Head just south of downtown for southern BBQ at 12 Bones, a lunch-only operation that serves all manner of smoked meats. Line up at the counter to place your order – options include sweet and savory blueberry-chipotle baby back ribs ($19.50 for a full rack), sliced beef brisket ($8), and sides of jalapeno-cheese grits or corn pudding ($1.50 for a single serving) – before taking a seat at an outdoor picnic table.
Find southern comfort food with some modern twists, and even vegan options, at Early Girl Eatery, a farm-to-table spot that’s a homey alternative to the more-hyped Tupelo Honey. Breakfast favorites like biscuits and gravy ($4) or shrimp and grits ($10) are available all day, but opt for the grilled cheese with homemade pimento ($7) or sautéed local mountain trout served with pecan butter and seasonal sides ($15) for a better sense of the local flavor.
Branch out from Asheville’s “new south” cuisine at Chai Pani, a star in downtown’s diverse restaurant scene that specializes in Indian street-vendor snacks. Try the classic bhelpuri, with puffed rice and chutneys ($4.99) or sample one of the restaurant’s fusion offerings, like Bombay chili-cheese fries ($7.50), a spicy hash of masala fries and Indian cheese. Cool your tongue with a yogurt-based mango lassi ($3.50) or a Mumbai Monsoon ($8) with tamarind, lime, and sake.