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Oct 7, 2008 01:16 PM

Reasonably priced dinners in Asheville?

We are going to Asheville for the first time in early November and plan to try Horizons for our one splurge dinner. However I'm looking for suggestions for the other 3 nights. We'd like to try places that are somewhat unique/special but not too expensive (since I know Horizons will put a dent in our budget!). Suggestions?

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  1. Asheville has a ton of reasonably priced restaurants...Salsa's, Doc Chey's, Tupelo Honey...try doing a search and you'll find lots of suggestions. Also, try for some great discounts.

    1. I was looking over your past posts to try to get a feel for your interests...
      Question: bringing kids? Driving?
      I have several ideas, but the answers will help me in my suggestions!

      1. Please, PLEASE give us a report on Horizons after you go. No one local ever seems to go there, and vacationers don't seem to report on it. Given the quality of the other food I've had at Grove Park, I'm not willing to try it for that money, but I think the menu looks wonderful.

        Salsa's, great experience, and cheap (if you don't mind a casual, kinda loud, closely packed dinner) if you aren't very hungry, Zambra can be reasonable...but of course if you order lots of small plates, it can add up to more than a traditional restaurant.

        6 Replies
        1. re: danna

          Salsa's sounded great when I first read of it on another travel site, but the reviews on tripadvisor scared me away.

          1. re: cincinnatilisa

            That was interesting reading the trip advisor comments. It reminded me of all the reasons there are NOT to like Salsa. None of them resonate with me, but they include:

            long lines, sometimes they close early if they run out of food
            tightly packed tables
            expensive drinks
            no "normal" drinks like Coke and Sweet Southern Iced Tea
            no free chips and salsa
            wait staff may be goofy/surly/stoned/hairy/clueless or some combo of above
            you might not get *exactly* what is written on the specials menu
            the dish you ordered last week may be a little different this week

            If stuff like the bothers you, and I know it does lots of people, you may have a bad Salsa's experience. Personally, I think Hector is a genius, his food combinations are genius, his way with pork especially is genius. I don't really care if the menu said pineapple salsa and I get sea vegetable salsa. I don't care if there's no cheddar cheese this week on my burrito. I don't care if I have to ask for something twice. I don't mind paying extra for an order of chips (but entree alone is more than I can eat...if I order an app...i'm going to take 2/3 of my lunch home) I don't mind the expensive drinks because they use expensive tequila. (you can order your margarita in various prices...from around $7-$14 if memory serves) I love the hibiscus ginger tea...if you want Coke, stop by a gas station. I don't think it's expensive because goat cheese and wild (local) mushrooms and avacados and mangos are all expensive ingredients. I don't mind sitting next to the smelly trustafarians having lunch with their upper middle class parents. I'm all about the plate.

            That said...I usualy do Salsa for lunch and go somewhere a little quieter w/ a better wine selection for dinner. And seriously, if you, or anyone in you party are unadventurous, have lots of food aversions, or if service is really important to you...Salsa may not be for you and Asheville has PLENTY of other good choices. have fun!

            1. re: danna

              None of the things you mention bother me and I don't have a single food aversion. My concern was the decidely mixed reviews of the food itself. A lot of people definitely loved their food, but several others said it was mediocre and a few even disliked it. I do however understand there is no accounting for good taste. I also totally respect you defending this restaurant you love - I'd do the same if there were questionable reviews of my favorite spot. I'll keep it on my list to consider - Thanks!

              1. re: cincinnatilisa

                I and my husband really really disliked Salsa's . Read my review on Yelp
                The food is nothing but a bunch of flavors-not related slopped on your plate to produce a gloppy? horrible tasting concoction

          2. re: danna


            We had dinner at Horizons two weekends ago. It was disappointing. I was prepared for an expensive meal but I was willing to splurge for a memorable experience. Instead, I left feeling like I had wasted my money. Yes, the restaurant is beautiful - much more so if you are in the main area. We were in one of the raised seating areas which felt cave-like to me and was uncomfortably warm by the end of the evening. The live piano music was a nice touch but would have been nicer if you could have heard it over a large and very loud party.

            The service was the most disappointing part - for the caliber, I expected much better service. The overall pacing was extremely slow. I like taking my time and enjoying a meal but waits of 15 - 20 minutes between each of four courses (and the amuse and the sorbet) seems excessive. I might not have minded as much if the overall service had been better. Instead, it was neglectful and disorganized. Examples: 1) Tthe hostess seated us, asked if we would like a wine list (at this type of restaurant you would assume that they would bring it to begin with). We said yes and she disappeared never to be seen again. A couple was seated next to us about 10 minutes later (with a wine list) and were immediately visited by a server. I ended up having to flag down a passing water to get the wine list. 2) We ordered champagne which was kept in a wine bucket away from our table. Again, I had to flag a waiter down every time the glass had to be refilled. I would have been happy to pour it myself if it had been within reach. 3) The waiter suggested a Tokaji with the second course of foie gras - it was brought out with the first course. Etc., etc. It felt like we had to tackle someone any time we needed them.

            As for the food itself, it was good but not exceptional. First course - excellent lobster bisque. Second - foie gras. Now I love foie gras and have it whenever I can but this wasn't outstanding. It was served on a piece of fried bread that was much too rich and greasy. The accompanying sauce was too sweet. And the foie fras itself was a large piece but actually a little tough. Next, the palate cleanser was a rock like sorbet ball that you had to chase around the dish. Third - the cider marinated pheasant was excellent - moist and tasty. Fourth - the cheese plate was ordinary.

            My husband had a smoked scallop with pork belly - he loved the pork belly, I loved the scallop. He had venison which I thought was too gamey. He also had a persimmon dessert that was just OK - it had a weird combination of textures.

            I don't know if we hit them on a bad night but overall, I would not recommend the restaurant.

            1. re: kfoster21

              I'm so sorry you had a disappointing evening...and expensive, i'm sure!

              But, I really, REALLY appreciate your detailed review, and that you took the time to come back here and fill me and everyone else in.

              There are so many nice things about the Grove seems quality dining is just not going to be one of them. i was up there a couple of weeks ago just to get a drink and sit on the patio in the afternoon. The wine list (at the lobby bar, at least) is SO lame and overpriced, i had a liquor drink...unheard of for a wino like me. You'd think that wine is a somewhat objective subject....doesn't require any "art" like cooking. You'd think someone with no more than a subscription to Wine Spectator could be hired to pick some interesting wines, some good value-priced wines, and train the wait staff how to offer and serve them, wouldn't you?

              Thanks again -

          3. No kids on this trip - it is our once a year trip (myself & husband) without our kids! We'd prefer restaurants that have something unique to offer (not just nachos and chicken strips). We definitely plan to try Tupelo Honey - possibly for lunch - and 12 Bones (not a lot of good BBQ in Cincinnati). I'm also considering Pomodoros and Bouchon. I read good things about Doc Chey's but somehow a noodle house doesn't excite me.

            I've had a bit of change of heart regarding Horizons since my initial post yesterday and seeing so many raves about Sugo. We may go there for our pricey dinner instead, but I'll post a report regardless when we return.

            Oh, we are driving and staying in a cabin in Candler (which I understand is about 15 minutes from Asheville).

            16 Replies
            1. re: cincinnatilisa

              Please do not go to Sugo for your pricey dinner. I did not like it at all!!!!!!! Will never go back. Hands down, Fig has the finest food in Asheville. Charming atmosphere, terrific service and beyond excellent food. As far as the more reasonable ones you mentioned, Pomodoro's is so average. I live around the corner and never go. Bouchon and Cucina 24 would be my recommendations - both have great food. We especially love the pizza at Cucina 24. Have a great trip.

              1. re: LifeisGood58

                Thanks, I appreciate the info and will take a look at Fig's menu online. What interested me about Pomodoro's is that we don't have ANY decent Greek restaurants in Cincinnati and I love Greek food. I also love a good egglplant parmasean and nobody around here does it well IMO. I will look into Cucina 24 as well.

                1. re: cincinnatilisa

                  If you love Greek food, then definitely don't go there. It is not "authentic" Greek food. I think you will be really disappointed. Also, the atmosphere is like a chain restaurant. If you ever visit Manhattan, I will recommend the most amazing Greek restaurants for you.

                  1. re: cincinnatilisa

                    I really like Pomodoro's. However, their Greek and Italian items are not that great. Their nightly specials and brunch are usually very, very good. (There are many Greek owned restaurants in Asheville, but none that I've found that has good Greek food. I grew up in a large Greek community, so I am familiar with many traditional Greek dishes)
                    I disagree on the atmosphere. It's not particularly original, but it is nicely done for a place in a small strip center (I'm only familiar with the one on Hwy 70). The staff is excellent for Asheville. I was there recently with friends. We ordered from the nightly specials a fish, a duck, and a pork dish from the regular offerings. Everything was very good. The place is not too far off the Parkway if you will be exploring along it.

                    1. re: meatn3

                      Even "okay" Greek food would be a treat for me. The only time we have any decent Greek food in Cincinnati is at a once a year summer festival at the local Greek Orthodox Church. So I'm not an expert are accustomed to really authentic Greek food. We did live outside Detroit briefly many years ago and Greek Town there was the best thing about the city!

                  2. re: LifeisGood58

                    ditto. I was very dissappointed in Sugo. thought the menu looked GREAT (I can see why you would pick it) but the execution was not good. I've only been once, though, and it gets a lot of good reviews.

                    If I had one upscale dinner, I'd do Fig or Cucina 24, or maybe I'd finally get around to trying Gabrielles. If you're skipping Horizons (see...I can NEVER get a review), you could have two of Asheville's other pricier choices.

                    Must go see what trip advisor says about Salsa's.

                    1. re: priss

                      Sugo closed? Well, geez, that didn't take long. Guess I'll have to get a credit on my coupon. :-/ I bought it back when it was getting better reviews!

                      But, to stay on topic....for reasonable - of the places we've tried - we like Bouchon (a lot of energy - can be a bit noisy), mela (Indian), Stoney Knob (although north of town), Salsa's (haven't been in the last year though), fig and rezaz.

                      As a side note, it would be helpful to know what "reasonable" is. These have entrees mostly in the mid - high teens (except Salsa's, which is lower) with a few entrees above. most also have websites so you can see what they offer (no prices on Fig).

                      1. re: Scirocco

                        Reasonable for dinner, IMO, are entrees $10 to $20. I have been checking out menus online (what did we do before we had this option!?!). Bouchon is on my short list and we may try to the buffet at Mela for lunch (since our Indian food experience is somewhat limited and it's fun to try a bit of everything when you aren't sure what to order). I've heard good things about Stoney Knob but their menu doesn't seem particularly interesting.

                        1. re: cincinnatilisa

                          Do try Mela's for lunch! Nice atmosphere, wonderful flavors...

                        2. re: Scirocco

                          wow, that's a shame about Sugo. Somebody had a good vision there, just no good cooks (at least not the night I ate there).

                          Another spot for the adventure-lover (makes Salsa look staid) is Rosetta's Kitchen. Last time we were in Asheville the husband agreed to go there...about 1/2 a block away he freaked and told me to order alone and he'd grab sushi take-out and come back to meet me. He's a Peanut-butter-baked- tofu-phobe, apparently. We both make fun of the place for being SOOOO hippy, but the fried to order sweet potatos, the above mentioned tofu...addictive.

                          Unless you get the burger/fries, i would not call Fig particularly reasonable.

                          Sunny Point still doing dinner? I can't remember the prices. One Love is cheap, too.

                          1. re: danna

                            Yup, that's why I was trying to look at Fig's menu - couldn't remember the prices (none on their website) - I thought I remembered higher too, but it's been awhile and well, there's that short term memory issue.....

                            Lisa - surprised you didn't find anything on stoney knob's menu - just looked online and am thinking the paper version is a bit bigger? we tried the moussaka, tuna, pollo gorgonzola, and kobe burger. Everything was great, with only the burger being just "good". there was really nothing wrong with the burger, we just expected something a bit more "wow".

                            rosetta's sounds like quite the experience! been by it, but never been in.

                            1. re: Scirocco

                              Ooh - Thanks for motivating me to look at Stoney Knob's menu - I must have had it confused with another place I had checked out (they are starting to blur!). I had not actually seen this before. As I said previously, I LOVE Greek food and we have nothing decent in Cincinnati. Would you recommend Stoney Knob over Pomodoro's?

                              1. re: cincinnatilisa

                                Oh Good Lord, yes. Pomodoro's is simply a local chain. It's average Italian chain food at best (we do go once in a blue moon). It's sort of like Carrabba's. I would never have classified it as Greek. I don't know that we have any great Greek restaurants here (you need to come back for the Greenville, SC Greek Festival - basic, but good - and food made by the Greek community!), but Stoney Knob has a few Greek offerings.

                                Oh, and if you go to Stoney Knob, sit in the Red Room - kinda funky atmosphere. :)

                                1. re: Scirocco

                                  Funny. I posted above that the best Greek food in my area is at the annual festival at the local Greek Orthodox Church as well. I always wish the people who make it would just open a restaurant so I could get it year 'round!!

                          2. re: Scirocco

                            Ok, am I losing my mind or did the post saying Sugo closed disappear? If so, does anyone know if Sugo closed or not??

                      2. re: cincinnatilisa

                        If you skip Horizons, do try to stop by the Grove Park Inn for a drink (especially for the sunset). There is a nice view from the main bar in the lobby. The hotel has interesting architecture, a wonderful collection of arts & crafts period furniture, and is a fascinating bit of area history.

                      3. Limones is still my top pick for Cali-Mex, which makes it sound much less sophisticated than it is. Some have reported service issues of late, but I have never had less than exemplary service there. Prices are moderate, except for the oeverpriced (but nevertheless yummy) drink specials. Lovely high-ceilinged space, too. (Ask for one of the window tables!)

                        17 Replies
                        1. re: Jeff C.

                          Just checked out Limones menu. WOW. I"m adding to my list as a MUST!!

                          1. re: cincinnatilisa

                            Let us know what you think. I was an early convert to Limones and have remained steadfast in my devotion, which can sometimes make one blind to a restaurant's shortcomings. So it's nice to have a more objective opinion now and then.

                            Let's just say I have a soft spot for Limones the way Danna has a soft spot for Salsa.

                            1. re: Jeff C.

                              Just went to Limones last night for the first time... The service was fine, but the food was a bit underwhelming for the price. Nothing spectacular about it. There were plenty of interesting things on the menu, and the presentation was nice, but neither of us were thrilled with the food itself. It wasn't bad, just not spectacular. And we're not that picky... We went for a bottle of wine instead of one of the pricey margarita/specialty drinks. Their wine list is well organized and decent with lots of options and plenty of reasonably priced bottles.

                              1. re: sarahyla

                                Depends on what you're expecting, I guess. Most people hear "Cali-Mex" and immediately think of Americanized Mexican food oozing greasy melted cheddar. Limones' fare is a little more southwestern and a lot more subtle than that.

                                Also, actual Mexican homecooking is not as hot or spicy as most of the Americanized versions...though it has plenty of other bold flavors.

                                P.S. The magaritas, mojitos, and other specialty drinks at Limones ARE overpriced, but they are usually so balanced and well-executed that I almost don't care. And they have the best bloody mary I've had anywhere.

                                1. re: Jeff C.

                                  We will likely limit our alcohol intake until we return to our cabin since we have 15 minute drive, but my husband is a big bloody mary fan and I'll try a margarita. Our fav mexican restuarant in cincinnati has great mole and salsa verde, which I saw on some dishes at limones and enticed me.

                                  1. re: cincinnatilisa

                                    Had a lovely pork tenderloin drizzled with mole there not long ago.

                                    Enjoy your visit to Asheville!

                                  2. re: Jeff C.

                                    I definitely was not expecting typical greasy americanized mexican fare, i've had some great experiences at cali-mex restaurants, and unfortunately Limones just wasn't our favorite.

                                    Lack of heat in the food wasn't the problem, I actually had too much spice in my dish (though I am admittedly a wimp in the heat department) but my boyfriend had the pork chop with the mole sauce, and while it looked great, it just wasn't as good pork or mole as we've had elsewhere (or at home).

                                    That's just the opinion of two people who love good food, and i know there are people out there just like us who love Limones. We still had a great time, very good service and atmosphere, but I'm not in a hurry to get back there.

                                    1. re: sarahyla

                                      Here are my opinions:

                                      Fig is excellent. Menu never looked that exciting to me, which is why it took us forever to go check it out, but I'm telling is wonderful.

                                      Stoney Knob is MUCH better than Pomodoro's and has a great atmosphere to boot. Pomodoro's feels like a chain to me. SK is one of our favorites.

                                      12 Bones is fun for lunch (Obama just ate there!) but it is only open during the week. Solid BBQ, sides are excellent, be prepared to wait in line.

                                      Tupelo Honey is excellent for lunch, brunch or dinner. An Asheville institution. Be prepared to wait in line.

                                      I am worried that Limones is going downhill, but it used to be one of our faves.

                                      I have ranted about this before and won't get into it again, but I LOVED Salsa's when we moved here three years ago and just can't go back now after having 3 really bad experiences in a row, the last one being particularly awful. I think I need to go with Danna the next time so I'll have better luck! It is a really cute place though, and I love all the flavors. It's just hard to me to justify going back after the last time though...too bad.

                                      My favorite spot in town remains Zambra...beautiful interior, lively atmosphere, awesome drinks and wine list and great tapas.

                                      That's my $0.02! Hope you have a great trip and report back.

                                      1. re: miss piggy

                                        12 Bones South is now open on Sweeten Creek Rd.

                                        1. re: Spreadhead

                                          Finally got around to trying 12 Bones on Sweeten Creek today. It was awesome!!! It was our first time at any of the 12 Bones. Got the blueberry chipotle ribs and they were SO good. Didn't read the recs first and flew blind on the sides. Got mac & cheese and mashed sweet potatoes. I actually like the mac & cheese, but it is different - basic elbows with a thin cheese sauce. But, I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to mac & cheese. Noodles? Cheese? Creamy and not clumpy? I'm good. The mashed sweet potatoes were very tasty, but a bit stringy. Cornbread was good - moist and a little sweet - the way I like it. Service was fast and efficient - busy, but no line at 1:30. Price was $18 for a full rack (12 bones) with sides and cornbread, which we split and still took some home (could've finished it). We will definitely be back as it is much more convenient than the Asheville location.

                                          1. re: Scirocco

                                            I also heard they're open on Saturdays now. True?

                                            1. re: Jeff C.

                                              I didn't notice while I was there, but their website claims the Arden (Sweeten Creek) location only IS open on Saturdays, 11 - 4. YAY!!

                                              1. re: Scirocco

                                                GASP! REALLY!!???? Husband and I actually took a Friday off from work a few months ago to sample lunch at 12 Bones...and it was worth it! (and you know I hate everything)

                                                Please help me w/ the Sweeten Creek location. I know where Sweeten Creek comes into Biltmore Village...

                                                1. re: danna

                                                  The Sweeten Creek location is way south of Biltmore Village. If you're coming up I-26, take the airport exit toward H'ville Road. When you cross over H'ville Road, the airport road becomes Sweeten Creek and starts heading north (toward Biltmore Village). About 1 1/2 to 2 miles up on the right hand side you'll see 12 Bones. If you pass BB Barns Nursery on your left (which is worth a stop), you've gone too far.

                                                  1. re: NANCY

                                                    Many Thanks!! And open 'til's my dream come true! I'm not really sure it's possible to mountain bike hard enough to burn off ribs and bbq, but I'll try.

                                                    Is there a general concensus yet on whether the second location is just as good as the original?

                                                2. re: Scirocco

                                                  Yippee! (Esp. since we both live and work in Hendersonville and rarely get to go to Asheville on weekdays.)


                                          2. re: miss piggy

                                            We love Zambra's too (although recent visits have been a bit more uneven), but as Danna pointed out, your bill can add up quickly if you get too excited about trying lots of tapas. :) But, that said, we love the atmosphere and most of the food we've had there has been very good.