As I stood in line eagerly awaiting entrance into Wicked Weed Micro Brewery in Asheville, NC, I couldn’t help but notice not one, but two gentlemen walking down the street barefoot. Nope, they weren’t homeless… just hippies.
Asheville is an interesting and unique town. To me, the city is best described as a cross between Austin, TX and Burlington, VT, and it literally has something for everyone. The downtown area offers upscale dining experiences, expensive boutique shopping, and the grandiose Biltmore Estate. Yet just as prevalent are the micro-breweries, dive bars, and street performers (or troubadours as one store owner called them).
Asheville is a great place for a weekend getaway, whether that entails a romantic weekend staying at the Grove Park Inn with your significant other, or a wild girls/guys weekend. (Men, don’t let the shopping and wine bars scare you away, did I mention that there are a TON of microbreweries?)!
Here are some of my favorite places I experienced on my trip to Asheville:
Zambra (85 Walnut Street): Zambra came highly recommended to me, and I see why – it was great! The tapas bar had a fun ambience (live music and Moroccan style couches) and creative cocktails. That said, I would save this one for a girls night out or date night because although the food was delicious, the portions were on the smaller side.
Fig Bistro (18 Brook Street): Although not walking distance to the downtown nightlife, Fig is worth the quick cab ride. The restaurant reminded me of many of the upscale trendy restaurants in Atlanta, but with a bit more Southern Charm… and a hipster wait-staff.
Tupelo Honey Café (12 College Street): This place clearly is no hidden gem as the lines for brunch went out the door, but the wait was worth it. Our delicious southern food had a modern twist and was cooked to perfection. And the cocktails? YUM. THC specializes in unique Bloody Marys such as “The Queen Mary” – a yellow Bloody made with roasted Italian yellow tomatoes. Not a Bloody fan? Try the Violet Beauregard which is a delicious blueberry champagne concoction.
Wicked Weed Brewery (19 Biltmore Ave): Despite the tasting rooms being pretty expansive (and on two levels), there was still a small line to get in on Saturday afternoon because the brewery was at capacity. Even though they were packed, we were still treated to great service. In fact, the server even brought samples of several beers over to our table so that we could make a decision on which pint to order. The brews ranged from your run of the mill to very unique (as in cucumber, watermelon, and sour lychee beers).
5 Walnut Wine Bar (5 Walnut Street): This cozy wine bar had a laid back but sophisticated vibe. The appetizers we ordered complimented our prosecco, and they had live music starting at 6pm. If I lived in Asheville, I would probably be a regular here.
Thirsty Monk (92 Patton Ave): This pub is so popular they now have four locations in Asheville. The vibe is laid back and they cater to beer drinkers. Across the street from Thirsty Monk, Asheville Yacht Club and Jack in the Wood are solid venues to catch live music after dinner.
Aside from my two favorite activities (eating and drinking) and my third favorite (shopping), Asheville offers a plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts including hiking, fishing, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking, and mountain climbing. If you’re not outdoorsy, instead spend a day at the Biltmore Estate. The luxurious family home of George and Edith Vanderbilt, which was built in the late 1800’s, is open to visitors year round. After touring the large estate, you can browse the shops in the Biltmore village, dine in one of the property’s restaurants, or enjoy a wine tasting at the estate’s winery.
If you haven’t planned a trip to Asheville, NC yet, you should! From the grandeur of the Biltmore Estate, to the strange quirkiness of downtown’s inhabitants, Asheville has it all!
Header CC image Skyline from Arlington Street by Jay Joslin.