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Asheville's Best Restaurants

Alright. I know you've been waiting with baited breath for this. So, here's another obsessive list maker's list of Asheville's best restaurants, based on food quality, consistency, atmosphere, price, and service. (It's also more or less in order of preference.)

1. Gabrielle's
2. Limone's
3. 28806
4. Stoney Knob (Weaverville, I know. But close enough.)
5. Salsa
6. Tomato Cucina Latina
7. Corner Kitchen
8. Doc Chey's
9. Laughing Seed Cafe
10. Sunny Pointe Cafe
11. Early Girl Eatery

pending: Fig, Sugo, Zambra

What (besides Fig, Sugo, and Zambra) have I missed?

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  1. I'd add Noodle Shop VS. Doc Cheys...but thats just me...

    1 Reply
    1. re: jbyoga

      Haven't been there. I need to try it.

    2. I'm not a big Noodle/Doc Chey fan but I'm ok w/ them...I'd definitely add Fig. Not sure about Sugo yet, have been once. I think Vigne should be considered as well.

      1. Zambra. That would be very high if it were my list. Fig would make my list as well.

        Since you didn't ask "what should I delete?" I'll keep mum on that ;-)

        BTW, you're missing #10.

        9 Replies
        1. re: danna

          whoops, I would add Zambra as well.

          1. re: danna

            Whoops! (Will fix.) Okay, then: What WOULD you delete?

            And I definitely need to add Zambra to my pending list. I've lived here for six years and STILL HAVEN'T BEEN THERE for some reason.

            1. re: Jeff C.

              That's OK. I've been dining in Asheville 2-3 times a month since the mid 90's and I still haven't been to 1., 4, and 7,

              1. re: danna

                Stoney Knob is esp. lovely if the weather is nice enough to sit out on the terrace. Has a So-Cal vibe to it.

                1. re: Jeff C.

                  I'd put Tupelo Honey on any list of top ten Asheville restaurants.

                  1. re: carolinadawg

                    Agreed. I would put Tupelo Honey above Early Girl for sure, and Mela above Salsa's. After two horrendous meals at Salsa's we will never go back (trying to convince my husband to even give them a second chance was like pulling teeth, and the second chance was even worse than the first flub). I like Doc Cheys but it is a little "chain-y" for me. And what about Rezaz? I have not been in a while because for that price point we prefer Limones or now, Sugo, but the 3-4 dinners I had there were lovely. Oh, and I think 12 Bones needs a spot somewhere!

                    Everythink else looks dead-on to me!

                    1. re: miss piggy

                      That's funny. I think Salsa's is so much superior to everything else in town that I would leave several honorary blank spots just to indicate such ;-)

                      I agree with you that Doc Chey is a little "chain-y" but the sad thing is they put one in Greenville and it's not nearly as good as the one in Asheville. Even chains get sucked into the Greenville pit of bad dining. I've never had a disappointing meal at Doc Chey, however, so I would leave it on the list.

                      .

                      1. re: miss piggy

                        I agree with the Salsas opinion - a lot of food but I choose to not give any of Hectors places my money on principle....after a horrid experience there with the rudest server ever I wrote a letter and placed a call to him (both polite) and never heard back - plentyof other places to support in this town.

                        1. re: jbyoga

                          I meant the opinion that Salsa belongs on the list of

                          " not best places in Asheville"

            2. I would definitely add Fig and Vigne.

              1 Reply
              1. where is Flying Frog? and Doc Cheys? a chain amongst asheville's best? I dont know. We've got a DC's here in athens and it's not that great.

                14 Replies
                1. re: batdown

                  Here's my two cents on the comments thus far:

                  1. Doc Chey's is, indeed, a chain. And I did hesitate before adding it to the list. However, it is a very small chain, with only about eight Southern locations, and several of the locations are independently owned, including the one in Asheville. I have also dined at the Greenville and Athens locations, and guess what? For savory freshness, for presentation, and for atmosphere, the one in Asheville beats the others hands down. (Turns out tattooed and pierced chicks with funny haircuts really know how to cook pan-Asian. Go figure.)

                  2. I have only been to Rezaz once, three years ago, and I really need to go back. I just remember that my flank steak (this was when I still ate red meat) was tough and stringy. But I also remember that the dessert was spectacular--some kind of coconut pound cake thingy.

                  3. I love, love, love the food at Salsa. (The "spliff roll" may well be my favorite appetizer of all time.) It's also a pretty darn good value. The only thing that keeps it from being higher on my list is that it tends to be noisy, and the service can be uneven...though I've never had "horrid" service there. Mostly, they just seem understaffed.

                  4. I'm not even close to being an authority on Indian food, but many of the dishes at Mela taste like spicy baby food to me. (I do like the Tandoori Chicken, though.) (Or was it the Curry Chicken? I forget.) I'll admit that Indian cuisine may well be one of my culinary "blind spots," though.

                  5. Tupelo Honey, like Early Girl, is a solid choice and an Asheville staple, and I won't argue with substituting one for the other. They both fill the nuevo-Southern niche quite nicely. They both have excellent breakfast and/or brunch choices. And they both take a passable but seldom spectacular stab at dinner. (Also--sorry--they're both a tad boring.)

                  1. re: Jeff C.

                    Try Mela again and order the Chicken Tikki Masala and the Shrimp Vindaloo or Madras Jihnga Masala (the latter two are a little similar to me). I don't think you will be disappointed! Plus, I think they serve the most delicious, perfectly cooked rice that I have ever eaten. I really wish I could get my rice to taste/cook like that at home. Plus, I just love the ambiance.

                    1. re: Jeff C.

                      1. Agreed. Asheville DC is WAY better.
                      2. Agreed. Went to Rezas once (and Enoteca once) Both were just OK.
                      3. Agreed. Salsa is spectacular. Spliff rolls killer, anything pork divine, all the fruit (and other) salsas a wonderland for the taste buds. Ginger Hibiscus tea so good I usually forego the margaritas.
                      4. Agreed. Mela didj't do that much for me, but I'm no authority on Indian food.
                      5. Agreed. Tupelo Honey is fine, nothing spectacular.

                      Jeff C. - This has never happened before. I don't think I've ever agreed w/ anybody on that many points before...regarding ANYTHING...not just food. We may be twins.

                      Just so people don't think you've paid me to agree with you 100%, I will say I was unimpressed on my one trip to 28806, on my one trip to Tomato CL I saw flashes of potential, but nothing that has made me go back yet, and although I might put Limones on the list...it would not be near the top.

                      1. re: danna

                        Your check is in the mail, Danna.

                        P.S. Do try 28806 again. I've been three times in the past year or so, and it has been better each time. (The fish dishes are great, and duck is the best I've had anywhere.)

                      2. re: Jeff C.

                        I really have to say, that having eaten at all of these places, and dining in asheville for nine years, can we please, if we must do this, put the restaurants on two different lists? Fine Dining and Casual? To put Gabrielles on the same list as Doc Cheys, and to put Limones on the same list as Salsas is very odd to me. The food that is created at the finer restaurants, weather it is your favorite or not, takes skill. Noodles and veggies are wonderful, but nothing impressive. The guacamole and plantains at Salsas are yummy but not impressive from a culinary standpoint. I would like to see the line drawn between plain old "good food" and food that you can't just whip up at home and takes true talent. I don't want to speak for them, but I feel certain that the chefs at some of the above named restaurants do not wish to be in the same category as the casual places that employ skilled line cooks. There have been times when a proper burger and fries has tasted better to me than anything, but just because it was wonderful doesn't mean I would put it on the same list as something that took hours of work and many people to prepare properly.

                        1. re: Crews L

                          While it's easy to make those kinds of distinctions in Boston or New York, it's next to impossible in Asheville. With the exception of Gabrielle's, Horizon's, and just a handful and of others, even the most upscale restaurants here are decidely casual and laid-back.

                          Some of us even prefer it that way!

                          1. re: Jeff C.

                            I prefer it that way also! If you are putting restaurants in categories in a very general way, that is fine. I was just saddened to see places that have such talent get grouped in with places that are a bit "formula". Some of those places don't have much of a thought process behind them. I do not cook, but I was in the industry for a long time. The dining scene everywhere in going to fine/casual. it has been a topic in many culinary magazines lately. But the fact still remains that the talent and execution of what a restaurant puts out is what separates the good from the magnificent. A place does not have to be "she-she" to obtain the higher respect. I think part of the problem with Asheville is all a restaurant needs is good "make-up" and a patio, and they can serve poo on a plate and people will still eat it up. I would like to see more people really dissecting the food and not just the impression a place gives you.

                            1. re: Crews L

                              Hmmm...I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. But I would note for the record that only a couple of the places on my original list have patios, and none in my experience serve "poo on a plate."

                          2. re: Crews L

                            I completely disagree. Good food is good food. Some of the most simple preparations take the most skill, and require the most perfect ingredients. In any new city, I want to know where the best food is....after I have my list of who turns out fantastic stuff...then I can narrow it down to whether I'm in the mood for casual dining, or something more involved.

                        2. re: batdown

                          I agree that doc chey's should not be on the list. While it is great for a fast, cheap lunch, I would not consider it among the best. Maybe I would consider it a "best value".

                          1. re: batdown

                            "We've got a DC's here in athens and it's not that great."

                            Since this is a post about Asheville, I'm not sure what the relevance is...

                            1. re: carolinadawg

                              Well, it's only relevant because I've eaten at Doc Chey's in Athens, and there is a Doc Chey's in Asheville with (I'm assuming here) the same menu. I've also eaten at a lot of Asheville retaurants, including 6 restaurants on the list in the original post. Maybe I'm not entitled to an opinion because I haven't eaten at every restaurant in Asheville listed in this thread, but I was just surprised that Doc Chey's would make the list because there seems to be so many great, original, one-of-a-kind places in Asheville, which is a great food town in my opinion. I've always heard that the Atlanta and Asheville Doc Chey's are the best ones, but I guess I didn't guess the difference would be that drastic. Excuse me for saying anything, carolinadawg. Being a carolina-dawg myself (moved from NC to GA last august), I just thought I would offer my thoughts. Sorry if that was out of line!

                              1. re: batdown

                                We're happy to have you here, batdown. It IS true...for some reason there is a big difference between the Asheville DC and the one in Greenville...I guess Athens is in the same boat. The Asheville DC often has specials that are really good...this doesn't seem to be the case in Greenville. Although, it's still one of my prefered restaurants in G'ville...times are tough here.

                                1. re: batdown

                                  No need to apologize...I apologize if I came across too harshly. Obviously, anyone can post on anything they want on here...ultimately, its all about people's opinions. I just think it helps to have some first hand experience on which to base that opinion. Sorry again if I sounded like a jerk.