Asheville is renowned as being one of the best destinations in the Southeast USA for foodies, and for good reason. There is literally something for everyone, but choosing where to eat can be a bit overwhelming because there are so many options. After visiting and staying at the Biltmore for a few days, I headed over to downtown Asheville for the weekend and was on a mission to try as many restaurants as my stomach would allow. The best way to do this was to join a food tour, and that’s exactly what I did with Eating Asheville.
Eating Asheville has walking food tours daily and they visit at least six restaurants on the tour, which typically lasts 2.5 hours. You can choose to do the Classic Tour ($49) or the High Roller Tour ($59). I highly recommend the High Roller Tour because alcoholic drinks are included at every stop. And we all know that the only thing better than food is alcohol. Am I right or am I right?
The tour started at the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, which is one of the most unique places in Asheville. You can drink, browse a huge selection of books, and bring your dog inside for some free treats. After meeting some of the other people that were going on our tour as well, we were all treated to a goat cheese, pimento cheese and smoked sunburst trout dip with a glass of champagne to top it off. After a group toast we made our way to our next restaurant, Zambra.
Zambra was one of my favorites of the day. We had a soup and red wine sangria. The sangria was the best I have EVER had, and I’m a big fan of sangria. It was slightly cinnamon flavored and I loved it so much that I actually asked for the recipe because I wanted to share it with you guys. Keep in mind that this is a five gallon recipe though.
1.5 Liters of white wine
1.5 Liters of red wine
0.5 Liters dry sherry
0.375 Liters brandy
4 cups simple syrup (half water, half sugar)
4 cups orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup lime juice
1 cup chopped ginger
5 broken up cinnamon sticks
1/8 cup anise
2TB Juniper berries
2 each chopped: orange, lemon, lime
add ginger ale or ginger beer to taste, usually around 4-6 cups
Let all ingredients steep refrigerated for at least 24 hours.
I know that recipe sounds like a lot of work, but trust me – it’s worth it. I will be trying it out SOON. Who wants to come over & have a party?
Next up we headed over to Strada, a nice little cozy Italian restaurant. We were served bread with seasonings and it was quite tasty, but honestly, this was probably one of my least favorites of the day. Nothing very memorable. Perhaps trying their pizza, pasta, or one of their many desserts would be better. I would definitely like to visit Strada for dinner one day and sample their other foods.
Sovereign Remedies, our fourth stop on the tour, is more of a bar than a restaurant. They serve craft cocktails and stay open late so this would be a perfect spot to pop in during a drunken stupor at 1:00am. I’m just sayin’… The gougères with pimento cheese was excellent though if you want some food as well. Gougères is a baked savory choux pastry made of choux dough mixed with cheese, and then finishing it off with some pimento cheese in between the pastry was perfection. Oh, and I must mention the most accommodating feature of the bar… the counter had a spot low enough to accommodate a wheelchair user! It was perfect! I could actually “belly up to the bar” just as everyone else did.
Bomba and Seven Sows, our next two stops, both had good food, but Bomba wasn’t necessarily accessible. There was a large pole type thing right in front of the door and my wheelchair could not squeeze between the pole and the door to go inside. Stephen, our Eating Asheville tour guide, was kind enough to move the group to the outside tables so that my mom and I wouldn’t be alone though. It really wasn’t that big of a deal to me to eat outside without the rest of the group, but it did mean a lot to me that the group did that. Such a nice gesture. We were served arepas with cabbage, peppers, sheeps milk cheese and aioli. My mom liked this a lot more than I did (I’m not a fan of cabbage), but it was alright. I thoroughly enjoyed Seven Sows though. Seven Sows specializes in modern southern and American cuisine, and takes pride in being unique. We got to eat barbecue, which is one of my absolute faves. It was terrific and my only problem was that they didn’t give us enough, but two full plates of it probably wouldn’t have been enough. Seriously, it was that great.
Lastly, we visited my favorite restaurant in Asheville, or possibly in the entire Southeast – Nightbell! We visited this restaurant on the tour, but I also went the night before for dinner. On the tour we were given a “deviled egg” and a white chocolate truffle with Granny Smith apple juice inside. Nothing from Nightbell is what you would expect by reading the menu. Everything is given a unique twist, which makes it extra fun to eat. Some of my favorites from Nightbell were the “deviled egg” (warm corn sabayon, smoked trout gravlax, and trout roe served in an egg shell), the burger (you can customize the burger with all kinds of great stuff), and the petits fours (bite sized sweet treats, including the Granny Smith Apple one that is to die for). I honestly cannot praise Nightbell enough. If you are in the Asheville area, please eat here and post pictures so that I can live vicariously through you.
My tour with Eating Asheville was a fantastic, and certainly the most delicious way to experience the best of the city. If you would like to book a tour of your own, just click here and enjoy the tastes of Asheville.
*Thank you to Eating Asheville for the complimentary tour. All opinions expressed are my own.