Asheville restaurant wins prestigious culinary award

Chai Pani in Asheville recently took home the James Beard Outstanding Restaurant award
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 1:34 AM EDT
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Asheville, NC (FIOX Carolina) - Located on a side street in downtown Asheville is the number one restaurant in the country.

“It is the ultimate award in the food business. We call it the Oscars of the food industry,” Chef Meherwan Irani said.

Chai Pani serves up Indian street food with a flare.

Both delicious and affordable, most dishes are under $15.

“We work really hard to always prioritize people over profit and making the best decisions that we can to make the world a better place through our food and service,” Chai Pani Restaurant Group COO, Charlotte Stack said.

Chef Irani said it’s not fine dining, but so much more.

“This is a big deal not just because I’m Indian or because it’s Indian cuisine. It’s because I’m doing Indian street food, and for Indians in India that would be the same as a burger stand or a hot dog joint winning best restaurant or outstanding restaurant,” Chef and CEO of Chai Pani Restaurant Group, Meherwan Irani said.

Chef Irani brought some of his childhood favorites from India to the South and opened the Asheville-based restaurant 13 years ago.

This month, Chai Pani took home the prestigious James Beard Outstanding Restaurant award.

Named after a pioneer in American cooking, the award goes to a restaurant that demonstrates excellence in food, atmosphere, and hospitality, while also contributing to its community.

“When you come to America it’s usually the higher-end Indian cuisine, the white tablecloth, fancy silverware style of Indian cuisine that’s usually celebrated. It was just a shock to everyone, and a delight, that street food of India was given this standing,” Chef Irani said.

Chai Pani is located at 22 Battery Park Ave. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Monday for lunch and dinner.