Getting some breathing room, slightly west of Asheville

As we’ve recently said, the RAD is getting rather, well, rad. With the addition of several new restaurants joining an ever-burgeoning food and entertainment scene, there’s plenty to do in east-West Asheville. The lesson we’ve learned from the popularity of the RAD businesses is that people are craving a place to go that’s yet to become over-crowded. When the tourists are gathered around Pritchard Park, gawking at the drum circle, we know we can hit the Wedge or the Magnetic Field for a relatively quiet space in which to decompress from the work week with an adult beverage.

Xpress photographer Chris Wood was on hand to capture the goings-on in the district on the fairly busy Thursday night before Memorial Day Weekend. View the slideshow below.

One of the newest additions to the RAD, The Junction, has opened to a very warm reception — the patio is jumping, the kitchen busy. The bartender also has plenty to do, what with the complexity of the drinks being served in The Junction’s small, hip dining room. Try any number of the seasonally-appropriate artisan cocktails from the menu — like the Crossroads (with grilled pineapple, brown sugar and cinnamon, muddled with El Jimador Blanco and Licor 43, finished with lime and a touch of vanilla). Xpress was impressed by the Spring Smile, a concoction of strawberries, cinnamon and cardamon, muddled in Cruzan Rum and Grand Marnier and finished with rhubarb gastrique. It packs a deceptive wallop. From the evening menu, make sure to try the tempura cherry tomatoes with lemon-basil aioli.

Here’s an even more detailed take of The Junction from A Not So Academic Food Blog.

The White Duck Taco Shop is also doing quite well. Ben Mixson, owner of the train track-side restaurant with his wife, Laura Reuss, recently emailed Xpress to report positive feedback.

“We are very busy every day now,” he wrote. “Is it because we are:
A. New
B. Good
C. Cheap
D. All of above?”

Xpress says that the answer is most likely D. Although there are a number of creative and solidly good menu options from which to choose, including Bangkok shrimp tacos, we recommend the fish tacos highly. In addition to tacos, the frequently changing menu also includes soups, salads, snacks and dessert.

Roots Cafe and Clingman Cafe both boast extended hours, with Clingman now serving beer and wine and Roots now offering lunch.

The Magnetic Field has undergone some changes that have resulted in a very good core menu, supplemented by an (often) even better specials menu. The kitchen recently turned out a great dish of pork belly served with a watermelon salad and a spicy chile sauce for a perfect early summer evening dish. 


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