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48 Hours in Asheville Food Tour- Updated 2010

July 31, 2007

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 Afternoon12 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 NightFrench 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 NightJack 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 NightZambra. 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.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Pixiedyke permalink
    July 31, 2007 4:27 pm

    You should TOTALLY cross-post. If they haven’t made you a posting member yet, I’d be happy to do it. And you should tell them to make you a posting member.

    Sunny Point? Margaritas at Lucky Otter? Wraps at Pineapple Jack’s? Where’s the Westside love?

  2. July 31, 2007 8:18 pm

    And now you know why I refuse to live anywhere but North/Central Asheville. Sorry to be harsh, but downtown Westville is no downtown in my book.
    Except for Orbit DVD, which rocks, and now has a downtown location, by the way.

  3. August 1, 2007 2:21 am

    Ouch, no shout out for Sunny Point? I prefer their biscuits and coffee to the Moose Cafe. And I actually had words with the waitress at Old Europe about their key lime pie. She saw I’d only had a bite or two and pushed it away and she asked about it. I said I felt it was not a “classic” key lime pie as advertised, but more like a cheesecake and she *agreed* with me. wtf? All your other recommendations were spot on. Where can I find this new Mexican restaurant?

  4. queen kirstifa permalink
    August 1, 2007 4:29 am

    i always knew you loved a little chocolate hot dog.

    if you had lived here before downtown became as trendy and getrified, you might appreciate westville for the “classic asheville” vibe. this is kind of what downtown was like at the beginning of the asheville renaissance, mid 90’s, when folks were more laid back and every surface wasn’t infected with tourists and soccer moms carrying tops for shoes bags. before high rise condos and every building being turned into “little shops”. three cheers for westville!

    ok, off my soapbox. but you have to give sunny point props!

    i think dripolater has the best coffee. and it’s my favorite coffee shop. and the 23 yr old autistic girl i work with feels that it offers the “cutest guys” of anywhere in asheville.

  5. August 1, 2007 3:11 pm

    Touristiness aside, I generally prefer more bustle, shopping, options, and business in a town. That’s my personal preference in a city/town. If the Asheville Renaissance hadn’t happened, I would not be here. I would be in Portland, OR or somewhere where it has happened. That’s just me.

    Sunny Point is very good, and the company is even better :). Although not quite as good as Tupelo Honey (grits) and Early Girl (interesting and more varied menu), they’re all pretty much is the same category, in my opinion. I like their SP’s biscuits better than Moose too, but I still think Moose offers a more interesting experience for tourists and qualifies as a “must see” Asheville destination. I also feel like Tupelo Honey has “it” more than these others in some vaguely definable way.

    Old Europe’s key lime pie is really good to me, I find it sour and tangy with the sweet fluffy merengue stuff on top.

    I’m going to have my first Lucky Otter margarita later this week. But overall, the Lucky Otter does not appeal to me. Just another burrito joint trying to do something more interesting with the genre. Yawn.

    I also love the Dripolater, and I agree that with your client that it has the cutest guys and people.

    Thanks for all the input, everybody, and keep it coming! 🙂

  6. Stacey permalink
    August 2, 2007 5:55 pm

    Okay, since you said keep ’em coming…I am also a fan of the $3 mason jar margarita at LO, but when I get back from the beach I’ll have to make you a *real* margarita!

  7. uptown ruler permalink
    August 6, 2007 6:43 pm

    shewhoeats, email me at for posting permissions!

    this needs to be posted!

  8. August 7, 2007 1:44 pm

    OK it took me a while to find you, out of forgettness! I love your blog, I do agree with the ladies about West side, Lucky otter however never impressed me food wise, Tomato Cocina Latina, What up girl, the best by far in West Ashevile, but as far as tourists are concerned, we really do’nt need them lurking outside of downtown, we’ll keep those places to ourselves. one place to visit for fine but casual dinning is table, I had a dream about it last night, if you’re into brunch, their buttermilk fried chicken with biscuits and gravy is out of this world, I’m getting hot just thinking about it. I’m gonna start a blog soon, I’ll let you know when I do. BTW, I love Ready Made!

  9. August 7, 2007 2:04 pm

    Hi, Gypsy Queen! Yeah, I recently heard Table had a terrific brunch menu. I will check it out. Also, Table is currently holding the title for Best Cheeseburger in Asheville. Who would’ve thought? I love that restaurant, as I do for Cocina Latina, and while they both might belong on a 5-day food tour, I don’t think they would fit into the Best of the Best for the True Full Asheville Experience. But that’s just me.

  10. queen kirstifa permalink
    August 8, 2007 5:16 pm

    Ah, Cocina Latina. Always tops my list, and it’s probably the closest restaurant to my house, which gives it extra credit. Have you been there since they remodeled inside?

    Westside update: Apparently there is a new Italian restaurant, purported to be good, over near Patton Ave Blockbuster, in the former location of the “Wing Stop” (don’t cry). Rumor is that a former chef of either La Caterina or Savoy is heading it up. Discerning friends have given it thumbs up. We need a shewhoeats critique for the final word!

  11. queen kirstifa permalink
    August 8, 2007 5:18 pm

    Oh, and lest I forget 28806. Now serving dinner. Atmosphere leaves a little to be desired, but great comfort food.

  12. August 8, 2007 6:15 pm

    hey she – where is that Mexi place, “Pap and Beer” or whatever it’s called?

  13. August 8, 2007 6:38 pm

    Papas and Beer is located just past Biltmore Square Mall, next to/perpendicular to/in the same strip mall as the KMart. Go Now. Papa’s and Beer is the freakin’ bomb.

  14. Gaber permalink
    August 16, 2007 12:49 am

    What a fantastic post! This is what brought me onboard as a new reader! Thanks to BlogAsheville for putting it up! I agree with most of your choices. I do think you make a fair point about Moose Cafe, but I too prefer Sunny Point for breakfast. Their best three things are the Daily Hash, Huevos Rancheros, and the Croissant sandwhich. Also great coffee!

    Queen– good call on 28806. Always a good meal there.

    I see you have nothing from South Asheville. While this is definitely not a tourist-y area (save for coming in on an airplane), there are a couple of places I would say are worth hitting down there. Ianucci’s makes a great pizza, and has killer breadsticks. The Boathouse has some excellent food and has a pleasurable outside are for dining when the weather is nice. The Southside cafe is understated, yet the recipes are wonderful. If you haven’t, go and try the homeade potato chips with gorgonzola! And of course, if you like German food or Northern Italian, you have to visit Black Forest. They also have a great yearly Valentine’s Day menu!

    Man, I miss eating in Asheville. I could go on for a long time bout other places not mentioned yet. Perhaps I need to start my own food blog!

  15. August 17, 2007 2:16 pm

    Great blog. This and your earlier post about the Noodle Shop have made my decision on dinner easy tonight. I added a link to your blog.

  16. El Cabrito permalink
    August 17, 2007 7:23 pm

    Is it me or has 12 Bones quality gone down a bit. I can not belive I am saying this, but I was disapointed in 12 Bones yesterday. The chicken was cold, the beans tasted bland, and the greens had more pork fat in it than greens. When I got there at 12:15 (prime luch time) there were only 4 people in line. Maybe it is not just me.

  17. August 18, 2007 10:27 am

    El Cabrito, I ate there last week, and I have to say I had a similar letdown. Limp, cold sides of goopy mashed potatoes and greasy beans greeted me after a forty minute wait.

    My advice to 12 Bones: Stop trying to fake it till you make it amidst the chaos and open another location, for cryin’ out loud!

  18. marsha hammond permalink
    September 30, 2007 5:54 pm

    The two and only 2 times I have tried to go to Sunny Point, the line is such that you wait in your car and they call your mobile when you can get a seat. NO THANKS

  19. September 30, 2007 5:55 pm

    The last 2 times I have tried to eat at Sunny Point, the wait has been such that you are steered into sitting in your car and waiting for them to call you on your mobile. NO THANKS. Had plenty of those FLYING BISCUITS in Atlanta.

  20. Diedra permalink
    March 15, 2009 2:18 pm

    Try Sunny Point, again, Marsha.You really don’t want to not experience it. I usually have luck at those odd morning times when the masses are not having breakfast. Depending on whether or not you attend church, one will usually find a shorter wait time Sunday morning.

  21. Big Boy permalink
    November 25, 2009 10:30 pm

    I agree with everything…except…Papa’s & Beer has the best Mojito in town…better than Salsa’s, which is indeed tasty, but Papa’s and Beer is the best I’ve had outside of South Beach…Tupelo Honey is indeed wonderful as well.

  22. April 5, 2010 4:00 am

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I grew up in Detroit with Coney dogs. They’re definitely the best in my opinion!


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