Food news to go: News of the Asheville food scene in small bites

Food truck decision likely tonight

City Council takes a vote tonight (Tuesday, Aug. 23) on whether or not to allow food trucks in downtown Asheville. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. This has been a contentious issue that was first brought to the attention of city officials almost a full year ago. Xpress has followed the discussion closely. See here and here.

Xpress reporter David Forbes (@DavidForbes) and myself, food writer Mackensy Lunsford (@MXeat, @mackensy) will be at the meeting, live-tweeting the results and any potential drama. You might be surprised.

***UPDATE***
Asheville City Council members voted 4-3 to allow food trucks in the downtown business district. The split vote means that Council must take a second vote in a few weeks in order to enact the ruling.

New businesses continue to take root, while one slips away
Sadly, Pho Fusion in the Downtown Market on French Broad Avenue is closing on Friday. Chef Tru Phan says that the last day of business is this Friday, Aug. 26. The location of the restaurant was difficult for business, he says, adding, “I tried to do my best, but it didn’t work out. I tried to serve healthy food to the Asheville people at a reasonable price.” When asked if he will serve Vietnamese food somewhere else, he says that there are currently no plans — though it’s not out of the realm of possibility, and he’s not leaving Asheville.

We’ve recently reported that TAP will replace the former Silver Dollar Restaurant in the River Arts District (read more about that in the Aug. 24 Xpress). Now, we’ve got word of another new brewery coming to the RAD. It will be located close to the White Duck Taco Shop — just a few blocks away from the Wedge. We’ll keep you posted on this one.

Also, the building that housed the now-closed Curras Dom (then Curras Nuevo) is under renovations to become a Californian-Mexican food restaurant called Baja Cafe. The owners, Celest Andrus and Walter Fogg, have lived in Asheville for three years and are 40-year veterans of the restaurant business. Andrus also owns a Baja Cafe in Boca Raton and sold another location in Deerfield Beach, Fla., about a year and a half ago.

The food will be accessible and straightforward — carnitas or Baja fish tacos, steak and cheese enchiladas, fajitas con carne. “I just love Mexican food,” Andrus says, “and I see a need for it in our area.”

Tortillas, sauces and such will all be made in-house, says Andrus. “Nothing is bottled — everything is handmade.” Andrus says that the Baja Cafe will use local and hormone-free meats and will keep the food free of trans-fats.

The Baja Cafe will open in early September at 72 Weaverville Highway. For more information, call 250-3600.

In other restaurant news, a Fairview couple with years of restaurant experience is opening the Local Joint in the spot previously occupied by the Sugar Beet Cafe. Chris Sizemore, half of the husband-and-wife duo, has executive chef experience (in Georgia) and managed downtown Asheville’s Bistro 1896. The couple plans to use as many local sources as possible and will open in mid-September. That’s all we have for now.

The Local Joint will be located at 1185-B Charlotte Highway in Fairview.

And last but not least, Pancho’s Carniceria has opened on Merrimon Avenue where the Artisan Deli used to be (Artisan Catering and Deli is now across the street at 1020 Merrimon Ave.). The menu is authentic, straightforward Mexican and quite small — but it’s the real deal. These guys make all their own chorizo for Mexican tortas stuffed with avocado and cilantro, plus beef tongue for tacos. They have rotating special plates — on the day Xpress stopped by, the restaurant was serving authentic carnitas. Prices are reasonable, with a stacked burrito with fillings like steak, shrimp, tilapia or vegetables with guacamole and all of the fixings at $6.50. This being an authentic carniceria, you can grab some Mexican ham and handmade chorizo on your way out. Service is friendly and bilingual. Pancho’s is located at 961 Merrimon Ave. Call 505-2399 for more information.

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