I would not dare attempt to discern the merely popular establishments from those embraced by the resident population as truly local, but I will say that being recognized by the waitstaff as a frequent return customer makes one feel much more connected to a bar or restaurant. And this is what we began to experience as we closed in on three full months in the area.
The hosts and barkeeps at Archetype knew us even with full face masks, and waived us towards our preferred seating area as if we had been coming for years. The staff at Pizza Mind knew we would most likely have a Roasted Beet and Cauliflower pizza, and always with the sesame seed crust option.
And the ladies at Asheville Sushi and Hibachi recognized us on only our second visit, and treated us like regulars on that and several subsequent meals. This little strip mall sushi joint is just fantastic, and we will definitely miss the fresh fish, healthy portions, and Thai chai. Located well south of downtown proper it’s barely even in Asheville, so it is hardly a tourist destination, and yet I am not sure how well known it is by the locals either. It gets our strong recommendation, regardless.
White Duck Taco Shop is far too big and popular for such an experience, particularly the River Arts District location on the banks of the French Broad, but this iconic Asheville establishment pulled us back for multiple visits. We dined on delicious and imaginative gourmet tacos at a very fair price, and did so at an excellent dining environment.
In the same general vicinity we visited Wedge Brewing Company, another brewery thankfully not located in the excessively crowded down town beer mecca (a set of blocks we found to be woefully inadequate in their COVID mitigation efforts.) Wedge was fine, and located in an interesting set of buildings filled with art studios and the like, but the lack of wifi or accessible (and affordable) nearby food options left it well below our preferred Archetype Brewing.
Oh yes, the River Arts District is where it is at as far as trendy and artsy Asheville goes. And though Rose and I may, in general, prefer the atmosphere and vibe of the less well known West Asheville hamlet area, we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon and early evening trips to River Arts. We had one meal at Smokey Park Supper Club and another 12 Bones BBQ. Rose is much more of a BBQ aficionado than I am, and she found the former’s brisket sandwich excellent (complimented as it was by a lovely dining environment either elevated on the deck or in picnic tables along the river banks.)
As for 12 Bones, it seemed a bit dry, but perhaps a second visit will be necessary before declaring our preferred local BBQ joint (an endorsement almost certainly in desperate demand by all of the local establishments!) We hope to return to Asheville in the coming year or two, so along with our “regular” places, we look forward to adding some new ones.
Wherever we go, in every state or region, we seek out thrift shops for our basic needs and the occasional unnecessary yet low cost “splurge.” While Goodwill and Salvation Army stores predominate, we really enjoy finding local establishments, perhaps privately owned, perhaps affiliated with a local charity. In Asheville we stumbled upon two treasures. The first, Regeneration Station, is a large warehouse divided into hundreds of individual booths for collectors and artist to display their wares. Lots of retro art and furniture, tons of kitsch from (or styled after) the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, and some surprisingly reasonable prices. Rose found a cute retro reed and leather purse for $12!
The other was an ongoing (every Saturday and Sunday, 8am-4pm) yard sale near the base of our campground entry road. Having passed it up multiple times during our first month and a half in Asheville, we finally made the impulse decision to check it out during one weekend outing. The deals offered by the set of families running the event turned us into regulars, and the surprising inventory turnover kept us coming back until our last week in the area.
To close out the month, we took a two day trip back east to Wilmington to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with Mom and Tim. We had a great short visit, and several excellent meals. In keeping with the food and beverage them of this post, enjoy this mouth watering shot of lamb and asparagus, prepared on Tim’s Big Green Egg.
Next up: Our last week in North Carolina.