The slow food movement is alive and thriving in Western North Carolina, but sometimes we all find ourselves in need of a quick, affordable bite on the run. An informal poll of Mountain Xpress staffers (a busy and budget-conscious bunch) revealed that, in Asheville, the need for speedy eats doesn’t have to mean a stop at the nearest fast-food joint.
Here are a few recommendations:
- Whether you want to build your own plate of goodness from the $7.99 lunchtime pizza, salad (and dessert!) bar at Asheville Pizza Co.‘s Coxe Avenue and Merrimon Avenue locations or grab a gigantic, satisfying slice on the go for around $2 from neighborhood favorites like Favilla’s New York Pizza, Standard Pizza or Frank’s Roman Pizza, local pizzerias get the thumbs up for good eats in a hurry.
- Tacos and burritos are made for eating en route, and Xpress staff gave Urban Burrito, White Duck Taco, Mamacita’s and the Grey Eagle Taqueria high marks for delivering good food quickly and on the cheap. All also received bonus points for atmosphere, and Urban Burrito and Mamacita’s scored extra for featuring impressive choose-your-own salsa bars.
- For fast flavors that are a bit more exotic, the lunch buffets at both Mela Indian Restaurant and Kathmandu Cafe let you get your fill of spicy curries, dal and tandoori lightning-fast for around $10.
- For those looking for more of a sit-down place, Homegrown received numerous votes for its affordable, order-at-the-counter, farm-to-table fare (its motto is “Slow food right quick”), while West Asheville Lounge and Kitchen garnered praise for its quick, budget-sensitive daily specials and family-friendly atmosphere. Apollo Flame also won multiple votes for lightning-fast service and for delivering gyros, pizza, pasta and subs at prices that between hover between $6 and $9 per entree. Rise ‘n Shine Café got tapped as a breakfast option serving up tasty, inexpensive meals without a wait.
- Vegetarian and vegan staff members recommend the West Village Market for its well-stocked cooler of ready-made items to suit all diets, healthy pre-made snack packs and fresh-squeezed juices. Although Twisted Crepe serves plenty of meaty options, vegetarian staff members love it for its selection of veg-friendly savory and sweet crepes — a meal for under $10 in less than 10 minutes.
For burgers and sandwiches, Nick’s Grill in Woodfin is usually busy, but it serves up burgers and gyros with a tasty tzaziki sauce with only about a five-minute wait. Downtown, Roman’s Deli is the place to go for a late lunch — after 2 p.m., half a sandwich (made with local Hickory Nut Gap Farms meat) and a side will set you back just $5. If you’d prefer not to get out of the car, Bratburger, a drive-thru on Merrimon Avenue, offers affordable bratwursts, Hickory Nut Gap Farms hot dogs and burgers made with Apple Brandy Farms beef — and you can order locally made Whit’s Frozen Custard for dessert.