What’s Hot in Asheville’s Culinary Scene? Southern Comfort and CreativityBy Jennifer Auvil
Asheville’s dining scene — dubbed Foodtopia by the visitor’s bureau — really is a food lover’s dream. Around town you’ll find classic Southern comfort food, beer lists filled with local brews and creative culinary experiences that put a local spin on the farm-to-table experience.
Biscuits All Day
If you fall into the “breakfast is the most important part of the day” club, you’ll be happy that you can enjoy this beloved meal all day long at Early Girl Eatery. Early risers can fuel up for a day in the great outdoors with made-from-scratch breakfast delights.
Flaky biscuits are piled high with eggs and topped with classic smoky bacon gravy or creamy herb gravy for veggie lovers. Night owls can sleep in and still order from the breakfast menu until 9 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday and 3 p.m. the rest of the week.
Unexpected Pub Grub
At Jack of the Wood you’ll find upscale bar food with an unexpected twist. The nachos are topped with bison, the Reuben is made with corned beef or tempeh, and the french fries are smothered in cheese and fresh garlic.
Of course, there are standard burgers, wings, fish and chips, and filling fare like shepherd’s pie and pork chops. Live music, including traditional Irish sessions and bluegrass, and old-style English ales round out this Southern pub vibe.
Battle of the Barbecue
Asheville may not be the battleground for North Carolina barbecue (that distinction goes to Lexington), but there are still many contenders for the best barbecue in town.
The menu at Buxton Hall BBQ is ever-changing, but you can always count on classic Eastern-style barbecue — a whole pig roasted for 18 hours over hardwood coals. Whether you go with a pulled pork platter and RC Cola baked beans or a decadent buttermilk fried chicken sandwich layered with bread and butter pickles and pimento cheese, you can be sure the ingredients are locally sourced from nearby farmers.
And it’s not just the food that’s surprising at this South Slope hotspot — back in the 1930s the spacious dining room was a happening roller rink.
Meanwhile, former President Barack Obama prefers 12 Bones Smokehouse in the River Arts District, known for its ribs, pulled pork and smoked turkey served with signature sauces like the sweet and spicy Blueberry-Chipotle Barbecue Sauce.
The Little Food Truck That Could
Little Bee Thai’s story is as appealing as its food, starting from its humble roots as a gas station outpost to the days as a roving food truck with a fervent following. Currently, hungry patrons pop in to the downtown destination to see what Thai specialties might appear on the rotating menu.
You’ll always find standards like spring rolls and pad thai, but weekly surprises include soups, Thai BBQ chicken with sticky rice and sweet and spicy chicken satay. Fish Fridays feature fresh seafood in dishes like Beer-Battered Green Curry Halibut that give a whole new meaning to TGIF.
Bring the Funk (or Classic IPA)
Hot boiled peanuts, soft pretzels dipped in beer cheese and a charcuterie board piled with cured meats and olives counts as dinner, right? They sure do at the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, a taproom dedicated exclusively to sour beers and other funky, barrel-aged brews.
Traditionalists may prefer to see what’s on tap at the Wicked Weed Pub, which has a more traditional lineup of classic and seasonal American ales, IPAs and stouts, as well as heartier food options.
Take an active role in Asheville’s homegrown culinary scene and search for your supper on a wild food foraging escapade with No Taste Like Home.
Explore the local woods like local chefs do, uncovering Earth’s edible treats along the trail. Asheville is home to more than 300 edibles, with mushrooms galore, wild roots, berries, seeds and grasses.
This is the kind of unique adventure where you shouldn’t go it alone; expert guides can easily discern the edible from the dangerous and explain the best ways to eat — or drink — your foraging bounty.
Belly Up to the Sipping Chocolate Bar
Skip the meat and potatoes and get straight to the good stuff with the all-dessert menu at French Broad Chocolate Lounge. It sounds like a scene from a childhood dream in a decidedly grown-up, luxe setting where you can pair a rich brownie with the perfect pour of red or warm cookies with a cup of local coffee.
The highlight is a lineup of liquid-truffle sipping chocolates, which take hot cocoa to new heights, infused with spices like cinnamon and cardamon.