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Asheville, NC City Guide

by Stephanie

ashevillecityguide

First, we spent 24 hours in the artistic town of Asheville, NC with Macon York, and today Dean and Lisa Peteet, co-founders of Atlas Branding, a creative agency based in Asheville, NC, share a more in-depth look at this mountain city. Dean moved to Asheville in the late 1980s and has enjoyed watching Asheville grow into a city known for its friendly culture, art, music, microbreweries and restaurants. In 2008, Dean brought his wife Lisa back to Asheville where they founded Atlas Branding and the two are passionate about contributing to the Southeast’s creative economy through crafting meaningful brand experiences. For those planning a trip to Asheville, Dean and Lisa are excited to share some of the places that they think make this city so special. –Stephanie

Read the full guide after the jump…


BILTMORE VILLAGE


The Biltmore Estate

George Vanderbilt constructed the Biltmore House in 1890, and it is the largest privately owned home in America. It provides a fun, daylong adventure for your family, or if you happen to be traveling with a history or architecture enthusiast.    

Oddfellows Antiques
If you’re looking for some unique furniture or home accessories, check out a warehouse of mid-century, imported and industrial finds at Oddfellows. It’s a great place to go if you’re looking for that perfect and unique piece to decorate your living room, dining room, etc. 

Dwellings
Dwellings specializes in a unique mix of modern, rustic and transitional home furnishings. In addition to their collection, two talented designers showcase their distinctive merchandise within the same walls. Open Thursdays through Sundays, customers can expect to discover value-driven finds and one-of-a-kind pieces.

ScreenDoor
A special shop to find an eclectic selection of vintage and mid-century home furnishings, garden accessories and books. ScreenDoor features over 100 vendors and the booths are constantly changing. We rarely see the same thing twice as we wander the different booths. 

Restaurants & Good Cheer

Rezaz’s     
A delicious local Mediterranean restaurant that intricately blends the essence of Mediterranean food with a contemporary twist. The chef is amazingly talented and the balance of ambience and cuisine is perfect for a date or a glass of wine with friends.

Moe’s Original Barbecue
With their award-winning Alabama-style BBQ, Moe’s menu consists of pulled pork, ribs, turkey and chicken, each smoked over hardwood and includes two unique sauces. When we ask our friends for top BBQ locations in Asheville, Moe’s is usually always included as one of the top three.

Asheville, NC City Guide
DOWNTOWN ASHEVILLE

Attractions, Theaters & Galleries

The Orange Peel
As you move from the Biltmore community and into downtown Asheville, The Orange Peel is one of the Southeast’s foremost venues for great concerts. From Bob Dylan to She & Him and Local Natives, The Orange Peel has featured some great talent over the years. The space is the perfect size to see bands up close and personal.

Fine Arts Theatre 
If you want to catch the latest art or indie flick, stroll over to the Fine Arts Theatre just up the street from The Orange Peel.

The Haen Gallery 
The Haen Gallery is one of our favorite contemporary art galleries featuring distinctive and unique artists and styles.

Blue Spiral 1 
Just a couple of shops up from the Haen Gallery, you can step into the Blue Spiral 1 to see and buy original modern artwork from Southern-based artists.

Some other downtown art attractions include The Asheville Art Museum as well as The Black Mountain College Museum 

The Grove Arcade
Built in 1929 by E.W. Grove, this gem is a great example of the well-known architectural charm of Asheville made famous by the Biltmore House and other local historical homes and buildings.

Moog
Don’t forget to stop by the Moog factory and showroom where you can experience the home of the world famous Moog synthesizers.

Shops

The Loft
Asheville’s one-of-a-kind gift store that features eclectic and creative finds for books, housewares, jewelry, kids’ toys and books as well as bath items and other cool paraphernalia. There’s a little something here for everyone.

Mora Jewelry 
Mora features inspiring and handcrafted modern jewelry from jewelers across the country. Buying jewelry from Mora is like taking home a little piece of art. The store features work from traditional metalworking techniques to 3D-printed plastic.

Minx 
Voted Best Women’s Clothing in WNC, Minx is a women’s clothing boutique and one of our fashion favorites for colorful clothing, unique accessories and jewelry.

Old North Clothing
Old North carries quality and well-designed clothing and accessories for men that want a timeless style. Most of the clothing in this store is built to last and does a great job of balancing form and function.

Boutique LP  is a women’s clothing store that ranges from contemporary/classic to elegant and innovative finds. Here you’ll find some fun wardrobe staples.

Duncan & York
If you’re looking for a gift for your mom, best friend or for a house warming party or baby shower, look no further than Duncan & York. This is our favorite spot downtown for creative and quality finds like candles, lotions, home accessories, cards and much more.

Horse And Hero 
From the founders of Asheville’s The Big Crafty, shoppers and craftsmen alike can enjoy the special finds and art featured at this festival year-round in this new indie craft and art shop on Patton Avenue. The work consists of paintings, prints, T-shirts, jewelry, etc.

Garage 34
If you could picture a brick-and-mortar Etsy, Garage 34 would fit that description well.

Garage 34 is an independent design and crafts boutique that showcases custom paper goods, T-shirts, jewelry, small home accessories, etc.

Union Boutique is a women and men’s clothing boutique that carries several select modern and streamlined brands. Their clothing is chic without sacrificing comfort.

Malaprop’s Bookstore is downtown Asheville’s go-to independently owned bookstore. Known for it’s progressive and eclectic atmosphere, Malaprop’s has hosted many great national and international authors for signing and speaking engagements, including Grace Bonney.

Curio  
Curio fits its tagline well: toys in Asheville for the cute and curious. We love that this store features toys, books, crafts and games that keep kids off their smart devices and into real play from 1 – 10 years old.

Papoose is a locally owned children’s clothing and accessory boutique fitting newborns up to the age of 14. Papoose carries a wide selection of regional and handmade products.

Sherwood’s Music
We could spend an hour or so playing instruments at this locally owned music store. They have a wonderful collection of used, vintage, and hard-to-find electric and acoustic instruments.

Restaurants & Good Cheer

Wicked Weed is one of Asheville’s newer local breweries/restaurants in the area. The Wicked Weed is a larger restaurant with a nice patio space so it’s a great place to go to with a group and sample some local and creative brews.

Doc Chey’s Noodle House
If you’re downtown and in the mood for Chinese, Tai, Vietnamese or other Asian specialties, Doc Chey’s is a great choice to satisfy any of those cravings. 

Curate
Cúrate is hailed as one of the best restaurants in Asheville, serving up small plates in the Spanish tapas tradition. The Cúrate experience is about community and sharing with recipes and ingredients that include jamón Ibérico and croquetas de pollo to patatas bravas.

Limones
A local favorite, Limones’ fresh and flavorful cuisine is a blend of Mexican and Californian palettes. It’s great for Sunday brunch or a gourmet dinner out on the town.

Salsas is Asheville’s local hot spot for authentic Caribbean cuisine, so you don’t need to bring your own hot sauce – they’ve got you covered.

Farm Burger
If you’re interested in finding the best burger in town, you should check out Farm Burger. Their beef is 100% grass fed, dry-aged and ground fresh every day. They have some creative burger combos, but also feature boiled peanuts and onion rings that are to-die-for.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Three words: liquid chocolate truffles. That’s just one of the many wonderful kinds of yummy chocolate goodness that await you at this unique downtown destination dessert bar.

The Southern features creative cocktails and patio dining (weather permitting) while still serving food from the menu until last call each night. They also offer brunch on Sundays.

Bouchon
If you pick just one restaurant experience in Asheville, Bouchon is a must that eschews the white table cloth French restaurant stereotype for a more laid-back café feel with no pretensions. Or if you are looking for a lighter French fare, check out Bouchon’s courtyard creperie. 

High Five Coffee Bar
Specializing in handcrafted espresso, the friendly staff at High Five makes some of the best espresso drinks we’ve ever had. It’s a great place to get coffee with a friend, or stop in for a latte and a fresh, locally prepared baked good.

The Imperial Life is a creative cocktail bar that features an extensive collection of spirits, local beers and craft cocktails. Imperial is great if you’re looking to meet friends for drinks and small plates. We recommend an old-style whisky sour with egg whites.

Zambra is a local favorite that specializes is Spanish and Western Mediterranean tapas in an intimate environment. 

Chai Pani has the best of both worlds when combining the delicious palette of Indian cuisine with the affordability of authentic Indian street food.

A trip to Asheville just wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the world famous Thirsty Monk Pub. Known for their great selection of Belgium ales, saisons, abbeys, triples and quads. We recommend a Merry Monk or Pauwel Kwak.

Laughing Seed Café is a local favorite for farm-to-table, organic, vegetarian cuisine. 

Tupelo Honey Café is a Southern cooking staple for locals and tourists alike. You can’t go wrong ordering the fried chicken, shrimp and grits or their famous sweet potato pancakes.

Tours/Things to do Downtown

When you’re on the Asheville Brewery Tours you will sample many of the different local craft beers. It’s a great way to try several of our local micro brews.

Amazing Pubcycle is a 13-person, pedal-powered apparatus that you ride sideways, so let the hijinks ensue! If you’re looking for a pub crawl, but want a little bit of exercise in the process, this will be a fun tour with friends and family.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge Factory Tour will guide you through the entire chocolate-making process from cacao harvest and fermentation to the chocolate bar creation. The tour also includes backstage access of their facility, and an in-depth chocolate tasting experience.

LaZoom Tours is Asheville’s very own comedy bus that travels throughout the downtown area giving you the tour of historical Asheville with commentary and jokes for the local peanut gallery.

The Big Crafty harkens back to the days of the community bazaar and strives to be an exciting festival of crafty handmade goods from handpicked artisans. The event is typically twice a year in July and December.

Moogfest  is an annual two- to five-day national music festival that is a celebration of the Moog synthesizers and electronic music pioneer Bob Moog.

Asheville, NC City Guide
RIVER ARTS DISTRICT & WEST ASHEVILLE

Attractions

River Arts Studio Walk is a tour of the various working artist studios and galleries in the River Arts District. The artists’ studio hours vary from artist to artist so you’ll want to check the events calendar on the website to coordinate the studios you’d like to visit.

Seven Ton LetterPress is a unique letterpress collective – founded by three talented ladies – that you could tour, shop for goods or visit to watch a demonstration. They also do custom printing of invitations, posters, packaging and much more. Make sure you call ahead and make an appointment first before your stop in. 

Drygoods Shop is a local craft and dry goods co-op that includes studios, lessons and a place to shop for handmade goods.

Shops

Harvest Records is Asheville’s go-to local and independently owned record store. Located in West Asheville, they sell new and used CDs and vinyl.

Whist http://whistshop.com is our favorite shop for creative greeting cards and small gifts. Located on Haywood Road in West Asheville, Whist curates a fun collection of letterpressed cards, unique gifts, calendars and journals you can’t find anywhere else in Asheville.

Shelter Collective is a studio space with a retail store for the manufacturing of SHELTER handbags. The SHELTER Collective houses retail space for some of the best artists, craftspeople and designers in the greater Asheville area. The store is open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 – 7 pm or by appointment. 

Villagers
If you’re interested in learning how to keep bees, can preserves, cultivate mushrooms or live off the land, this urban homesteading supply shop is one of the coolest shops in West Asheville. Villagers has a vision to enable healthy change in our communities and lives.

Restaurants, Music & Good Cheer

The Grey Eagle is a local concert venue that brings artists as diverse as acoustic folk to indie and post-rock. Not only is The Grey Eagle known for its outstanding sound and beer list, it’s also highly sought after by the locals for its tacos at the Grey Eagle Taqueria.

12 Bones Barbecue is a local barbecue restaurant that makes all of its BBQ sauces from scratch and features meats that are smoked long and slow over specific hardwoods. Considered to be one of the best BBQ joints in town, you’ll probably have to wait in a line for lunch, but it’s totally worth it.

White Duck Taco is an affordable yet high quality specialty taco shop that has a variety of fresh meats and toppings.

Wedge Brewing Company 
Wedge Brewery’s intention is to create excellent beer within the range of all of the traditional styles. And even though the size of the brewery and production is around 1,300 barrels, they still personify themselves as that idyllic community brewery.

The Junction is a neighborhood restaurant that serves a creative combo of fresh food and delicious drinks, but with a white tablecloth twist.

Short Street Cakes
If you’re in West Asheville and suffering from a sweet tooth, you’re sure to find a delectable dessert at Short Street Cakes. All of their cakes, baked goods and cupcakes are made from scratch and represent a sampling of some of the best sweets in town.

The Urban Orchard Cider Company
Urban Orchard offers three kinds of cider, a variety of meat and cheese plates, bruschetta, a variety of dips, and a few other snacks at the tasting room.

Relying on classic style, warm service and unique dishes, The Admiral serves succulent food without the limitations of particular expectations. The menu rotates regularly depending on the season and even though bar seating is usually accessible on a first come, first served basis, reservations are highly recommended. 

Sunny Point Café is our favorite restaurant for breakfast and brunch. Sunny Point serves dishes that come from made-from-scratch recipes with a farm-to-table approach to how they prepare and serve food. We recommend the French toast and fried green tomato sandwich, but you can’t go wrong with any of the dishes.

The Mothlight is a new music venue with a goal to provide a home for local and traveling musicians that value creative artistic expression. The Mothlight is open every day from 5 pm to 2 am, whether there is a show or not.

Biscuit Head 
Like Asheville, Biscuit Head is a modern twist on a traditional southern favorite. Biscuit Head sells their mouthwatering biscuits with an almost unlimited selection of homemade fixins’, gravies, jams and hot sauces. The food is excellent and takes the expression “sticks to your ribs,” to a whole new level.

Nona Mia Kitchen, is an authentic Italian restaurant where they make what their chef affectionately calls “Italian-American Soul Food.” With a casual dining atmosphere that is family friendly and a mouth-watering menu, each dish is a contemporary take on great Italian staples.

Asheville, NC City Guide

OTHER UNIQUE PLACES IN ASHEVILLE

Ultimate Ice Cream features two locations, one in East Asheville, and one located on Charlotte street near downtown Asheville. Ultimate Ice Cream serves premium ice cream that is handcrafted with a variety of unique flavors that contain a great selection of local ingredients.

Mr. K’s Books and Music has the largest and most diverse selection of used books, CDs and DVDs in town. You’re sure to find something that you weren’t expecting. Mr. K’s is located in East Asheville.

Comic Envy is Asheville’s superhero headquarters. They sell a large selection of new comics, back issues, trade paperbacks, toys, T-shirts and apparel. Comic Envy also carries a cache of bags, boards, long boxes, display cases
and anything else that you will need to help keep your comics safe and in good condition. Comic Envy also is located in East Asheville off of Tunnel Road.

Plant
 is a completely vegan restaurant. They provide original, plant-based cooking in a contemporary, but warm environment. They showcase elegant, from-scratch vegan food, with local beers, cocktails, biodynamic wines, as well as their homemade vegan desserts.

Homegrown is a favorite staple among locals that serves the popular farm-to-table approach to their food. If you’re in the North Asheville area, Homegrown is a wonderful choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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Comments

  • Asheville, oh, Asheville. You are SUCH a good place to call home! I first experienced Asheville when I moved here 23 years ago. I moved away, came back for several years of college, moved away again, and finally returned in 2000. Though many other places tempt, I know this place is where I’m supposed to be. Thanks to Lisa and Dan for the guide. Lovely to see an international spotlight thrown on so many of my close friends and their businesses!

  • I’m an Alabama girl (like the nod to Moe’s) but a piece of my heart is in Asheville. After many weekend trips, my hubby and I got married in Asheville. Our rehearsal dinner was actually at Blue Spiral 1. This list is inspiring me to plan another visit!

  • Thanks for all these Guides! Whenever I have to travel for work- I would pull up the local D*S Guide for my city du jour, and pick a spot for lunch or dinner. Inevitably it would lead me to explore fun neighborhoods! Thanks for making work trips a teensy bit cooler! :)

  • I love love love Asheville! My aunt moved there about 20 years ago to open a B&B, so I have the best childhood memories of visiting her.

    I haven’t been in years, but am planning a visit at the end of October, so I will definitely keep this list in mind :)

  • Asheville is one of my fave destinations. Reading the city guide makes me nostalgic. The fall is the best time to visit to see the foliage colors change.

  • One place that I’m surprised was missing… Isis Restaurant and Music Hall in West Asheville. A beautiful old theatre building was gut renovated by the family who owns it. And they serve dinner nightly and bring in amazing local and national music. The Tuesday night jazz is especially great!

  • I think you’re missing one thing: Thomas Wolfe (who put Asheville on the map along with George Vanderbilt). How about including a visit to his mother’s boarding house, The Old Kentucky Home and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial? And then read Look Homeward, Angel?

  • A heartfelt thank you from everyone at Minx Boutique! We’re so honored to be mentioned! Thanks for this wonderful guide, Atlas Branding!

  • It’s great to see Lisa and Dean’s work! On the way down Haywood Rd in West Asheville, stop by Waking Life for great coffee! Those guys know their stuff!

  • As a local, this is an excellent little suggestion guide, though of course it just scratches the surface of all that is AVL … things are always subject to change, so two updates/corrections … Nona Mia is now closed and has become Altamont Brewing & Restaurant; Also, it appears that the “Moogfest” is done in Asheville, as it is moving to Durham, NC starting with the next Festival in 2016.

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