The West Asheville neighborhood has exploded in recent years, with locally-owned restaurants, bars, and shops vying for the hearts of locals steering clear of the massive tourism happening downtown. No skyscrapers or chain hotels tower over Haywood Road, West Asheville’s main street that curves over two miles and connects this eclectic neighborhood to the city’s River Arts District. Here’s how to spend 24 hours in West Asheville exploring Asheville’s other downtown.
Late morning: breakfast tacos and people-watching
Like any good hipster city, Asheville is brimming with tacos of all kinds, so start your day with breakfast tacos at Taco Billy. This tiny taco shop serves their classic breakfast tacos all day filled with sausage, home fries, sweet potatoes, or bacon, including Mama’s Favorite, served on a plantain tortilla. Then, stop next door at Star Shine Station, the first of several consignment shops that exist in West Asheville. Depending on the time, Urban Orchard Cider Co. deserves a stop. This coffeehouse-style cider bar has about a dozen taps featuring their unique housemade hard ciders including a coffee collaboration made with Last Dance Cold Brew, a chocolate-covered strawberry cider, and others spiked with chilis or persimmons. Great appetizers, too.
Next, pop into Villagers, an adorable garden, home and farm store that will inspire you to tackle more DIY projects. Attend a cool class about fermenting alcohol or the power of digestive bitters or just pick up a book about homesteading. Across the street, you’ll find an interconnected complex that houses a brewery, pizza joint, bakery and coffee shop, and a small Asian restaurant that share a courtyard. Stop here for nibbles or caffeine, or continue down Haywood Road to BattleCat Coffee Bar, a funky former cottage turned coffee spot for prime people-watching in their front courtyard. From here, head to Harvest Records, the go-to place for vinyl, that has been serving music-centric Asheville for almost 15 years.
Ready for lunch? Cross the street and check out King Daddy’s Chicken and Waffle that shares owners with Early Girl Eatery, one of downtown’s most popular breakfast and lunch spots. At King Daddy’s, they serve up chicken and waffles in new ways, with your pick of chicken styles such as Korean, habanero sweet potato, or heirloom paired with your choice of classic, pumpkin, vegan, pork cracklin’, or cornmeal waffles. A fun drink menu divided into sparkling, easy, or stiff drinks also deserves consideration. King Daddy’s shares a storefront with Second Gear, an outdoor consignment shop filled with clothes, shoes, and accessories for campers, hikers, bikers, and watersport fans.
Afternoon: quirky bar crawl and more
One reason West Ashevillians love to live in this neighborhood are the dive bars. Start at Fleetwood’s on Haywood, described as a bar, vintage shop, and wedding chapel. Order a brew and sift through the records, art, and vintage clothing, then stop next door at the Desoto Lounge for ping pong, pinball, and PBRs while you nibble on their delicious bacon-wrapped dates. Across the street, two of West Asheville’s newest hotspots, The Whale craft beer bar, and farm-to-table Haywood Commons, are housed inside a mural-covered brick building and have great outdoor patios.
The next section of Haywood is residential until you reach another stretch of renovated storefronts that house Haywood Comics, Local 604 bottle shop, and the outspoken cooperative bookstore, Firestorm, that hosts a range of socially-minded groups and authors. Then, continue on to Oyster House Brewing Company that specializes in oysters and oyster-brewed stouts before stopping at another popular consignment shop, Twice Round, jam-packed with vintage clothing, hats, and jewelry.
Evening: live music and a gas station bar
Time your day out to hit the rest of West Asheville in the evening, as the next section of Haywood Road has several music venues including The Mothlight, Isis Restaurant and Music Hall, the Odditorium, and UpCountry Brewing. To fill time pre-shows, do some more shopping at “hippie shop” Instant Karma or consignment shop Reciprocity. Or, pick up local art at Westside Artist Co-Op, home to more than 40 local artists and makers. Plenty of awesome dinner choices including Foothills Butcher Bar, upscale Jargon, and burger spot Universal Joint provide tasty refueling spots. Sports bar fans should make time to play a game of pool or shuffleboard at Westville Pub or The Anchor Bar, or play cornhole at Brew Pump, a window-service bar inside a gas station.
Next morning: breakfast round two
A visit to West Asheville deserves at least two breakfasts out, so choose between Sunny Point Cafe or Biscuit Head. Both places are slammed during peak hours, but the wait is worth it. Sunny Point has huge portions including four-egg omelets and hearty breakfast entrees, while Biscuit Head literally serves breakfast sandwiches on massive “cathead” biscuits. Go for the gravy flight with your choice of three scratch-made gravies and sauces, including a gravy of the day.