Where Can I Eat Dinner in Asheville Without Reservations?

The dumplings at Gan Shan West via @ganshanwest

Asheville’s funky allure continues to entrance visitors like a kombucha-brewing mountain Siren. But with short-staffed restaurants often resulting in reduced business hours, you need to plan ahead if you want a seat at the table. Or do you?

Nothing short of an act of God will get you into Cúrate or Limones this weekend, but if you’re looking for a memorable last-minute dinner in Asheville, look no further.

Buxton Hall Barbecue

This is my number one recommendation to friends and family who come to town. With two James Beard-nominated chefs at the helm, this whole-hog barbecue spot in South Slope fits the bill for foodies and meat lovers alike. And they never take reservations for any party of any size. Once they take your name, grab a pint to pass the time at one of several breweries nearby like Burial and Catawba. INSIDER TIP: Two words, “Chicken bog.”

Gan Shan West

So this West Asheville Asian restaurant used to have a second, original location in North Asheville that I frequented mostly for lunch with friends, but it’s also a fun date night spot if you want to escape the bustle (and parking headache) of downtown. I used to dream about their fried rice with crispy tofu, and the handmade dumplings are a must. Charleston folks will appreciate owner Patrick O’Cain’s chops as a former sous chef at the almighty Xiao Bao Biscuit.

El Gallo

My reigning favorite Asheville restaurant only takes reservations for parties of eight or more, so I bent the rules a tad (albeit my own rules) to include it. On a crazy Friday night in downtown Asheville, four of us didn’t even have to wait for an outside table. Don’t mistake “no line” for “no good.” El Gallo has the best margaritas in town, and I haven’t met a menu item that I didn’t like. INSIDER TIP: The Quesa Birria Taco is like the love child of my Jewish grandmother and Aarón Sánchez. (That means it’s really good. Try it.)


This first come, first serve spot was the first restaurant Dave and I ate at when we moved to Asheville more than a decade ago, and the palatial portions of bright, inventive Latin flavors haven’t stopped. This is a small place with a huge following, but the bustle of Patton Ave. makes for great people-watching while you wait.

Sunny Point Café

A West Asheville institution, Sunny Point is famous for its breakfast, but often overlooked for dinner. Get the best of both worlds with brinner (same menu’s served all day), or check out their daily dinner specials. I adore the Huevos Fucheros (their meatless rancheros alternative) and the Breakfast Salad—one of the only salads I can order as a meal and not feel like I’m missing out.

Do you have a favorite “no reservations” place for dinner in Asheville? Please share!


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