[Editor’s Note: Just an apple’s throw away from Asheville, Hendersonville (home of the Apple Festival) is its own culinary destination. Xpress invited Laura Huff of popular Hendersonville-based food blog The Carolina Epicurean to point out some of her favorite tables. For restaurant reviews, chef profiles, information on cooking classes and more, visit carolinaepicurean.com.]
Square One Bistro sources almost exclusively from local producers. Creating seasonal dishes from proteins, seafood, vegetables and fruits grown by local farmers, Chef Joe Lewis cooks and seasons his dishes to bring out the unique flavor of each ingredient. Square One works closely with Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s “Get Local” campaign, which features a different local food on their menu each month. 111 S. Main St. 698-5598 square1bistro.com.
Serving up Southern cooking, including the best fried chicken in town, Daddy D’s Suber Soul Food is where the words “small portions” are never uttered. Some have been known to have a meal of the sides alone. Many of their desserts are made by family aunties, including the killer peach cobbler. The Suber family has lived in the Hendersonville area for generations. Restaurant namesake Daddy D was the first black truck driver for Ingles Markets in the days before it expanded to six Southern states. 411 17th Ave. 698-7408.
Looking for tapas, generous cocktails and desserts made from scratch and served with panache? Never Blue is known as an energized, edgier spot where the orange-blue interior and mosaic-tiled bar are simultaneously vibrant and sensual. Latin music’s a favorite here, but you’ll also hear indie and jazz. 119 S. Main St. 693-4646 theneverblue.com.
Lime Leaf serves fresh Thai cuisine in a rather impressive enviroment. The two-story space is outfitted with dark wood and white tablecloths, accented by dramatic tasseled ceiling lights and long swooshes of red fabric draped ceiling to floor. There’s additional seating, a cozy lounge/bar area and a luscious private dining room upstairs. 342 N. Main St.692-3300 limeleaf101.com.
West First Wood Fired Pizza specializes in artisan thin-crust pies, made fresh with organic, whole-wheat flour crusts and baked in a wood-fired oven visible from the dining area. These tasty pizzas are also available with gluten-free crusts. West First makes fresh pasta every day, hanging it to dry in front of the same wood-fired oven. Pasta dishes here tell their tale through flavor and texture. 101B West First Ave. 693-1080.
Love fresh seafood? Blue Water Seafood Co. and Wine Cellar works it both ways: Sold fresh at the fish counter and served in their restaurant. Blue Water’s truck brings seafood in from the coast two or three times a week. Their impressive wine collection is available for purchase by the bottle to take with you, or by the glass or bottle with your meal. 532 Kanuga Road 697-0503 bluewaterseafood.net.
Flight Wood Grill and Wine Bar is upscale, sleek and sophisticated. Dine on the main floor for a close-up view of what’s happening in the open kitchen. From romantic second-floor balcony seating, you can enjoy an aerial view of the kitchen, artwork and action on the first floor. Inexpensive but interesting pub grub is served at Flight’s intimate bar, which is tucked to one side as you enter. There’s also a private dining room inside what used to be this historic bank building’s vault. 401 N. Main St. 694-1030 flightwoodgrill.com.
If a casual Irish pub is more your style, Hannah Flanagan’s Pub and Eatery is a longtime local favorite right in the heart of historic Hendersonville. Hannah’s serves Irish favorites like corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash and fish and chips, as well as burgers, sandwiches and other American pub favorites. 300 N. Main St. 696-1665 theoriginalhannahflanagans.com.
Mezzaluna is Hendersonville’s “nice-casual” Italian restaurant. Watch as your pizza, chicken, breads and other foods are cooked in a wood-fired oven set in a beautiful mosaic interpretation of van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” 226 N. Main St. 697-6575 mezzaluna-hendersonville.com.
For the best sushi in town, go to Umi Japanese Fine Dining. Watch expert chefs create rolls, sushi and sashimi at the sushi bar or choose a table in either open, airy dining area. They also put together beautiful bento boxes and have a full bar. 633 N. Main St. 698-8048 umisushinc.com.
Early morning, midday or evening, there’s a coffee shop for everyone in Hendersonville. Each has their own personality, of course. Black Bear Coffee Co., a longtime local hangout, is the anchor of Main Street; The Living Room Coffeehouse and Café is another cozy spot to relax on the north end of Main St.; at the southern end of Main St., in “SoFi” (South of First), the hip Jongo Java serves organic fare along with live music, drum circles and warm-weather sidewalk swing dancing; and Nib’s Coffee Café, on Kanuga Road, just south of SoFi, is bright and airy place, perfect for meeting friends or business associates.
That’s a lot to try, and there’s more, too. If you want a taste of Hendersonville, the two-day, Carolina Epicurean-organized Small Plate Crawl is for you. For this biannual event (spring and fall), area restaurants create a special menu of small plates, offering tastes of their cuisine and their chef’s talents. smallplatecrawl.com
— Laura Huff lives in Hendersonville and blogs as the Carolina Epicurean