Modesto: Hector Diaz's Italian-inspired Grove Arcade eatery has taken a cleaver to its prices, debuting a week's worth of recession-friendly specials. On Mondays, the restaurant's serving a $39 pizza-and-pasta feast portioned for four diners. Tuesdays feature half-priced wine bottles and $14 braised pork shanks. Wednesdays are all about a $12 plate of Bolognese, while Thursday's treat is a $7 mussels app. And if those dishes don't appeal, Modesto's serving a four-course "chef's choice" menu on weeknights, charging $25 a person — or $40 a couple — for the prix fixe meal. For more information, call 225-4133.
Black Mountain Chocolate: Chocolatier David Mason has suspended weekly tours of his Black Mountain facility, but he's planning a small-scale road show to share his single-origin, artisanal chocolates with sweets fans across Western North Carolina. Mason will lead tastings and presentations in a variety of venues, starting next week with the French Broad Food Co-op. On Friday, Feb. 12, Mason will conduct a tasting of his La Red Cooperative chocolate — made with cacao from a small Dominican cooperative — at the downtown grocery. "Being part of a cooperative here, we understand what it means to support other cooperatives globally," grocery manager Chris Roland says in a release. To learn more about Black Mountain Chocolate, one of only a dozen outfits nationwide manufacturing chocolate from the bean, visit www.blackmountainchocolate.com.
Bistro 1896: A downtown-Asheville restaurant is trying to "stimulate business during the combined economic downturn and winter weather season," by giving food away. According to a release from Bistro 1896, the "three's a crowd" weekday lunch promotion means one diner in every party of three eats for free. Kids can get in on a still-better deal on Fridays, when children under age 11 eat for free (so long as at least one adult at the table has ordered an entrée.) To learn more, call 251-1300.
Madison Co. Tailgate Market: Locavores getting antsy for market season can feed their craving in Madison County, where the cooperative extension has inaugurated a new indoor tailgate market. It's open the second and fourth Saturday, February and March, at 258 Carolina Lane in Marshall. Vendors selling vegetables, cheese and breakfast goodies are equipped to accept cash, checks, credit and debit cards. For more information, visit www.buyappalachian.org.
Mayfel's: Servers at Mayfel's plan to start carding even nondrinkers under a plan that rewards locals with free black-eyed-pea hummus or spinach artichoke dip. The downtown-Asheville restaurant is running the promotion throughout February and March; anyone who orders two entrées and shows a local identification card is eligible for the deal. In other Mayfel's news, the restaurant's now open for dinner on Mondays. For more, call 252-8840.
Lou's Grub Shack: A West Asheville greasy spoon that was almost universally panned by bloggers — although at least one poster praised the restaurant's honey-barbecue wings — has served its last gyro. Lou's Grub Shack in New Leicester Highway closed last week after one year in business.