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La Bodega pinxtos on small plates on top of a menu.
La Bodega pinxtos spread.
Whitney Anderson

11 Hottest Restaurants in Asheville Right Now

From pinxtos to pork schnitzel

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La Bodega pinxtos spread.
| Whitney Anderson

More often than not, tipsters, readers, friends and family of Eater have one question: Where should I eat right now? What are the new restaurants? What’s everyone talking about? While the Eater 18 is a crucial resource covering old standbys and neighborhood essentials across the city, it is not a chronicle of the “it” places of the moment. Enter the Eater Heatmap, which will change continually to highlight the spots crowds are flocking to at the moment or generating a big buzz. Folks are asking, “Have you been yet?” Try one of these newbies today.

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Neng Jr.'s

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Walking into the vibrant red dining room at Neng Jr.’s feels like an embrace from a close friend — the staff is genuinely welcoming, as ‘90s pop hits play, and a warm smokiness emanates from the kitchen. Chef/owner Silver Iocovozzi’s menu comes from their mother, Marissa Cousler, and their Filipino heritage. Find rotating dishes like supple sweetbreads inihaw with bok choy, a heap of garlic fried rice, or a plate of perfectly ripe fruits with a savory dipping sauce. It’s equal parts unexpected and comforting.

The Trashy Vegan

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Popular food truck the Trashy Vegan brings its plant-based fare to a permanent address in West Asheville. There are zero animal products in the cheeseburger, chicken sandwich, or “trashy” cheesesteak. Loaded fries come with the sauce of the day, onion, pickled jalapenos, fried soy curls, tomato, and lettuce on a bed of crisp fries.

Tastee Diner

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West Asheville mainstay Tastee Diner finds new owners with Jargon chef Steve Goff and partner Sam Goff. They still serve comfort food, but now it’s a bit more interesting, like a baked ziti sandwich, smoked wings, or a giant smoked bologna stack with whipped pimento cheese.

Gemelli

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Chef Anthony Cerrato of Asheville’s Strada Italiano and Social Lounge recently opened all-day cafe Gemelli. The space serves as an Italian coffee shop (complete with baked goods like cannolis) during the day and turns into a wine bar at night with Sicilian pizzas, antipasti, and more Italian favorites.

Tall John's

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Neighborhood tavern Tall John’s focuses on well-executed European-American classics like pork schnitzel, Parker rolls, steak tartare, and a signature burger from owner/executive chef Trevor Payne. The restaurant aims to be a spot for “all occasions” in the historic Montford district.

Cultura

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Cultura isn’t exactly new, but it was shut down for so long since the beginning of the pandemic that previous fans are very excited about its comeback. The restaurant comes from cult-favorite brewery Wicked Weed, though is very much unlike its IPA-heavy founder. Highlights of Cultura include the stunning dining room full of vegetation and chef Eric Morris’s tasting menu focused on sustainability and fermentation.

Lush greenery and twinkling lights in a dining room.
The magical interior at Cultura.
Julia Lindholm Photography

Little Chango

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Looking for loaded arepas? Hispanic kitchen Little Chango supplies selections including ropa vieja, pernil, chorizo, and more in Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood.

La Bodega by Cúrate

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In 2018, chef Katie Button and Felix Meana, the duo behind nationally acclaimed Spanish restaurant Cúrate, opened Button & Co. Bagels on the ground level of the former Nigthbell space. The New York-style bagels were a hit, but the pandemic forced Button and Meana to turn the bagel shop into La Bodega by Cúrate, a Spanish food and wine retail shop, out of necessity when dining rooms were forced to close. Now the space buzzes with customer ordering pintxos, pressed croissant sandwiches, and tinned fish. Open for breakfast (takeout), lunch, and dinner.

Upstairs space at La Bodega.
Whitney Anderson

Dilbar serves a menu of Indo-Chinese fare in downtown Asheville. Items range from Sichuan noodles, dosa platters, pani puri, mango lassi, and more.

Holeman + Finch Asheville

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Atlanta transplant Holeman + Finch opened in Asheville with a choose-your-own-adventure menu. An evening can start with oysters on ice or hand-chopped tartare and end with veal brains in a caper tomato sauce; sweetbreads with spring onion chimichurri and shishito peppers; or a cheeseburger and fries.

European seating with art-lined walls.
The dining room at Holeman + Finch Asheville.
Luke Van Hine

Eldr Restaurant

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New American restaurant Eldr serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a century-old cottage nestled amid the trees in historic Grovewood Village. Eldr is Old Norse for “fire”, which is fitting, because the restaurant relies on a wood-fired oven for many of its dishes. The menu includes roast chicken, pork schnitzel, duck wings, and more.

A white plate with calamari, black sauce, and bright orange nasturtiums; a black plate with seared duck breast; a purple cocktail; a red cocktail with a large square ice cube.
The dinner fare at Eldr.
Luke Van Hine

Neng Jr.'s

Walking into the vibrant red dining room at Neng Jr.’s feels like an embrace from a close friend — the staff is genuinely welcoming, as ‘90s pop hits play, and a warm smokiness emanates from the kitchen. Chef/owner Silver Iocovozzi’s menu comes from their mother, Marissa Cousler, and their Filipino heritage. Find rotating dishes like supple sweetbreads inihaw with bok choy, a heap of garlic fried rice, or a plate of perfectly ripe fruits with a savory dipping sauce. It’s equal parts unexpected and comforting.

The Trashy Vegan

Popular food truck the Trashy Vegan brings its plant-based fare to a permanent address in West Asheville. There are zero animal products in the cheeseburger, chicken sandwich, or “trashy” cheesesteak. Loaded fries come with the sauce of the day, onion, pickled jalapenos, fried soy curls, tomato, and lettuce on a bed of crisp fries.

Tastee Diner

West Asheville mainstay Tastee Diner finds new owners with Jargon chef Steve Goff and partner Sam Goff. They still serve comfort food, but now it’s a bit more interesting, like a baked ziti sandwich, smoked wings, or a giant smoked bologna stack with whipped pimento cheese.

Gemelli

Chef Anthony Cerrato of Asheville’s Strada Italiano and Social Lounge recently opened all-day cafe Gemelli. The space serves as an Italian coffee shop (complete with baked goods like cannolis) during the day and turns into a wine bar at night with Sicilian pizzas, antipasti, and more Italian favorites.

Tall John's

Neighborhood tavern Tall John’s focuses on well-executed European-American classics like pork schnitzel, Parker rolls, steak tartare, and a signature burger from owner/executive chef Trevor Payne. The restaurant aims to be a spot for “all occasions” in the historic Montford district.

Cultura

Cultura isn’t exactly new, but it was shut down for so long since the beginning of the pandemic that previous fans are very excited about its comeback. The restaurant comes from cult-favorite brewery Wicked Weed, though is very much unlike its IPA-heavy founder. Highlights of Cultura include the stunning dining room full of vegetation and chef Eric Morris’s tasting menu focused on sustainability and fermentation.

Lush greenery and twinkling lights in a dining room.
The magical interior at Cultura.
Julia Lindholm Photography

Little Chango

Looking for loaded arepas? Hispanic kitchen Little Chango supplies selections including ropa vieja, pernil, chorizo, and more in Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood.

La Bodega by Cúrate

In 2018, chef Katie Button and Felix Meana, the duo behind nationally acclaimed Spanish restaurant Cúrate, opened Button & Co. Bagels on the ground level of the former Nigthbell space. The New York-style bagels were a hit, but the pandemic forced Button and Meana to turn the bagel shop into La Bodega by Cúrate, a Spanish food and wine retail shop, out of necessity when dining rooms were forced to close. Now the space buzzes with customer ordering pintxos, pressed croissant sandwiches, and tinned fish. Open for breakfast (takeout), lunch, and dinner.

Upstairs space at La Bodega.
Whitney Anderson

Dilbar

Dilbar serves a menu of Indo-Chinese fare in downtown Asheville. Items range from Sichuan noodles, dosa platters, pani puri, mango lassi, and more.

Holeman + Finch Asheville

Atlanta transplant Holeman + Finch opened in Asheville with a choose-your-own-adventure menu. An evening can start with oysters on ice or hand-chopped tartare and end with veal brains in a caper tomato sauce; sweetbreads with spring onion chimichurri and shishito peppers; or a cheeseburger and fries.

European seating with art-lined walls.
The dining room at Holeman + Finch Asheville.
Luke Van Hine

Eldr Restaurant

New American restaurant Eldr serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a century-old cottage nestled amid the trees in historic Grovewood Village. Eldr is Old Norse for “fire”, which is fitting, because the restaurant relies on a wood-fired oven for many of its dishes. The menu includes roast chicken, pork schnitzel, duck wings, and more.

A white plate with calamari, black sauce, and bright orange nasturtiums; a black plate with seared duck breast; a purple cocktail; a red cocktail with a large square ice cube.
The dinner fare at Eldr.
Luke Van Hine

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