Month: January 2016

All About Asheville

Did I really just accidentally take another four-month break from the blog?  Sigh.  Time does fly.  How is it 2016?  Weren’t we just celebrating New Year’s last year?  At any rate, happy new year!

So yes, my trip to Asheville was several weeks ago, and it was lovely.  I made a last-minute decision not to head to the Biltmore since I had already been and even discounted tickets were crazy expensive.  This worked out really well, because I discovered on this trip that there was a lot more of Asheville I hadn’t gotten to know (and a lot more beer to drink).

I got in several hours late Friday night as a flight was delayed (next time, I’m driving…), so the fun part of my trip didn’t really start until Saturday morning with a fabulous breakfast at Mamacita’s.  I noticed that people were lining up on sidewalks with chairs and cold weather gear and was told that the holiday parade was later that morning.  I walked around for a bit, discovering a whole part of downtown I hadn’t seen when I had been there four years prior.  I got some sustenance from French Broad Chocolate‘s new fancy and fabulous lounge (I dare you to read their menu and not start drooling).  The parade was much longer than I expected (nearly two hours!) and I ditched a bit early to get lunch at Farm Burger, which was easily my favorite meal of the whole trip.  The burger was delicious and came with gourmet free toppings such as roasted garlic and paprika mayo (there were even fancier toppings that were definitely not free).

In wandering around after the parade, I found a rally called Unchain AVL. Asheville is full of boutique stores (even several awesome local bookstores like Malaprop’s) and locally-owned businesses and restaurants.  An Urban Outfitters had just opened and locals were worried that its arrival would mean an influx of chain stores.  I hadn’t realized it previously, but in order to go to any chain stores like Target, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, you had to leave downtown.  It seemed to me like a rally was unnecessary–if you don’t want a store to survive, don’t spend your money there.  But I guess they want to ensure the livelihood of all the local businesses there, and it’s hard to say no to that.

That night, I went to the North Carolina Arboretum to see their Winter Lights display.  I’ve seen displays that I’ve liked much better, but it was a good way to spend an evening.

This tree was the coolest. #ncwinterlights

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I had stayed at the Asheville Hostel and Guest House during my first trip to Asheville and had loved how easy it was to walk everywhere from there. Its proximity to downtown was ideal, and parking wasn’t too much of a fuss.  But if you’re a beer lover, now there is the added bonus of being close to loads of breweries.  I think someone told me there were seven breweries within a few minutes’ walk of the hostel!  I only visited a couple (I wish I had gotten to Highland, but it was outside town) but was overall impressed with the quality of beer in the area.  Wicked Weed Brewing, one of the more popular local breweries, was so full Saturday afternoon I left without trying any of their beer; same with Burial.  I didn’t make it to Green Man, but did have some of their porter at Farm Burger, and it was delicious.  I did get to Twin Leaf but wasn’t a fan of their stuff–not my style.

Top Tip:

If you want delicious doughnuts, beer and barbeque in Asheville, go hang out on Banks Ave.  I started my Sunday at Vortex Doughnuts, had lunch at Buxton Hall Barbecue, and then had amazing beer at Catawba Brewing.  They’re all in the same building, so you don’t have to go too far!

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 4.11.44 PM
Google Maps results for breweries in Asheville.  (Asheville Hostel and Guest House is to the right of Asheville Brewing Company’s tag; one block apart, you can see ABC from the hostel’s front yard.)

My last morning in Asheville was spent the same way it was during my last trip:  Driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I didn’t get very far, turning around after I reached the visitor’s center (which was very nice, by the way) and heading toward the closest location of Tupelo Honey, a local restaurant.  Conveniently, they now have a location in Arlington, so I can satisfy my curry fried chicken craving and have a taste of Asheville whenever I want…although I might have to have French Broad send me some of those coconut macaroon brownies.

To sum it up, Asheville is a cute small city in the mountains with an interesting mix of hippies and hipsters, all of whom love their food and beer and want to source locally as much as possible.  Hard not to admire that.

 

Want to read about my previous exploits in Asheville?  Click here.