While Curate was the highlight of my visit to Asheville in 2018, I came home with a host of other gastronomic memories.
I recommend the White Duck Tacos downtown (the oyster po’boys, the shrimp ceviche and Bangkok shrimp tacos are in soft, double-wrapped corn shells) with any of the multitude of local brews on tap.
For brunch, try Sunny Point Café, where the waiting time is tempered with mimosas, Bloody Marys and coffee while listening to a jazz trio. And then there’s the great food, including chipotle cheese grits I’m still thinking about.
The Grove Park Inn, now owned by Omni International, is a massive 1913 stone lodge with multiple drinking/dining areas overlooking the mountains (pictured below). Famed for being F. Scott Fitzgerald’s home during the summers of 1935 and 1936, when his wife Zelda was in an institution there, it’s a testament to both wealth and stunning architecture.
Another downtown restaurant with creds, near Curate, is Limones with a Mexican-Californian cuisine that has French tweaks. The sea scallops, either as starter (grilled with roasted tomatoes, Manchego cheese) or entrée (seared, with wild mushrooms, mango salsa) are worth ordering.
Opened this May is the new Cultura, from Wicked Weed Brewing, which specializes in agrarian cuisine. There is a great selection of small plates, but the family-style larger dishes shouldn’t be ignored (chicken, mixed seafood/shellfish, barbecue). With the bill at the end of the meal comes cotton candy dusted with CBD powder. A relaxing ending to what’s proving to be the latest successful story in Asheville.
Between meals, we traveled to Marshall, NC, a short trip from Asheville, to hear legendary bluegrass fiddler Bobby Hicks. Most Thursday nights, he’s found in the Zuma Coffee corner shop from 7 to 9 p.m. with a group of musicians just jamming for anyone in the shop—a free concert. He has 10 Grammys to his credit, turns 86 this year, and learned to play the fiddle before he was 9 years old.
We also hit Black Mountain, NC, also a short trip from Asheville, which is full of bookstores, quaint retail shops, and decent cafes offering more local craft brews.
Did I mention that Asheville has the most breweries per capita in the U.S.?
Asheville is also home to the Biltmore Winery, on the grounds of George Vanderbilt’s home that’s open to the public. The Biltmore was America’s largest private home when it was built in the 1890s, and the extensive, exquisite gardens featured a Dale Chihuly exhibit when we were there. The house, garden and winery are certainly worth your time. The wines are very good, made at the winery with grapes from California.
I managed all of that eating in four days, but there are lots more restaurants on my Asheville list. I’m watching airfares!
- White Duck Tacos, 12 Biltmore Ave., Asheville, NC; whiteducktacoshop.com
- Grove Park Inn, 290 Mason Ave., Asheville, NC; 828-252-2711; website
- Limones, 13 Eagle St., Asheville, NC; 828-252-2327; limonesrestaurant.com
- Cultura, 147 Coxe Ave., Asheville NC; wickedweedbrewing.com/locations/cultura
- Zuma Coffee, Seven Main St., Marshall, NC; 828-649-1617; zumascoffee.com
- Biltmore Estate, One Lodge St., Asheville, NC; biltmore.com