Western North Carolina might not seem like a place that’s a haven for tacos, but dotted around Asheville are some terrific spots serving up interesting things atop tortillas. There’s the spots serving the type of plates you’d find on street corners in Oaxaca, spots serving up tacos stuffed with things decidedly not Mexican, and then the requisite-to-any-taco-list dive-y spots. Oh, there’s even a music hall that just also happens to serve great tacos. Who knew the mountains could be so crazy about tacos?Read More
11 Great Stops for Tacos in Asheville
From al pastor to fried chicken tacos, Asheville has a little bit of everything.
1. Mamacita’s Taco Temple
The menu at this charming converted gas station leans heavy on good ingredients, with al pastor pork and fried cod served fairly traditionally on house-made tortillas. There’s also decidedly original creations too, especially the daily specials — devotees know to watch the marquee out front for crispy chicken tacos. Taco Temple also puts out the best vegetarian taco in town: avocado with a slice of salty fried cheese.
2. Sonora Cocina Mexicana
Smack in the center of Asheville’s bustling downtown, Sonora brings in the crowds as much for its margaritas as its tacos, which come overstuffed with salsas and chef-y additions, like the flash-fried avocado with grilled corn salsa or the pork belly with cilantro lime slaw and chile verde sauce.
3. White Duck Taco Shop
What started out in 2011 inside a former chicken hatchery in the River Arts District is now a growing regional chain. The best of the locations is the White Duck that operates out of a quonset hut that sits on the French Broad River. It’s not just about this park-like ambience: White Duck’s tacos are endlessly creative and unique, like the Carolina barbecue, shrimp and grits, and, of course, duck with mole.
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4. Grey Eagle Taqueria
Perhaps it’s better known as a music venue, but the Grey Eagle has a booming following for the taqueria served out back, where there’s a charming outdoor area of mismatched lawn chairs. Yes, there are the classics like carnitas and carne asada, but the sizable menu also sports turmeric-roasted cauliflower, a borracho (drunken) roasted chicken with bacon, and spiced sweet potatoes with cotija.
5. Zia Food Truck
Ashevillians lost their collective minds when the brick and mortar Zia Taqueria announced it was closing in May 2022. Luckily the food truck, parked at 240 Depot Street, lives on. The menu hits on all the classics — Baja fish, carne asada, pollo verde — and it often does specials like birria made with Hickory Nut Gap short rib, oxtail, and beef chuck.
6. Tienda Los Nenes
Way in the back of a Mexican supermarket, past the meat counter and the just-baked rolls and the every-color pinatas and prepaid cell phones, is a hard-to-find counter serving up traditional tacos. They come barely dressed, the stewed chicken and carnitas topped just with cilantro and onions, but they also seem like they’re missing nothing.
7. Taco Billy
Known mostly for its breakfast tacos, Taco Billy can still draw a line all day, especially since it gave up its former closes-before-dinner schedule. Those egg and cheese tacos still do nicely at night, especially on a plantain tortilla for a bit of sweetness. The best seat is out back, where picnic benches under shady trees provide a virtual playground for pups and kids
8. Taqueria Muñoz
No place in Asheville feels more like a roadside stop on a dusty Mexican highway than Taqueria Muñoz. This largely unadorned strip mall spot puts out truly authentic tacos. Here, it’s all about the meat — tongue, marinated pork, and cheek are the headliners — served alone on tortillas that can be dressed up at a salsa bar. The hot sauce is not to be messed with, especially for gringos.
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9. Pupuseria Patty
Yes, technically this restaurant attached to a Sunoco is Salvadoran/Honduran. But the tacos here are legit, served on tortillas made from the pupusa masa mix and patted into discs just before they land on the grill. With four meat choices (al pastor being the best), there’s nothing wrong with ordering one of each.
10. Papa's & Beer Mexican Restaurant
Papas and Beer serves up the kind of old-school American-style tacos everybody craves from time to time. They come overstuffed with marinated meats and a big side of pico, and they’re best done up with guac, something of a house specialty. While the East Side location has an always-festive vibe, the spot on the south side of town is a perfect stopover after a trip to Pisgah National Forest.
11. Taqueria del Sol
Arden, NC 28704
In a vacant lot, behind a chain link fence, sits an old delivery van with a window cut out of it serving quite excellent tacos. These are simple numbers — tortilla, meat, onion, and cilantro — just like they do it in Mexico.