Around the World in 80 Bites 13

Zambra’s Tapas Defy Definition

Like so many chefs raised in the South, Zambra’s Brian Bennett cites his grandmother as inspiration for his career. “When I was young, we had family dinners on Sunday which Grandma was the star of. I liked to hang out in the kitchen with her, and that’s what got me started.”

But the fare he slings in Asheville’s most romantic (and, according to many, most haunted) restaurant is a far cry from the Southern staples with which he grew up. Though often billed as a Spanish tapas bar, the chefs and owners of Zambra constantly collaborate on dishes that defy definition.

“We’re all over the place. I wouldn’t even call us Spanish tapas anymore, we’re Asheville tapas,” Bennett says with a laugh. “Our menu changes almost every week.” That’s not just thanks to the restaurant’s dedication to fresh, seasonal fare, but also to the talented folks that are always in the kitchen.

Part of what makes Zambra one of Asheville’s best date-night destinations is the variety of dishes you’ll find on their menu—the surprise, rather than the expectation. From North Africa to Europe, the influence of the flavors are impossible to peg down because they’re so varied. It’s like traveling the world in one night—or even one bite.