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Suggestions for a first trip to Asheville

My friend and I are planning a trip to Asheville for four days in December and neither of us have been there before. Any suggestions on what not to miss in the restaurant/bar category (or anything else, for that matter)?

Many thanks!

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  1. GReat place to visit. You can park downtown and do a lot of walking to all sorts of shops and galleries and restaurants. Early Girl is a great place - very casual. Tupelo Honey is another good one. Admiral which is just outside downtown is quite an experience. Looks like a converted gas station (maybe it is a converted gas station) but definitely great food.

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    Tupelo Honey Cafe
    12 College St, Asheville, NC 28801

    8 Replies
    1. re: LGD

      I concur, mostly... The Admiral is the best restaurant in Asheville. (Yep, that's a period.) Tupelo Honey, while still worthy, has gotten more than a little touristy of late. Other options are Zambra, Bouchon, and Mela (downtown), Fig (in Biltmore Village), Tomato Cuchina Latina (in West Asheville), 12 Bones for BBQ and Papa's & Beer (near Biltmore Square Mall) for cheap Cali-Mex. Enjoy your visit, and please post your thoughts after.

      1. re: Jeff C.

        Visiting Asheville this weekend and ate at The Admiral last night. Can't say I concur with your thought that it is the best restaurant in Asheville. Menu is very interesting, yes. We had good direction on wine choices and were pleased. However the service was lousy, inattentive and slow. There were some highlights to the food - esp. the risotto that came with the lamb and the sweet potato creme brulee for dessert, but the rest of it was just mediocre.

        1. re: VStallworth

          Each to his (or her) own tastes, I suppose, but I'm now a semi-regular and have never had anything close to a "mediocre" meal or bad service--Kim, in particular, is one of the warmest and most helpful servers in town. (She makes a mean cocktail, too!)

          1. re: VStallworth

            Service in Asheville tends to be more on the casual side than in other areas. If a quick in and out is desired then the restaurant needs to be chosen with care.

            I was recently at The Admiral. Service was slower than I experience in other areas, but did not detract from the meal. They didn't stop by the table frequently, but they were keeping an eye on our progress and were there when glasses needed attention, etc. Menu knowledge was excellent and the food was superb. I just wish they had been open when I lived in the area!

            It is a small place and was packed. I recognized several of the staff from a prior mutual workplace and can attest that they are not slackers. Just the opposite, they are the sort who have your back and bring the team forward.

            1. re: meatn3

              Perhaps our experience at The Admiral was not the norm. I took the advice of Chowhounds and made this our first food stop of the weekend. I am well attuned to slower service specific to certain areas (most places I have visited in the Caribbean come to mind), but found the experience at The Admiral frustrating. Server more focused on helping move tables out for the late night music/bar time than tending to our needs (not high maintenance, just basic). If the food had been superb, I would have been willing to overlook the service. That was not the case. I will say that the bartender was wonderful, attentive and with good suggestions. I just don't have this place on my return to list. On a more positive note, our experience at Limones tonight was excellent - from the service to the food, a place we will definitely return to in the future.

              1. re: VStallworth

                Your expectations seem reasonable - sounds like you got caught in the wrong side of the other goings on.

          2. re: Jeff C.

            I'm the friend that went to Asheville. We had a blast eating our way through town. We took your suggestions very seriously, but since we were staying downtown, we decided to do the ones in walking distance. Yummy brunches at Tupelo Honey and Early Girl. They were very different, but we had delicious food at each of them. Zambra was cool because of the unique architecture, ambiance, decorations. One night we needed a quick bite so we stopped by Asheville Pizza and Brewery. It wasn't on the list, but it was so yummy. And after all the debate on other posts about the noodle shops, we picked Doc's. No complaints. The one place everyone failed to mention and we fell in love with is the French Broad Chocolate Bakery - heavenly! All in all we had a blast in your town and ate fantastically. I am sorry we missed the Admiral and 12 Bones though.

            1. re: TickChick

              Glad you enjoyed everything. While some people poo-poo Doc Chey's because it is a (small) chain, I'm quite found of their Pad Thai and Thai Red Curry. Also, French Broad Chocolate Lounge has the loveliest truffles and pots de creme--it's my go-to place in Asheville when I need a chocolate fix. Do come back and try The Admiral. It's the best restaurant AND best value in town.

        2. I concur with everything already posted and toss in Sunny Point in West Asheville on Haywood. I had a breakfast sandwich that made my eyes roll back in my head. The tuna melt makes me swoon too. All local ingredients, some of which are growing in their restaurant garden.

          1 Reply
          1. re: clsr2fyne

            Whoops! I forgot about Sunny Point...great all-damn-day breakfast! (My favorite huevos rancheros ever.)

          2. On the bar front, I would recommend checking out Jack of the Wood, Thirsty Monk, Bier Garden, and The Orange Peel for a music night.

            There are also a number of local brewery's in the area...

            1 Reply
            1. re: mcap

              We checked out Jack of the Wood, Thirsty Monk, and the Orangle Peel. Each had friendly bartenders and a fabulous selection on beer. Thanks for the suggestions!

            2. Thanks for all of the suggestions! Gotta love a town with swoon-worthy breakfast sandwiches!!

              3 Replies
              1. re: rubigeorge

                My two cents - Papa's and Beer and Tomato are good but I would not make a special trip to eat there if you are from out of town. Zambra, Admiral, 12 Bones, Bouchon, Fig, Sunny Point, Mela, Tupelo Honey...all more uniquely Asheville. Have fun.

                1. re: miss piggy

                  I agree, but would also add that Papa's & Beer and Tomato Cuchina Latina are worthy choices for those on a budget.

                  1. re: Jeff C.

                    I agree. If you go to P&B, be sure and go to the Brevard Road location.

              2. i'm a HUGE fan of Early Girl for breakfast http://www.earlygirleatery.com/menu.s...
                the sausage and sweet potato scramble is amazing.

                also if you want a casual pizza place with a great beer selection, you can try Barleys.

                1. I recently took a long weekend trip to Asheville and 2 place that stood out for me were Early Girl Eatery and Limones. I typically am not a huge fan of southern food but I loved EGE- it hit the spot after taking a 6 hour hike earlier in the day! Limones is fantastic-,very fresh cali-mexican food (get the lobster nachos!) and great mixed drinks.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: wanderingviolet

                    Glad to hear the 2 positive reports on Limones. That used to be our favorite spot in town but IMO it went downhill a bit and we couldn't justify the price. Maybe we should give it another go...

                    1. re: miss piggy

                      What about Rezzaz and Stovetrotter? We just had some really delicious food at Rezzaz. Haven't been back to Stovetrotter for a while, but it was very good on our last visit. It's not mentioned very much on here, so I'm just asking. We also enjoy lunch at Corner Kitchen when we're in Biltmore Village.

                      1. re: pilches

                        I agree - Stovetrotters is one of the best meals I have had in Asheville. I keep thinking it was a fluke because you never ever hear about it. We really need to try it again.

                        1. re: miss piggy

                          I recently went there for the first time with some friends and I agree, it was really good. Had an excellent flat iron steak (cook perfectly, tender and flavorful with a fabulous sauce) and awesome sides. Everyone at our table really enjoyed their meals there. Only complaint (which I expected going in based on comments here) was that it was pretty noisy and only half full (mid-week). can't imagine how loud it is when it's crowded! But, I would definitely go back. In fact I have to go back because my husband was out of town and making a major pooh-face that he had missed a really good meal. :)