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Asheville Local Drawing a Blank on Visitor-Worthy, Casual Options

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We've got friends coming up the next few weekends, some of which have never been to Asheville before, so we're looking for a few places to go out to dinner. Food must be good, drinks are important, must be casual and not too pricey, but the main thing is that it should be a fun, lively place to kick back with a few drinks and spend time with friends.

We usually take people to Mela, but I'd like another option in case they don't want Indian. But Mela has what we're looking for - it's always bustling, entrees are under $15 and the beer and cocktails are good. We also thought about LAB and Jack of the Wood (I like the food better at LAB, atmosphere better at JOW...I guess it would be a toss-up.)

I love the Admiral and Curras but last time we went to each of those for a 'casual' night out the bill ran $80+ - too pricey for this crowd. Zambra and Limones are two of my faves but will be too pricey as well. Doc Chey's, Salsa's, Barleys and BierGarden all fit the casual/lively request but the food is sub-par, IMO. Nothing in West Asheville seems special enough.

So what am I missing? For such a laid-back town all of a sudden I feel like everything is too expensive or too "fancy" for people looking for good food in a casual, fun environment.

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Jack of the Wood
95 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Limones
13 Eagle St, Asheville, NC 28801

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  1. How about Bouchon? They have several entrees in the $10 to $15 range. Or the new Vinnie's in N. Asheville? Its gotten positive reviews on here. Or Papas and Beer?

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    Bouchon
    62 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

    5 Replies
    1. re: carolinadawg

      Papas and Beer is the first thing that came to my mind.

      1. re: peetoteeto

        I'm not quite sure that the food is on par with some of the others mentioned, but if you can find a warm weekend, then Mayfel's has a really nice open air area in the back of their restaurant. The same can probably be said for Sunny Point, and they've improved their dinner menus, in my opinion. Just beer and wine there though.

        1. re: JKidd

          For some reason I thought Bouchon was more expensive overall. That could be good. I love that place. I guess I just always think fo it as more "special occasion b/c my husband always gets the steak which runs around $20, I think.

          It's interesting to hear the recs for Papa's and Beer. I think it's good, but not anything special that you couldn't get anywhere else. Plus the fact that it's in a strip center is unappealing since we'd be taking guests who have never been to Asheville. But I guess now that I think of it, it is pretty lively. Still wouldn't top my list with so many other places, but I appreciate the rec.

          I should check out the Sunny Point dinner menu. I've never been there for dinner, only lunch and breakfast. Thanks....

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          Bouchon
          62 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

          1. re: miss piggy

            yeah, when you said nothing of interest on the west end, I thought Sunny Point is pretty interesting, and lively.

            Do I remember that you've never much liked Salsa? The reason I ask is that we had lunch there a couple of weeks ago and it was considerably better than the last two times we were there. Not like the old days, mind you, but pretty darn good food. Lot's of drink choices. Weirdly, i love the ginger hibiscus tea there so much I rarely order a marg. or mojito, but they look good.

            What about Sazerac? I can't comment on the food, but it's a great place to hang out w/ friends.

            1. re: miss piggy

              Check out Bouchon's menu on their website: ashevillebouchon.com They have 7 entrees on their "large plate" menu for $15 or less.

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              Bouchon
              62 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

      2. What about the Tupelo Honey Café? It's been a while since i was there but I loved the food. Not sure about the drink options there...

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        Tupelo Honey Cafe
        12 College St, Asheville, NC 28801

        1. Try Vinnies (new) and Lexington Ave Brew

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