Alright, y’all. After a week off from posting due to moving, I’m ready to share all the fun that was had on my trip to Asheville, NC. As I’d mentioned before, the long weekend Chef and I spend in North Carolina was filled with food (and booze!), family, and exploring– three of the best things, in my opinion.
Friday started out with a seriously long and ridiculously noisy journey to Asheville via Atlanta and Charlotte. Seriously, though. What is it with babies only shrieking on long flights? And why can’t adults get away with it? The drive from Charlotte to Asheville wasn’t as bad for me as it was for Chef– I got to sleep the whole way. After checking into the Aloft Hotel and vegging out for a bit, we decided to face the real world at The Black Bird‘s happy hour, and I’m so glad we did. Chef ordered the most amazing blackberry mojito that was on special and it was so tasty, I already forget what I’d even ordered to drink. We ordered a scallop dish that was serious heaven and a cheese platter to hold us over until dinner. After finishing our tasty booze and food, we headed back to the W XYZ bar inside the Aloft to use our free drink coupons given to us at check-in. (Note: I may have tried to order the blackberry mojito again the next night, but they were out of mint and couldn’t make it for me. WTF? What respectable bar runs out of mint? Apparently, accidents happen. I’ll let it go this time.) By then it was time to head out for dinner, which was right across the street. The Chestnut offered quite a tasty and eclectic selection of cuisine, ranging from petite fillets to ratatouille to bánh mì sandwiches. The cocktails were pretty tasty, too!
Saturday was a very low-key day, starting at the hotel pool and then heading to Chef’s dad’s house for a birthday celebration and my first low country boil (sounded weird to this California girl, but it is oh, so good!). After stuffing ourselves with delicious peach and berry crisp, Chef and I headed back to the downtown area and tried out some of the Asheville nightlife. Wicked Weed Brewing was our first stop and it was packed! The outdoor seating was perfect for such a gorgeous night. Chef and I didn’t particularly care for their specialty cocktails, but I suppose that’s what you get when you order cocktails at a brewery. Next time, I’ll have to order one of the many beers they brew in-house. We walked down to Storm Rhum Bar & Bistro for another cocktail. The bar setup was cool (and had tons of rum, as you might assume) and the outdoor patio with cafe lights stole my heart. I’d love to try out some of their food on my next visit.
Some of the hotel guests were a little rowdy Saturday night (let’s be real: wedding parties are only fun when you’re a part of them) so we didn’t sleep very well. Luckily, Sunday began with brunch at Limones, where we had amazing food and (sadly) lackluster service. I’m really, really hoping that it was just an off day for our server because I’d love to go back and experience their food again. My hash brown bacon quesadilla was seriously drool-worthy with white cheddar cheese, eggs and a smoked chile crema sauce (not that it was memorable or anything…) and I don’t want to not go back just because my mimosa was the only drink forgotten and an entrée was never delivered to the table. Fingers crossed! Stuffed to the brim, Chef and I wandered around the downtown area afterwards, checking out shops, tasting at wine bars (including this neat combo of used-book store and Champagne bar!) and picking up some cigars for my dad’s Father’s Day present. After all, tobacco has always been an important part of North Carolina’s history. We even ran right into a street music performance while walking around! After another delicious family dinner at home, Chef and I explored some more of the downtown area. There are SO many neat buildings to look at and interesting restaurants we wanted to try! All of our exploring built up our appetites again, so we stopped into Farm Burger to try it out. We split a burger, fries, and a salted caramel milkshake so amazing it was like something out of a dream. Their burger add-ons were part conventional (think cheeses, tomatoes, etc.) and part unusual (think appleslaw and roasted garlic) and 100% tasty. I really wish that they had a location near us so I
wouldn’t have to share could try my own burger.
Monday was a short but sweet day. We met up with Chef’s dad for a quick bite at Tod’s Tasties Cafe, which offers some killer sandwiches and beers, among other items on their menu. Once we were done with our meal, we said our goodbyes, picked up Chef’s sister and headed back to Charlotte to catch our flight back to San Francisco.
I really liked exploring downtown Asheville, but would love to visit some of the iconic destinations outside of the downtown area like the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Biltmore Estate (which, apparently, has a McDonald’s nearby that is a replica of the mansion?!). I loved how, much like I was told before my visit, Asheville really is the Portland/Austin/”liberal heart” of the South. We all know how much I love Portland! It’s super dog-friendly and very artsy. I also loved that drinks were so much cheaper than in Napa, hell, cheaper than most of California. All in all, my trip was a lovely introduction to the area and I’m sure I’ll be back to discover more!