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Hound-Worthy Chow in Hendersonville, NC

I have now officially lived in Flat Rock for six years, and in that time have only discovered three places in Henderson County that, when price, service, and food quality are all factored in, are truly worth recommending: Flight, West First Wood Fired Pizza, and the universally acclaimed One Love Jamaican.

Anything I've missed? (I do keep meaning to get by Blue Water for seafood, but the place has very limited hours.)

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  1. Whoops! Make that FOUR. Forgot about Flat Rock Village Bakery.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jeff C.

      El Padrino across from Blue Water is not bad, authentic is my guess.

      Do try Blue Water. It's not all that, the sides are a little blah, but if you get a bottle of retail price white wine (they have an interesting selection) in a nice bucket of ice, and sit on the patio, and eat simply prepared fresh seafood (they will steam you a lobster...not cheap) or steamed scallops, or clams or fried oysters, it's a nice way to spend an hour on Saturday They are opened for lunch on Sat. until 4 (they won't do the Lobster if you get there really close to closing, though)...don't know about their other hours.

      What about Highland Inn? Don't you like that? I only go for the buffets...that way you can focus in on what you like, plus it ups the "value" portion of your equation in my book. Eat heavy on the salad end, have pancakes or the like for dessert, because their actual dessert offerings are the weakest link.

      And you left out Krispy Kreme ;-)

      1. re: danna

        Is El Padrino that drive-through thingie that used to be a Cuban place?

        Have been to Highland Lake for brunch twice and didn't have anything bad (including dessert). But I also can't remember anything truly memorable, either.

        As for Krispy Kreme, was there EVER a food that tastes so great warm from the fryer and so horrid (often downright gelatinous) cold?

    2. For Mexican I would add Papa's and Beer and coming soon will be a new Japanese/Sushi restaurant owned by the same folks who own Sora in Brevard.

      11 Replies
      1. re: kjen

        The Papa's and Beer in H'ville is just okay, IMO. I like the one in Asheville better for the atmosphere and slightly spicer fare.

        As for the new sushi place, it looks really nice on the outside, classy in fact. Haven't tried Sora, though. Any good?

        1. re: Jeff C.

          Agreed. I've been to P&B once, won't be back. Didn't hate it, just don't have extra meals to waste.

          Sora is good. They like to make "specialty" rolls that are big, expensive, heavily sauced (squeeze bottle stuff) and Americanized...oh, and they taste good, in spite of themselves. But you can also sit at the bar and get normal sushi, some of it pretty darn good. I get uni there, and I'm scared to order it most places.

          KK - yep. I won't eat them if the light is not on. Unfortunately, my husband's office in G'ville is a couple of blocks from KK. You can smell the damn things when they are making them. It takes a strong man to resist. He's called me before and suddenly I hear over the cell phone "3 glazed, any coffee?" BUSTED.

          Yes, that's El Padrino. I wrote a review of it for our little website, but the "boss" didn't want to use it because he said I wrote too much stuff over the border in NC. Well, there's a reason for that. I can't remember if I posted it to C-hound or not. Let me know if you want to see it.

          1. re: danna

            Absolutely! Is it still just a drive-through? Also, forgive a sushi novice: Is uni eel or what?

            1. re: Jeff C.

              uni is sea urchin, generally considered one of the more risque sushi ingredients. it tastes like a wave did a face plant with you in a clean ocean, but in a good way, if that makes any sense at all. i like it, but side with danna in that it's one of the riskier things to order. get to know the place first, their overall quality & level of execution before ordering uni.

              eel is yummy! my favorite.

              1. re: mark

                You guys are braver than I. I'm just now getting used to eating raw tuna!

              2. re: Jeff C.

                El Padrino Hendersonville, N.C.

                I got lucky on Labor Day. There was a mutiny among my mountain bike crew après ride. Half went to Subway (no comment), one went home, and I was lucky enough to be riding with an open minded friend who was willing to turn the car around when I said…”oooh, let’s try that!”

                I’m saying that’s lucky because there are plenty of people in the world, not to mention Greenvillians, not willing to try a tiny, untested restaurant, with signage in Spanish, no tables, a very limited menu, and no native English speakers in the house. She was game, however, so we stopped to check out El Padrino.

                El Padrino serves soft tacos, and that’s about it, except you can get Carnitas on Sunday. The initial good sign: homemade corn tortillas warming up on the grill. Filling choices included pork w/ pineapple, pork in hot sauce, cow’s tongue, beef cheeks, chicken, and chorizo. I was warned away from the pork as too spicy…but then the counter man decided to let me have a taste. It was, indeed, just about at the limit of my heat tolerance, but quite delicious, and so I ordered one. I was instructed to add cilantro and onion from the condiment bar, “and more hot sauce” if I liked. He was kidding.

                The condiment bar was another pleasure. Plenty of cilantro and raw onion, fresh salsa, a marinated onion and hot pepper condiment, tomitillo salsa, and a few others. The fresh salsa was delicious, and sported a unique addition of chopped pickles along with the tomato and onion. It was a perfect cooling agent to go along with my fantastic, but incendiary, taco.

                We pulled up stools to the small ledge surrounding the tiny dining area to eat – just like Salsa’s in the very early days. My friend had a chicken taco, and consumed it without offering me a taste, so I’m going to assume that was pretty good, too. It was the suggested choice for a more delicate palate, heat-wise. We both had grapefruit sodas, and the bill came to a remarkable $7.49. Yes, for both of us. El Padrino is simple, authentic, fresh, homemade, delicious food, and a bargain, too.

                El Padrino
                525 Kanuga St.
                Hendersonville, N.C.
                (828) 329-5345

                1. re: danna

                  Thanks for posting this, Danna. Had never even heard of El Padrino before your mention here. Def. sounds worth a try, esp. at the bargain prices.

                  1. re: Jeff C.

                    I hope you will. I want them to succeed, and I feel guilty that I haven't been back there...but my husband has a bit of a delicate stomach and refuses to go with me. We often sit at Blue Water on Saturday and look longingly across the street.

            2. re: Jeff C.

              For good authentic Mexican food in Hendersonville where do you all go?

              I would say Sora has the best Sushi in Western NC. It is consistently excellent. The fish is always tastes fresh and there is a great variety. Danna, my husband is like you and will only order uni at Sora.

              1. re: kjen

                Papa's & Beer (Cali-Mex) is about as good as it gets in Hendersonville, I am sad to report. El Paso and the others are strictly watered down, super cheesy/greasy versions of Tex-Mex staples like enchiladas. (The acid test is that you seldom if ever see actual Mexican-Americans eating at these places.)

                1. re: kjen

                  I haven't been yet, but there's another place that was recommended to me by someone who spent several years in Mexico for work. The place is called El Jarocho (not sure of spelling) but it is located in the Food Lion shopping strip right on 25 in H'vile. Supposedly they have great authentic Mexican food. Anyone else been here or have any opinions about it??

            3. What about BBQ? We have found the best is Circle B Ranch BBQ across from the Asheville Airport.

              2 Replies
              1. re: kjen

                Still haven't tried 12 Bones in Asheville, though I very much want to. Other than that, though, have found no really good "Q" in WNC.

                1. re: kjen

                  Try Hawg Wild in Brevard. They serve their pork in pieces you can actually see and taste. It's different than most places that pulverize their bar-b-que until you don't know what you are getting.

                2. I mentioned this in another post before I saw this one. Try South Rock Grille heading towards Flat Rock on HWY 25. They have a wonderful variety of foods and the lunch menu is different from the dinner menu. They switch over to dinner at 5, I think. They offer some fantastic dinners as well as good old comfort food like burgers,wings and homemade, fresh cut fries. All their desserts are also made there and change daily.
                  Their steak sandwich is the best I've ever had and I can also say the same for the wings. I've never had a bad dinner there and the fresh calimari is wonderful! (when they have it)
                  What I like the most is how everything is fresh. They make everything from scratch,even all the sauces and dressings. They have the best BC dressing in the world! (IMO)

                  Another place that hasn't been mentioned in Hendersonville is Bistro 32 on the corner of Fifth and Main. I had lunch there a few weeks ago and the grilled steak pannini was OUT OF SIGHT!!! The ambience there is a little higher class and I always feel like I need to go home and change..(lol), so it's not somewhere I go every day, but the food is really good and the service was good as well.