Asheville, NC – A Food & Beer Town
I genuinely don’t think there’s a bad place to eat in Asheville. Someone has probably found a spot that isn’t so great, but they must be few and far between. Everyone I’ve talked to that’s been to Asheville has raved about the food. I get it now. Everything was good. All of it. And the beer too. At more breweries (accounting for city size) than any other U.S. city, Asheville is a mecca for beer lovers. A long weekend is really not enough to eat and drink your way around Asheville, but we sure tried.
On our way down we stopped at Biscuitville. While not an Asheville chain, it’s worth mentioning because it’s so dang tasty. The closest Biscuitville to us in Richmond is 2 hours away in Lynchburg. The biscuits were made from scratch right in front of you, which impressed me for a fast food joint. They were perfectly dense and buttery. The spicy chicken & honey biscuit sandwich was my favorite.
Coming home, we stopped at Biscuit Head (Haywood Rd.) on our way out of Asheville. Sensing a biscuit theme here? Good. Biscuits are the best breakfast carb. We had our dog, Gimli, with us so we sat outside. The back patio faces the parking lot, so you could easily monitor your dog in your vehicle if it’s not hot out. Gimli was well behaved while we ate so we kept him with us. I ordered inside then our food was brought out. We got coffee and an “Appalachai”. Both were delicious but the chai had a unique blend of spices I really enjoyed.
Since I was ordering while Mr. PC watched Gimli, I played it safe and got him pork sausage gravy over biscuits. Biscuit Head has 6 gravies to select from and offers gravy flights (!). I tried the jalapeno pimento cheese on a biscuit. The side that day was cajun spiced gouda grits. Yup. Uh huh. We’ll have that. Biscuit donuts with lemon curd. We’ll have those too. Everything we had was scrumptious! I finished the pimento cheese that didn’t fit on my biscuit with a spoon. No shame.
Other Breakfast Options
We didn’t go out for breakfast much because we had pup with us. See this post for hikes and doggo things that we started our mornings with. On my list that we didn’t get to:
- The Social Lounge – breakfast poutine (!) for brunch on weekends
- World Coffee Cafe – a variety of coffees & pastries, rooftop SkyBar at night
- Early Girl Eatery – farm to table cafe with large breakfast menu
Beer + Food
Our first night, we went to the Asheville location of UpCountry Brewing for dinner and some brews. Mangose, a mango gose, and Isoprene, a New England IPA, were tasty standouts for beer. Their menu was pretty extensive; we started with fried pickles. It’s hard to argue with dipping something fried into a homemade jalapeno ranch. I had to try a fried chicken taco (with pimento cheese!) in addition to my queso dog. Both were sinfully good. UpCountry also has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.
Bhramari Brewing Company
To start off a beer filled day we hit Bhramari Brewing Company. Lorelai IPA and Low Poly, a German pilsner, were favorites among the beers we tried. We got an order of BBQ Pork Nachos and they were fantastic. Lots of wood and allusions to bees made up the decor. Bhramari was quite busy [as a bee], but that just seemed to add to the atmosphere rather than cause any problems.
Sweet Cheesus (Food Truck)
We worked up quite an appetite hiking Moore Cove Falls on the southern side of Asheville. When we got off the mountain (and got cell signal again) we found Sideways Farm & Brewery. Instagram said they had Sweet Cheesus there so that’s where we headed. As their name suggests everything is covered in cheese. Specifically scraped off melty gooey cheese from a raclette. The Thai marinated chicken in the mac & cheese was the bomb. Oh and the cheese was great too. But you knew that because…cheese.
In a small shopping center east of the city center is Copper Crown. You need to eat here (hear Bourdain’s voice when you read that sentence again). They made this meat and potatoes girl want to go back for the veggies. Yeah. The vegetables. We shared several small plates with ingredients that a few years ago I wouldn’t have eaten. I added pickled ginger to the list of things I’ll eat when we had Laotian food in Raleigh, and brussel sprouts (with pickled carrots) got added here. This picky eater has come a long way folks. The brussels were crispy, cheesy, and likely covered in crack. After sharing a plate with the table I got another order just for me.
The cauliflower was almost as addicting as the brussels. Gnocchi, beef, corn were all involved at some point. There was okra on a plate I kept digging around to find and steal. Oh! And the cocktails! A Stubborn Beauty for me with whiskey, chartreuse, pomegranate, ginger, lime, nutmeg, was boozy and unique. All of the drinks at the table I sampled were yummy too. Mr. PC and I ended the meal splitting a key lime pie in a mason jar. How suuuthern. It was also delicious.
A few blocks from Bhramari is Hi-Wire Brewing’s South Slope location. We stopped in for a pint as we were beer…hopping (get it) around the city. I got their Hazy & Juicy & Hoppy & Fresh IPA. Those 4 adjectives are accurate descriptions and describe my perfect summer beer. Hi-Wire had a small TV set up with Super Nintendo. I played a few levels of Donkey Kong before figuring I should be more social.
Burial Beer Co.
By the time we hit Burial it was pouring and we were a few breweries in. What a better way to spend a rainy day than drinking beer? Our waiter at Bhramari recommended Burial, and I’m glad he did. Their Skillet Donut Stout was the bomb! I wish I had gotten the barrel aged version also/instead, but among all of the options I didn’t see it until after I’d ordered. The decor is centered around death, but Tom Selleck depictions keep things from feeling too dreary.
Sideways Farm & Brewery
This brewery was a complete change of pace from the other beer spots we hit. Sideways Farm & Brewery is south of Asheville, just east of hiking spots in the National Forest. Instead of flights, they offer tastings and tell you about their beers while you sample them, much like you would find at a winery. I liked a lot of their beers, even one made with kombucha. Most of their beers were low on hoppy bitterness. They were flavorful but still light drinking. My favorites were Molasses Cookie Porter and Smoked Sage. Sideways had two very tasty browns as well. This brewery is well worth the trek south of town for!
Before dinner at Copper Crown, we stopped at nearby Highland Brewing to sample some beers. Highland didn’t have the same feel as some of the smaller breweries. As Asheville’s oldest brewery, they’ve had time to grow into a large complex, with indoor and outdoor music venues. Their event space on the roof boasts mountain views, but was closed when we were there. The beers we tried were very good. They had a pretty hop heavy selection and the rum barrel aged Dr. Pineapple IPA was absolutely fantastic.
From hiking to beer to biscuits, we packed a lot into a long weekend in Asheville. There were a couple of other places I wanted to try, but they’ll have to wait until next time.
- The Chemist: a distillery, we tried on a Sunday but they were closed
- Ben’s Tune Up: a sake brewery & restaurant, thanks Southern Charm for adding this to my list (next door to Hi-Wire)
- Asheville Pinball Museum: 80 machines to play on!
- neighborhood around Biscuit Head: a beer serving gas station, several coffee shops, a brewery – this area looked like fun to explore
- River Arts District: studios & art for sale, we just ran out of time to do this one
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Did you find a great spot in Asheville? What’s on your list in this food and beer city? Let me know in the comments below!