Asheville, North Carolina is home to some of the best food in the nation. I was born and raised in Asheville so for the past twenty years I’ve been eating my way around the city, trying to find the best of the best. If you’re from Asheville, you’ll probably agree that this really should be titled “9,000 Foods Asheville Natives Miss When They’re Gone,” but 9 is a little more manageable. Let the drooling begin.
1. Biscuits from Biscuit Head
If you’re as obsessed with this southern breakfast staple as I am, the biscuits from Biscuit Head will be your saving grace. Asheville is home to some of the greatest biscuits you’ll ever consume, but Biscuit Head has taught me two very important life lessons: size does in fact matter and, it is possible to try two dozen different butters and jellies on one single biscuit.
Not only are these biscuits larger than a cat’s head (hence the name of the restaurant), but they are a go-to for Ashevillians who don’t mind spending the rest of their day with a food baby.
Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company has been around since 1995, which is as long as I’ve been walking this beautiful Earth. They started off serving pizza and beer at a movie theater specializing in discounted tickets to movies that were probably about to come out on DVD (or VHS) two days later anyway.
Anyone who grew up in Asheville has probably gone a time or two, or twenty, just to get their hands on the best pizza in town. Now there are three locations serving their award winning pizza and brewing up cold ones to wash it all down seven days a week.
#SpoonTip: Get the most bang for your indecisive, junk-food-loving buck with the “Cheeseburger in Paradise” pizza. Oh and do yourself a favor and ask for parmesan crust.
If you live in, have ever lived in, have visited, or have passed through Asheville at any point since 2001 you’ve probably eaten at Early Girl Eatery. In fact, it’s the recommendation you will most likely get from any Asheville native if you’re searching for the best local restaurant.
The “Early Girl Benny” attracts locals and tourists alike with its twist on the traditional breakfast benedict. A grit cake is the base of this tower of flavor, topped with spinach, tomatoes, avocado, poached eggs, and tomato gravy in place of plain old hollandaise.
If you’re an Asheville native and haven’t been to The Hop since they opened in 1978, what are you doing with your life? The Hop has the widest variety of ice cream flavors around, spanning from the basics to “how the hell does this combination of flavors make something so life changing?!” Now that they offer ice cream flights, donut ice cream sandwiches, and fun weekly events at their three locations, it’s pretty impossible not to miss The Hop when you leave Asheville.
#SpoonTip: Go to the tasting room from 6-9 on Friday nights for “Flight Night” and try smaller portions of four different flavors. You can thank me later.
5. Sweet Potato Pancakes from Tupelo Honey Cafe
Two words: Southern. Comfort. Even if you don’t like Southern food, you’ll fall in love with Tupelo like Ashevillians everywhere. Everything from the complimentary biscuits to the dessert will leave you craving more and even if you think you’re full, you’ll find room for more. The food coma that follows is well worth every bite, especially when the culprit is the sweet potato pancake.
If you’re feeling extra indulgent go for the “Shoo Mercy Pancake,” topped with fried chicken and peach butter that will make you question ever using plain butter again. Unless you left Asheville to move to one of the few locations THC has expanded, you won’t be lucky enough to experience the deliciousness that is Tupelo Honey Cafe, so you should probably head back home right now.
If your wallet isn’t empty when you leave the building, you’re doing it wrong. Only Asheville natives have the honor of returning home to a lounge devoted to anything and everything chocolate. The chocolate lounge offers truffles, cakes, ice cream, and specialty drinks, and yes, there are options for that one lame friend you have who claims they don’t like chocolate.
What would this list be without mention of the best barbeque in the state? I mean come on, President Obama eats here every time he’s in town so you know it has to be somethin’ special. Sure, there’s good barbeque outside of Asheville, but what 12 Bones has that you can’t find anywhere else is blueberry chipotle barbeque sauce. That alone is enough to make any native regret their decision to ever leave Ashevegas.
While those not fortunate enough to call Asheville home are stuck in the Taco Bell drive thru to get their hungry hands on some tacos, we have the privilege of getting gourmet tacos with an unconventional twist. White Duck immediately caught the attention of locals with their funky fusion menu items, stuffing tacos with unusual combinations of ingredients.
Whether you’re in the mood for chicken, shrimp, tofu, beef, or lamb, the geniuses behind this ultra chic street food menu have created something absolutely beautiful and something every Asheville native longs for when they’ve been gone for awhile.
Asheville is home to more breweries per capita than any other city in America. Need I say more? We pride ourselves on being a destination for the best local brews in the nation and we welcome the idea of drinking a frosty beer at eleven in the morning because we’re Asheville and why not.
Wicked Weed, Green Man, Highland Brewing Company, and of course Sierra Nevada Brewery (which is basically an alcoholic’s Disneyland) are just a few of the seemingly endless distilleries that call Asheville home. It seems like there’s a beer festival every other weekend and if you don’t go to Beer Week, Brewgrass, or Oktoberfest are you really from Asheville?