A weekend in Asheville was exactly what I needed. I was feeling the itch to travel and while another international trip is probably not in the cards for a few more months at least, the two hour drive to Asheville, NC satisfied the craving to explore somewhere new. While Charlotte does have a satisfying wine scene and perhaps the largest number of dog-friendly bars and breweries of any city I know of, it does lack a (good) art and music scene. Asheville had not only the thriving art and music scene I had been missing, but also INCREDIBLE food. If you’re only in town for a weekend like I was, do not miss these memorable spots:
1. S&W Artisanal Eatery
What isn’t S&W? Making it’s home in a 1920’s art deco building, it’s a “cafeteria” featuring a ground floor with a cafe that opens up to the second floor which hosts an upscale Greek restaurant on a mezzanine. Go whether you want something casual or a little more austere; the food is delectable (see my detailed post about the meal here), the service impeccable, and the atmosphere ethereal. Oh, and it’s reasonably priced for what you get so there are literally no downsides to this place.
2. The Times at S&W
Seriously, number one is so good that you don’t need to bother looking any further for your first few drinks of the night. S&W has an adjacent bar called The Times, owned and operated by the same people. Major Gatsby vibes, dangerously delicious cocktails that are beautifully crafted and consistently 5-star service.
3. Double D’s Coffee & Pastries
If you’re not taking the opportunity to have a cup of coffee on the top deck of a retired and refurbished double-decker bus shipped in from London, you’re missing out on an Asheville gem. Finding the sweet spot of when to go to Double D’s to avoid a line is an art form, but doable (I’d recommend early evening, but past the midafternoon slump when everyone needs their caffeine IV). You’ll want to dodge the crowds to snag a seat on the top deck, of course.
4. Chai Pani
While Asheville has countless must-try American/Southern and European restaurants, the Asian spots are not to be overlooked. The Indian street food at Chai Pani for example has been featured in Bon Appetit magazine and draws quite a crowd. The colorful atmosphere and cozy food is not to be missed.
Just wait in the line. It’s gonna be long, and it’s always going to be there. Obviously this place highlights buttery biscuits and gravies and poached eggs, but yes – they have a vegan biscuit, and a mushroom based gravy so you can make a vegan biscuit situation happen. Or you can be a walking contradiction like me and get the vegan biscuit with the poached eggs and leave the cashier taking your order thinking what the F is this person’s angle. Their are decadent vegetarian ones for sure, namely the brie & fried green tomato biscuits. Also worth noting for cat lovers (or even just cat meme lovers) – the place has a quirky cat theme to it. Table numbers are stamped on cat photos, and funny cat pictures, puns, and paraphernalia can be found around the restaurant like cat meme Easter eggs. Heavy, decadent, rich, delicious and classic Southern – don’t plan any major activities for the rest of the day. You won’t be able to move. Trust me.
Each of these spots above feature a healthy variety of vegetarian and even vegan options that are equal to the meat-centric dishes – you won’t be shunted to choose the iceberg lettuce and cucumber medallion salad as your entrée. As it should be!
Let me know in the comments if you have any other must-try spots in Asheville!