When in the South, eat Southern. And fortunately, whether it’s fine dining or homegrown barbecue, a number of Asheville-area chefs and restaurants are as rooted in the region as the local foods they source and serve.
- Hailing from Eastern North Carolina, Mike Moore has made his mark with the Blind Pig Supper Club, a recurring charity-fundraiser and “underground” food event that’s been featured several times on the Travel Channel. At his restaurant, Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder, Moore serves up the Southern foods and traditions that inspire him, from his grandmother’s fried chicken to hot buttermilk hushpuppies with warm pimento cheese fondue.
- At another Southern-flavored venue, Rhubarb, James Beard Award-winner and former Blackberry Farm chef John Fleer slings the classics with an uptown twist, such as sorghum-glazed sweet potatoes, seared pork belly and fried green tomatoes paired with pickled shrimp. He also offers weekly Sunday Supper events whose menus play on Southern themes, such as shrimp beignets with preserved lemon remoulade or gumbo z’herbes.
- For something a little closer to the hearth, try North Asheville’s HomeGrown, which offers Southern comfort food served a la carte and made with local ingredients. From the pimento cheese appetizer to the buttermilk chicken (fried or grilled), Homegrown specialties are priced so low they’re nearly impossible to pass up.
- What would a quest for Southern cuisine be without barbecue — accompanied by Southern cornbread, collard greens and mac-and-cheese? President Barack Obama has visited Asheville twice, and both times, he found his way to the lunch-only, River Arts District restaurant 12 Bones, home of the “hogzilla” sandwich and baby back ribs in three to four flavors each day. North of downtown Asheville, Luella’s regularly features live music to accompany its spread of sauces and specialties, from barbecued local tempeh to Brunswick stew to fried okra. Meanwhile, James Beard Award nominee Elliott Moss’ highly anticipated Buxton Hall, due to open in late summer or fall, will become North Carolina’s 14th wood-fired, whole-hog barbecue pit.