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Oct 19, 2009 08:53 PM

First time in Asheville, NC -Report

My husband and I just visited Asheville for five days, we love the triangle area so we figured Asheville was the next best bet with local breweries and farm to table restaurants in the area. We stayed at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in the historical Biltmore Village, the hotel was lovely and the staff was wonderful. Our first night we had a few drinks at the hotel bar with a Ceasar salad and bratwurst entree which was quite delicious. The next morning we walked to the Corner Kitchen for breakfast for MI Carbon waffles and eggs with Chorizo, we loved the place so much we headed there for brk one more time before heading back home. Our dinners were at Table, Fig, Tupelo Honey and Barley's Taproom.
Our best meal in Asheville was 12 Bones BBQ for lunch, we got there before it opened at 11:00 and there were people waiting outside, it was rather rainy and pretty crappy outside so you KNOW that's a good sign if people are still willing to come and stand OUTSIDE! We got the Chili Ginger ribs and Brisket with 4 different sides-the ribs were Exquisite! I SO wish we had a BBQ place like this where I live in Ohio.'s listed as fine dining but I'd have to disagree with that, the dishes are not sophisticated enough. This is not meant as a put down I just think the plates are presented as more homey,simple and rustic. I ordered a Veal chop with collard greens and Mac and Cheese and my husband ordered the Hanger Steak. A lovely restaurant indeed however we enjoyed Fig better.
Fig Restaurant was within walking distance of the hotel so we dined there about 6:30pm. We had the Duck breast with Orange gnocchi with Fennel leek fondue, Duck Rillette, and a Chicken entree with Potatoes. The dishes here were more complex and the flavors were richer and deeper. I overheard the server say they just rolled out the new Fall menu which has Pork Belly on the menu as well. Our server was very friendly and attentive.
Tupelo Honey was fun, our server Mike was great and my Bloody Mary was awesome. Loved the beer flights and our dinner of one hamburger and Nutty fried chicken was very tasty. Those biscuits and that Blueberry jam stole the show though.
Walking though downtown I purchased about $50 worth of chocolate from Kilwin's-outstanding customer service! I also tried the Italian Cream cake and Eclairs at True Confections which were so good I went back for more the next day. I tried the Kamms Frozen Custard....not so much, someone needs to go to St louis and taste Ted Drewes.
We tried Luella's BBQ for lunch one day , after eating 12 Bones BBQ there is no comparison, we threw half of our lunch away.
Breweries we visited were Highland, Pisgah, and French Broard- all wonderful beer, one question though...WHERE ARE YOUR SIGNS?? There is no way we'd be able to find these tasting rooms at nighttime in the dark.
Our last dinner was at Barley's Taproom, fantastic beer selection but the food was pretty standard and forgettable. So wish i would have tried Doc Chey's Noodle across the street.
If you are visiting downtown Asheville, get there EARLY!! Downtown parking is a complete nightmare. Who the heck goes downtown for 15 min only (parking meters)???
All in all a lovely visit, the people there especially are really welcoming and friendly, I tipped at least 25 to 30% every time we ate somewhere.

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  1. Nice review! Come back and try The Admiral (in west Asheville) sometime. It is Asheville's best restaurant and best value.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jeff C.

      Ohh, I had the Admiral on my list but we just didn't get the time, major regret indeed. Ohh, on the second trip to Corner Kitchen I had the Corned Beef hash-Excellent!!

    2. re: parking. Wife and I were in downtown Asheville three weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon and parked outside Decades. Came back from walking around and had a ticket under the wiper blade. I was livid until I read it and it said that as a courtesy they wanted us to know we had exceeded our allotted time. No fine.

      We had some of the best fried green tomatoes we've ever eaten in Decades. Served over grits with a chile aioli. Very nice beer selection and service also.

      1. Parking is easy...decks are plentiful and have lots of space in them.

        1. thanks for reporting on your visit. Sounds like you got a lot in. I wasn't too excited about Table either, but I know I'm in the minority. And ya, Barley's is just average food, but good for a beer and pizza. 12 Bones absolutely rocks! Try the blueberry chipotle next time. So good!

          For chocolate, try French Broad Chocolate Lounge next time. Unusual and high quality. Some people prefer Chocolate Fetish, but I like FBCL better. Guess you'll have to try them both! ;-)

          re: parking. We are usually in town after hours (evenings) and haven't had any problem, but we have our usual spots we try at either end of town (because we're too cheap to pay). But, the parking decks are very inexpensive on weekends, don't know about the rest of the time (a couple of dollars I think?)

          Glad you had fun!

          9 Replies
          1. re: Scirocco

            I dunno...I think the thoughts on Table are at least an even split. I've given then two tries now and I won't be giving them a third. It's not terrible, just not worth my time/calories.

            And yes, I'm sorry the OP wasn't warned against wasting a meal on Barleys. GREAT beer selection, merely decent pizza.

            parking: i'm not sure waht the OP means by "15 minutes only" You can park a lot longer if you don't mind stuffing $$$$$$ in the meters. Or you can find your "own" private lot that doesn't tow like we do.

            1. re: danna

              And the public parking decks are just two dollars per exit on weekends. We've never had a problem finding a space in one, even on Alive After Five nights.

              1. re: Jeff C.

                Asheville changed the rules on parking garages about a month ago, following rates apply 24/7 ~

                On-Street Parking
                On-street, metered parking is for two hours or less, and costs $1 per hour, paid at the parking meter for each space.

                Parking Garages
                Parking garages are operated for longer-duration parking as well as for monthly parking for downtown residents and employees.

                Civic Center Garage: Parking in the Civic Center Garage is free for the first hour and then $0.50 per hour for each hour or fraction thereof.

                Rankin Avenue Garage: Parking in the Rankin Avenue Garage is free for the first hour and then $0.75 per hour or fraction thereof.

                Wall Street Garage: Parking in the Wall Street Garage is free for the first hour and then $0.75 per hour or fraction thereof.

                1. re: NANCY

                  so, now, if we park in a metered spot after 6pm weekdays or on weekends for more than two hours, that we are supposed to pay? oops. We haven't been. I had thought it was free after hours. I guess we've just been lucky and haven't gotten a ticket!

                  1. re: NANCY

                    Are you sure this applies on weekends? I've never seen the booths manned on weekends before.

                    1. re: Jeff C.

                      The new rules apply to parking garages only. Meters still stop at 6pm (Sundays & Holidays still free I'm pretty sure).

                      The booths are not manned at night. New machines make change and take take credit cards. I have no idea how you get out if you lose the parking ticket. This is just for the city garages. Private garages (like the one next to Diana Wortham Theatre) are manned and have different rates.

              2. re: Scirocco

                Yes!! Blueberry chipotle sounded so interesting, we took some home with us along with the Jalapeno sauce and habanero hot sauce. You all are SO LUCKY to have 12 Bones close, my husband thinks it was the best BBQ he's ever had and I'd have to agree.

                1. re: nemis

                  do you mean you were able to take some bluebery chipotle SAUCE home, or some ribs adorned with it. I'd LOVE to get some B-C sauce to go.

                  1. re: danna

                    There is a rack with most of the sauces for sale just to the right of the kitchen door near the cash register station. This is at the original River District location. I can't say for the south location as I've never been there.

              3. We are headed to Asheville in November, so I was thrilled to see this review and all the replies to it. Especially the info about parking!
                I came on the boards today to check for info about where to eat on the Saturday when we arrive, prior to going to the George Winston concert at the Diane Wortham theater. I don't know the layout of Asheville so all the parking info is going to be printed and carried with us.
                Sounds like 12 Bones is a must for us and I think I'll get Fig reservations for our before show meal. Also want to try Tupelo Honey. I hadn't heard of the Admiral, so I'll look into that too.
                We are going to Flat Rock to see a show at the theater there one evening, so if anyone can offer a suggestion for dinner there, I'd love to hear it.
                Can't wait to visit Asheville for the first time!

                16 Replies
                1. re: Dkirk1

                  For the pre-Flat Rock show, search on the south board for Hendersonville (5 - 10 mins away). Also consider the Back Room at Flat Rock Wine Shoppe. It's very close to the theater (within the same small village). I have not eaten there yet personally (other than some apps which were very good), but food reports have been good. Atmosphere at the Back Room is casual (as are most places around here). So, if you want a more upscale atmosphere, do the Hendersonvillle search. There are lots of options. Have fun!

                  1. re: Scirocco

                    Thanks, I will look into your suggestion. Close to the theater sounds good. I don't want to do upscale dining every night of our trip - so casual would be fine.

                  2. re: Dkirk1

                    I'd suggest having dinner in downtown Asheville the evening of the concert ~ much easier to walk to the DWT then worry about parking. Consider Table, Cucina 24, MarketPlace or Mela if you're going to make a reservation. If you just want to wing it consider Tupelo Honey or Bouchon. Start your evening at Sante Wine Bar in the Grove Arcade. Also, there is a private parking garage adjacent to the Diana Wortham, it usually has an evening flat rate of $5. You'll love the Diana Worth Theatre - it's a wonderfully intimate venue.

                    In Hendersonville, I'd consider NeverBlue, Square 1, Flight or West First Pizza (the first three will take reservations). All are on Main Street and it will take you about 10 minutes to get to the FRP from there.

                    Fifteen of us went to the Admiral last nite. Flawless in both food and service.

                    1. re: NANCY

                      I guess I'd better look at a map of downtown and see what is where to help me figure out where to eat pre-show. I will certainly look into the places you listed. I had kinda ruled out Table as some of the opinions I've read (I think they were on TripAdvisor) suggested that it was good - but not remarkable. I think I'd like to start our week on a high note and go somewhere noteworthy.
                      I think I'd rather have a reservation to ensure that we have enough time to dine before the show without a rush.
                      Thanks for the suggestions!

                      1. re: NANCY

                        After looking at menus and locations, I think we're going to give Bouchon a try for our pre-show dinner. We should be able to get into town between 5-5:30 so hopefully wouldn't have a long wait.
                        Do you feel the restaurant close enough to the theater that we might be able to park by the theater and walk over for dinner and back to the theater?

                        We're going to try for reservations at Fig on Tues night. Do they have a formal dress code or are they more relaxed (khakis & polo shirt)

                        1. re: Dkirk1

                          Bouchon is an excellent choice and is about three blocks from the theater. The fall menu just came out and the rabbit is outstanding. At 5 or 5:30 you shouldn't have a problem at all. Enjoy!

                          1. re: Dkirk1

                            Asheville is a walking town, everything is close. I'd still suggest the garage next to DWT for the George Winston show. Walk over to Bouchon from there.

                            The rabbit is excellent and so is the turkey piccata. Usually all you can eat moules are a special on Tues & Wed. If you have some time after dinner or after the show, go to French Broad Chocolate Lounge. It's heaven.

                            Casual is fine for Fig. Asheville is a tourist town, so almost anything goes.

                            1. re: Dkirk1

                              You will love both Fig and Bouchon...great choices!

                              1. re: Dkirk1

                                Although I like Fig alot, right now the Admiral is turning out absolutely magical food, it would be a shame to miss out. (and it's an extremely casual atmosphere)

                                For your Flat Rock meal...West First Pizza is head and shoulders above anything else in Hendersonville. It opens at 5. They also have pastas in the evening. I don't know what time you're going to the theater, so I'll let you know that West First's original location is called Flat Rock Village Bakery and it's walking dist. from the theater. But they close at 5 (i think) , so not sure if that would work for you.

                                a hint: if you're going to eat at 12 bones for lunch and have a dinner planed as well...try to space them out as much as possible. I think 12 bones opens at 11am. 12 Bones has "ruined" many a dinner. You will be full.

                                1. re: danna

                                  Thanks again everyone for the replies - I appreciate the help and advice!

                                  Ohhh, a chocolate lounge - that sounds too good to pass up, hope they are open after the show - but we have other evenings we might get there also. I love Chicken Piccatta, so the turkey version at Bouchon will probably be a treat for me. I'll let hubby try the rabbit (I've never had rabbit so wouldn't know what to expect)

                                  We are NOT going to miss the Admiral, I have put in on my schedule for either Mon or Tues (after we leave Biltmore)

                                  We are going to do 12 Bones on Wednesday as a late lunch after our LaZoom tour and will skip dinner entirely that evening.
                                  Our show in Flat Rock is at 7:15, so I was hoping to eat at 5 - 5:30 and was thinking the Back Room at the Wine Shop sounded good and close. I haven't had the chance to really research the Flat Rock area yet. We are planning to spend that morning at the NC Arboretum, so will have plenty of time to do a little exploring before dinner and the show.

                                  if any of y'all go to Raleigh, check out J Betski's - had a delicious meal there this past weekend!

                                  1. re: Dkirk1

                                    Just my two cents, my wife and I went to the Corner Kitchen for dinner last night and I had the Pork Chop and she the dcuk and both were fantastic, I highly recommend it.

                                    1. re: bigbillyt

                                      CK was on my list of places to consider - but I don't have enough days available. Thought about trying them for breakfast one day.

                                    2. re: Dkirk1

                                      We love Bouchon. It's good food and not hard on the wallet. Sit out in the back courtyard if it's a nice night. Tiny, but nice.

                                      I think the chocolate lounge is open late. Here is their website:

                                      re: Flat Rock "area". There's not much to it. Just a few nice shops which I think all close around 5pm. It wouldn't take long to go through them, but they are cute. re: dining. Didn't ask you which day the play is. The Back Room is closed on Sundays (as are many stores and restaurants) and Mondays, so just be aware of that. btw, the website for the Back Room is below if you want to check out the menu. I think it's their current one:

                                      If Flat Rock doesn't work out, there are lots of options in Hendersonville and that's close too. Agree on the suggestions of West 1st, Never Blue, and Flight (Flight being pricier than the other two, but all are really good).

                                      1. re: Scirocco

                                        I'm drooling after looking at the the chocolate lounge website & menu - that is now on my list of MUST visit - maybe after the George Winston concert if we aren't too tired. Or possibly after our late lunch at 12 Bones on Wednesday.
                                        We're going to Flat Rock for the play on Friday so no conflicts on the wine shoppe being open, the menu looks fine - I picked it for convenience sake since it's close, but maybe I will take a look at the Hendersonville options if it's so close.

                                    3. re: danna

                                      Ok, my trip to Asheville is sadly over (but we are already booked to go back in April!!). We dined at Bouchon, it was good and we enjoyed it. Hubby had the rabbit as advised and was very pleased. I had the Le Boeuf Bourguignon, which was good, but is a rich heavy meal. Mom had the Le Poulet au Cidre and she said the sauce was very tasty, but the chicken wasn't very flavorful. Being that Bouchon was a French place, we opted to skip our planned dinner at Fig on another night and went to Zambra instead. We were not very hungry that night so the small plates worked out well for us and we very much enjoyed our choices there (Scallops, Sauteed Mushrooms, Curried Meatballs, Cheese plate)
                                      The meals that totally ROCKED were at The Admiral and Twelve Bones. I am so glad I listened to all the great comments and sought out these two places!! They are both definately on my list for a return visit in April.
                                      If I had passed The Admiral on the street I never would have thought twice about going inside - the exterior and location do not scream "Great Food Here" but Wow, we loved it!
                                      Had the Blueberry Chipotle ribs at the Riverside Dr location of 12 Bones and they were excellent. I also got a taste of the Brown Sugar Ribs and the Tomatillo from my mom's & hubby's plates - all were delicious!

                                      We stopped in to The Chocolate Lounge for a late night Hot Chocolate - wow, what a line, but it was worth the wait. While browsing the downtown shops I found Chocolate Fetish and treated myself to some delicous truffles and choclate treats.
                                      I'm so glad I was looking for advice on Chowhound and got steered to such great places to eat. Since I have already booked our rental for the trip in April, I will plan to visit Fig and Tupelo Honey (TH was closed for the holiday during our visit).
                                      We also ate the Thanksgiving buffet at the Grove Park. It was fine, food was good, but I think I'll pass on holiday buffets in the future and opt for a sit down/served meal. I'm glad we went there because I really enjoyed seeing all the incredible gingerbread houses on display, and seeing the beauty of the Inn.
                                      And we did go to West 1st Pizza in Hendersonville before the show at the Flat Rock playhouse, we got some pasta dishes. Mine, with Shrimp & Scallops & Spinach Alfredo was very good. Mom & hubby weren't as impressed with their meals - pasta with a sausage tomato sauce. The pizzas looked great so I will go back next visit and have pizza (which was what I wanted but was outvoted in favor of pasta).
                                      Many thanks to the Asheville Chowhounds who provided their insight and guided my choices. I can't wait for April to get here and my return trip.

                                      62 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

                                      Twelve Bones Smokehouse
                                      5 Riverside Dr, Asheville, NC 28801

                                      Tupelo Honey Cafe
                                      12 College St, Asheville, NC 28801

                                      Zambra Spanish Wine Tapas & Cuisine
                                      85 W. Walnut Street, Asheville, NC 28801

                                      West First Wood Fired Pizza
                                      101 1st Ave W, Hendersonville, NC 28792

                                      1. re: Dkirk1

                                        Glad you enjoyed and thanks for the report! Fig and Bouchon are very different (Bouchon more "authentically" French) so you won't feel like you're at the same place at all. I love Fig, hope you get to enjoy it as well on your next visit.