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Asheville Dayhikes and Beer all set, just need Good Food

Hello Asheville Chowies, I'm getting ready for my favorite kind of vacation, involving exclusively hiking, food, and beer. I've read through the board a bit but know nothing and would love some feedback and ideas.

My brother and I, late 40's, will be arriving on a Sunday afternoon and day hiking in the area Monday-Wednesday 12-18 miles/day. Both of us are foodies, but also home-brewers and backyard BBQers and need to find a happy mix of our vices on this trip. Thinking of a dinner first (as long as the beer selection is good), and then a pub or two. We'll probably hit Wicked Weed at least Sunday night after dinner, but the ideal for the evenings after a day of hiking would be a chef-driven restaurant with a thoughtful beer selection (aged?) where we could get a couple or three beers with dinner, and if needed we could hit a pub afterwards for a rare beer or two.

We need one nice meal for Sunday night (like The Admiral or Bull and Beggar), and then for our hiking days anything goes from comfort food to more fine-ish dining (in jeans) as long as the restaurant is run by a chef or a pit-master. I looked at Curate but beer seems to be completely neglected, so unless we can not get food nearly as good somewhere else, we will pass on Curate this trip.

We'll get to hit 12 bones on Thursday lunch before we head out of town, but we'll otherwise be hiking during the days. If there is an exceptional BBQ joint for dinner I will also be eager to try it - exceptional being defined as better than mine :-) .

A place like King James looks perfect on paper, very trendy, but how is the food underneath the fashion? Are there any places in Asheville you could imagine receiving a Michelin Star?

Lastly, breakfast may be in order depending on how early we get started. Are there any innovative but calorie-rich breakfast places that can be recommended?

Thanks a million!

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  1. Did you see this post on King James?:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/962834

    Lots of good breakfast information (and more) in this thread:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/968999

    1 Reply
    1. re: carolinadawg

      I did see that thread on King James, which is why I am on the fence about it. The second link is great for breakfast ideas and dinner ideas. Thanks! Biscuit Head should provide the calories we need!

    2. I understand from my beer snob friends that Thirsty Monk is the place to go for unusual bottles. I'm more about Asheville's own fresh brew on tap, which is found almost everywhere. 12 Bones always has a lot of local beer on tap, and available in 10 oz pours which I appreciate.

      Admiral I could see getting a Michelin Gourmand status, but it's too casual for a star i think. make reservation NOW.

      1. As I posted in the thread referenced below, I loved King James. In fact, I've still been thinking of the meal fondly two weeks later. From reading your post, our tastes sound similar.
        I am also a beer geek. King James beer list is pretty good, not great, but then I can't think of a restaurant in Asheville that have a stellar beer list AND outstanding, creative food. I'd define stellar as 8+ drafts, little or no macro, a good selection of local and well regarded national brands, plus some large format bottles.

        Case in point, I love the Admiral, but they have a pretty limited beer list (Wedge IPA on draft is all). My solution to this conundrum is to prioritize. At meal time, I'll select outstanding food over a strong beer list. Before/after dinner, I'll go to the place with the best beer.

        Keep in mind, most every place in Asheville sells craft beer. I think you have to go to Wedge and Wicked Weed, If you want the best beer selection in town, I'd go to Barleys which I prefer to Thirsty Monk.

        Biscuit Head was an awesome breakfast and a great value.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Tom from Raleigh

          Homegrown for another breakfast perhaps - quick and filling - and good.

          I'd look at Seven Sows too for a dinner. Sounds like it could be up your alley.

          Wicked Weed has good food too if you're tired and hungry.

          1. re: miss piggy

            Thanks for the great info guys. By "rare" beer I mean infrequently brewed, like a triple IPA or barley wine. I agree that local is always best and will be trying as many Asheville brews as I can, and only on tap regardless. I may stop by a bottle shop on our last day though and pick up a case or five of stuff that doesn't easily make it's way to Florida. I'm not worried about the beer because in my experience the first night at a local pub usually leads to new friends willing to share the local secrets.

            And thanks Tom, I'll have to hit Wedge too. Your definition of a "stellar" beer list sounds about right! At a restaurant I have no problem with Blue Moon on the menu as long as the cocktails can compensate, but thankfully I am finding that this mentality is coming to an end and I take it in stride kinda like I do with my racist uncle at Thanksgiving - a relic.

            Biscuit Head and Homegrown for sure, thanks miss piggy. I chuckled when I saw the prices on the menu - literally half the price I pay in Ft Lauderdale for a good breakfast! I hope the owners aren't reading this. Seven Sows does indeed look like a good place to me, the kind of place that probably has beer-cocktails on the menu. Love it.

            It looks like I'll be in Asheville for 6 nights - 4 with just my brother and 2 with our families, eight people altogether. I made reservations for Thursday at The Admiral for 8 people (Saturday in August was a no-go even for just 4), but the others I saw look more sane as far as reservations go and will give me time to think about things some more. I'll be sure to write a trip report and let you know how an outsider feels about Asheville. On paper it looks promising.

            I've spent many summers in NC but have always focused on regional and coastal cuisine (which is what I always look forward to). It is exciting to think about what Asheville may offer.

            Also: Is there a recommended place for good packed lunches early in the morning? If not, of course trail mix is the meal of choice.

            1. re: walker42

              Greenlife Grocery is a small Whole Foods market - good place for bulk trail mix, grab-and-go sandwiches, etc. It's small and feels much more "local" than a giant WF. I think they open at 7a. They have a pretty good breakfast hot bar too actually...

              1. re: miss piggy

                I agree with miss piggy that Greenlife would be a good choice for picnic food. They have a lot of prepared foods. According to their website, Greenlife opens at 7:30am. You might also want to check out Laurey's which opens at 8am Monday through Saturday: http://www.laureysyum.com/

            2. re: miss piggy

              What's the word on Table? It doesn't seem to get mentioned often in Asheville threads, but their menu looks interesting.

          2. If you find that you've hiked longer than you thought you would on one of your hiking days and/or need to stop for a snack. There is a restaurant and a snack bar at Mount Mitchell State park and a restaurant at the Pisgah Inn near Mount Pisgah. They both serve breakfast lunch and dinner. Also, there is a cafe that serves lunch at the Cradle of Forestry, just tell them you're there for lunch to avoid the admission fee or use your America the Beautiful pass or go on Tuesday. The food can be hit or miss, but I've never had anything inedible at any of these restaurants; and the views are lovely from the Pisgah Inn and Mount Mitchell.

            1. Check out Punk Wok on Monday nights at MG Road, Rhubarb and Seven Sows. You must get the steak tartare at The Admiral. If you like dive bars, the Double Crown is a hop, skip and a jump away from The Admiral. I like Limones too. If time permits, don't limit yourself to one stop, go to two or three restaurants a night.

              1. Good tips Helind. Although the Pisgah Inn was beautiful when I went a few years back, there were a few things we ordered that were, if not inedible then worthy of ridicule. Looking back at my photo album I have a cute picture of our friends poking comically at their food. It ranks about in the middle of the National Park concessionaire meals I've experienced, (the best being at Mesa Verde and the worst by a long shot being at the Ahwahnee Dining Room in Yosemite). Besides, I would never inflict the odor of a day hiking on the poor patrons of a restaurant before first cleaning up at our hotel! :-)

                Waitress - oddly enough I saw a photo of the steak tartar on The Admiral's website and decided then that I will have to try it just based on the apparent texture. For some reason it is a very hard dish to find in the Fort Lauderdale area (you can find it, but you don't necessarily want to eat it unless you like mush).

                Also, you mention Limones, which I will definitely try. Another coincidence becasue as I am typing this I am simultaneously texting my hiking-buddy brother, an airline pilot (in San Francisco at the moment) after having directed him to Nopalito's for a solo dinner, one of my favorite Cali-Mex restaurants. He is now texting me back pictures of his dinner. This is how geeky we are!

                So Waitress you may be the one to ask - we're staying at a motel just across from Papas and Beer. Is that a good "safety" restaurant if we find we're just too tired to drive the 10 minutes to downtown after a day hike? Is it something totally different than Limones or is it also Cali-Mex except with less fancy ingredients? In my opinion, some of the best Mexican restaurants in the east are near me in Homestead, but I always love to try new places if they are worthwhile. If it is Cali-Mex I'll stick with Limones. I'll be trying Manrique's Mexican Store in Clayton, GA on the way back to Florida.

                Breakfast may become the powdered eggs and frozen sausage links at the hotel which I just booked. A compromise for sure but it will help get us on the road earlier. We'll still have at least two good breakfasts including Sunday. Any special places (BBQ?) for Sunday breakfast/brunch?

                10 Replies
                1. re: walker42

                  Limones is awesome. I'd recommend making a reservation as opposed to walking in...

                  Papa's and Beer is fine but it's super casual and more like the "sloppy mex" you'll find at other casual Mexican joints anywhere in the US. Enchiladas, burritos, tacos, rice & beans, etc. It's nothing special but it's filling and decent. Limones is more upscale (but not fancy) - think lobster nachos, fresh seafood, and designer margaritas. Totally different price point and experience. I'd go for Limones.

                  Luellas's does a good BBQ brunch (bacon bloodies!) - other brunch faves are Over Easy, Homegrown, Limones (again), Posana and Ambrozia. Tupelo Honey, Early Girl and Sunny Point are all super-popular so get there when they open or be prepared to wait. Same goes for Over Easy.

                  I haven't been yet but have heard great things about King Daddy's Chicken and Waffles. That's next on my brunch list.

                  1. re: miss piggy

                    Thanks. I've made reservations for Sat at Limones, Sunday Supper at Rhubarb (do any other places have a communal supper concept? I love them on vacations) and Thursday at The Admiral. I'm hoping I can play it by ear on Monday-Wednesday dinners between places like Curate, Chai Pani, Ben's Tune Up, Seven Sows King James and the other board favorites. Do you think any of these need a reservation Mon-Wed?

                    Btw, Luellas web site says they open at noon on Sunday. Too late for us.

                    1. re: miss piggy

                      I tried King Daddy's a couple of weeks ago. had chicken wings, kale salad, wild mushroom dish, and a waffle. Everything pretty good. Nothing absolutely killer, but definiately solid and we'll probably be back.

                      1. re: danna

                        How was the service? I went with a friend a couple of months ago and it was really slooooooooow. And it was not crowded. Maybe 2 or 3 other tables. Chicken was good, waffles good. The rest (sides that I can't remember), just ok.

                        1. re: Scirocco

                          eh... I don't remember the service, so it must have been ok.

                    2. re: walker42

                      Papas and Beer is fine for convenience but not for a taste of Asheville. It might even make you a little sad

                      1. re: waitress

                        Thanks, exactly what I needed to know. Nothing a 10 minute drive won't fix then!

                      2. re: walker42

                        Will you be hiking anywhere near Morganton? - Not too far from Asheville and some gorgeous scenery. If so, I HIGHLY recommend Judge's!

                        Judge's Riverside Barbeque Restaurant
                        www.judgesriverside.com/
                        Join Us for Great Food by the River! Located on the majestic banks of the Catawba River, Judge's Riverside Restaurant serves up a rich variety of inside and
                        128 Greenlee Ford Rd, Morganton, NC 28655
                        (828) 433-5798

                      3. Hi Walker. I'd love to hear where you ended up eating and drinking, and what you thought of it. I'd also like to hear where you took your day hikes. I'm also looking for new spots! Thanks!