Best Hendersonville NC Restaurants Guide
- Bold Rock Mills River Cidery (Gastropub)
- Harvey’s at The Henderson (Fine Dining)
- HenDough Chicken & Donuts (Fast Food)
- Hubba Hubba Smokehouse (BBQ)
- McFarlan Bakery (Baked Goods)
- Never Blue (Global Fusion)
- Pi Squared (Italian)
- Umi Sushi (Japanese)
Bold Rock Mills River Cidery (Gastropub)
72 School House Rd, Mills River • 828-595-9940 • $$
The Hendersonville area may not have nearly as many breweries as you’ll find in neighboring Asheville. But between the Sierra Nevada Brewery and the Bold Rock Mills River Cidery, it is home to two of NC’s best.
Located in Mills River (just 7 miles from downtown Hendersonville), Bold Rock is clearly a cidery first, and restaurant second.
Massive windows at the back of the two-story warehouse allow visitors a look at their production and bottling process. And the first thing you see when you walk in is the sheer array of cider flavors they have available (all of which are made with fruit from Henderson County apple orchards) by the case.
You place your order at the expansive bar (which also offers local craft beer), with food made by the Bold Bites Mobile Kitchen. Then you can either sit inside or outside in their Cider Garden, which is dog-friendly.
We highly recommend trying one of their two Cider Tasting Flights. Each features four different varieties ranging from dry, crisp, almost Champagne-like cider to seasonal fruit flavors like Blackberry and Watermelon.
The food menu is fairly typical gastropub fare– burgers, wings, nachos, etc. But the Smokehouse Bacon Burger, Apple Grilled Cheese, Chicken Nachos (with Cider BBQ sauce), and Street Corn were all delicious and paired perfectly with the tasting flight.
READ MORE: Exploring The 12 Best Asheville NC Breweries
Harvey’s at The Henderson (Fine Dining)
201 3rd Ave. West • 828-696-2001 • $$$
It’s not often that we stay at a hotel where the restaurant is as noteworthy as the accommodations. But The Henderson Hotel– a 17-room bed and breakfast in downtown Hendersonville– is not your typical hotel.
The hotel was built in 1919-1921 in a Classical Revivalist architectural style, and has changed names numerous times over the last century. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, then underwent an extensive renovation in 2006.
Current owners Jeanne and Michael Gilligan have added a quirky love of retro Hollywood memorabilia to the historic downtown Hendersonville hotel’s decor.
Michael– an award-winning chef from various Michelin star restaurants, who also served as Food & Beverage Director for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines– makes Harvey’s Restaurant & Lounge a destination worth visiting in its own right. His menu focuses on small plates, most of which are in the $10-$16 range.
We started with the delightfully flavorful Ahi Tuna Tartare (served with wonton chips) and a hearty NC Hickory Nut Gap Farm Charcuterie platter. We also loved the Oven Roasted Sea Scallops with Lemon-Chive Butter and the Seared NC Mountain Trout over Spring Greens.
Jeanne’s well-crafted cocktails and Michael’s decadent desserts offer a perfect way to wind down your meal. Next time we visit, we hope to try their critically-acclaimed Sunday brunch!
HenDough Chicken & Donuts (Fast Food)
532 Kanuga Rd • 828-595-2885 • $
I’ve been reviewing restaurants for 25+ years now, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heartily recommended a fast food joint to readers.
But despite going in with low expectations, HenDough Chicken & Donuts proved to be a fantastic place to get a cheap, filling meal that genuinely blew my taste buds away.
Located in a two-story house, this quirky downtown Hendersonville restaurant has personality to spare. From the cartoonish logo and the bold primary colors of the decor to the incredible smells emanating from the kitchen, it feels homey and welcoming from the moment you walk in the door.
We went for breakfast, when biscuits and donuts are your only two options. Go straight to the “HenDough Originals” menu, and specifically the Donut Breakfast Sandwich (Glazed Donut, American Cheese, Bacon + Sausage) and/or Egg In A Basket (Donut, Eggs, Fried Chicken, Bacon + Jalapeño Maple Syrup).
I’m not sure I have the words to express how insanely delicious these artery-clogging combinations of flavors were, so just trust me and try it for yourself.
Their lunch menu also includes Fried Chicken, Chicken Sandwiches, and gourmet sides such as Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese, Roasted Jalapeño Grits, and Sweet Potato Salad with Bacon.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Downtown Asheville Restaurants
Hubba Hubba Smokehouse (BBQ)
2724 Greenville Hwy, Flat Rock • 828-694-3551 • $$
Barbecue in North Carolina is serious business. The best wood-fired BBQ in Hendersonville can be found in the village of Flat Rock, where Hubba Hubba Smokehouse owner Starr Teel favors the “low and slow” approach.
Teel, whose wife Virginia owns The Wrinkled Egg gift shop on Flat Rock’s colorful “Rainbow Row,” is a classically trained chef who attended both French and American culinary schools.
But his Hubba Hubba Smokehouse menu is deceptively simple, with a focus on homestyle dishes, hand-pulled meats, and made-from-scratch sauces and sides that mostly use locally-sourced produce.
But don’t let the homespun vibe of Hubba Hubba fool you. This is Southern-style BBQ at its finest, with tender, robustly flavorful ribs and other meats every bit as good as the best I’ve had in Texas or North Georgia.
If you’re a newbie, we recommend ordering the Indecision Plate, which comes with 6oz of brisket and pulled pork, your choice of two sides, plus a choice of toasted bun, chips, or cornbread (we preferred the latter).
Traditional sides such as Tangy Baked Beans, Collard Greens, and Succotash were all terrifically tasty. But the can’t-miss dish was their Pimento Cheese Grits, with surprisingly light Banana Pudding for dessert.
McFarlan Bakery (Baked Goods)
309 N Main St • 828-693-4256 • $
If you’re looking for a taste of downtown Hendersonville history, just head to the McFarlan Bakery, a Main Street staple since 1930.
Originally owned by Earl McFarlan, the business was bought by the father of current co-owner Michael Cole in 1952 (the year Michael was born).
So Michael practically grew up in the Hendersonville bakery, cleaning at first, then eventually learning how to make pastries and pies from “old-timers that really knew how to bake.”
Michael and his wife Kathy bought the bakery in 1994, but very little has changed over the years despite multiple different owners. All of McFarlan’s 160+ products are still made from scratch daily, with 90% of them using the original recipes (which date back 90+ years).
The photo above is just a sampling of the countless decadent delectables on offer here. From delightfully fluffy donuts and old-fashioned turnovers bursting with fruit to cinnamon buns, cookies, and the best apple fritters I’ve ever tasted, it’s the perfect place to pick up breakfast before heading out to hike the nearby waterfalls.
They also offer tasty cakes, pies, and Gingerbread Men that have become one of the most beloved local Christmas traditions!
READ MORE: The Best Christmas Events in Western NC
Never Blue (Global Fusion)
119 S Main St • 828-693-4646 • $$
We started this website in large part due to our growing interest in moving to the Blue Ridge Mountains. What better way to explore the vast region in search of our future home?
One of the things we’ll miss most about our current home south of the North Georgia mountains is the plethora of international cuisines available within a few miles of our house. From Cuban, Greek, and Peruvian fare to Ethiopian and Indian, the nearby college town offers us a plethora of options.
So we were delighted when the folks at Visit Hendersonville invited us to lunch at Never Blue. Though they call themselves a “New American restaurant,” they offer a globally-inspired fusion of culinary influences.
The restaurant’s decor is just as colorful as its menu, with vibrant paintings, stained glass, and mosaic tile artwork. Much of it was done by owner/Executive Chef Jesse Roque, who attended the culinary and pastry program at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston.
Every dish from her tapas-style menu was exquisite, starting with Zah’taar-spiced Lamb Kofta (served with warm pita, baby greens, feta, and lemon-garlic hummus) and Devils On Horseback (bacon-wrapped, almond-stuffed Medjool dates, deep-fried and served with goat cheese mousse, and mango blossom honey).
We also highly recommend her Fried Chicken (1/2-lb Joyce Farms tenderloins, hand battered and southern fried) and Chop Chop (a layered bowl of turmeric basmati rice, chopped jerk chicken thighs, lettuce, tomato, cilantro, lime, and your choice of curry mustard or chipotle ranchero).
READ MORE: The Best Restaurants in Blue Ridge GA
Pi-Squared Pizza (Italian)
1972 Haywood Rd • 828-693-0799 • $$
After working in (and managing) several Italian restaurants to pay my way through college, I’ll admit I’ve become a bit of a snob when it comes to pizza.
So when we learned that Pi-Squared Pizza in Hendersonville offered “Detroit-style pizza, calzones, and subs,” I approached their menu with a mixture of curiosity and trepidation.
My first question was, “what is Detroit-style pizza?!” Dating back to the 1940s, the rectangular pizza features a thick and chewy crust, with toppings put on before a Sicilian sauce and Wisconsin brick cheese (which goes all the way to the edge). It was historically baked in steel trays designed for use as automotive drip pans.
Pi-Squared twists the Detroit tradition with a modern array of fascinating flavor combinations, including the Fig-et About It (EVOO, gorgonzola, honey, mission figs & red pepper flake), Greektown (banana peppers, feta, dill, garlic, Kalamata olives, etc.), and BBQ Mango (BBQ sauce, diced mango & mozzarella cheese).
But our favorite was the new Chicken Pesto Pizza, which didn’t skimp on sumptuous toppings such as thick chunks of chicken, EVOO, mozzarella, mushrooms, pesto, and roasted red peppers. We also loved their Detroit-style Italian Sub and Arugula Salad (with candied pecans, craisins, and gorgonzola cheese).
Umi Sushi (Japanese & Thai)
633 N Main St • 828-698-8048 • $$$
In 20+ years of reviewing restaurants in my hometown of Atlanta, my all-time favorite happens to be a place called UMI Sushi in Buckhead.
So finding a Japanese restaurant in Hendersonville with the same name seemed promising for me as an avid sushi fanatic. Especially when we learned that it had been voted one of the best restaurants in Hendersonville 12 years in a row!
Opened in 2006, Umi Sushi NC offers an expansive menu that includes traditional Japanese entrees, sushi, Bento boxes, and a limited selection of Thai dishes. It’s especially popular in the afternoon, when local office workers meet for lunch and drinks on the shaded outdoor patio.
At $11 to $13, their lunchtime Bento Box is an excellent deal and a delightful sampler of Japanese cuisine. It includes your choice of Tempura (chicken, shrimp or veggie), Teriyaki (shrimp, salmon, scallop, steak, or tofu), or Katsu (chicken or fish), plus a California Roll or Spring Roll, Bean Sprout Salad, and Pork Dumpling.
We also loved their sushi rolls, which at lunchtime are 2 for $10.50 or 3 for $14. Hungry after our morning tour of the Historic Johnson Farm, we opted for the latter, and greedily devoured our Salmon, Yellowtail, and Eel & Avocado Rolls.
Suffice it to say that Umi ranked right alongside Never Blue among our favorite of the downtown Hendersonville restaurants we visited. –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett unless otherwise noted)