AED: Hidden gems and unsung heroes

Every city has its hidden gems — eating and drinking establishments that locals treasure but that may not command the same attention as their higher-profile brethren.

Asheville boasts an array of those unsung heroes in just about every corner of the city. Many are tucked away amid the bustling downtown, but there are also good choices to be found to the north, the west and elsewhere.

Some, such as the Buchi Bar, are connected with another, better-known local restaurant. Others, like Loretta’s Cafe, have been in more than one location during their lengthy tenure. Still others, like Cecilia’s Kitchen, are part of a broader “culinary tour” that also includes a food truck and catering. And many, if not most, offer some form of specialized fare, whether it’s Mexican, Italian or vegan.

The best way to unearth these hidden gems may be to pick the brains of longtime neighborhood residents. But to help get you started, here’s a quick look at a number of such standout establishments:

  • The Buchi Bar, downstairs from Rosetta’s Kitchen, boasts curiously creative, extremely affordable, kombucha-centric cocktails as well as Rosetta’s vegan and vegetarian soul food — and a seahorse tank to boot.
  • Right next door, Loretta’s Cafe, a downtown fixture for more than 15 years, features inventive sandwich specials, homemade soups and sides, and huge salads at pocket-friendly prices.
  • Tucked away in a West Asheville strip mall, Tacos Jalisco offers some of the city’s best and most traditional Mexican food. Cold beer, hot salsas and massive tortas or tamales: How can you go wrong?
  • Favilla’s New York Pizza serves up massive slices of pie in the classic New York style, , so big their corners curl off the plate.
  • Just north of downtown, Cecilia’s Kitchen offers excellent scratch-made empanadas and tamales, both comforting and impressive, that are cooked up in its humble, one-room kitchen.

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About Jonathan Ammons
Native Asheville writer, eater, drinker, bartender and musician. Proprietor of Follow me @jonathanammons

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