Every parent has been there: a hungry child in the backseat, a forgotten snack and several errands left to run before heading home. The big-name fast food chains make these moments so effortless to resolve with a quick sprint through the drive-thru. But with dietary restrictions and food allergies becoming more common, fast food is not a viable choice for some parents.
When VegHeads closed last year, the drive-thru solution for many parents disappeared along with it. Fortunately, depending on where you are when you find yourself in this predicament, there are a few options in the Asheville area for healthy, fresh snacks on the run.
Edna’s of Asheville on Merrimon Avenue is one business that is on top of the dilemma. On the topic of the abundance of unhealthy drive-thru snack choices for children, general manager Bryan Giudici says, “I think it’s a huge issue. There is a ton of fast food available here, and everything is just supercondensed on Merrimon Avenue. There are a lot of opportunities to get really [unhealthy] food.”
As an alternative, Edna’s offers a variety of made-to-order healthy wraps and sandwiches through its drive-thru window. “All of our stuff either comes from local suppliers or reputable wholesalers,” says Giudici. “We get our hummus from Roots. We make all of our baked goods here every day. Every sandwich is made to order. Nothing is frozen and nothing has been sitting around too long.”
Edna’s offers nondairy, gluten-free and vegan alternatives to many items, and sandwiches can be made on gluten-free bagels. Fruit-juice smoothies are also on the menu and can be a good choice for an afternoon pick-me-up. Menu items geared specifically toward children are in the works at Edna’s. Prices range from $3.25 for a gluten-free bagel to $7.95-$9.95 for wraps.
On the east side of town, Mountain Mojo Coffee Shop off of Old Charlotte Highway in Fairview has you covered.”Everything here is fresh and local,” says owner Colleah Habif. “We try to carry gluten-free options to whatever we are doing,” says Habif.
In the morning at Mountain Mojo, you can find fresh croissant breakfast sandwiches, a variety of personal-sized mini-quiches, yogurt, granola, freshly prepared baked goods and real fruit smoothies. Sandwiches, house-made soups and a rotating selection of homemade turnovers can offer a quick lunchtime or snack solution in the afternoon. Expect to pay $4.75 for a sandwich, $3.50 for a mini-quiche, and $4.50 for a fruit smoothie.
Looking to the south, an innovative new drive-thru eatery opened earlier this month in a building that formerly housed a McDonald’s on Hendersonville Road. AsiaWrap offers an assortment of creative, Asian-themed wraps, salads, sushi and rice bowls. Kids menu items, priced at $3.99, include a peanut-butter-and-jelly wrap or rice bowls with a choice of fried or grilled teriyaki chicken or hibachi vegetables on brown, white or fried rice with either fries or applesauce. Side options, such as steamed edamame, Asian slaw and sweet carrots, could serve as a cheap and nourishing snack at just $1.39.
General Manager Chris St. Onge says word is still getting out about Asia Wrap’s drive-thru, but with a newly installed, state-of-the-art speaker and headphone system, “we’re ready for it to kick in and evolve.” However, given that the restaurant also has a brand-new indoor playground and two 800-gallon fish tanks in its dining room, families may find themselves seduced into dining in from time to time.
In a pinch, if a substantial meal is not needed, the south side also offers drive-thru coffee shops such as Biltmore Coffee Traders and The Coffee Depot, both also on Hendersonville Road, that can come to the rescue with fresh fruit smoothies or a bagel for a snack.
Perhaps budding food entrepreneurs will take note of the dearth of independent, health-conscious drive-thru restaurants and follow the path paved in recent years by the local food truck industry. Could there be a drive-thru boom in Asheville’s future?
Edna’s of Asheville, 870 Merrimon Ave. Hours: 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. 255-3881
Mountain Mojo Coffee Shop, 381 Old Charlotte Highway, Fairview. Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 702-9699
Asia Wrap, 1915 Hendersonville Road. Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, closed Sunday