Breakfast and Brunch at Local Gems: The Perfect Beginning to Asheville's Adventures
By Kristen Manieri
Asheville Local Expert
From Asheville’s downtown center to the eclectic neighborhoods of West Asheville and the River Arts District, cafes and small eateries serve up a morning feast seven days a week, including Sundays when leisurely breakfasts punctuated by mugs of coffee and flutes of mimosas beckon brunch loyalists to loiter at the table with friends for hours.
Going out for breakfast in Asheville is a gourmet adventure, with diners merrily noshing whimsical offerings from area chefs showcasing their own culinary flare via farm-fresh eggs and local sausage.
In the downtown area, locals favor a handful of spots, including Early Girl Eatery on Wall Street, which serves breakfast all day starting at 7am weekdays and 9am on weekends. From multigrain pancakes to ‘bennys’ served on homemade biscuits, the breakfast offerings here are line-inducing, especially on Sundays when the queue extends down the street. Nearby, Mayfel’s and Over Easy Café both serve breakfast all week while Posana Café, Table, Laughing Seed Café and Limones serve up a fabulous brunch on Saturdays and Sunday.
Beyond the city center, West Asheville's Sunny Point Café and Biscuit Head (now downtown too) are worth a visit, as well as Corner Kitchen in Biltmore Village, which all serve breakfast seven days a week.
Of course, the mac daddy of brunches is at the Blue Ridge Dining Room inside the Omni Grove Park Inn. This awe-inspiring spread of countless breakfast items as well as carving, omelet and waffle stations, has earned it the title of Asheville’s best brunch time and again.
10 Biscuit Head
Now with two locations--one in West Asheville and one close to downtown--this beloved breakfast haunt known for down home country cooking delights with a bevy of biscuit offerings and beyond. The brainchild of husband and wife team Carolyn and Jason Roy, the restaurant offers 10 different types of breakfast biscuits boasting ingredients from pulled pork to catfish to fried green tomatoes. In addition to the biscuit offerings (which also come in a gluten-free option) Biscuit Head features lighter fare such as quinoa porridge and house-made granola with fruit. The creativity spills over onto the drink menu where grown ups can choose from fun breakfast cocktails such as Breakfast Berry Sangria and the Sake Bloody Mary with house-made pickles. ((828) 333-5145)
9 Deerpark Restaurant
With its graceful summerhouse furnishings and walls of windows, this appealing restaurant is a far cry from its humble barn origins (albeit architect-designed). No, Deerpark is now all about eating well and eating much. Its widely applauded brunches, in fact, attract folks in droves, and even more so because they're buffet affairs rank amongst the best in the area. As you browse the bevy of stations, choose your favorites from among dishes like biscuits and gravy, poached salmon, hand-carved prime rib, waffles, omelets, and plenty of salads, vegetables, and desserts. Quite a way to fortify yourself against a busy day. Take note: those without annual passes will be required to pay for admission to Biltmore Estate in order to dine at Deerpark. (828-225-1333, 800-411-3812)
8 The Corner Kitchen
Tables dot both floors of the quaint, historic home that is Corner Kitchen, one of several restaurants in the historic Biltmore Village but the only one visited by President Obama. Chefs take full advantage of local provisions when creating the ever-changing menu, which will often house crowd favorites like the pecan-crusted trout and the herb-roasted pork. Like a lot of Asheville chefs, the culinary team at Corner Kitchen keeps the cuisine pretty simple and lets the ingredients speak for themselves without overdoing the preparation but they're never afraid to kick their Pan-American fare up a notch with imaginative reductions and sauces. This is a very popular spot, especially during Biltmore Estate's high seasons in summer and over Christmas. Reservations are highly recommended. (828-274-2439)
7 Posana Cafe
Going gluten-free can be tough, especially during breakfast when wheat-laden pancakes, waffles, biscuits and toast take center stage. But the weekend brunch at Posano Café is a gluten-free haven thanks to an entire menu void of gluten but packed with deliciousness. From homemade granola to eggs served on biscuits to breakfast tacos, diners will be amazed by the culinary creativeness in store. Even Posano's delightful breakfast pastries, including the famed ooey gooey sticky buns, are gluten-free. In addition to the breakfast fare, the brunch menu also features more gluten-free items such as curry chicken salad, pulled pork sandwiches and beef burgers. (8285053969)
6 Limones Mexican & California
This warm, attractive restaurant, located along a downtown side street, specializes in seasonal Mexican-Californian cookery and emphasizes fresh, local, and organic ingredients. The à la carte brunch menu dazzles with inventive numbers like Chorizo- Egg Tacos, Hashbrown-Bacon Quesadilla, and Smoked Chipotle Chilaquiles. You'll also be tempted by a weekly ceviche, scrambled eggs with a pork chop, fresh salads, and a jack cheese and bacon quesadilla with crema fresca. Lunch options are available as well, with the standouts being the Lamb Shank Tinga Enchiladas and the Tequila-lime Beef Burrito. Blend in like a local by starting off your feast with a cup of hot chocolate served with churros. (828-252-2327)
5 Over Easy Cafe
This unassuming downtown cafe and juice bar specializes in organic and vegetarian breakfasts. It does a brisk business serving local folks free-range eggs and antibiotic-free meats farmed by reputable, local suppliers. Everything is created in small batches, ensuring quality and excellent flavor. Look for huevos rancheros, a tofu or tempeh scramble, thick-cut French toast, and basic eggs and sausage. You'll also find pancakes, build-your-own omelets, sandwiches, and the much-loved Sunburst Omelet, which is packed with local smoked trout, caramelized red onions, roasted garlic and goat cheese. If you're in a hurry, at least run in and grab one of their delectable juices or smoothies to go. (828-236-3533)
4 Early Girl Eatery
This café offers Southern breakfast favorites like eggs, grits, and toast with your choice of bacon, local or vegan sausage, or country ham. Breakfast fare is a mainstay here, so you'll find it offered all day, from open to close, seven days a week. Besides favorites like the Early Girl Benny and the Sausage and Sweet Potato Scramble, the kitchen offers healthier options, including granola with fresh fruit and create-your-own omelets. Among the enticing breakfast items are a vegan tofu scramble with peas, red onions, mushrooms, tomato, and spinach, and multigrain buttermilk pancakes with organic maple syrup. Seating is tight inside this bustling, pastoral space, but that adds to the jovial vibe that Early Girl is known and loved for. (828-259-9292)
3 Laughing Seed Cafe
Named after an Indonesian legend extolling the seeds of a plant that supposedly promotes divine conversation and physical satiation, this cafe has been a city mainstay for decades. Dedicated to local, organic ingredients and a global food sensibility, it puts folks at ease as it caters to their myriad tastes. At brunch, that means an assortment of traditional breakfast foods, including omelets and waffles, coupled with lunchtime offerings like salads and sandwiches. Also offers a juice bar and seasonal outdoor dining facing the Wall Street. (828-252-3445)
2 Sunny Point Cafe
This family owned, West Asheville gem has garnered a loyal local following thanks to its comfort food breakfasts served daily from 8am. The cozy restaurant's made-from-scratch, farm-to-table approach finds its way into morning menu, where diners choose from unusual but delightful offerings such as Organic Carrot Hot Cakes and Cornmeal Waffles. Build your own biscuits and build your own omelets are a fun choice thanks to a bevy of ingredients. This is a popular spot, so on weekends you can expect to wait for your table at least thirty minutes. But don't sweat it, there is covered seating and hot coffee being served while you wait. (828-252-0055)
1 Blue Ridge Dining Room
If you're looking for an impressive place for a late Sunday morning repast, the Grove Park Inn serves up one of the area's finest brunches. Sophisticated diners appreciate the elegant affair, which is set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The decor is reminiscent of days when extravagant mountainside mansions were popular and stately dining rooms were the style. On Sunday starting at noon, the brunch offerings span three entire rooms and include smoked salmon, a carving station, made-to-order omelets and Eggs Benedicts, freshly made chicken and waffles, chilled salads, bacon and sausage and the like. There is also bottomless mimosas and Bloody Mary's, as well as entire room devoted to desserts. (828-252-2711, 800-438-5800)
About Kristen Manieri
Kristen Manieri is a travel and food writer with extensive travel experience in the Asheville area. As a regular contributor to Virgin Atlantic, West Jet's UP!, Dreamscapes and Forbes Travel Guide, she has published more than 200 stories over the past eight years. Asheville makes it easy for her to be such a fan. With its bursting-at-the-seems dining scene, sprawling hotels, eclectic shops and miles of picturesque hiking trails, this small town tucked into the palm of the Blue Ridge Mountains has captured Kristen's heart and she loves nothing more than inspiring other travelers to visit.
Read more about Kristen Manieri here.