Asheville is an exceptional place for vegetarians in that nearly every independent restaurant makes meat-free accommodations far beyond the veggie burger. That’s why this is by no means a complete list. But if you’re a meat eater with a visiting vegetarian friend, here are just a few of the many places you might consider.
Andaaz Indian Cusine
At lunch, this new Indian restaurant serves a buffet where you can find more vegetarian than meaty dishes. How often can you say that? Meat eaters will love the lamb curry but also will find the dal, the mixed vegetable pakoras, the palak paneer and other hearty meat-free fare to be perfectly satisfying. At dinner, it’s a more a la carte experience with a menu of nearly 20 vegetarian entrees. 28 Hendersonville Road.
This downtown Asheville restaurant has an entire vegetarian and vegan section on the menu. Among the choices, you’ll find a vegan risotto made with hemp milk and fresh truffles and a vegetable Wellington, both of which are perfectly fancy. Meat eaters, you may have fried chicken, heritage pork chops and a few seafood selections, too. 47 Biltmore Ave.
Leo’s House of Thirst
Though wine is a major star of the show in this West Asheville spot, the food should not be skipped. You’ll find vegetarian tartines, a seasonal soup and plenty of cheese to nibble on. There’s also a grilled cheese that looks pricey ($12), but you should spring for it and also add the Calabrian chili, because why not. For those who eat fish, try the smoked fish dip and the crudo. 1055 Haywood Road.
Green Sage Cafe
There are so many options here for vegetarians, from the Pura Vida bowl at breakfast to every single one of the hearty grain bowls, which start off vegetarian, though you can add any protein you’d like.
For meat eaters, there’s plenty of salmon, hormone-free chicken and even a Hickory Nut Gap burger. There are also smoothies and coffee drinks here, too. Downtown, North and South Asheville.
Find your closest spot at greensagecafe.com.
At this West Asheville spot, the poke is a favorite treat with its zippy coconut-lime rice and array of seasonal vegetables and just enough spicy Sriracha sauce. Though you can have fish — sometimes salmon, sometimes tuna — you can also have your poke bowl made with tofu.
That should be filling enough, but don’t forget to check out the salads. 507 Haywood Road.
This northern Italian restaurant does amazing things with vegetables. You’ll find pretty flowers and seasonal greens you’ve never heard of and warming pasta dishes with meat and without. You won’t miss it.
For takeout, try the pizza, suitable as a meal for one, but easily split if you add on a few other dishes. Whatever is seasonal and fun should be your order, and meat eaters will find the pepperoni pie to be a solid choice. Note: the restaurant is running a prix fixe menu, so check in advance for availability at www.cucina24restaurant.com/reserve. 24 Wall St.
Though there is chicken, trout, beef and pork on the seasonal menu of this modern Southern restaurant, don’t skip past the many filling vegetarian options here. Ricotta gnocchi or some variation is always a winner. The salads, big and hearty, won’t disappoint. Make sure to check out the cocktail list, too. 7 SW Pack Square.
This local favorite for Asian fare has always been exceptionally vegetarian friendly, but great for meat eaters too. Where else can you get vegan kimchi, tofu spicy garlic and hand rolls stuffed with tempeh? The hot pots are excellent in cold weather and both carnivore and vegetarian friendly. Meat eaters, try the Sukiyaki with braised beef. 87 Lexington Ave.
Black Bear BBQ
Craving some barbecue?
You can have pulled pork, smoked sausages, ribs and other barbecue hits at this East Asheville restaurant, but vegetarians will love the options including jackfruit curls and faux chicken. Loaded baked potatoes work great for a vegetarian, but there’s also a kale salad for something on the lighter side.
Also, in case you’re wondering if you should try the broccoli casserole, the answer is “yes.” 800 Fairview Road Suite C8.
At this longtime Mexican-Caribbean establishment, you may have vegan chorizo on your lunch nachos, which sounds like a decadent way to spend an afternoon. You can have tofu stuffed in your classic burrito or go with the Veg Head.
At dinner, try the vegan fajitas. Or, just grab a margarita and sit back with a plate of chips and a salsa sampler. 6 Patton Ave.
The Market Place
Yes, you’ll find meat from regional heroes like Brasstown Beef and Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams, but look beyond that and you’ll find chef William Dissen carefully crafts vegetarian and vegan dishes into his menus. They change seasonally, so it’s hard to say what you’ll find.
Most recently, the spring menu showed a Carolina gold rice middlin risotto with local mushrooms, cashew cream and herbs. 20 Wall St.
Early Girl Eatery
A tempeh sandwich is hard to beat for a satisfying lunch, even if you’re not a vegetarian. At this casual longtime Asheville staple, you can have your locally made Smiling Hara tempeh topped with also local Fermenti kraut on a bun that’s, yep, local.
Don’t forget to ask for the habanero remoulade if you like it spicy. Breakfast has plenty of vegetable-centric and omnivorous fare, too. earlygirleatery.com.
Mackensy Lunsford has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years, and has been a staff writer for the Asheville Citizen Times since 2012. Lunsford is a former professional line cook and one-time restaurant owner.
Reach me: [email protected].