By Charlene & Richard Mixa
From Southern Cooking to Upscale CuisineAsheville presents a range of cuisine to satisfy any appetite. The city boasts a phenomenal and extraordinary restaurant scene from its traditional Southern cooking to vegetarian to four-star restaurants. This amazing mountain town, continues to expand and grow with new restaurants, eateries and unique venues. Today many restaurants promote their farm-to-table menus. So many restaurants and so little time!
Asheville Food Tour –More Than a Taste! Food tours are becoming a wonderful way to see a city and enjoy a culinary experience. On this visit to Ashville, NC we quickly sign up for Asheville Food Tour. Meeting at the Grove Arcade, Paddy, our tour guide, begins a diverse culinary tour of Asheville. Strolling up and down the streets of Asheville we visit a variety of eateries from esteemed to sandwich shops. Our first eatery is an buffet at Mila Indian Cuisine. Control is important as we are free to sample any items on the extensive buffet. Hurrah! Each buffet dish is accurately described.
Around the corner and up a hill is the fun and enchanting Vincenzo’s Ristorante & Bistro. Owner, Dwight gives us an entertaining history of the restaurant and Asheville’s Market Street. Tasting the succulent Lobster Risotto with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, Dwight continues to share tales. A unique stop is the Olive & Kickin’ where we sample some of the finest extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars in the world. Amazing how each has a unique quality and flavor. Seated outside at picnic tables we savor the zesty Bangkok Shrimp tacos with a hearty bean salsa and chips at White Duck Taco’s. “Fantastico!”
Still more to come! Warmly greeted at Chestnuts and seated at their long bar, we learn their philosophy of sourcing local foods. Chef delights us with beautiful presentation of a fresh smoked ham and a tangy coleslaw. Are we up to the challenge? More food awaits! Farm Burger is bustling as we arrive. Juicy hamburger sliders with crispy French fries is a final “sampling” of the tour. For a sweet chocolate finale, Paddy takes us to The Chocolate Fetish. No one leaves hungry on this tour. Each place gives an “ample sample!” www.ashevillefoodtours.com
The Market Place Restaurant – Prestigious Dining Conveniently located on historic Wall Street in downtown Asheville, we are delighted as we enter this bustling upscale restaurant on a Saturday evening. Chef and Owner William Dissen presents a menu specializing in American farm-to-table cuisine with a menu that reflects what is fresh from the local farmers. With an inviting modern contemporary décor the Market Place creates a distinctive dining experience. Our mistake today is going to The Market Place after a beer tour. Needless to say, we opted for the Small Plate Menu that is perfect for sharing. The professionalism of the staff from the host to waitress is superb. Selecting three small plates to share, our first course is the scrumptious Smoked Potato Gnocchi with Romesco sauce accompanied with arugula and orange topped with buttermilk dressing, and country ham cracklings. The Mac & Cheese has peas and crunchy prosciutto in a cheddar mornay with an herb crust satisfies our desire for a Southern comfort food. Luscious Seared Sea Scallops has a ginger nage along with fava bean and boiled peanut succotash and a touch of spice are our third small plate. A sweet self-indulgent finale is the decadent dulce de leche brownie featuring toasted homemade marshmallow complimented by gingersnap ice cream. Absolutely tantalizing! It is easy to highly recommend this wonderful restaurant for visitors to the Asheville area. Executive Chef & Owner, William has been named one of America’s “Most Sustainable Chefs.” Chef William strives to create “innovative farm-to-table cuisine” utilizing ingredients and artisan products from within 100 miles of the restaurant. www.marketplace-restaurant.com/
Special Dining with Magnificent Views! Each vacation to Asheville we visit the Grove Park Inn. From golfing, to taking the Inn’s History Tour, to delighting in an afternoon at the unbelievable Spa, to breakfast, lunch or dinner at one of their unique restaurants, this historic and four-diamond resort continues to exceed expectations. Seeking a special evening celebration dinner, we select the Vue 1913 an American Brasserie. Dining on a Monday evening in the comfortable and stylish setting we delight in a leisurely meal. Seated at a table away from the windows but a few steps above the main floor, we have expansive views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the glorious glowing sunset. Quiet and serene Vue 1913 is excellent for a special evening. Each course is beautifully presented. Blending American and French cooking Vue 1913 has a marvelous selection of wine from an abundant French cellar. Our entrees of the Lobster Pasta and Roasted Duck Breast are succulent and luscious. By passing dessert, we visit The Great Hall Bar to sip wine and listen to some relaxing music for the evening.
Of course, for a wonderful outdoor dining experience for lunch or dinner, we highly recommend the Grove Park Inn’s Sunset Terrace. Fantastic views with a varied yet savory menu. Breakfast lovers will be in awe at the Inn’s Blue Ridge Dining Room’s endless Breakfast Buffet. After a big breakfast, we skip lunch. www.groveparkinn.com
More Eateries Await! On Sunday afternoon, we are anxious to for a special lunch and actually happen on The Corner Kitchen in Biltmore Village. A sister restaurant to Chestnut, this small restaurant in a refurbished house has a warm cozy feel. Even at 2:30 PM there is a short wait. Rarely eating beef, I treat myself to their renowned hamburger which was scrumptious and even cooked to order. Richard’s brisket sandwich was the best he had ever had. HE LOVED IT! He sounds like he is on the Food Channel as he raves and describes the flavors of the sandwich and the cream feta potato salad.
A favorite new dining restaurant in Asheville is the Wicked Weed Brewery. Growing truly by leaps and bounds, the Wicked Weed is latest and greatest new place to eat in Asheville. Beer lovers will thrill at the brews and the food is superb. The lobster roll is awesome, the trout sandwich delicious and fish and chips are great. Our waitress is energetic, upbeat and has a “Happy” smile that is contagious. A unique eatery away from downtown Asheville is the Grovewood Café adjacent to the Grove Park Inn. Nestled within an enclave of shops & museums it offers the finest in regional and continental cuisine. Offering unique Southern cuisine. Give it a try and then tour the unique shops and museum at Grovewood.
A good place for pizza and beer is Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria. It is a great place to stop in for a brew and fresh slice of pizza. For a fantastic offering or both traditional southern breakfasts and terrific lunches be sure to stop in the Early Girl Eatery. Breakfast lovers will delight in their extensive breakfast menu. Lunches are excellent. Our favorite is the catfish sandwich. Step back in time and mosey in for an old fashioned lunch at the Woolworth lunch counter. After lunch stroll through the magnificent art and craft displays by vendors in the former Woolworth Five-and-Dime.
These are the restaurants from our latest visit to Asheville. Last year we took the High Roller Food Tour which was terrific, yet so different from the Asheville Food Tour. Even on our visit to the Biltmore Estate we had a wonderful lunch at Cedric’s Tavern. Be sure to pick up the “Asheville-Area EATS & DRINKS” at the Asheville Visitor Center. It is an excellent guide of all the restaurants in the area. Between food tours and our own dining selections, Asheville will amaze and delight any foodie! www.exploreasheville.com