Today’s post is written by Lloyd Hannon, a gal who truly knows how to travel and pick great destinations. Today, she’s giving us the overview of how to “do” Asheville, NC!
Asheville, North Carolina, like lots of other southern towns that we’ve always known were cool, has been increasingly in the news as a fun destination with a restaurant and arts scene that is evolving into something to take note of. This small city and the surrounding area encompassing the Blue Ridge Parkway–and all the glory of Appalachia–is within easy driving distance of all of SB’s sister cities (it’s less than a 5 hour drive from Nashville, where I live) and makes for a great long weekend destination for families, couples or girlfriend groups. For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on fun for grownups and some highlights of what Asheville has to offer in the way of good food, beer, bars and the arts in three distinct neighborhoods: Downtown, West Asheville and the River Arts District.
I was a lucky girl this summer and got to stay in a loft in downtown Asheville for a whole month while my kids were at summer camp. If this appeals to you, check out VRBO for similar accommodations: www.vrbo.com.
Here’s the Broadway Loft where I stayed.
There is much to offer in Asheville for the foodie, as well as those seeking more comfort or ethnic food, and there are lots of breakfast options. These are a few of my favorites.
- Chef, Kate Button has been nominated for a James Beard award and her downtown restaurant is listed in every article about Asheville.
- The Spanish food menu is intimidating and you’ll find long wait times for a table, but the experience and food are worth being persistent.
- A superb and knowledgeable wait staff will totally take charge if you need them to and will come up with an order for the table with plenty of small plates for everybody to try.
- Sit at the bar if you get a chance. It’s like dinner and a show in one, but be sure to make friends with your neighbors so you can share more plates!
- Table is consistent favorite, known for really good seasonal and local food.
- I like to sit at the bar here, too, which faces the teeny kitchen where the chef can make personal suggestions. I became a fan of Steak Tartare here.
- Like Curate, Table is also located in Downtown Asheville.
The Admiral: theadmiralnc.com
- In the emerging eclectic neighborhood of West Asheville, this is the current foodie star.
- The Admiral is set in a little old dive bar made out of cinder blocks and staffed by T-shirted and tattooed servers much cooler than you are.
- The food and service are the best of any restaurant anywhere.
- Make a reservation in advance or eat late.
12 Bones: www.12bones.com
- The President even stood in line at 12 Bones…twice! (White House Photo by Pete Souza)
- Very good bbq with great sides that are updates on traditional southern “veggies.”
- Two locations, but I like the River Arts one for a pre-shopping lunch or as a follow up after a visit to The Wedge Brewery.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge: frenchbroadchocolates.com
- I’ve never experienced anything else like this.
- Located in Downtown Asheville and open til late with a line out the door, this is a lot of fun after dinner for drinks and dessert
- On the menu you’ll find beer, wine, coffee and lots and lots of chocolate and other sweet things
- If you go on weekend nights, you’ll also find live jazz.
Over Easy Café: overeasyasheville.com
- This is my new favorite spot downtown for breakfast.
- They offer great smoothies, coffee and big ‘ole eggy specials.
In 2010 Asheville was named Beer City, USA, and though it has since been edged out of first place by other cities also boasting an emerging beer culture, it is still a great place to learn more about craft brews or to indulge in your favorite flavors if you already know what you like. All restaurants in Asheville serve local brews on tap, and there are many local breweries and brew pubs to choose from. Most are walking distance in downtown (good when exploring beer), but there is also a special brewery tour shuttle bus for aficianados: www.abchopandgo.com.
Here are my favorites:
Wicked Weed: www.wickedweedbrewing.com
- Located downtown, Wicked Weed offers great food (can you say lobster burger?!) and amazingly interesting and varied beer selection. (Their Watermelon Saison was a summer favorite.)
- Be sure to share a flight of 6 2oz. beers to sample the many offerings on the menu.
- Great outdoor seating (an Asheville must, with such mild summer weather) both in the downstairs beer garden and in front of the restaurant.
Lexington Avenue Brewery (LAB): www.lexavebrew.com
- Good basic food and craft beers on one of the best shopping streets in downtown
The Wedge Brewery: www.wedgebrewing.com
- Totally Asheville weird and wonderful.
- Located in the River Arts district (more on that below) where crumbling warehouses house amazing original art, the Wedge is almost all outside (except for the small interior ordering bar) and littered with found metal art sculptures.
- Corn hole and other activities abound here, and there are always food trucks parked on property to help you balance the beer intake.
Oyster House Brewing: oysterhousebeers.com
- Oysters and beer. Need I say more?
The Bywater: www.bywaterbar.com
- Bywater is loated on the French Broad River just down from the River Arts District.
- It’s a true locals bar/club for watching the river go by while enjoying a drink.
- Tube down the river and hop out here, or bring something to grill.
- Great rooftop sitting area downtown and scrumptious cocktails and snacks.
Ben’s Tune Up: benstuneup.com
- This is newest addition downtown with the coolest outdoor space I’ve ever seen in an old garage (hence the name).
- Great beer, wine and cocktails, but also interesting Japanese inspired food.
5 Walnut Wine Bar: 5walnut.com
- This was right around the corner from my apartment and a great spot for an afternoon beer or glass of wine. They have tons to choose from and the most wine-by-the-glass options I’ve seen.
- This place also offers really nice snacks, like meat and cheese or a hummus plate
- Beautiful wood bar and bar seating by the windows, which are almost always open
The River Arts District www.riverartsdistrict.com
- The River Arts District is an eclectic, funky, weird, awesome collection of warehouses in the old industrial section of town by the French Broad River with artists studios (ceramics, textiles, jewelry, paintings, sculpture, you name it).
- It’s open to patrons during varying hours for shopping and looking.
The Fine Arts Theatre fineartstheatre.com
- This is an independent and foreign movie theatre downtown that offers beer, wine and snacks in addiiton to great films.
- This summertime dance performance group pulls dancers from ballet companies all over the country. Truly worth checking out.
These venues are merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg in this beautiful subsection of the south. I didn’t even mention Biltmore or Nantahala Outdoor Center or the wonderful little artsy crafty town of Black Mountain.
So much to explore and do… I’m already planning my next trip!
Thank you, Lloyd. We’re packing our bags so we can follow you on your next excursion!