Portuguese-influenced Fill My Cup Café opens in South Asheville

CUP OF JOE: Fill My Cup Cafe holds its grand opening Saturday, Dec. 17. The  South Asheville coffee shop and eatery features Portuguese cuisine as well as American classics.
CUP OF JOE: Fill My Cup Cafe holds its grand opening Saturday, Dec. 17. The South Asheville coffee shop and eatery features Portuguese cuisine as well as American classics. Photo courtesy of Fill My Cup Cafe

Saturday, Dec. 17, marks the grand opening of Fill My Cup Café, a Portuguese-inspired café nestled near the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway at 1550 Hendersonville Road in South Asheville. Fill My Cup Café’s versatile menu accommodates every meal of the day and features an array of local coffee drinks, as well as an assortment of classic and Portuguese soups and sandwiches, small plates, desserts, wine and local beer.

The new Wilcox Plaza destination is the creation of Joe and Nancy Freitas. The pair have lived in Asheville since 1994 and are the parents of two young adult children, Erik and Karen. The café is an homage of sorts to Joe’s childhood and heritage. He came to the United States as a 5-year-old boy after having been born and raised in Funchal, Madeira, an island situated 300 miles southwest off the coast of mainland Portugal.

“There really isn’t a traditional Portuguese offering in town, and Asheville has such an eclectic feel with restaurants influenced from all over the world. So I’m really excited to add Portuguese to the mix,” says Joe.

Patrons can expect family-inspired Portuguese options up and down the menu in addition to traditional American favorites. Joe notes that the menu is primarily fresh and homemade, with a conscious effort to use locally sourced ingredients.

The morning menu will offer unique Portuguese options like sweet potato malassadas (a fried dough dessert popular in the Azores and Madeira islands that is made with sweet potato and rolled in sugar and cinnamon) and sweet bread minis (Portuguese sweet bread baked into cupcake-sized portions). Classic breakfast staples such as buttermilk biscuits, muffins, breads and scones will also be available.

The lunch and dinner menus are peppered with Portuguese sandwich options, including the classic chourico sandwich (grilled garlicky sausage with mild spices served on a Portuguese rustic roll) and the Lisbon (thinly sliced beef marinated in red wine and spices, served with caramelized onions on a rustic roll). American favorites like ham and turkey melts, grilled chicken and fish sandwiches will be served as well, in addition to soups, salads and vegetarian options.

A wide variety of small-plate dishes will also be available. Portuguese-style shrimp (shrimp pan-fried in olive oil, garlic, fresh parsley and a spice blend served with a sliced artisan baguette) and cacoila (slow-cooked boneless pork that is marinated for three days).

Authentic Portuguese desserts on the menu include pastel de nata (egg tart made with puff pastry), bolocha Maria (layered cookies with chantilly cream) and arroze doce (a traditional Portuguese Christmas rice pudding that will be served year round).

Hot and cold coffee and espresso drinks, as well as wine and local beer will be served throughout the day.

The Saturday, Dec. 17, grand opening will take place 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and will feature local coffees and espresso, plus samples of homemade pastries and numerous Portuguese menu selections.

“We are very excited to offer a café with a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere where one can sit with family, friends or co-workers and enjoy wonderful Portuguese treats often served in my mother’s own home,” says Joe. “Our motto is “Relax and enjoy the atmosphere” and I really want people to feel welcome, almost like they’re coming home and can just kick your feet up.”

The space, which contains a couch, lounge chairs and warm fireplace, is a welcomed addition just in time for the cold weather and holiday season.

Fill My Cup Café is at 1550 Hendersonville Road. Hours are Monday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Visit the website at fillmycupcafe.com for more details or call at 505-7579.

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About Nick Wilson
Nick Wilson is a native of the Midwest who moved to Asheville in September of 2016 after eight years in Los Angeles. When he's not writing for Mountain Xpress, his energies are focused on better understanding himself and the rich wealth of history that the world has to offer.

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