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While Asheville doesn’t usually make it on the list with the top contenders for foodie cities such as New York and San Francisco, it has a unique charm with some of its food experiences. With food foraging tours, quality restaurants and classy food trucks, there’s no doubt there is an unforgettable experience to be had. Within the last few years, this city has been on the rise with its dining scene being home to quite a few renowned chefs.
Wild Edibles Foraging
The highlight of the Asheville food scene has to be the ability to go on food foraging tours. No Taste Like Home, since 1995, has been providing forage-to-table tours that have been named the #1 foraging activity in the world. In the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, led by expert guides, you’ll be able to experience the refreshingly simple and tasteful ingredients that the mountains offer. Depending on the time of year, there are many different edibles to be found including greens, nuts, berries, fruits, mushrooms and more.
There are two different tours that are available. The Wild Food Stroll, at 1.5 hours is the choice for those that want just a sneak peek into foraging. It includes a leisurely stroll at the Asheville’s Omni Grove Park Inn seeing some of the edibles out in nature. Afterwards you can enjoy a free appetizer with your dinner featuring the edibles you came across on the tour.
For a more immersive experience consider going on the Foraging Tour. The tour meets just outside of Asheville and lasts for 3 hours. On this path, you will find and gather wild edibles, and have a tasting right on the trail. Once the tour is finished, you are able to take home your gatherings or have one of their award-winning partner restaurants prepare a free appetizer with your choice of meal.
Restaurants and Food Tour
Of course, there is no shortage of incredible restaurants worthy to make Asheville one of the top foodie cities in the US. The city is home to seven James Beard- nominated chefs and other talented chefs that use fresh, local ingredients to push the boundaries of the palate.
If you want to fit in a few restaurants at one time, consider an eating tour that visits 5-7 restaurants all within walking distance. A fellow foodie, Stephen Steidle, founded the tour after attending several food tours around the country. On the tour, the chefs will talk briefly about their plates and choices of pairings before serving.
Want to explore the food scene on your own? Some of the top restaurants include but not limited to are, Rhubarb, Table, Curate, Jargon, Chai Pani, Limones, The Market Place and the fine restaurants at the Omni Grove Park Inn and Biltmore.
Asheville’s food trucks are bringing it to the next level as well. With too many to list, some of the favorites include Bun Intended, Melt Your Heart, and El Kimchi but there is a whole list of them to pick from. Many of the food trucks are cooking up quality foods that are attracting many visitors as well as locals.
A classic loved by many, chocolate has a special place in Asheville’s food scene. The French Broad Chocolate Lounge is a must stop for handmade local chocolate. Very popular and often crowded, it is the top spot for desserts. From chocolate truffles, caramels, brownies, cake and so much more, this shop really delivers a taste of chocolate heaven. They have a signature hot chocolate drink that comes with different flavors such as Indian Kulfi (with rose, pistachio and cardamom), Masala Chai, cayenne and cinnamon, and pure dark chocolate. They import organic cacao from Central and South America which they use to make their chocolate delicacies at their Chocolate Factory nearby.
Another favorite is The Chocolate Fetish with a notable chocolate collection. They use the finest ingredients to ensure maximum quality and freshness. Standing out in their collection are what they call America’s Best Truffles, that are a variety of gourmet chocolate bars with an Ultimate Crunch Bar in the collection.
With dozens of farmer’s markets throughout, there is much to choose from but the biggest by far is the Western North Carolina Farmers Market. The market sits on 36 acres with panoramic views of the mountains. It is open all year long, seven days a week. There are plenty of local, fresh, quality fruits, vegetables, jams, preserves, honey and so many more farm fresh items.
Take a Tour of a Farm
Naturally, there are many farms that supply the fresh produce and dairy that are used widely in the surrounding area of Asheville. You can go right to the source by being able to visit some of these farms. The Hickory Nut Gap Farm is open every day for visitors to come enjoy everything the farm has to offer. Visitors can see baby goats, chicks and calves, or enjoy seasonal festivities including a corn maze, apple picking and cider making, or take a hayride.
The Buffalo Farm Tours offers a unique experience where you can see Buffalo, Watusi, Camels, and Elk roaming around on the 500-acre farmland. Put on a bee suit and get a close look at the hives with a honey tasting at the Killer Bees Farm. Or make a stop at the Round Mountain Creamery to take a guided tour of the goat to cheese process and meet the goats. Just south of Asheville is the biggest apple-producing county with many orchards allowing visitors to take their pick.
The food scene is an integral part of Asheville with many ways to enjoy it. Take your pick of the many things to do, see, and taste as you explore Asheville. With so many things to choose from, Asheville certainly belongs on the list with the top foodie cities in the US.
About the Author: Angela Miller
Having the travel bug since a very young age, Angela has been on countless adventures around the world and she’s not planning on stopping any time soon.