North Asheville gets more global flavors

Fifty-fifty: Jorge Espinosa of Casa Maya says customer demand resulted in a menu that’s equal parts Cuban and Mexican. Max Cooper

Suburban Asheville becomes more cosmopolitan with each new restaurant that opens, it seems.

This summer, two new restaurants have brought global flavors to north Asheville.

On Wednesday, Sept. 11, Casa Maya will celebrate its grand opening with Cuban and Mexican eats.

Jorge Espinosa, who owns the place with his wife, Elizabeth, got into restaurants after a busy career as an accountant. The Espinosas partnered with Elizabeth’s father-in-law on a couple of Mexican restaurants in New Jersey. A few years ago, they relocated to Banner Elk so Jorge could pursue his interest in cycling. The couple opened Casa Maya in Linville.

“The demographics didn’t work well for us there,” Jorge says of Linville. “It was very seasonal.”

This spring, they moved the restaurant to Merrimon Avenue, just north of Beaver Lake. “When we came here, we added the Cuban part of the menu because I’m of Cuban descent,” he says. “Apparently, that’s taken off — stronger than I expected.”

The menu includes a variety of classic Cuban sandwiches, empanadas, fried plantains, picadillo and skirt steak with chimi churri sauce.

The restaurant also focuses on Sonoran-style Mexican food, with its mild, savory flavors of the ancho and pasilla chilies. The menu also features plenty of cactus and mole.

Further north, in Weaverville, Soba Sushi & Noodle recently opened. The owners converted a bank on North Main Street into the restaurant — yet the space doesn’t feel like a bank at all. It’s open and airy with a sushi bar and elevated patio.

Owner Gina Chen hails from southern China, and she’s brought a mixture of Chinese, Thai and Japanese dishes to the menu.

As the name suggests, the menu features soba noodles, which are made from buckwheat and, therefore, low in gluten. The menu is vegetable heavy, although meaty stir fries are also available.

Chen recommends the Chinese almond noodles, which come with steamed mushrooms, broccoli and scallions in a ground-almond sauce.

For more information about Casa Maya, 1425 Merrimon Ave., visit

Soba Sushi & Noodle is located at 76 N. Main Street in Weaverville. The restaurant doesn’t have a website yet and isn’t offering call-ahead orders, but for more information, call 484-7557.


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One thought on “North Asheville gets more global flavors

  1. Jim Donato

    The Cuban menu has taken off because there is a dearth of Cuban dining in this town! We’ll have to check out their Yuca con Mojo. I haven’t had any that was enjoyable since leaving Florida.

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