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“Best Tapas Ever!”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Zambra

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Ranked #18 of 781 Restaurants in Asheville
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $10 - $30
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Large groups, Special occasions, Local cuisine, Bar scene
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Accepts American Express, Accepts Discover, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Wifi, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Neighborhood: Downtown Asheville
Cross street: Haywood Street
Description: Our dynamic menu is the passion of Executive Chef Adam. Adam has attained many influences through his training in Europe and New Orleans. Zambra is his modern vision of the tastes and flavors of the western Mediterranean: Spain, Portugal, Gypsy, and North Africa. As an appropriate accompaniment, we have assembled the region's finest selection of Spanish and New World wines. We have been awarded the Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence and our wine list has been voted the best in Asheville.
Level Contributor
25 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Best Tapas Ever!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 30, 2012

Wow - from the venue that looks like a cave within an old basement - but done totally cool and fun - they served the most unique and delicious tapas ever. I have a preference for small plates, but most places have limited menus. The selections were so numerous and each so unique and well executed that I find it impossible to pick a favorite. Included in their menu, are several delicious vegetarian and fish options - as well as meaty choices for carnivores. Almost worth making the special cross country trip to Asheville just to experience it. I will seek every opportunity to return.

Visited October 2012
Thank foodwinethee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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902 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
25 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 25, 2012

My boyfriend and I made reservations at Zambra following an Eating Tour of Asheville for a Saturday night; from what I could see, reservations are a good idea. The decor is really neat - cavelike and cool. The place felt busy and happening, yet we were tucked away in an area with just four tables of two and loved it. We tried A LOT. The pork spring rolls and sangria are excellent. Our least favorite dish was the curry meatballs, but other than that, we enjoyed everything we had. We love Tapas and getting to try lots of different things, so this place suited us. We wouldn't have minded having some friends along so that we could try more, although our waitress thought we'd done a good job picking out a good sampling. I felt we could've been greeted more warmly, but otherwise we enjoyed our meal tremendously.

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank M A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
3 reviews
“Love this place!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 22, 2012 via mobile

My husband and I happened upon Zambra on our walk to check out another recommended restaurant. I am so happy we ended up here! We are foodies and wine lovers, so we thoroughly enjoyed the chance to try multiple small plates (we tried 8, including items from both the regular and specials menus) and pair them with great wines. The wine list is artfully arranged with Spanish wines on one side and all others, largely New World, on the reverse. Select wines were showcased with tasting notes and ratings to the right on both sides of the list. Showcase wines ran the gamut from very affordable (~$40) to special occasion wines (>$100), as did the entire list.

The only critique I would share is the same one noted by several other reviewers: the restaurant is way too dark! The atmosphere was more like a night club than a tapas restaurant. Reading the menus was nearly impossible, and I was scared I might fall on my way to the restroom. No, I'm not that old. It was that dark! I hope management will read these reviews and turn the lights up before I return on my next trip to Asheville.

Thank Winecrock
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Waves, North Carolina
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Nice, relaxed tapas meal”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 22, 2012

Went to Zambra prior to attending a show nearby on a Sunday night.
Enjoyed the pork rolls, patatas bravas, grilled shrimp we had.
The gnocchi dish was nothing spectacular.
The best dish was probably an NC drum dish with a pomegranate sauce.
My wife and I had a glass of cava and a local microbrew, respectively.
Found the cellar/cave-like atmosphere casual and relaxing.
Would go again if in Asheville to try additional dishes.

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Getaways-Cottage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durham, NC
Level Contributor
306 reviews
172 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 333 helpful votes
“A Distant Second Best in Asheville”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 22, 2012

My husband, 20 year old son and I should have known our experience with this tapas bar was not going to be a good experience as soon as we entered this restaurant. When we entered Zambra with our Asheville friends, they claimed to not have our Open Table reservation. Surprisingly, the tapas restaurant admitted our reservation was not the first they did not have that evening. We were surprised they had lost our let alone two that evening. We have used Open Table in many cities (including Asheville) without any problems. To Zambra’s credit, they found a table for our party despite it being the peak of leaf season.
We have no idea what the interior of the restaurant looks like. All we could see in the extremely dim lighting were throngs of people crammed in to this basement restaurant. The lighting has to be the darkest we have ever seen in a restaurant. Many people can concur as we saw numerous patrons of all ages pulling out their smartphones to illuminate their menus. Being able to hear everyone in our party was difficult as it is a very loud restaurant. My husband claimed he lost some of his voice by the end of the evening due to the high decibels.
Our waiter was very friendly, but he did not follow through on our order. Two of the very expensive tapas we ordered never showed up. At the end of the meal, we asked for one of them to be dropped from our order. We do not know if it ever was as the order of chickpeas showed up ten minutes later, and it was too darn dark to read the itemized bill.
The tapas were of average taste. They were nothing to write home about. Our tapas had us immediately comparing them to the excellent ones at the best tapas restaurant in the city. There is no doubt that Zambra’s tapas pale in comparison to the Biltmore Avenue tapas restaurant. Our pork spring rolls were bland. They were some of the worst we have ever had. Our expensive salads were nothing to write home about. The order of meatballs could not feed our entire party as there were a measly three meatballs on the dish. Their cheese plate included three kinds of ordinary cheese as it appeared they were bought at one of the local large grocery stores. And, there was not enough cheese to go around for our party of five. There was just enough lamb to go around for our group. The “large” order had six very small pieces of lamb. Zambra’s crispy tofu may have been the best thing of the night. The creamy and tasty tofu had a crunchy Panko bread crumbs crust.
We left the restaurant with a bill that was a lot larger than we expected it would be. The bottle of wine was not cheap, but the ordinary tapas are priced way too high. As another reviewer stated, it is not worth the gamble of spending $100 for lackluster food and drinks. To top it off, our bill had a 20% gratuity added to it due to our party having five people. The service was definitely NOT worth giving the wait staff an automatic 20%! Spend less, and have a great tapas meal just blocks away. The next time we are in Asheville, we will be at that great Biltmore Avenue location instead of Zambra.

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank MagyarNC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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