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Maybe it is reflective of our own dual nature, but we find the dichotomy in Asheville interesting. Made famous as much for the castle built by a Vanderbilt heir as by long-standing drum circles downtown, Asheville is a marriage of opposites. The happy result is architectural grandeur alongside an earthiness that just might tempt you to sit behind a pottery wheel. This lush mountain town provides many opportunities to commune with nature whether it is strolling the manicured gardens or paddling down a meandering river.  Either way, you’ll be well fed. While the farm-to-table movement didn’t originate here, you’d think it did.  Vegan or carnivore, you’ll find some of the best meals to be had are waiting for you.  You’ll need all that sustenance to take in the thriving art scene with hundreds of artists in residence. Be sure to check out Asheville’s up-and-coming South Slope neighborhood, filled with so much hipness in so little a radius, your visit isn’t complete without an evening there brewery hopping. So settle in a while, Asheville’s union of opposites couldn’t have turned out better.

Downtown

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar  On any given day, you will find a curious mix of patrons sprawled out on cushy club chairs or antique leather settees throughout this multi-level bookstore. You might have as much fun exploring the surrounds, as paging through their great used book collection, but that’s your call.  1 Page Ave. #101 in Grove Arcade (S)

Early Girl Eatery   We’re suckers for good meatloaf, which you may find ironic because Early Girl is known to service a vegan crowd. But seriously, they do most everything right. “A Farm to Table Southern Comfort Food Experience.” Believe them. 8 Wall St. (E)

The Thunderbird at MG Road  This Elliott Moss take-over has the town abuzz. They’ve even captured the attention of Garden & Gun who profiled The Thunderbird  recently as part of a series on the five most exciting restaurants in the South right now. So if you’re wanting in on the cutting-edge cuisine happening in Asheville, head on down to MG Road. The Thunderbird will be taking up residence until Moss and partner Meherwan Irani open Buxton Hall BBQ in South Slope this spring. Until then, expect a few more great collaborations like their February beer dinner with soon-to-be neighbor Burial Beer and a continual procession of Southern food with the now infamous Moss twist. (It is a good bet something on your plate will be fermented.)  MG Road continues to bring it with unique and tasty cocktails. 19 Wall St. (E)

Cucina 24 serves gorgeously rendered Italian cuisine.  They feature a small, but carefully curated menu. With antipasti such as duck liver crostini, or small plates of mussels or bone marrow on toast, Cucina 24 sets the stage for a memorable meal. 24 Wall St. (E)

The Laughing Seed Cafe has an extensive vegetarian menu–and we mean extensive–including vegan, gluten-free, and raw options. This local institution has been serving up quality fare for over twenty years.  Do something nice for your body today. Closed Tuesdays.  40 Wall St. (E)

Frock Boutique  This small boutique is lean and mean.  Well, the mother and daughter owners are lovely actually. The fashion is “contemporary and comfy-chic American style for women of all ages.” 4 Battery Park Ave. (S)

Blue Goldsmiths  Susan West combines the aesthetic of a high-end jeweler with the ethics of a hippie craftsman. The Asheville native artist uses conflict free stone and recycled metals. 10 Battery Park Ave. (S)

And now for something completely different…ZaPow! Gallery focuses on illustration and pop culture.  The owners intend the eclectic space to feel like “a year round comic convention.”  Fun. 21 Battery Park Ave.(S)

Chai Pani  If you are not already addicted to Chai Pani’s Indian street food, you shortly will be. Suffice it to say, it is all fantastic. But you simply can’t go without trying Irani’s Matchstick Okra Fries. We hear the Sloppy Jai made of spiced lamb hash and sweet yogurt on a toasted bun is the bomb. But frankly, we can’t tear ourselves away from the daily Thali special (a traditional meat or vegetable curry served with basmati rice, daal, raita, roti, kachumber, papadum) to give it a go. We consider it heaven served on a shallow silver platter.  22 Battery Park Ave. (S)

Asheville Market Basket  This lovely shop is filled with superb dry goods including Turkish towels, canvas post and feed bags, hand blocked tea towels, and Indian Kantha quilts. Asheville Market Basket carries fair-trade, recycled, and hand-dyed products. 36 Battery Park Ave.(S)

Asheville Bee Charmer hosts all things bee, and bee-themed. Their honey bar samples small-batch, and regional artisan honey. Skin care, tees, gifts, and boutique honey await you. We’re intrigued with Wildfire’s chili-infused honey; Asheville Bee Charmer assures us it makes some mighty fine Spicy Candied Honey Bacon (A.B.C.’s recipe). 38 Battery Park Ave. and 707 Haywood Ave.(S)

Spiritex  “Grown and sewn in the USA” This company started in Asheville and continues to deliver locally designed and produced organic clothing for you and yours. Comfy does not begin to explain it. 14 Haywood St. (S)

Union supplies hipness enough for you both. This men and women’s boutique holds a small, but impressive assortment of what you need to face your peeps in style. 18 Haywood St. (S)

The Chocolate Fetish  These chocolatiers have been stacking up international and local accolades for years.  Stop in after you have exhausted yourself browsing at Malaprop’s. It wouldn’t be very friendly to leave chocolate thumbprints on the books. 36 Haywood St. (E)

Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe works hard to maintain its reputation as one of the largest and most beloved independent bookstores in the region.  It is quite possible you will stumble upon a reading and book signing without even trying. Malaprops schedules numerous events a month–authors such as Yann Martel and Gary Shteyngart. They even host nine concurrently running book clubs. One we’d love to crash is Comix Club–an exploration of graphic novels like Hyperbole and a Half. Just our speed. 55 Haywood St. (S)

Table is a New American restaurant that has been faithfully serving excellent farm-to-table cuisine for the last ten years in its cozy little spot on College. The Elk Ridge Farm Pork with leek and meyer lemon or the Sunburst Trout with caper and green onion will have you singing its praises. Try to squeeze in for brunch if you can to try Table’s satisfying Corn Beef Hash with rapini and salsa verde. 48 College St. (E)

The Imperial Life was a contender for Food & Wine’s The People’s Best New Bar award. Clearly their drinks will be superb–barrel-aged cocktails, house-made syrups and sodas, and wickedly adept mixologists. The Imperial Life offers a small, but well chosen wine list as well as draught and packaged craft beer. Whether you are in the mood for Border Springs Lamb Tartare, Patrick’s Hot Dog, or Deviled Eggs, it is all made in-house. But what really tempts one to hike the stairs is the view.  Who can resist a sexy upstairs bar with great windows overlooking the bustle below? 48 College St. (E)

Mora Designer Jewelry  Tucked away on Walnut St. is a dynamite little jewelry store. If you’re looking for something unique (and who isn’t), drop in Mora–standouts include Tara Locklear’s recycled skateboard bangles and Nathan Blank forged steel belt buckles. 9 Walnut St. (S)

Alchemy Fine Art  25 Rankin St. (D)

Old North is the urban rugged man’s bible. Knock about town in their fine selection of street smart apparel and accessories including both Railcar and Raleigh Denim, Whites Boots, Lower 48 Rings, Filson leather goods, and Asheville’s own Circle A vintage-inspired workwear as well as many other top-notch menswear lines. 14 Walnut St. in March or catch them at their old location on 82 N. Lexington. (S)

Zambra Wine Tapas & Cuisine has been voted the Most Romantic Place to Dine by Mountain Xpress readers five years in a row, though you don’t have to be one half of a couple to enjoy Zambra’s delectable tapas and exuberant energy. The menu of small plates changes nightly inspired by seasonal ingredients and the cuisine of Spain, North Africa and the Carolinas.  Zambra’s extensive wine list has earned the impressive Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence85 Walnut St. (E)

Twisted Laurel 130 College St. (E)

North Carolina Stage Company  With a robust education program of classroom residencies, youth camps, and adult acting classes as well as the Catalyst program that gives a leg-up to developing arts organizations, the NC Stage Company is an integral part of the Asheville community. Beyond that, they put on some mighty fine professional theatre. Go see a show. Click here to view their current season. 15 Stage Lane (D)

Housed in the former Ol’ Eureka Saloon, Lex 18 bills itself as a Southern Appalachian Restaurant, Supper Club and Moonshine Bar. They host theatrical and music-themed food events as well as maintain dinner service throughout the week Tuesday through Sunday and late-night hours for the Moonshine Bar. Whether you fancy a Downton High Tea, a costumed Mozart feast, or a Hemingway-esque French wine dinner, Lex 18 will pull out all the stops. But don’t wait for an event, slip in to sample an Appalachian Moonshine craft cocktails on a Tuesday for $6, or throw caution to the wind and order a moonshine flight. Dinner is plated elegantly and accompanied by live jazz. 18 N. Lexington Ave. (E)

Duncan & York Modern Market  We tend to geek out when we find a really great gift shop. Duncan & York Modern Market is one. If you haven’t made it to their new spot on North Lexington, you’ll want to scuttle on down. You’ll find all sorts of gorgeous and clever goods including locally-crafted jewelry, printed textiles, and foodie must-haves. They carry toiletries for the ladies and gents; we take beard grooming seriously, folks. Once you’ve spied the perfect gift, they’ve got a wide selection of cards, too. 33 N. Lexington Ave. (S)

Nest Organics is “dedicated to offering organic, non-toxic and environmentally sustainable products for babies, children and the home.” If you need to shop for a little tike, go to Nest.  We also love their well-curated collection of kitchen goods and bedding. Be sure to check out FEEL Handmade Studio and Boutique in the back room for some handsome leather goods. 51 N. Lexington Ave. (S)

Gallery M.I.A. (Made in Asheville)  This local printing company has a plethora of graphic tees to catch your fancy.  They offer eco-friendly printing services and sell Spiritex shirts. So go get yourself a fly tee. 61 1/2 N. Lexington Ave. (S)

Creperie Bouchon  Crepes! Mic drop. 62 1/8 N. Lexington Ave. Or, if you’re more in the mood for mussels and creme brulee (which seems an equally solid choice), step over to Bouchon next door.  Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are All-You-Can-Eat Mussels Nights. When the weather is nice, the courtyard or alley seating is where you’ll want to be.  62 N. Lexington Ave. (E)

Minx  This eclectic boutique can clothe you from head to toe. As true stylists do, the ladies at Minx like to mix it up.  Be prepared to see a six dollar bandeau paired with a swingy sundress and one hundred seventy dollar harness boots.This shop has consistently garnered the best women’s boutique crown from Mountain Express readers.  64 N. Lexington Ave. (S)

Mela  Craving some Indian food?  Mela is your place. They have a very tasty, not to mention popular, lunch buffet.  70 N. Lexington Ave. (E)

Hip Replacements Vintage Inspired Boutique can help you put some funk in your wardrobe. Whether Steampunk, Burlesque Betty, or Dapper Dan, Hip Replacements has the quality goods to sweeten up your closet. 72 N. Lexington Ave. (S)

Dobra Tea  Find your center while sipping on a small cup of exotic tea from a faraway land while your shoes are off in the middle of the day. Choose from over one hundred varieties of loose leaf tea (prepared by some really lovely folks) and polish off a gluten-free treat while you’re at it. 78 N. Lexington Ave. (E)

Royal Peasantry  “Custom ritual adornment”–we’ll leave it up to you what that means. What we do know is that you’ll find plenty of studded leather cuffs, satchels, feather and beaded ear bobs, and upcycled streetwear. We are grooving on the hide-covered flasks pictured below. The vibe is definitely Game of Thrones-like. So stop binge-watching, and check it out.  80 N. Lexington Ave. (S)

Honeypot is the Wonderland of vintage. The inventory is kickin’ and immaculately organized. They provided costumes for the Starz crime drama Magic City.  From fedoras to crinolines, Honeypot has what you need, funky or fine. They buy, sell, and trade “vintage, designer, costume, and unique” men’s and women’s clothing and accessories.  86 N. Lexington Ave. (S)

Static Age Records specializes in the under-sold. “If it’s obscure, odd, quasi-popular, we either have it or we can get it.” They are known for a deep collection of punk and metal, and an eclectic mix of everything else.110 N. Lexington Ave. (S)

Tiger Mountain Thirst Parlour  Listen to some rad music, drink whiskey and hang out in your favorite three-eyed tiger establishment. 112 N. Lexington Ave. (E)

Loretta’s Cafe  Sometimes you just want a killer sandwich for lunch. But then again, Loretta’s baked goods are awfully tempting…114 N. Lexington Ave. (E)

Rosetta’s Kitchen and Buchi Bar   Your Asheville experience wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Rosetta’s Kitchen and Buchi Bar for some vegetarian or vegan soul food.  Try the Peanut Butter Baked Tofu with Iron Skillet Cornbread and Sauteed Kale, or the popular Tempeh Reuben with Sweet Tater Fries, and don’t forget the Buchi, baby! 116 N. Lexington Ave. (E)

Bruisin’ Ales  Get excited about new release brews–these guys are. Bruisin’ carries over 1000 specialty beers from all over the world, plus all your favorites from down the street. The selection rotates faster than a slot machine, so get in there. Closed Mondays. 66 Broadway St. (S)

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center  Discover the radical educational and artistic movement begun by Black Mountain College and its continuing legacy. Artists and thinkers such as Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Josef and Anni Albers, Jacob Lawrence, John Cage, Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Franz Kline, and Buckminster Fuller are just a few of “the maverick spirits [Black Mountain College] attracted and created.”  Join them for riveting exhibitions, performances, workshops, or readings. For details about current schedule, click here. 56 Broadway St. (D)

L.O.F. T. has earned Hall of Fame status with Mountain Xpress readers. How can you resist the color, whimsy, and shiny objects beckoning? Lost Objects, Found Treasures (L.O.F.T.) carries housewares, kitchen and bath products, kiddie stuff, books,quirky cards, cra-cra gifts and that squirrel mask you’ve been looking for.  Make sure to venture downstairs to check out their antiques and bedding. 53 Broadway St. (S)

Desirant  34 Broadway St. (S)

Over Easy Cafe  When you see a crowd on lower Broadway, you can figure this popular breakfast joint is the culprit. Over Easy sources their ingredients locally, so the menu is seasonal–but there will always be some version of the epic Lavender French Toast for those who like a little something sweet in the morning. If you’re in the savory camp, there is plenty to please as well, with Huevos Rancheros or the Benny of the Day to name two. Don’t forget to order a fresh-squeezed juice or smoothie to get your day going right. 32 Broadway St. (E)

Social Lounge and Tapas is currently undergoing a renovation. Check out their new space and new menu sometime in March! 29 Broadway St. (E)

Chocolate Gems is the best way to cure a gelato craving downtown. With options like Mexican Chocolate, Limoncello or Blood Orange sorbettoMint stracciatella and Mascarpone caramelized pear, we’re in heaven. Their small batch chocolate is a marvel. Buy enough to last the week. 25 Broadway St. (E)

Green Sage Cafe has been voted the best environmentally-friendly business in town. They’re also pretty chummy with vegans, and gluten-sensitive folks. We love that they offer maple-brown rice syrup or sorghum syrup with their Carrot Cake Pancakes (and their new GS Buttermilk Pancakes). Green Sage carries plenty of wholesome wraps for a lunch on the run and an extensive beverage menu including Cortados and  Peppermint Matcha Shakes. GSC is open for breakfast, lunch, & dinner. 5 Broadway St. (E)

Sovereign Remedies  Southern Living recently touted Sovereign Remedies’ meatball sub as one of their 10 favorite bar food dishes. Now before you go getting the wrong impression, Sovereign is both refined and down to earth; it has the elegance of a European restaurant, but the comfort of a Paris Brasserie. Sovereign Remedies serves coffee and pastries, plus Dobra and Herbiary teas starting at 11 a.m. Their “proper cocktails and liquid remedies, as well as lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch are sourced almost exclusively from these mountains.” Be sure to come out for RPM: Recession Proof Mixology on Monday nights, and procure the remedy for your weekday woes for a song. 29 N. Market St. (E)

Herbiary  Want in on the bone broth craze?  Yeah, Herbiary has a class for that. Essential oils, teas, lotions, bath salts, natural remediesHerbiary has it all.  They also teach workshops on many facets of herbalism and holistic health. Go in and pick up some organically grown herbs harvested within 50 miles of Asheville. 29 N. Market (S)

Storm Rhum Bar and Bistro  Pop in on a Tuesday for specially priced bottles of wine and a small plate or on Mondays for a burger and brew for ten dollars–a steal considering  that locals tout the Apple Brandy Beef Burger as one of the best and most under-appreciated in town. They also serve a late night menu if you happen to be out and about. 125 S. Lexington Ave. (E)

Patton Ave., Pack Square, and South

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

The Thirsty Monk was voted one of the best beer bars in America. Head downstairs for Belgian brews, upstairs for American pints. On a good night, the garage door will be open. If not, you can always slip up to the Top of the Monk, a rooftop bar with patio access, for a cocktail and a gander at the stars.  92 Patton Ave. (E)

The Lobster Trap  Lobstah! Ultra-fresh seafood flown in daily and delicately prepared to thrill seafood lovers–sample some oysters, try the lobster roll, or go all out with the Lobster Trap Feast. The Lobster Trap serves “only fresh seafood, caught by trusted domestic purveyors, who practice sustainable fishing techniques.” 35 Patton Ave. (E)

Horse + Hero  We are not entirely sure if Horse + Hero’s tagline “art, craft, and design focused on NeoAppalachiana” is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but we do think you will like the Neo direction Appalachiana is headed, if this is it. You’ll find tons of great hand letter-pressed cards and prints, woodcut illustrations, linocuts, folksy and surreal figures on wood, textile art and more. Besides, you won’t get a friendlier reception in town. 14 Patton Ave. (S)

Farm Burger  After capturing the hearts of Atlantans, Farm Burger has set its sights on you, Asheville. Known for their 100% grass-fed, dry aged local beef, Farm Burger  has serious intentions of winning you over. So many options to top your burger, you might get dizzy. 10 Patton Ave.(E)

Salsa’s  It might be counter-intuitive, but Salsa’s is not your typical Mexican chips in a basket type of place.  Mind you, there will be chips with their salsa trio: Smoked Tomato & RosemaryFire Roasted Tomato & Chipotle Peanut; and Seared Tomatillo & Pumpkin Seed. The arepas rocked our world. The menu is so extensive, you may be temporarily dumbstruck.  It’s o.k., order one of the Molcajetes and relax while you decide.  6  Patton Ave. (E)

Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge Their Vault Burger has trounced all contenders. 7 Rankin Ave. (E)

Asheville Urban Trail  Learn some interesting tidbits about the architecture and history of Asheville while enjoying some fresh air. Download an urban trail brochure and be one step ahead of your friends. Pack Square (D)

Bomba! is the primo spot for people watching. This jewel-box of a coffee shop also serves wine and beer.  Stop by for breakfast, lunch, or late bite. Coming from Salsa’s owner Hector Diaz, you know it will be good. 1 Pack Square (E)

Check out the art and get in a good stretch at the same time. Show up every first or third Thursday at Asheville Art Museum for Yoga in the Galleries,10 a.m.-11.  2 S. Pack Square (D)

Rhubarb  With James Beard nominee John Fleer at the helm, expect inventive and elevated dishes with a focus on seasonal ingredients.  7 S.W. Pack Square (E)

French Broad Chocolate Lounge  Try their liquid truffle, known to plebians as hot chocolate. But oh, so much more! Wrap your mind around it–there will be a line. 10 S. Pack Square (E)

Curate  How could you not love to a place that names everyone involved in the restaurant from the sous chef to the CFO on their website? Well done, Curate (pronounced COO-rah-tay). It is no wonder why they top every foodie list in the region. This Spanish tapas bar will top yours too. 11 Biltmore Ave. (E)

Limones  Put it on your short list. Check it twice. We’d go here once a week, if we could.  Blood Orange Margaritas, Jalapeno Martinis, Ceviche Verde, Smoked Chipotle Chilaquiles, Lobster Nachos…we wouldn’t turn down a thing from the beloved Mexican and California cuisine restaurant. 13 Eagle St. (E)

Love, Daisy  Daisy Chavers wonderful boutique and salon might be slightly off the beaten path, but you’ll adore her sense of style; we do. Pick up a fragrant Woodland lotion candle, a sassy tribal beaded cuff, and a pair of architectural earrings By Boe. Love, Daisy has pulled together a micro-collection of chic clothes up front. 39 S. Market St. Suite C (S)

Fine Arts Theatre  Support your local art-house and indie film cinema!  If you are scrounging to find a decent movie to watch, check out the blog link on the bottom of their webpage: films shown since the Fine Arts Theatre opened. Movie fans might get little teary. 36 Biltmore Ave. (D)

Blue Spiral 1  Next door to the Fine Arts Theatre, Blue Spiral hosts an incredible array of southern artists’ work with five simultaneous exhibitions.  Representing the work of nearly one hundred artists, Blue Spiral 1 is highly regarded as a premier venue in the Southeast for fine art and studio craft. 38 Biltmore Ave.(S)

Double D’s Coffee and Desserts  Don’t be a stick-in-the-mud, get on the bus. Double D’s serves coffee brewed with Notorious Coffee Beans. Chai, espresso, steamers, lattes, shakes, frappes, smoothies, ice cream, and baked goods served in or out of an elaborately decked-out bright red bus. 44 Biltmore Ave. (E)

Chestnut  This comfortably elegant restaurant downtown will feel like an old friend. If you are not immediately won over by the bread basket’s mix of sweet and savory nibbles, the Lobster Bisque will certainly have you warming up. After a reliably fantastic dinner, you’ll want to order a dessert and pretend you’re going to share it. Chesnut serves both Saturday and Sunday brunch, but we’re partial to the Lemon-Scented Blintzes and House Smoked Beef Brisket Hash on the Sunday brunch lineup. 48 Biltmore Ave. (E)

City Bakery is known for its bread. So much so, odds are your favorite restaurant is probably featuring one or more of their artisan loaves. Try one of their seasonal breads. Frankly, we can’t resist City Bakery’s breakfast sandwiches, egg and fixins’ piled high on a cheddar-scallion biscuit; they also serve hearty soups, salads and sandwiches until 5. 60 Biltmore Ave. and other locations around town (E)

Mamacita’s has been consistently voted best taqueria in town. Have a little fiesta. 77-A Biltmore Ave. (E)

Local Provisions 77 Biltmore Ave. (E)

Seven Sows Bourbon and Larder  We hesitate to say that Chef Mike Moore is playing at the top of his game because that seems too limiting for him, but it sure tastes like it.  “Every plate achieves that elusive, cuisine-defining balance of nostalgic flavors with sweet, salty, and sour — even dessert.” Moore and team’s inventive and soul satisfying dishes will make you wonder what life was like before you ate Seven Sows’ food. To laud any one dish would be to slight all the others, and we just can’t have that.  So go, eat, rejoice in the flavors of locally-foraged foods, heirloom-grown veggies and legumes, and pasture-raised animals. On a side note, their Sundayshakeology cocktail classes look like a blast. 77 Biltmore Ave. Suite 111 (E)

Lexington Glassworks  Billy Guilford and Geoffrey Koslow are firing up some gorgeous glass for you.  Drop in their spacious studio on South Lexington and watch them do their thing. While they’ve got plenty of unique glass vessels for you to take home, our favorite is the heart organ necklace below. 81 S. Lexington Ave. (S)

The Nightbell Restaurant and Lounge  James Beard Semi-finalist Katie Button takes you on a gastronomic adventure with her new spot, The Nightbell. She coaxes you to go along for the ride and order the sinful Gruyere Comte Fondue or Crispy Duck Skin to top Your Ultimate Burger. Nightbell’s “Deviled Egg” is an astonishing feat of beauty crafted of warm corn sabayon, smoked trout gravlax, and trout roe. As you would expect from Button, every detail is executed with equal amounts of precision and passion. After you and your comrades have polished off a few small plates, don’t neglect the offerings of Nightbell’s Sweet World (the Petits Fours served in a cigar box and Morning Buzz are two of our favorites). Absolutely order the Fitzgerald Sorbet cocktail when possible. We’re talkin’ liquid nitrogen here, c’mon!  32 S. Lexington Ave. (E)

The Rhu 10 S. Lexington Ave. (E)

The Asheville Wine Market is everything you want in a wine market–free Saturday tastings, excellent selection of of bottles from around the world at reasonable prices, and a warm and friendly staff.  Asheville Wine Market was voted Best Wine Shop in Western North Carolina. Take advantage of their automated wine tasting system and taste up to twelve varietals for a few bucks. They also offer cellar services. (Rent a locker for your really good bottles!) 65 Biltmore Ave. (S)

French Broad Co-op Wednesday Tailgate Market  April through November, go get the good stuff between 2-6 p.m. every Wednesday!  76 Biltmore Ave.(S) free one-hour parking in ALOFT deck

Wicked Weed Brewing  Taking their name from a King Henry VIII quote: “Hops are a wicked and pernicious weed,” Wicked Weed Brewing stands out in an ever-increasing sea of craft breweries, and that’s not a bad thing. Try something from their Funkatorium collection of aged beers.  We’re particularly partial to the Black Angel Cherry Sour.  Oh, and if you are hitting several hops establishments today, wait to eat at Wicked Weed. Seriously. 91 Biltmore Ave. (E)

The Orange Peel Social Aid and Pleasure Club  Yes, it is pretty famous and also the best place to hear live music. 101 Biltmore Ave. (D)

Beer City Bicycles  There is a lot going on at Beer City Bicycles–fitting, testing, training, not to mention the downing of a few cold ones at their in-store bar (while imagining how much happier that new bike would be going home with you). Sign up for a slot with their CompuTrainer program and see how far you can push. A complete bike shop, Beer City Bicycles offers “great bikes, world class training, exceptional and experienced service, parts, gear and stylish apparel.” They also handles bike rentals. If you’re new in town or looking to switch up your ride, check out their handy reference for where to bike in Asheville. 144 Biltmore Ave. (S)

Blue Kudzu Sake Co.

South Slope

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Ben’s Tune Up brews their own American sake: Lemon Ginger, Heavy, Natural, and Session. They also serve a variety of craft beers from their neighbors Hi-Wire and Asheville Brewing. Celebrate Thirsty Thursday with them and get 1/2 off sake. Appetizers are always half-price on weekdays, if you scoot in between 4-6 p.m. Early evening Ben’s is a Japanese-inspired restaurant with tender yakitoris (meat skewers),flavor-packed ramens, addictive dumplings, Wasabi Fish Sandwiches and the like. Past ten all bets are off as it gets a little rowdier (dance parties and karoke). If you haven’t seen the space, you really need to get down there.195 Hilliard Ave. (E)

Foothills Deli and Butchery in Ben’s Penny Mart  We ran into Foothills Meats in Black Mountain and were stoked to find out they were coming to Ben’s Penny Mart. Now you can get all their pasture-raised meats closer to home, plus their house-made bacon, hot dogs, and sausages. Enjoy amazing feats of deli-deliciousness like their Pate La Belle, Chorizo Mac+Cheese, Foothills Pulled Pork or Pastramageddon (or whatever meat whimsy they dream up next).195 Hilliard Ave. (S)

Hi-Wire Brewing gave free beer to A.T. thru-hikers last spring–how cool is that? Not only do the they give back to weary hikers, each month Hi-Wire chooses a local charity to whom they give a portion of their tasting room proceeds. Their taproom is minimal and chill, with a few console classics in the gaming corner and free popcorn to go with their mighty fine brews. You’ll find their year-round Main Attractions (four), their seasonal brews and a few guest taps. Be sure to try their limited release Ringmaster Reserve Series Dry Hopped Belgian Style Ale. Stop in for $6 growler fills on Mondays. 197 Hilliard Ave. (E)

See a comedy act at The Millroom at Asheville Brewing Company 66 Asheland Ave. Then, amble over to the covered patio at Asheville Brewing Co. and play some cornhole, brew in hand. at 77 Coxe Ave.

Wicked Weed Funkatorium is “for all of your Sour and Wild beer cravings,” and we couldn’t be happier (as in really, really happy). Funkatorium’s long list of Funky, Non-Funky, and Sours (with a Cask thrown in for good measure) is certain to please your thrill-seeking taste buds. Besides, the space is just flat-out sexy.  Black Angel, Framboos Morte, Oblivion Sour Red, Bretticent, Dark Age Bourbon Stout…oh, yeah! 147 Coxe Ave. (E)

Twin Leaf Brewery  Each brewhouse develops its own personality. Twin Leaf’s is warm and friendly.  Maybe it’s all the sunlight streaming through the wall of windows flanked by shiny metal fermentation tanks, or the giant Jenga game someone’s always playing near the front door, but Twin Leaf just feels right when you enter. Grab a spot at a picnic table or saddle up to the bar for a small batch, seasonal or house beer. The Luminosity Tripel and Juicy Fruit IPA get a lot of play here–check ’em out. 144 Coxe Ave. (E)

Vortex Doughnuts  “Tasty-Local-Twisted” is what you’ll find at Vortex, serving Blue Blaze Soda, 1000 Faces coffee and Dobra tea plus a case full of delectable hand-cut doughnuts fried up fresh every morning. They’ve got cake and yeast varieties of the heavenly snack, plus Lil’ Buddy sandwiches which are made on doughnuts (hells yeah!). Just try to resist a Whiskey Bacon Fritter made with Troy & Son’s Oak Reserve glaze and candied Hickory Nut Gap Farm bacon crowning a warm apple fritter. We dare you. 32 Banks Ave. (E)

Banks Ave. Bar  32 Banks Ave. (E)

Chef Elliott Moss’ Buxton Hall BBQ  32 Banks Ave. (E)

Catawba Brewing South Slope Tasting Room and Brewery  32 Banks Ave. Suite 105 (E)

Raleigh’s Tasty Beverage Company 162 Coxe Ave. Suite 101 (S)

Asheville Hardware  We just love peaking in the windows of Asheville Hardware while out carousing the Slope.  All those gorgeous walnut and maple burl slabs will really inspire us to make that table soon, really. 10 Buxton Ave. (S)

French Broad Chocolate Factory  Take a self-guided tour and pick up a few bars of the good stuff.  They’ve got a tasting bar available for you to sample their extraordinary bean-to-bar chocolate before you buy. 21 Buxton Ave. (E)

Green Man Brewing  Maybe it’s just us, but we keep expecting Uma Thurman dressed as Green Ivy to emerge from the phosphorescent glow back near the brewing tanks. But hey, if green fluorescent lighting bothers you, they’ve got a bitchin’ outdoor space to relax in. Try one of their highly rated special releases like The Rainmaker Double IPA, or The Dweller Imperial Stout. 23 Buxton Ave. (E)

Burial Beer Company  The abundant renderings of the Burial Beer logo, a sickle, might raise a bit of Slingblade paranoia; but no worries–the depictions of Tom Selleck and Sloth from Goonies will surely provide plenty of positive mojo to combat such fears. With its mason jar lights and farm instrument tap handles, Burial Beer honors hops’ humble beginnings. They choose their name, Burial, to reflect “the cyclical nature of harvest and of the brewing process.” Burial Beer has plans to expand with an urban farm and beer garden on their current property. But for now, we’ll enjoy Skillet Donut Stout, Surf Wax IPA, Haysaw Saison, and The Shroud Dubbel (with other great brews) in their cozy taproom. 40 Collier Ave. (E)

River Arts District

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

On the second Saturday of every month, Asheville hosts “A Closer Look” with artist demonstrations, classes, and open studios. Twice a year, typically in June and November, the River Arts District features a weekend Studio Stroll.  Or drop by anytime of the year, as you’ll find many artist studios are open daily. Download a current River Arts District Studio Guide here.

New Mountain Asheville Amphitheater  The giant music venue, New Mountain AVL, is christening their new outdoor space April 24th. Be there. 38 N. French Broad Ave. (D)

All Souls Pizza mills their own flour and polenta for their pizza crusts and “sources meat and produce as close to home as possible.” We are slightly addicted to their wood-fired pizzas and uber-fresh salads. Enjoy live music and half-price bottles of wine on Tuesdays. During fair weather, grab a picnic bench in the field and play lawn games while you wait for your pie to bake. 175 Clingman Ave. (E)

On Wednesdays from 2-6 p.m. May to November, check out the River Arts District (RAD) Farmers Market in the lot next to All Souls. But you don’t have to wait until spring to get your hands on a fresh loaf of Farm and Sparrow bread, you can purchase it on Fridays at All Souls year round.

Grey Eagle  Favored by touring musicians, Grey Eagle has what you want in a music venue–great acoustics, tasty brews, and an in-house taqueria. Yes, my friends, Grey Eagle serves authentic Latin cuisine from 12-8 p.m. Just please, eat the crunchy stuff before the show starts. 185 Clingman Ave. (D)

12 Bones Smokehouse is legendary.  It might not look like much from the outside, but hesitate not. Grab some smokey delicious grub and satisfy your inner carnivore.  5 Riverside Dr. (E)

Smoky Park Supper Club  Possibly the coolest shipping container you will ever eat in situated on the banks of the French Broad river. 350 Riverside Dr. (E)

White Duck Taco Shop  Eat like the cool kids. White Duck is a great place for a cheap, quick bite to take the edge off. Tacos=yummy. 1 Roberts St. or 12 Biltmore Ave. downtown (E)

Wedge Brewing Co.  Just in case it has slipped your attention, we’re here to tell you, Wedge is a super chill hangout:  quality brews, cornhole, outdoor movies, even the city’s best food trucks.  Don’t hit the RAD, without hitting the Wedge.  Insider’s tip: go to the side window for IPA only line. 125-B Roberts St. (E)

Just next door to Wedge Brewing, don’t miss Splurge.  Robert Nicholas’ funky design shop featuring show stopping light fixtures with an industrial edge and vintage furnishings. Be prepared for everyone to ask where you got it. 123-B Roberts St. (S)

Bull and Beggar  The insanely rich Chicken Liver Mousse or the Smoked Bluefish Pate with orange juniper salt is the perfect start to a great meal. If you are wanting a small plate, we hear the Charred Octopus is other-worldly.  The Whole Rainbow Trout has no equal. Bull and Beggar’s Raw Bar happy hour is every night until 6 p.m. Join in!  As with the food, the cocktails are inventive and perfectly balanced.  7 Paynes Way (E)

Pink Dog Creative This brightly colored building houses individual studios and galleries. Go explore. 342-348 Depot St. (D)

The Magnetic Theatre produces original works by Asheville playwrights. Go see a production in their new digs, and support local theatre! 375 Depot St. (D)

Food Truck Watch:  El Kimchi; The Lowdown; Gypsy Queen Cuisine; Pho Ya Belly; Fuel; Farm to Fender; Taste and See; Roaming in the raw; The Bom Bus; ursa minor coffee; the lot; Doc Brown’s bbq

Float down the river in a work of art–take a private boat tour with French Broad Boatworks. If you opt for the 1 hour River Arts District Tour, they’ll stop at 12 Bones or Wedge Brewery to pick up a bite or a brew. Or there’s always Bywater’s riverside bar.  How cool is that?

Near Biltmore Estate

Appalachian Vintner has twenty taps for growler fills (including one Cask), weekly wine and beer tastings, outdoor seating and a vast array of wine and craft beer. We think it’s the exposed bricks and high ceilings or the ample space to browse that relaxes us as we sleuth for new bottles to try.  745 Biltmore Ave. (S)

The Corner Kitchen We recommend the Corner Kitchen for breakfast or brunch. You won’t have to face the crowds from Biltmore quite as much, and you still get to enjoy your Cream Cheese Scrambler or Johnny Cakes from a room with a view.  3 Boston Way (E)

Bon Vivant Co. 9 Reed St. Suite D (S)

Weaverville’s Well-Bred Bakery and Cafe  If you have a sweet tooth, this is your stop. Well-Bred Bakery won Mountain Xpress Best Bakery award, more than once. They’ve been known to rule at Asheville’s SWEET festival too. In short, their desserts are legendary. Go have one. 6 Boston Way (E)

Rezaz  Reza Setayesh is a bit of a bad-ass. Go eat his food. Better yet, reserve your place at Chef’s Table where you’ll eat in the kitchen alongside the line crew. 28 Hendersonville Rd. across the street from the Grand Bohemian Hotel (E)

Toy Boat Community Art Space  Reasons you might be at Toy Boat:  you are finally pursuing your passion for circus arts; you love Experimental theatre and are coming to see a Anam Cara show; because vaudville is everything. Toy Boat offers aerial, hoop movement, and other classes in circus arts. Check out Toy Boat’s upcoming events or even rent the space for your next big adventure. 101 Fairview Rd. (D)

ScreenDoor is a 22,000 square foot emporium of home and garden goods. They carry everything from industrial lighting to Mid-Century Modern furniture to kitsch. 15 Fairview Rd. (S)

West Asheville

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

Hole, Hot Doughnuts and Fresh Coffee  You’ve got a front row seat to watch the yeasty treats being made. Toasted almond and cinnamon sesame, Pomegranate glazed, Cocoa rubbed–each day brings a tempting new choice. Open 7:30-2. Closed Tuesdays.168 Haywood Rd. (E)

Taco Billy 201 Haywood Rd. (E)

Urban Orchard Cider  Get your growler on here. Urban Orchard’s tasting room has six craft ciders on tap at all times, including three tasty seasonal libations. You may also nibble on meat, cheese, and baked goods from purveyors all over town. 210 Haywood Rd. (E)

Hazel Twenty is a chic mobile boutique for the ladies.  Keep tabs on where fashion roams next on their Events page.

Short Street Cakes  Delightful.  Short Street bakes incredible cakes and cupcakes with 100% natural ingredients. Under the happy striped awning, you’ll find a wide assortment of flavors including Tres Leches, Salted Caramel, Black Forest, Deep Dark Vegan Chocolate and more. Due to our abiding love of a hand pie, we must mention that Short Street’s have an all-butter crust featuring:  Strawberry Vanilla Cardamom, Blueberry Poppyseed, Ginger Pear, Caramel Apple and Bourbon Peach!  225 Haywood Rd. (E)

Villagers bills itself as “an urban homestead supply and design shop”.  Live the sustainable life with the help of the talented Natalie Pollard. This beautiful shop carries gardening supplies, herbs, plants, and much more.  Classes are offered in everything from rabbit keeping to understanding the planting calendar. 278 Haywood Rd.(S)

OWL Bakery 295 Haywood Rd. (E)

Battle Cat Coffee Bar serves Pennycup Coffee. Amp your day with a fine cup and spread some of local, Johnny Becker’s tasty Jalapeno and Scallion with roasted garlic on your bagel. Battle Cat’s cozy little cottage has multiple couches for your sprawling pleasure and interesting local art to peruse. Often, the picnic benches out front will be filled with well-caffeinated patrons chatting or just basking in the sun. 373 Haywood Rd. (E)

The Double Crown is what we like to call the modern hipster speakeasy–the quirky dive bar with no visible signage and an exterior that doesn’t exactly shout, “hey, come over here” (i.e. bars on the windows). As a matter of fact, we had no idea that the Double Crown was indeed The Double Crown when we shot the pic (the tribute mural of Popcorn with the mesmerizing blue eyes). But hey, we hear it is a pretty cool place. Go hear some music–gospel, honky tonk, country, soul, rock n’ roll, & international. 375 Haywood Rd. (E)

The Admiral  Don’t let the cinderblock exterior fool ya–get in there!  The mussels are amazing.  But then, so is everything else, frankly. You’ll thank us later. 400 Haywood Rd. (E)

Harvest Records  Two good dudes opened a record store. Truly. They even set up two record playing listening stations complete with headphones. Go there for new and used cds and vinyl. The guys even said you can sleep on their couch, c’mon.  415-B Haywood Rd. (S)

Visit Flora for gorgeous stems, beautiful vessels, or artfully-planted terrariums. This is your go-to for stunning arrangements and planters, or just for a zen moment of beauty.  428-B Haywood Rd. (S)

Whist: Greetings, Gifts, & Gallery features clever cards, sweet local art, children’s books and novelties, printed totes, journals, crafts and all manner of interesting handmade goods. Whist will be one of your must-stops on Haywood. 428-A Haywood Rd. (S)

King Daddy’s Chicken and Waffles is from the folks that brought you Early Girl Eatery. The gracious service from every member of the staff was just one more indicator of how adept the Stehlings are at building a positive vibe in their restaurants. You’ll love it here. From the Fried Chicken Livers (yes, yes, yes!) to the fluffy Belgian waffles, you’ll be more than happy you ventured out for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner). King Daddy serves a diverse menu of comfort food including gluten-less and vegan items, and starring the humble but delicious chicken & waffles. 444 Haywood Rd. (E)

The Dry Goods Shop is a great little space on the west side.  Not only do they have a retail area, a gallery, and craft classes–but there is a kick ass succulent garden in the back you just have to see.  474 Haywood Rd. (S)

Desoto Lounge Join them Mondays for PBR & Pinball with tallboy specials and all machines set for free play. Desoto has drink specials all week long, and you know we can’t resist a ping pong table. They serve tasty food as well, even late night. Head down for Sunday Funday; their brunch is so good, a hangover is optional. 504 Haywood Rd. (E)

Oyster House Brewing Company  Even in the dead of winter, you’ll find devoted fans eating at the tables outside. That should tell you something. Go all in with the Oyster House Moonstone Oyster Stout, owner Billy Klingel’s masterpiece. As for the succulent bivalves, weekdays from 3-6 p.m. is oyster happy hour.  625 Haywood Rd. (E)

Sunny Point Cafe  You have reached breakfast mecca. Many of their ingredients are harvested out back in the cafe’s garden. Fan favorites:  Huevos Rancheros or Fried Green Tomato Sandwich with maple black pepper bacon.  626 Haywood Rd. (E)

The Barleycorn  O.K., there are more than a “coupla reasons” to partake in The Barleycorn’s brunch. While the parking lot is quite the selling point, we’ve got to say that the Smokehouse Mary (house Bloody Mary) topped with an actual baby back pork rib just smoked the parking angle. Or, if you are sleeping through brunch–no judgements–dinner at this English gastropub will make up for it. Since we consider bacon jam to be one of the great joys in life, our recommendation is to order something involving it like Barleycorn’s Welsh Rarebit or Bangers and Colcannon. That’s just us. 697 Haywood Rd. (E)

The Mothlight books a full and diverse line-up of music every night of the week. Every now and again you’ll see the occasional burlesque or variety act, but live music is really the gig here. They have a full bar and classic arcades for those of you who like to keep your hands busy. 701 Haywood Rd. (D)

The Hop West  This family owned ice cream shop has a devoted following. They serve homemade dairy and vegan ice cream in familiar and far out flavors. (Dobra Tea Matcha, Vegan Ginger Spice Banana Creme, Cranberry Marzipan, Espresso Crunch and many more) 721 Haywood Rd. (E) or The Hop Ice Cream Cafe  640 Merrimon Ave. #103 (E)

Shelter is now functioning as a yearly pop-up in their old brick and mortar. 7 Brevard Rd. (S)

Biscuit Head  Yep, you guessed it. They serve biscuits as big as a cat’s head and twice as tasty. There is a jam bar with staples like Grapefruit Curd and Tomato Ginger Jelly. There are 6 different gravies, including Sweet Potato Coconut and a “gravy of the day.” There is both red and white sangria. Our hearts are racing. 733 Haywood Rd.  or 417 Biltmore Ave. 4F (E)

The ISIS Restaurant and Music Hall  You can catch a show, dine, or partake of their late night menu.  743 Haywood Rd. (D)

The Brew Pump  Why is there a food truck outside a Shell station, you ask?  We’ll tell you why–because this funky little filling station has a bar inside with a dozen or so craft beers on tap. They’ve got a super chill beer garden out back, too. It’s got a neighborhood vibe, so bring your dogs and your peeps. 760 Haywood Rd. (E)

Orbit DVD 781 Haywood Rd. (S)

Hops & Vines carries over 300 beers, a nice selection of wine and home brewing supplies. They offer free beer tastings on Fridays from 5-7 p.m. and free wine tastings on Saturdays from 3-6 p.m. 797 Haywood Rd. (S)

Pour Taproom has forty-plus taps of craft beer for you to sample to your heart’s delight. Enjoy the visceral satisfaction of pulling the tap handles on your own and pay by the ounce.  We dig it.  800 Haywood Rd. (E)

The Odditorium is a lounge/dive bar/museum celebrating the peculiar. Drop in and get your freak on. They host a wide spectrum of entertainment every night of the week including Open Mic Comedy Freakshow on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. 1045 Haywood Rd. (D)

Altamont Brewing  To call this place laid back would be an understatement. These guys just want to have a good time, and they encourage you and your canine friends to also. Altamont has five to eight of their own brews (named by batch #), an impressive lineup of guest taps, bottled and canned brew, wine and liquor. Come in to hear some live music (Free Music Thursdays), or join Open Mic night on Tuesdays. 1042 Haywood Rd. (E)

Bonfire Barbecue 1056 Patton Ave. (E)

Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack  Order it  Mt. Saint Hell No! (you XX Hot daredevil, you) or Not So Mild; Plain will bring taunts of “scared?” Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack, rocks! Surround your spicy fowl with creamy Pimento Cheese Grits or Corn Pudding. Go for patio seating when you can. 1455 Patton Ave. (E)

Papa’s and Beer Mexican restaurant 1000 Brevard Rd. (E)

Known as The Sausage Queen of Asheville, Sadrah Schadel means business when it comes to incredible “plant meats.” Yes, that is a thing. Schadel and partner Mike Woliansky head up No Evil Foods, stocking your favorite establishments around town with tasty meat-like real foods. Their chicken-esque The Prepper, El Zapatista, NEF’s version of a fiery Mexican chorizo, and The Stallion, their hot Italian sausage, will astound your tastebuds with the flavor and texture you’ve been craving. Find out more on No Evil Foods website.

Make us proud local product:  Lusty Monk Mustard; Blue Blaze Syrup & Soda Co., No Evil Foods

North Asheville

D=Do; E=Eat/Drink; S=Shop

North Asheville Tailgate Market  Catch this small local market on Saturdays from 6am until noon.  Farm and Sparrow, Vinnie’s Italian and much more. 1 University Heights Parking Lot C

High Five Coffee Bar’s exclusive partnership with Counter Culture Coffee, gives them the opportunity to serve the phenomenal bean-to-cup coffee for which High Five is now known. High Five Coffee, formerly Dripolator, offers “classically prepared espresso drinks as well as house-made syrups for our own creative concoctions.” Whatever your fancy: drip, pour-over, french press or cold brew–High Five can accommodate you. Local beer and noshes are available as well. Would it be too superficial to wax poetic about how beautiful their lattes are? 190 Broadway St. (E)

Plant  Food & Wine ranked it one of the top vegan restaurants in the country.  We could go for the Fried Plantains, Red Curry Tofu and Cannolo with handmade anise shell, candied orange ricotta and cappuccino chunk ice cream right about now. 165 Merrimon Ave. (E)

Youngblood Bicycles  Isn’t it nice to have a bike shop you can trust? Founder Youngblood Haske has nearly thirty years experience in servicing bikes. Youngblood Bicycles expert crew can handle repairs within 24 hours, so you can get back in the saddle.  They sell all the primo mountain and road bikes, and can tell you how to distinguish the best bike for you. Start dreaming of your next ride with this straight talk guide, then get in there and kick some tires. 233 Merrimon Ave. (S)

At Homegrown, the focus is on slow food and local ingredients. They know how to do it right.  Just ask their regions of fans. Order at the counter from the daily chalkboard menu, grab a seat and utensils…then, wait for the homey goodness to arrive.  371 Merrimon Ave. (E)

 

Luella’s BBQ  Oh, Sweet Pisgah, how we long to lavish you on our smoky meat. Scooter, we have plans for your vinegar goodness too. Luella’s outstanding collard greens and calico baked beans are a sure thing, and don’t even get us started on the tiny morsels of love that are Luella’s hush puppies. 501 Merrimon Ave. (E)

Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company  Microbrews. Pub food. Movies. The favored trifecta of locals. Sweet Pea’s spinach burger gets a lot of play. Get there early. 675 Merrimon Ave. (E)

The Chop Shop is “Asheville’s first whole animal butcher shop featuring a wide variety of meats from locally sourced farms that are committed to sustainable, humane, and all-natural farming practices.” The well-loved neighborhood butcher shop is busy for a reason–buy your meat here. 100 Charlotte St. (S)

Nine Mile  We are slightly partial to the Montford location, nestled amongst the trees and cute neighborhood houses.  It gives us a good chance of catching chef Aaron Thomas’ busy at work, brimmed Rasta hat and all. The Caribbean-inspired menu will make you wish you lived a block away, subject to the constant tempting aromas wafting from Nine Mile’s kitchen from lunch to dinner. Try the Coo Yah (Natty bread with your choice of sauce) and the Ambush in the Night (Smokin’ J’s Jerk-Rubbed Mahi with coconut lime cream and a side of roasted jalapeno and pineapple salsa).  Vegans and vegetarians will have plentiful options here including the signature Nine Mile (spicy chicken or tofu with ginger, veggies, and a  white wine butter sauce over linguine). 233 Montford Ave. in Historic Montford or 751 Haywood Ave. (E)

Montford Park Players  Get your Shakespeare on with free summer performances at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre in the Montford Recreation area (but seriously, put something in the hat at intermission!) The Montford Park Players also perform classic plays at Asheville Masonic Temple (80 Broadway St.) downtown. Find out more about their season here. 92 Gay St. in Historic Montford (D)

FBO @Hominy Creek (French Broad Outfitters)  That shipping container bar you’ve heard all the buzz about is run by the great folks at FBO. Join them for paddling excursions, or just bike your way down Broadway and use the bar as your own personal filling station. They’ve got Hominy Creek decked out for your next shindig too including, “covered picnic area, small stage area, massive fire pit, bar, hammock alley, cornhole, ample parking, limited on-site camping, and beautiful views of the French Broad River!” Check it out this summer. 704 Riverside Dr. (D)

The Bywater is hard to categorize. Like the other N.C. establishments that offer “spirits” but not food, Bywater is a private club (meaning fill out the form, pay the five bucks, and you too are a member). The best way to describe it may be a year-round party on the river with only your coolest friends. As it is a regular stop for paddlers and an all-around hang out, the food trucks are usually out in force here. Bywater has grills you may use should you fancy a BBQ feast. Though most recreate on their acre of land, they do have a indoor bar with 18 taps and all the fixins for a good cocktail, plus a few bottles of wine. The Bywater hosts live music on most weekends, Taylor Martin Open Mic on Mondays, and no shortage of bonfires. Good times. 796 Riverside Dr. (D)

Wild Abundance teaches classes in Homesteading, Foraging and Cooking, Permaculture, Primitive Skills, and Natural Building. Take a tour of the Wild Abundance homestead and see off-the-grid living just twenty minutes north of town. Learn how to build an awesome tiny house, brush up on your plant identification skills, and discuss the many tenets of sustainable living. Click here for more.

East Asheville

Papa’s and Beer was voted both Best Mexican Restaurant in Asheville and Best Value by Mountain XPress readers. Their fresh Cali-Mex cuisine deserves to be on your short list. 17 Tunnel Rd. (E)

Black Dome Mountain Sports has all the expertise and equipment you need to up your “outdoor” game. With so much quality gear and stylish duds, you’ll be planning your next adventure before you finish that pint of craft beer they just served you inside Black Dome’s store bar, Conspiracy. Before you go, check your bearings in their handy map room. 140 Tunnel Rd. (S)

Highland Brewing Company  Whether you’re there for the highly-rated Gaelic Ale or the well-received Thunderstruck Coffee Porter (which uses Dynamite Roasting Company beans), you’ll find Highland Brewing Company does things a little differently. For starters, they use solar power for their brewing operations. Live music, plentiful seating,free tours, and full gift shop–Highland Brewing invites you to stay awhile. 12 Old Charlotte Hwy. Suite H (E)

More Out of Door Adventures

The Asheville area had no shortage of lush forests so whether you prefer to swing over a canopy of trees or lace up your bootstraps for a hearty hike, Asheville delivers plenty of outdoor excitement.  A local favorite is Pisgah National Forest–Sliding Rock, Looking Glass Falls.

Looking for a place to beat the summer heat? Skinny Dip Falls is a popular swimming hole. (You might want to keep your skivvies on though.) It is beautiful, but not secluded. Milepost 417 (Looking Glass Overlook) on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Follow the Mountains to Sea Trail for 1/2 mile to reach the falls.

Dupont State Forest Hikers, horses, and mountain biking…oh my. These muli-use trails will reward you with the scenic cascades of Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls with minimal to moderate effort. Hunger Games was filmed in these woods.

Trails, trails, trails:  Big M; Catawba Falls; Craggy Gardens; French Broad Paddle Trail; Mt. Sterling; Trace Ridge and Fletcher Creek Trails

Caney Fork Overlook may be an hour away, but snapping a stunning sunset over the ridge is so Insta-worthy. Canton, NC

Velo Girl Rides sponsors the popular Cycle to Farm yearly event. The tagline is Cycle. Eat. Repeat.  We’re down. Great news–this year Velo Girl has added more cycling events to keep you motivated in the saddle. Join them for their Inn to Inn Bicycle Tour, Blue Ridge Parkway rides, challenging Mountains of Misery Group Event, or Asheville Bike Tour to Cheese. Experience the camaraderie and excitement of a scenic group ride this year. Click here for more details.

Check it out:  Bicycle Benefits rewards around town.  The deal:  purchase a sticker from a participating vendor, stick it on your helmet, bike to your favorite joint and get discounts for brandishing your shiny (reflective) sticker! For more information click here.

Not to Miss

The Blind Pig Supper Club  We could tell you about the gastronomical art that masquerades as an underground supper club, but then we’d have to kill you. So you’d better read more on their site.

Asheville Cinema Festival happens the first week in November.  Support independent film.  Find out more here.

Moogfest  Time Magazine called it one of the top festivals of 2014. However, despite the praise this 5-day Electronic music festival could use a break according to Moogfest C.E.O. Mike Adams. Stay tuned for 2016, when Moogfest will fire up the jam again.

The Big Crafty  Asheville’s favorite handmade art and craft extravaganza happens every December. Be there or stay square. Check out all the deets here.

© 2017

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9 Responses to Asheville

  1. Shannon McGaughey

    What a great guide for Asheville! As manager at Storm Rhum Bar & Bistro, I can say we are excited to be featured alongside all these great restaurants! For all those coming in, please note that now on Tuesdays we have a specialty selection of different wines all for $25 a bottle. There are some really exciting finds in there, like the Picpoul de Pinet, that we are able to sell at a price that won’t break the bank! Come check it out!

    Reply
  2. Zachariah

    Awesome guide! Such an awesome city to live and work.

    Just one little correction on the Vortex blurb, we do not serve bagels. We do however have Lil’ Buddy sandwiches, a sandwich made on a doughnut…..

    Reply
  3. Sandee Johnson

    You left out the fantastic BeBe Theater, a black box space that’s been around for many, many years downtown. It hosts the ACDT (Asheville Contemporary Dance Theater) and many other cutting edge performances and was instrumental in getting the Fringe Festival, Butoh Festival and international exchanges here. Susan and Giles Collard are the founders and totally amazing Asheville characters who are the personification of “cool.”

    Reply
  4. Heather

    …and don’t forget about Wild Abundance, the living earth skills school just 20 minutes north of Asheville in Barnardsville, NC, which teaches everything from homesteading to permaculture to wild foods hunting to animal husbandry. Wild Abundance’s sister organization, Firefly, hosts the largest back-to-the-land gathering in the US each June!

    Reply

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