How to Eat Like a Local in Downtown Asheville

There is a well known problem when you visit Asheville, NC… it is notoriously difficult to decide where you should dine. There are a tremendous amount of choices and most, if not all of them, are good. I know when I travel I like to figure out where the locals go, where the locals eat. Where the locals are, there is always, undoubtedly good food.

Here is your guide to the top 5 restaurants and eateries in Downtown Asheville we feel will set you on the right path.

The most likely places you’ll find a handful of locals enjoying their local fair. So bust out your napkin, lay it in your lap (or tucked into your shirt, no judgement here) and get ready to eat like a local!


1. Limones Mexican and California Cuisine

13 Eagle St, Asheville, NC 28801


Go ahead, call in advance before you even find your way to town and make a reservation. It is a choice you will not regret. Limones, tucked away off of Broadway on the quiet side lane called Eagle Street, is a beloved local establishment that has been a part of the downtown culture for some time now. There is a reason. The. Food. Is. So. Good. Innovative food with intense and rooted flavors of Mexico combined with a California flair creates nothing but sublime magic on your plate. The ambience will have you ready to laze around in the scent of local culture and those of a mother’s secret recipes.

“An all-together different world of Mexican cuisine. This is the real thing: traditional dishes enlivened with a modern sensibility.” – Smoky Mountain Living


2. Bouchon French Cuisine

62 N. Lexington, Ave., Asheville, NC 28801


You may have heard Asheville called “The Paris of the South.” When you step through the threshold of Bouchon you instantly feel the French vibe and can easily be whisked away to believe you are actually in Paris. From traditional French Comfort Food to Parisian café cuisine, the menu will easily please. Sit back, relax, sip on your French wine. Be prepared to feel and experience the taste of worlds away. Bonjour!

“The way to open a bottle of Champagne is quietly as a whisper, or as the French say “pet de nonne” – a nun’s fart.” – Bouchon


3. The Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge

7 Rankin Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina 28801


While The Vault has gained its fame and popularity with locals for their inventive cocktails using creative ingredients, it cannot be overlooked that they quite possibly have the best burger in town. One that locals and visitors alike rave about. It might have something to do with their menu which features farm-fresh, local products, and hormone-free meats. Along with their fresh menu and favorable cocktails there is an awesome outside patio, room enough for everyone to enjoy. So, pull up a chair or bench and bask in the downtown energy while savoring all the tastes The Vault has to offer.

“Where the Gooey Bacon Cheeseburger will practically take you home and tuck you in.” – Bon Appetit Magazine


4. Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria

42 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801


To say that Barley’s is a staple in the cityscape of downtown Asheville is an understatement. Located in the heart of the arts and entertainment of downtown, it is a watering whole for locals to gather around pre or post downtown events. Barley’s has been a local establishment since 1994. With its 28 taps of the best local beers and ciders located at the downstairs bar, the smell of fresh sourdough pizza coming from the kitchen, the sound of the creaking in the original hardwood floors and clinking of the pool tables from above, you will know you have arrived.

“Pizza, Pizza lots of it along with music in the evening and a large list of craft beer makes this a winner.” – Ron M. on TripAdvisor


5. Mamacita’s Taqueria

77 Biltmore Ave Suite 100, Asheville, NC 28801


Come to Mama!! That’s exactly what you’ll want to do once you’ve bitten into the very well portioned burrito that was just handcrafted with all the ingredients of your choice. We’re talking all sorts of fresh ingredients, house made salsas, as well as, protein that has been simmering for days to perfection. The casual atmosphere allows you to pop in at your leisure, grab a few tacos and a Tecate possibly and dine at your own pace. Don’t feel like sticking around? No problem. Everything is easy to carry out. On the menu you’ll find traditional and creative Mexican street food such as California-style burritos, fresh-ground corn tortillas (milled on-site), breakfast tacos, and the beloved horchata-soaked fried chicken tortas.

“We have been loved by our community since we opened, and have been voted Best Burrito, Best Taco, Best Mexican Restaurant in Asheville by local readers for over a decade!” – Mamacitas




Mind you, this is only the tip of the iceberg for when it comes to dining like locals in Asheville. This, however, will get you started on your culinary journey and exploration in downtown. Make sure when you are dining to start conversations with your server, or a person sitting nearby. Begin asking around where the good spots are. You will quickly realize that there is a passion amongst us for our food culture and we are eager to share with those who are willing to listen. Also, you will have an updated list and a map to expand your foodtopia tour. Bon Appetit!!