October 29, 2014
Voted Best Indian Food in Asheville, Downtown’s Mela
Posted by: Doniel Winter
Mela on Lexington in downtown Asheville is a favorite of mine, a standby, for all the reasons you love eating at your favorite restaurant: good food, good value, consistent quality. When it comes to Indian food, I judge a restaurant by the naan (flatbread) and the kheer (rice pudding), and Mela has some of the best of both that I’ve tasted. It’s definitely the best in Asheville.
The menu is great no matter when you go, but I find myself there most often during lunch, when the most popular item on the menu is the lunch buffet, all you can eat: over 10 items to sample from, including 3 vegetarian dishes and 2 choices for dessert. And to boot, the entire buffet is gluten free, with the exception of the naan. I always recommend my guests visit Mela during lunch, where they can sample a variety of dishes. But be forewarned: the lunch buffet is a town favorite and the restaurant is almost always packed to capacity.
My favorites are the Chicken Tikka Masala (delicious) with a great balance of sweet and spicy, the Saag Paneer which I’m told is made daily with fresh spinach, and Kale with Raisins; a new item catering to our local obsession with kale. The Tandoori Chicken and naan are exceptional too, made in a traditional clay Tandoori oven fired by coal. And the kheer: smooth, creamy, with the perfect balance of spices, particularly cardamom. I typically make 3 trips to the buffet for lunch, and 2 of those are just for kheer.
Mela is delicious, and the lunch buffet is probably the best value downtown. The lunch buffet is only $10, $12 if you pair it with a chai, and $13 with a local draft beer. Mela has been named “Best Indian Food” 5 years in a row in the “Best of Asheville” contest. If you don’t have good Indian food in your town here’s your chance. Mela does not disappoint. Come stay with us at Asia Bed and Breakfast Spa and it’s a 3 minute drive or a 15 minute walk to Mela !
Our Rating: $ and consistently good
We rate the food in Asheville with the following descriptions: “second to none” is the best food in town. “consistently good” is pleasurable food that never disappoints. “in a pinch” is average and you could be underwhelmed. Cost is rated: $ – entrees under $12. $$ – entrees between $13 – $25. $$$ – entrees above $25.