Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Attention Asheville Tourists

Crossposted from SheWhoEats

"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 Indian food, 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 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- For your first dinner, I would recommend Mexican/Carribean/Ashevillean restaurant Salsa’s. Famed local chef Hector Diaz’s first foray into Asheville fusion, which has preceded four other restaurants of varied styles, is still my favorite one of them all. Try fitting a giant empanada stuffed with local: pumpkin, goat cheese, wild boar, kale, beets, corn, and other unimaginable delights into your mouth. It’ll never happen. But somehow, the controlled chaos creates a perfect symmetry by time it reaches your taste buds. Do all this while sipping the best Mojito in town. And give your leftovers to the homeless dude who will kindly attack you within five minutes upon your exiting this establishment.

Friday Late Night- For dessert and drinks, try Old Europe. My favorite choices here are the key lime pie (seriously) and the chocolate hot dog. I can’t remember the real name for this dessert, but it’s a long tube of chocolate nestled in two light, flaky, buttery, almond cookies. Looks like a hot dog to me. The drinks are pretty, and the atmosphere is gorgeous.

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, Gourmet Grrl, which is a long time in Ashevilletime. Their sweet tea is among the best I’ve ever had anywhere, the apple butter is to die for, and the buttery biscuits are bigger than my head. Get 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 newer 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 yummy baja fish tacos. Who knew rice could be this stupendous!?

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 Night- La Caterina Trattoria. This is my favorite spot for romance, celebration, comfort, and good plain fun. My partner-in-crime and I end up here on birthdays, anniversaries, and bad Mondays. I have been to Italy, and I am here to say this restaurant holds its own against most of the trattorias we visited there. The antipasti salumi is outstanding, the pasta carbonara is the best I’ve found stateside, and the wine selection is among the best in Asheville. You will not regret the formidable bill, I promise.

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, 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 the most diverse experience in town, I think. Local artists are featured on every surface, the drinks are reasonable, and the live music or dj is usually worth the cover.

Sunday Morning- Tupelo Honey. ” 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 another batch of lovely biscuits, gourmet fried chicken, and a fabulous veggie platter at very reasonable prices. The coffee rocks, too.

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 pile 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. That’s pretty much all I’ll order which is why I only eat there in the winter, when it’s on their regular menu.

There you have it: The three day Asheville Food Tour. I have only one question for your addition to this, dear reader. Where can folks find the best coffee in Asheville? Any suggestions?


Jer said...

Neither has my favorite coffee in town, but Malaprop's and World Coffee Cafe both have a good ambiance for tourists and are good places to people-watch.

Jim Jenkins said...

Excellent post UR! My daughter was just telling me about Papas & Beer last night. I can't wait to check it out. I've left 10 Bones twice because of the line. I may have to wait until the weather gets cooler to finally try it. Thanks for the tips.

Edgy Mama said...

I'd nominate the Dripo for best coffee in town. Although everyone should try Mountain Java now that they are roasting their own beans here (formerly Port City Java but no longer part of the franchise hood). Also, I haven't been to the new Asheville Coffee Roasters locale out in Woodfin, but I heard they now have a coffeehouse with free wi-fi, and they've always roasted and served great coffee!

Kathryn said...

I've only been to the Enka Mountain Java, but they were horrible. All the prepared foods- bagels, sandwiches, croissants- were stale. They'd been in the case for at least 3 days, by the taste. The coffee was just average, compared to what I've had at Malaprops or True Confections.

Merrill said...

What happened to all of the places I used to go to in the early 90s when I went to UNCA? Gatsby's (I used to work there), Stephens Pub, Magnolias, the dance club down the street from there, Stone Soup, 45 Cherry Street?

There was another sports bar on Merriman across from the natural foods grocery?

mygothlaundry said...

They all got gentrified out of existence, merrill. Well, Magnolias is still around, but the rest are long gone.

shewhoeats said...

I think I ate at Stone Soup once as a teenager while driving through Asheville. Was it a vegetarian soup and sandwich joint? That reminds me how I've always wanted someone in Asheville to open a restaurant fully dedicated to Soup. The Soup Kitchen in Knoxville (also during the 90's) is the perfect example. Rows of homemade soups to pair with rows of homemade breads. That's what I'm talking about.

Since writing this post, I've had some coffee, and I've concluded that while the Mountain Java on Merrimon is pretty dang good, the Dripolator is the best for people watching, which is kind of what coffee shops are all about, really.

Muddy said...

I took at course in Asheville (UNCA) in the summer of '80 or '81. I really enjoyed Stone Soup and Ike's International. Ike's gave me my first taste of Black Forest cake. I suppose that one is long gone, too?