The little town of Asheville, NC should get more credit as a mini vegan mecca. Do folks know about the awesomeness of this place? Jeff and I have spent a couple of weekends there, and immediately upon leaving begin planning our next trip. It’s our retirement plan. Good food, drinks, local shops, rafting, hiking… what more do you need in life?
You wouldn’t expect a town in NC to be down with the vegan crowd, but Asheville gets it right with good options at just about every local eatery. The seitan company No Evil Foods, and the hempeh-tempeh company Smiling Hara are both based there, and we found many restaurants using their products as a tasty vegan option.
I’ll start with our favorite spots and give the rest a mention.
Our Favorites – Food:
Plant – One of our favorite vegan restaurants, nationwide. Every bite of food – whether appetizer, entree, or dessert – is so flavorful and expertly prepared. It’s simple yet impressive. For appetizers we’ve had the gourmet cheese plate, plantains, and maitake mushrooms. The light crunch on the outside of those mushrooms, paired with the cream sauce… I couldn’t get enough. We love the Seitan Chile Con Queso so much we’ve had it multiple times. The cannolo, cheese cake, and ice creams are killer. Everything here is made from scratch, in house, which, as a chef, is the quickest away to impressive me.
French Broad Chocolates – This little gourmet chocolate spot is a must hit, if you have even the smallest sweet tooth. We tried both kinds of ice cream – toasted coconut and Costa Rican chocolate – a snickerdoodle, and all 6 of the vegan truffles. The vegan options are clearly marked and the staff is knowledgable and friendly. The strawberry balsamic truffle was my favorite.
Tacos & Taps – A drive-thru that serves tacos and growlers of beer. Yes, please. The vegan options included a BBQ tempeh taco using Smiling Hara tempeh, and the el diablo with No Evil Foods vegan chicken. There’s something exciting about a drive thru with quality vegan eats. We loved it.
Vortex Donuts – This awesome shop has a daily selection of vegan deep fried yeast donuts. You cannot go wrong.
Honorable Mentions – Food:
Laughing Seed – A mostly vegan cafe downtown. We enjoyed their healthier options over the dinner entrees, and the cocktails were great.
Rosetta’s Kitchen – An Asheville classic. Nachos, biscuits and gravy, tempalo wings. You will not leave hungry.
Bean – Serving vegan comfort food south of Asheville.
Our Favorites – Drinks:
If you like craft beer, you have got to make a trip to Asheville. There are more than 10 breweries downtown alone, within walking distance of each other. And yes, we hit up each one.
The Funkatorium by Wicked Weed – Sour beers galore, my fave.
Twin Leaf – Loved everything we tried, and they have locally made hummus.
Burial – Good beer and good vibes.
New Belgium – So much outdoor seating, right on the French Broad River. Our favorite place to chill in Asheville.
Honorable Mentions – Drinks:
Asheville Brewing Company – I don’t remember anything special about the beer tbh, but they’re open late and they serve vegan pizza. Checkpoint.
Sierra Nevada – This one is 20+ minutes from downtown, but worth the drive if you enjoy visiting breweries.
Our Favorites – Random Fun:
Floating on the French Broad – We grabbed a tandem kayak from French Broad Outfitters and took the 2 hour float through the River Arts District.
Salvage Station – We stopped for a beer at this outdoor event space. Bars, a stage for shows and events, endless outdoor seating, hip decor, and it’s all right by the river.
Dog-Friendly Fun – We took Bubba on our most recent trip to Asheville, and he was welcome everywhere we went! Lots of dog-friendly hotels, and every spot we stopped with outdoor seating (including breweries and restaurants) brought out a water bowl for him.
Just walking around downtown is a blast. There are so many cool local shops, a womens museum, a pinball museum, a drum circle every Friday night… There are plenty of waterfalls and swimming holes within driving distance. Have you started checking airbnb yet?
Happiness & Hummus,