With fall just around the corner, it’s time to think about favorite places to go for foliage…and of course, good food should factor into the equation.
In this “Travel Bites” blog, we’re mentioning a few of our favorite stops from a quick weekend trip to one of the most popular cities in the NC mountains: Asheville, a 3.5-hour drive from Durham.First, we spent an afternoon exploring and dining at The Biltmore Estate (our first visit there). We arrived late in the day, so we were hurried, but it’s definitely the kind of place you can spend a half or full day, between touring the grand estate and all the magnificent rooms, wandering around the garden and green house, walking the trails, and dining at any of the restaurants on the property.I hadn’t realized how many dining options existed on the Biltmore property–there are quite a few and it’s hard to choose. Luckily, we received some guidance from the staff who said that based on our love of seafood, we should head over to Village Social. The restaurant has a casual, upscale vibe and nice outdoor patio dining, which is where we enjoyed our seafood feast that night. The prosciutto wrapped scallops were perfectly cooked, and the bed of corn salsa could have been a standout side on its own. I also loved the garlicy broth in the steamed clams, using the soft bread to sop up any leftover.We also ordered She Crab bisque and shrimp scampi before an entree of Frogmore Strew containing shrimp, clams, lobster, and corn.
Of course, when you finish your meal, you can enjoy a peaceful walk through the village area, the path by the river, or up at the main gardens.
For our second and final day in Asheville, I asked for recommendations on Twitter about where to go and received so many good tips. It’s too bad would couldn’t hit them all!
Here’s a recap of our favorites. (Feel free to leave a comment at the end if you have more places for us to try the next time.)
Vortex Doughnuts has been calling my name for a while. Who can resist a delicious handmade doughnut shop? There are several cake and yeast varieties to choose from with creative combinations. Two thumbs up for the Raspberry Orange Glaze and Banana Streusel. Safe to say your sweet tooth will be satisfied with anything you order.
For those who want a little more than sweets in the morning, Early Girl Eatery serves good portions of classic Southern comfort breakfast items, including homemade biscuits and jam (don’t miss the squeeze bottle at your table–it’s so good, you’ll want to slather it on). Early Girl is located in a quaint side street in downtown Asheville, which also makes it a nice place to stroll around.When Chai Pani was recommended for lunch, I was intrigued: Indian street food and a menu that looked flavorful and adventurous. I went with our waitress’s suggestion and ordered the Uttapam: savory crepes made from rice and lentil batter with mixed veggies on top (it’s also vegan). A wise choice that was warm and satisfying after a long car ride.
In a funny tucked in spot on the river, 12 Bones Smokehouse does a good business! There was a quick-moving consistent line and I can see why…for a hearty meal of slow-smoked ribs with cornbread and a couple sides (the corn pudding was amazing). I also had the smoked turkey sandwich which was stuffed with meat and oozing warm brie cheese under a couple slices of candied bacon. Yum!Another fun recommendation was Nightbell, which we decided to hit up for appetizers at night. The cuisine is listed as “American,” which usually doesn’t excite us, but the gastro-pub style food was modern and adventurous. The “Deviled Eggs,” for instance, was like a soup, served inside an egg shell, containing smoked trout gravlax. It sounds weird, but it was very good, as were the cones of flavorful steak tartare. Even on a short trip, you can squeeze in a lot of great eats in Asheville if you’re up for the challenge! Again, feel free to leave a comment about what else we absolutely have to try next time.