Asheville City Guide: 10 Best Dinner Date Night Spots
Hobbs and I celebrated our anniversary over the weekend, and though we aren't typically big celebratory people when it comes to occasions such as anniversaries, we certainly enjoy treating ourselves to a fancy night out when the time arrives. During Christmastime, since we don't spend the actual holiday together, we've made it a point to go out to a nice new restaurant at some point together in December. It gives us a chance to put away our thoughts and worries of the day and season and reconnect with each other over a delicious meal. On our anniversary, we decided to do it again - this time trying somewhere we've been talking about for a while but had yet to go - Limones.
So, for this edition of Asheville City Guide, I'm excited to share with you my top 10 favorite places to go out for an amazing dinner date night in good ole Beer City. Without further ado, the...
10 Best Places to Have a Dinner Date Night in Asheville, NC
- Downtown | North Asheville -
I'm almost embarrassed to admit that my first time at Limones was this past weekend. Limones has always been at the top of the Asheville food charts, but somehow Hobbs and I never made our way over there. But, man, am I glad we did for dinner last Friday. We started with the brussel sprouts (with bacon), and I probably would've been pleased if that was all I had for dinner. I'm a brussels lover already, but add bacon and whatever the heck that insanely good glaze that was, and I'm in freakin heaven. We then followed up with the mussels (I'm new to loving seafood and have kind of gotten obsessed with mussels lately), ordered the Lobster Ravioli to share, and completed the meal with the churros. Though we didn't stay the traditional Spanish/Mexican cuisine they specialize in, I'd say we still had a pretty fantastic meal. Next time, I definitely want to try the beef fajitas and/or the beef tenderloin with lobster mac & cheese. On another note: the cocktails were to die for - I think I've said this before but tequila is my liquor of choice so their margarita list was right up my alley. I highly recommend the Margarita Caliente.
En La Calle just opened last Fall (August maybe), but they are already claiming some fame for themselves. Though they are the sister restaurant of and right next door to Limones, their menu and vibe are very different. For starters, Limones requires reservations, usually at least a few weeks in advance (Hobbs and I lucked out on our 6PM reservation last Friday made only the previous Monday), while En La Calle is definitely a walk in as you are kind of place (my kind of place). They only have a limited number of tables, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the bar (and our quality time with the bartender, who was full of useful suggestions).
As we often do in shared plate ordering, Hobbs and I went a little crazy. We started with the mussels (do as our bartender suggested and remove all the mussels from the shells first, letting them soak in the broth, and then go in for the kill, rather than eating the mussels one at a time.) After the mussels, at my insistence, we got the street corn. Mouth.Watering. Also, if you’re one of those people who likes when all your foods mix together on your plate as I am, dip your corn into the leftover mussels broth. That broth is so perfectly savory. We probably could’ve stopped there, but nah, we ended our evening with the chori-burger. I’m a fan of any kind of chorizo dish, but when you present it as one of my other favorite foods, a burger, I’m a puddle. YUM is all I can say.
While gorging ourselves on delectable Mexican food, we also decided to treat ourselves to some of the amazing craft cocktails on their bar list. Since it was our first time (certainly not the last, though), we each ordered something different so we could try as much as possible. Our very knowledgeable and kind bartender recommended the Mil Noches to satisfy my tequila-loving palette and the El Thai Fighter for Hobbs. Hobbs also later tried the Pistachio Machete, and we will 100% be going back for one of those babies.
Oh, Curaté, Curaté. This place certainly lives up to the hype. I've been for lunch with a friend and a birthday dinner date night with Hobbs. I'm a big fan of the shared plates style of eating, if you hadn't already figured that one out, so Curaté's tapas menu was right on point for me. I definitely recommend the croquettes de pollo and the pimientos de piquilla y queso de cabra. Also, if you have the tendency to allow your eyes to be bigger than your stomach, order as you go. I've done the order all at once thing before, and it can be a tad overwhelming. Pair your plates with a good bottle of red (or white, if that's your preference), and it's the perfect romantic date night spot.
Hobbs and I have been to Rhubarb on a few occasions now. Every time, I'm both amazed and delighted with my meal. It's seasonal so you know the food will be fresh (and locally sourced). We've had the flank steak salad (yum), a special duck confit dish they did for a Valentine's Day prix fixe menu, and their chocolate angel cake. Not only is the food delicious, but the ambiance is a great setting for a date night. Take a stroll around downtown afterwards if the weather is nice.
The weekend I moved to Asheville 2.5 years ago, both my parents and Hobbs's parents were in town so we decided to treat ourselves to a delicious meal at The Market Place. The following New Year's Eve, Hobbs and I decided to once again treat ourselves to a late night chill NYE dinner here. Their wine selection is superb, and the food is that good, local farm to table deliciousness that Asheville has come to be known for. The charcuterie board and cheese plate are perfect starters, as well as a yummy cocktail from their extensive list. If you get the chance, go during the holiday season - it's so festive that you'll instantly be put into the holiday mood.
I remember when Gan Shan used to be a run-down gas station. Side note: I love that I've lived in a place long enough (albeit not that long) to say "I remember when..." My first apartment in Asheville was in North Asheville on Charlotte Street, and Gan Shan is right down the street from it. Well, I have never been the most adventurous eater (I'm still working on it), so I was a little apprehensive when Hobbs and our friend Hannah requested to try the new spot down the street almost 2 years ago. I loved that transformation story of the building/lot, though, so we walked on down the street, and I was not disappointed. I did order conservatively at first, but have since gotten a little more exciting in my order choices. In such a Mexican/Taco centric town, it's refreshing to enjoy a delicious super flavorful asian meal. Not that Asheville doesn't have it's fair share of asian restaurants, but, in my humble opinion, Gan Shan is, by far, the best. Go on a warm summer night, and enjoy your meal on the dog-friendly patio. And, if historic transformations interest you at all, be sure to read all about how they turned a simple gas station into the foodie's haven that it is today.
- West Asheville | River Arts District -
Hobbs and I tried The Admiral in December 2015 for our annual Christmas dinner date. My mouth is currently watering just thinking about it. Their menu changes weekly (if not daily), and our filets with local, fresh grilled vegetables in a butter sauce were amazing. Though unassuming from the outside, The Admiral has quickly made a name for itself as some of the best food coming out of Asheville. Bonus points that it's in my neighborhood of West Asheville. To be honest, one of my favorite things about The Admiral was their late night dance parties on Friday and Saturday nights. After all the dinner patrons had finished, they would push all tables aside, pull out a DJ booth, and open the floor for a good old fashioned blowout. Unfortunately, they brought the parties to halt this past December in order to allow more focus on their delicious food. We haven't been back in a while, but I can only assume the food has gotten even more mouth-watering since this change, if that's even possible.
While Nine Maile can certainly be considered a date night spot, it has become more of a friend-date night spot within my group of friends. This Jamaican gem is one of my favorite go-tos when friends come into town or when I'm feeling too lazy to cook, but want a damn good meal. My previous roommate, Eliza, is so in love with this place that she used to get a container of their His Majesty dressing for salads every few weeks for her work lunches. My favorite dishes on the menu are the One Foundation and the Cool Runnings. Also, I love that they have two locations - West and Montford. Great bar selection, too, if there's a wait. Honestly, you just can't go wrong with anything on this menu.
Go on a Monday, and get the burger. That is all. Kidding, kind of. On Mondays, Bull and Beggar offers their insanely good hand-formed double patty burger for only $10 (for reference, everything else on their menu is $20 and up). It is melt-in-your-mouth good. It's you-won't-want-to-put-it-down good. It's can-I-please-have-another good. Get the picture? When going not on a Monday, get the oysters (bonus points if you're wearing your MFF Oyster Necklace). I'm not an oyster eating fan myself, but I've heard theirs are top-notch. Also, as friends and I witnessed last night at Burger Night, the filet looks damn good. We sat upstairs and practically drooled on the 6-top table below us who had ordered the filets all around. As there's sometimes a wait (if you don't make reservations), grab a pint at the Wedge next door. (and for more Asheville beer recs, see here.)
All Souls is again one of those spots that makes for a wonderfully romantic date night, but is also just as good with a big group of friends. There are lots of pizza places to choose from in Asheville, but All Souls is by far the most "gourmet." I mean, where else will you find a raw egg yolk on top of your pizza? As weird as it sounds, it's actually quite delicious. Another favorite pie is the classic nc pepperoni + mozzarella. If you're starving, you can certainly eat one alone, but my favorite way to do it is go with 2-3 friends and order about 2-3 pies (about 3/4 of a pizza per person, if that makes sense).
Is your mouth watering yet??
*This post (as is the case with any post on this blog) has not been sponsored in any way by the places listed. The writing and opinions are solely my own. All photos are courtesy of their respective restaurant's websites or Instagram accounts.