On a Mountain Y’all: Asheville Eats

One of the parts that excited me most about moving from Boston to North Carolina last fall was being able to explore a new part of the country, and this part of the South is chock full of great spots to travel for the weekend. Last month I headed to Asheville, NC for a girl’s weekend to celebrate my birthday with a few close friends. And y’all, it was a blast. We ate and drank our way through the beautiful city of Asheville, and I cannot wait to go back and hit up all the spots we didn’t have time to get to. I’m pretty sure if I was stranded on a desert island and had to pick one food to live off of for the rest of my life it would be the biscuits and jam from Tupelo Honey Cafe. I wouldn’t recommend reading this post on an empty stomach – mine is growling from looking back through our delicious food-filled weekend!

We road tripped from Raleigh on a Friday afternoon with a solid playlist and snacks, and set off for the mountains for the weekend. It’s supposed to take a little under four hours from Raleigh to Asheville, but with some traffic and terrible NC drivers, we arrived in downtown Asheville after about 5.5 hours. We booked two nights at the Aloft Asheville Downtown because it was in the perfect location within walking distance to everything and Allie and I are Starwood Hotel loyalists so we were able to book two rooms on points. We were able to get adjoining rooms, which was perfect for the four of us, and had a pretty sweet view of the mountains from our room. The Aloft even has adoptable puppies in the lobby every day that you can just go and pet and cuddle if you’re into that, and if you already have a dog the hotel is pet friendly. Not that I plan to bring Harry and Frankie along on any Asheville adventures, but it’s definitely a nice perk for pet lovers.

We kicked off our food-filled weekend for a birthday dinner at Cucina 24, per the recommendation from one of our coworkers. This Italian spot was right in the heart of downtown and an easy walk from the hotel. We started off with some much needed fizzy red wine after a long travel day, and it hit the spot perfectly. Allie and I are big fans of frizzante ever since Skip turned us on to it, but it’s not the easiest to find  so whenever you see it on a menu definitely get it. This bottle was delicious, and we felt wicked fancy knowing a little something about good wine.

After stuffing our face with grilled bread and wine, we then had the best pasta ever. This tagliatelle bolognese was hot, fresh and so flavorful it really hit the spot.  I would highly recommend, especially with loads of freshly grated parm on top. Yum! We finished the dinner off with a birthday dessert and some singing. A very successful and delicious first night in Asheville, and thank goodness calories don’t count on your birthday.

The next morning we decided to kick off what we knew would be a food-filled day of gluttony with a healthy activity: yoga. We took a slow flow class at Pure Yoga right next to the Aloft, which made it easy to just roll out of bed and get our namaste on. Our instructor Farrell was awesome, and led a super fun, funny, and zen flow class that was just what we were looking for. We all almost fell into zen comas in the last few minutes of class. We immediately undid our healthy activity with a delicious breakfast at Tupelo Honey Cafe. We had walked the mile to Biscuit Head after yoga, but were greeted with a line a mile long and over an hour wait. So we ubered back to downtown after Sarah called ahead to get our name on the list at Tupelo, which meant we were able to walk right in as soon as we arrived. I highly recommend traveling with me and my friends if you want a well organized trip – we are nothing if not resourceful. So we celebrated immediately with some delicious cocktails.

I’m actually not a big fan of Bloody Marys. I’ve tried so many kinds, but have not found one that I really crave yet. But sometimes you’ve gotta eat for the Insta, and I was actually surprised I did like this Bloody Mary. Very flavorful and not too spicy. After getting my jam on (ba da boom!) with the biscuits and blueberry jam, the main event was better than we could have imagined. Among the four of us we had goat cheese grits, avocado toast, a fried chicken BLT, Southern Shakshuka and this apple cider pork belly hash, with “Cracklins” which are the crispy potatoes underneath. Heaven on earth y’all. I’m not technically supposed to eat egg yolks based on my food intolerance test results, but I mean, this was worth any impending stomach ache for sure.

After we rolled ourselves out of breakfast, we headed straight for French Broad Chocolate Lounge. No, we aren’t total fatties, we just needed to keep our caffeine IV going strong and this came as a great recommendation to get fresh coffee. We opted for some delicious hot mochas and took the time to enjoy the drinks in the welcoming cafe atmosphere.

We headed back to the hotel to shower up and get ready. We had a nice relaxing day walking around all of the little shops on the main strip. There was a great general store that you could get lost for hours in with people hamboning it up out front. If you don’t know what hamboning is, look it up immediately. You’re welcome. Plus the general store was fully stocked up with some traditional overalls, though being a southerner Allie had already come prepared. We had heard from everyone we knew that we had to go to Wicked Weed, which was an awesome brewery with lots of outdoor seating right next to the hotel. It was packed, but we got a great spot outside where you just had to order some food of the menu to sit there. Well twist my arm why don’t you? So we had some brews, vino and light snacks and soaked up the sunshine on a beautiful spring day. I could have stayed in that spot the entire weekend.

On our walk to get more food (surprise surprise) there was a 7 year old Michael Jackson impersonator dancing up a storm in front of the hotel, which was incredibly entertaining to watch for a while. MJ impersonators and Hamboning. Asheville has something for everyone. We then took our required selfie in front of the Before I Die Wall on the main strip. I titled this piece of work “not sobes y’all” which just means we’re feeling fine after a day of delicious drinks. You can abbreviate anything in the South and it sounds totes adorbs.

We pregamed our nice dinner with some tacos from the White Duck Taco Shop, a quick serve spot with a la carte tacos and delicious drinks. We sampled a number of unique tacos and enjoyed some mason jars full of seasonal sangria, which may have resulted in a 90s playlist sing-a-long. Maybe. But when the tunes are jammin, and you’re livin life with tacos and some amazing friends, there’s no shame in belting out some TLC and Destiny’s Child with some bad ass lady boss friends.

We then headed back to the hotel (with a quick stop at the liquor store) to get dressed for our nice dinner at Curate. This spot apparently is near impossible to get a reservation at, and had just re-opened from renovations, so we were psyched to snag a late night reservation for our 15th meal of the day. We shared some delicious tapas – most notably the paella, patatas bravas and then the highly recommended fried eggplant drizzled with honey. They kept the food and drinks flowing, and even brought out a special birthday dessert. I’d love to show you the pics, but in full disclosure, we were having such an amazing time laughing and enjoying the meal that I don’t have any pics worth posting. Also, we drank a lot of wine, so the few pictures I did take are rather blurry and off kilter. Like we were. And it was great. Alright, here’s one semi-okay photo to drool over. Don’t ask me what it’s a photo of though, because lord knows we had our fair share of Malbec that night.

The next morning, we were slow to move and not on a schedule, which was nice. Sarah and I hit up City Bakery across from the hotel to get some food and coffee in our early-30s-don’t-back-as-quick-as-we-used-to stomachs.

Once we all got ourselves packed up and the car loaded, we headed to the Biscuit Head location that’s just outside of downtown. There was still a line, but much shorter and we were able to get in within a half hour. Some of us were a little more struggle-city than others, so while Allie and I opted for plain biscuits and jam, the true foodie champions Sarah and Olivia got some delicious breakfast biscuits. This biscuit was towering with poached eggs and fried green tomatoes. I can’t wait to go back when I’m not old and hungover to try everything. They even have gluten free biscuits for Linda!

The drive back luckily was super easy, so all in all a very amazing weekend! I’ve heard Asheville is magical in the fall when the leaves are changing, so I am definitely looking forward to going back and continuing to eat my way through this delicious hipster city. Visiting the Biltmore is on the top of my to-do list next time I’m in Asheville. I was happy to find out they have a Tupelo Honey Cafe in Raleigh near Cameron Village, so while the original is in Asheville, I can get biscuits any time I like (when I am actually home in Raleigh). Plus, I’ve decided to quit my job in corporate America and be a professional hambone performer. Ba da bee ba bah da be bah!

I’ve already got a few other southern spots like Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah on my list of spots to check out soon. So if you’re a foodie like me, or love sunshine and beer, definitely put Asheville on your list of spots to travel to soon!