Best Food in Asheville: Local Grub

Best Food in Asheville: Local Grub

Situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina draws visitors from all over the USA for its natural beauty and the culinary heritage of Appalachia. Attracting foodies and culinary professionals alike, the secret of the food you’ll find in Asheville is in the simplicity of a pot on a cast-iron stove, the scent filling a humble kitchen. This is America’s slow food, farm-to-table capital, with home-preserved food representing the backbone of the kitchen.

Appalachia stretches across 13 US states, covering 1,000 miles from north to south. Reaching as far north as New York state and as far south as Alabama, the mountains the region draws its name from are redolent of tradition, family life, and the humility of living from the land’s abundant gifts. Asheville food is best known for its connection to the people who built Appalachia’s foodways from back gardens, and family farms. Let’s look at some of Asheville’s most vibrant examples of Appalachian cuisine in another edition of Local Grub.

Chow Chow

Best Food in Asheville

Used as a relish, chow chow is a fine example of the tradition of home canning and pickling that continues to live as part of the Appalachian food tradition in Asheville. You’ll find myriad versions of chow chow in Appalachia.This pickled vegetable relish uses red bell pepper, cabbage, cucumber, and onion. The vegetables are enlivened with pickling salt, mustard, turmeric, brown sugar as well as cider vinegar.

A dollop of chow chow topping a collard green and fatback sandwich, eaten with fried cornbread is an Asheville favorite! Eat this delicious pickled relish with anything. It’s a significant emblem of what food in Asheville is known for – the local, human touch.

Country Ham & Wild Ramps

Dry brined for several months, the country (aka “Virginia”) ham is the stuff of legend. When paired with wild ramps, its legend is elevated to mythology. Traditionally foraged in wooded areas from April to June, ramps are an allium, related to spring onions and leeks. Their flavor is intense, garlicky, and sought after in Asheville food circles.

Of course, ramps are also pickled in Appalachia. It gives the flavor of spring a home-preserved accent native to the farm kitchens of the area. If you’re visiting Asheville, certainly time your stay with spring foraging season. Just remember to leave some bulbs in the ground to propagate for next season! This unique wild food is part of what the culinary scene in Asheville is known for – traditional ways of eating, tied to the land.


While the name of this dish may be something of a public relations problem, its flavor is beloved in North Carolina, especially in Asheville. This delicacy is similar to paté. It is made from pig’s liver mixed with other choice parts of the animal that might otherwise be discarded. It’s a food you’ll certainly be hard-pressed to find anywhere but in Asheville and the surrounding region.

Seasoned but never spicy, livermush is mixed with cornmeal to bind it together. Slice it thin, then pan-sear it for a crispy, browned finish. Serve it for breakfast with eggs and toast. You can also top it with yellow mustard. This rare American specialty is found in precious few places and produced by only 5 facilities, all in North Carolina, A food known for its respectful remembrance of North Carolina textile mill workers, what livermush means in Asheville, is pride in a hardworking past.

Dried Apple Stack Cake

Dating back to the 19th Century, dried apple stack cake got its start as a wedding cake. It all started as a community project. Wedding guests would each bring a layer of the cake to a wedding party. Then, each layer would be stacked, interrupted by spiced, dried apples or the region’s famous apple butter between them.

Today apple stack cake is an American favorite, often served with molasses between the layers. In Asheville, this food can be found on dessert menus as well as in the homes of locals continuing this Appalachian legacy. Apple Stack Cake is part of the Appalachian tradition of meaningful food, which is what the culinary scene in Asheville is increasingly known for.

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Published By Shamira Deshpande Shamira is a passionate Social Media Manager and avid foodie who brings creativity and enthusiasm to every project. With 7+ years of experience in the social media management field, she is responsible for creative strategy development and implementation, content creation, optimizing campaigns, and analysis of social media performance for Food Fire + Knives.