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An aluminum platter with rice, butter chicken, naan, and raita.
Thalis at Chai Pani.
Tim Robison

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How to Eat Your Way Through Asheville in One Day

An action-packed 24-hour schedule of immaculate eating and drinking spots in Asheville, North Carolina

Combine the fertile terrain of Western North Carolina with the creative hub Asheville, and you get an eclectic mix of cool dives, quirky cafes, and award-winning restaurants. Even though most of the dining and drinking destinations are within a few miles (or blocks) of each other, there is still a lot to choose from. These spots show off the range of the city’s inventive scene and embody the funky, crunchy Asheville ethos.

9 a.m. at Eldr

111 Grovewood Road

Eldr embraces a whimsical, cottage-core aesthetic. Tucked into the Grovewood Village, this stone cottage, once the woodworking shop of Biltmore industries, offers brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. The chai and apple butter hotcakes are must-gets — sweet, spiced, and huge. The creamy smoked trout Benedict, breakfast sausage hash, and huevos rancheros come in generous portions (which is good, given the $15+ price). Eldr, which is well-known for its Appalachian-influenced dinner menu too, but is an ideal option to start the day in a way that is more energizing than depleting.

A box of a dozen doughnuts.
The doughnuts at Hole come in a variety of creative flavors.
Hole Doughnuts

11:30 a.m. at Hole Doughnuts

168 Haywood Road

Hole Doughnuts has that quintessential, unassuming West Asheville appeal, like being in a friend’s cabin for breakfast. The benches and a community table face the doughnut-making station, like an audience does a stage, making the wait quite a show. The menu includes four made-to-order doughnuts, like cinnamon sugar or toasted almond sesame, that come out in funky little shapes. It’s the type of carb-y creation you’ll want to keep devouring one after another, because of the buoyant texture and not-too-sweet flavors.

A cabbage salad topped with green onions, chicken, sev, and cashews.
The Desi salad at Chai Pani.
Tim Robison

1 p.m. at Chai Pani

22 Battery Park Avenue

Chai Pani is no secret, as demonstrated by the maxed-out waitlists almost daily. Get there early and hungry. James Beard Award-winning chef Meherwan Irani brings Indian street food to the heart of downtown Asheville. Chai Pani’s chaats, uttapams, and curries are decadently spiced and fun to eat. The reliable flavors and service cement Chai Pani as an essential restaurant in Asheville.

3 p.m. at Burial Beer Co. in South Slope

40 Collier Avenue

South Slope’s Burial Beer is the trendy, midafternoon pick-me-up that everyone needs. Yes, it may sometimes smell like a frat party, but it feels more like a grungey, inclusive party for the people. It’s a super social, energetic brewery, and a great spot to make friends. Or just bring your own friends (but find a spot early on in the day). Burial’s Surf Wax or any of the imperial stouts, enjoyed in the more tightly packed inside or the bustling outside bar area, are antidotes to an afternoon slump.

6 p.m. at Anoche

176 Clingman Avenue

Mezcal lovers, this is the place. Depending on the season, agave-based cocktails are balanced with citrus, smoke, or cinnamon. It’s a small space but has plenty of barstool seats, a cool half-inside, half-outside countertop, and a welcoming outdoor patio. It also has daytime coffee and pastries, but the low ceilings and moody, woodsy feel make it ideal for pre- or post-dinner drinks.

Charred broccoli rabe tossed in confit garlic, creme fraiche, and anchovy on a white plate.
Charred broccoli rabe tossed in confit garlic, creme fraiche, and anchovy at Vivian.

7:30 p.m. at Vivian

348 Depot Street

Walk into this somewhat hidden spot in the River Arts District and see the large black and white photograph spanning the wall’s length, showing chef Josiah McGaughey’s grandmother Vivian at her 1946 wedding. It’s a striking and mesmerizing photo, capturing a laid-back elegance that Vivian, the restaurant, embodies. There’s a very Julia Child influence here at Vivian, which showcases lots of sophisticated French techniques without the menu being stuffy. The dishes, like the coconut milk ceviche with pork rinds or roasted lamb with pickled mustard seed atop farro, are robust, decadent dishes. Save room for dessert, specifically the whipped pumpkin praline cheesecake.

9:30 p.m. at Crucible Bar

140A Roberts Street

This bar is a low-light, sexy, hidden witchy haven. It’s a quiet and small respite, hidden in a busy pocket of the River Arts District near Wedge Brewing. Crucible is a local spot and fit for warming up with an amaro or hot toddy in mugs sourced from local potters. The prices are super reasonable too, well-under-$15 reasonable.

Bottles on three shelves of glass.
The bar at Imperiál Bar.
Imperiál Bar

11 p.m. at Imperiál Bar

48 College Street

Imperiál’s late-night DJ is a celebratory close to a day in this city. Walk up the stairs to this loft bar, which is dance-friendly, with dim lighting and a disco ball, but not too divey. The bartenders work hard and fast on the bar’s plethora of cocktails. There are also Mexican and Argentinian natural wines. As the bartenders burn the orange oil for cocktails, they light palo santo and flare their fans, wafting smoke across the bar. It’s so Asheville, and it’s so fun.

Bonus for the next morning at Tastee Diner

575 Haywood Road

Tastee Diner, a 75-year-old diner and dive bar, makes the kind of food that’ll soak up whatever the prior night’s libations require. The smoked pork congee, the hangover hashbrowns, the melty, messy egg and brisket on a biscuit will all do the trick in the morning hours. Or try the livermush egg sandwich, which chef Steven Groff says is an ode to North Carolina’s humble roots.

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