NEW places to check out. I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious our meal was, how professional and friendly the service was, and how perfectly they are suited for large groups. You can likely get a reservation there without too much notice, and choose from regular table setting or a more middle Eastern seats on the floor with cushions kind of experience.

Recently I was at Rhubarb on Pack Square and had the pleasure of previewing their beautiful private dining room: rustic farm tables, old wooden floors, huge windows for lighting and a kitchen right there in the room. Rhubarb is well known for it's delicious and creative farm to table fare, but I didn't know about their private dining room until last week. I highly recommend their room or reserving a big table for one of their communal Sunday Suppers.

For a casual gathering on a warm night, All Souls Pizza in the River Arts District is a great idea. They have picnic tables and sometimes and outside bar in a field where kids can run around while the parents enjoy their beverages and conversation. You will want to grab a loaf of their Farm and Sparrow bread on the way home (if you're lucky and they have extra).

Speaking of warm evenings, I would really steer a large group to Smoky Park Supper Club. The restaurant and bar are situated right on the French Broad River where you can take over a few picnic tables, order local beer from the servers and get one of the best burgers in town (or a cheese platter and "finer" options). Sometimes there is music in the boat house as well to enjoy. They are situated in the largest shipping container restaurant building in the US!

Others worth taking a look at are Curate (reserve WAY ahead), Gan Shan Station, Isa's Bistro, and Chestnut. For BBQ we would try the ever popular 12 Bones at their new location that JUST opened this week at 5 Foundy.

Jerusalem Garden in downtown Asheville. Sit at a table or on cushions on the floor!

Jerusalem Garden in downtown Asheville. Sit at a table or on cushions on the floor!

Some Sweet Favorites You'll Thank Us For

One of the best new places in ASheville is OWL Bakery in W. Asheville. I used to think I had to go to Paris or New York for truly great, authentic, light yet buttery pastry, but no more! Now we go to OWL (stands for Old World Levain) Bakery. You can settle in their cute booths or catch a table outside on a nice day to enjoy your pour over coffee, latte, pastry or flax seed toast with perfectly poached egg. Grab a loaf of their deliciously moist bread to take home too. And be sure to thank us...


The other relative newcomer is from the folks at Rhubarb downtown - the Rhu. Rhubarb's little sister is just around the corner on Lexington Avenue in the former French Braod Chocolate Lounge location. There you will find MORE great pastry, bread, local cheeses, meats and a menu of take out breakfast and lunch items. Asheville, way to go!!

Need Help Deciding Which Asheville Restaurants to Choose?

As it happens, Steve and I are very interested in the food scene here in Asheville, and I am in the middle of shooting a cook book featuring Asheville restaurants called "Cooking with Asheville". The book will have photos of the feature recipe, the chefs and the environment, and they will be accompanied by the inside story of each restaurant. You can imagine that in the process of shooting this book, I've gotten an inside view to many of the restaurants here, so feel free to ask me for guidance when you are either heading out for dinner when you're here, or if you are planning ahead to make reservations (which you'll definitely need way ahead of time if you are interested in the most popular places). This is the new Asheville - we've been discovered!! As one local business owner asked me "Would you rather live somewhere that everyone's coming to or a place where people are leaving?". Good point - the former, I'd say. Below are a few shots to get your mouth watering...



Music Happenings in Asheville summer 2016

Here is a great site from exploreasheville.com that lists the many music festivals in Asheville. Shindig on the Green is an annual favorite and is most Saturdays in July and August at Pack Square Park. If you go, don't just watch the main act - the fun is in wandering around the edges to see the many multi generational musical gigs happening. Really fun. Downtown After Five is the third Friday of each month May - September and is a stone's throw from our vacation rental, Drover's Way. There you can see a few bands perform and dance if you like - there will be local food and beer vendors as well, and it's a fun summer thing to do in the evening.