48 Hours in Asheville Food Tour- Updated 2010
Since we are about to enter the height of tourist season here in our fair mountain town, I thought I would post the ultimate three-day Asheville epicurean experience. For this post I focused on foods and locales that are quintessentially “Asheville.” Sometimes I feel I’m living in a cultural wasteland, but other times I remember, if I leave, these are the amazing places I will visit in my dreams. If you come visit me here, this is where we will go, except we would also go to eat amazing Indian food at Mela, but I’ll save that for another post.
Friday Afternoon- 12 Bones. Just repeat this mantra: The line is worth it, the line is worth it. Because a thirty-minute wait is nothing compared to all the years of your life you’ve spent waiting to try the best BBQ ribs ever!!! Although, I’m mostly happy to get a plate of the incredible sides such as corn pudding and buttery green beans with an RC Cola.
Friday Early Evening- Catch the sunset and a high-priced drink at the Grove Park Inn Terrace for the best view of the city anywhere, and the cheesiest piano lounge.
Friday Night- Limones. Inspired menu, latin flavors, and a margarita menu to knock you off your feet.
Friday Late Night- French Broad Chocolate Lounge. A feisty young couple sets up shop in Costa Rica, learns the chocolate-making trade, and settles in Asheville, where they realize their collective dream of romance, fertility, and chocolate in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Enjoy its quaint brown and robin’s egg blue color scheme while you sip a liquid truffle, a rose soda with vanilla ice cream, or do as I do: order a giant glass of chocolate milk and commence holding a salt caramel in your mouth until your next meal.
Friday LateLate Night- Jack of the Wood. If you’re hungry by now, you’re in luck because this bar features some of the most delicious pub food I’ve sampled. Cheese and Chutney and all the wonderful salad options are some of my favorites, but the fish and chips wins every time. Everyone except for me loves the beer selection, the music is often outstanding, and the whole ambiance has it’s finger right smack dab in the middle of that “Asheville” thing I keep mentioning.
Saturday Morning- The Moose Cafe. This was the first restaurant I ever found in Asheville. The Moose Cafe has been here longer than me, SheWhoEats, which is a long time in Ashevilletime. Their sweet tea is among the best I’ve ever had anywhere, the apple butter is a chunky revelation, and the buttery biscuits are bigger than my head. Grab a seat by the window and you can see the Biltmore Inn.
Saturday Lunch- Papa’s and Beer. I know the MountainX Food Writer has already showered compliments all over the head of this popular Mexican joint, but she’s dead right. Rarely have I enjoyed fresher Mexican food. Honestly, you cannot lose with a single dish here, although I would recommend the Enchiladas Mexicanas with shredded tender and perfectly cooked beef, or the fresh and hearty baja fish tacos. Who knew rice could be transformed into a mountain of buttery glory?
Saturday Snack- Ultimate Ice Cream. Simply among the best ice cream I have ever tasted anywhere in the United States. Plus, you’ll get to see East Asheville, which you would probably miss otherwise. You could go here on your way back from the Folk Art Center, I guess.
Saturday Coffee- Looking like a miniature version of Portland’s hipster haven, Stumptown Coffee, Izzy’s Coffee Den offers a glimpse into Asheville’s artsy elite. This is where the blog posts of today are created. No doubt about it, Izzy’s coffee is the best in town.
Saturday Night- The Admiral. Good luck trying to get a table here, but if you can, get ready for gastro-pub goodness. They do some successfully creative experiments with local and nearby ingredients, and while their menu changes, the quality stays high. Delicious and visionary though it may be, this will not be a cheap endeavor. Stay for the great Saturday night DJ who spins dancehall hits from the 50′s and 60′s.
Saturday Late Night- Zambra. If you’re still hungry or just looking for a good time, head down to Zambra, where pretty people and Moorish architecture unite for a truly sensual experience. I also happen to think Zambra offers the best martini selection in town, and great gypsy jazz, so you won’t want to miss out.
Saturday Late Late Night- BoBo. I hesitate to tell the tourists about my favorite bar in Asheville, but since you won’t be back crowding my mojo every night, I guess I’ll make an exception. Bo Bo is one of the most diverse experiences in town, I think. Local artists are featured on every surface, the drinks are reasonable, and the live music or dj is often worth the cover.
Sunday Morning- Sunny Point Cafe ” Asheville” cuisine is defined by restaurants like this one. Since you’ll still be full from the day before, you won’t mind waiting in line for some orange-infused cornmeal hotcakes, inspired daily hash, and the best shrimp and grits I’ve tasted (Hominy Grill’s in Charleston don’t stand a chance). Sunny Point is a MUST EAT.
Sunday Afternoon- Noodle Shop. I just have to give a shout-out to my favorite chinese in Asheville, The Noodle Shop. I believe they try to give everyone an authentic experience, so I often hear groans from tourists who were looking for nothing more than a pile of fried rice under a mound of candy-fried mystery meat. I recommend: Pad Thai, Spicy Won Ton Soup, the Mongolian Beef and Sweet and Spicy Pork and Beef Specials, and I’ll sometimes go for their eggplant dish.
Sunday Dinner: The Laughing Seed. I honestly have mixed feelings about their menu selection, but it’s absolutely a local staple that must not go untapped on your Asheville adventure. My favorite dishes are the Fireside Focaccia Melt and . . . actually that’s it. But they don’t make it any more, so I haven’t been back lately. People like the dragon bowl.
There you have it: The three day Asheville Food Tour.