Small bites: Buffalo Nickel brings the Kentucky Derby to West Asheville

HAT TRICKS: "We don’t get to dress up very often in Asheville," says Buffalo Nickel proprietor Lynn Foster, but an upcoming Derby Party at her West Asheville pub provides just such an opportunity. Attendees can even win prizes for best hat, funniest hat and other fashion triumphs. Photo by Carr Elliott

Buffalo Nickel serves as a neighborhood watering hole on most nights. But a flood of Asheville’s fanciest folk will turn that casual atmosphere on its head when the pub hosts its second Kentucky Derby Party. The festivities are on Saturday, May 7.

“I’ve never seen so many big hats,” proprietor Lynn Foster says, recalling the inaugural celebration. “People were wearing long gloves, jewelry and feather boas. Even the men were wearing suits, colorful neck ties, pink shirts and hats.”

While the competing horses’ 1.25-mile sprint is over in about two minutes, attendees can gallop around the bar for hours in elaborate attire. Foster’s team will be among those who take notice, scouting out potential recipients of the Most Dapper Gentleman and Most Southern Belle awards. Prizes will also go to those with the best neckties and hats (in multiple categories). The bar’s many televisions and its 8-foot projector screen will all broadcast the race, and games have been planned to heighten the excitement.

“We have this big spinning wheel,” Foster says, that’s used to assign individuals to a horse. “If that horse wins, you’re part of the cash raffle that gets divided up.” A portion of those proceeds also goes to charity.

The menu’s Derby-style makeover features foods like deviled eggs, ham biscuits and Benedictine spread with crackers. But it’s the mint julep that takes the spotlight, lining the bar and filling tabletops. According to the Derby’s official website, in-person spectators consume nearly 120,000 of the herb-and-bourbon concoctions over two days of races — a tradition that requires 1,000 pounds of fresh mint.

Even the serving cup (of which Buffalo Nickel will offer more than 100 for sale) comes with time-honored instructions: The short, silver vessels become frosty when filled with ice, Foster explains. “So you don’t put your hand around the middle of the cup. You hold the bottom and the top. … That way, you drink it, and it stays really cold.”

The Derby Party is at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at Buffalo Nickel, 747 Haywood Road. Visit  or call 575-2844 for more information. Table reservations recommended.

Post 70’s Derby Day Cookout

Post 70’s Derby Day Cookout offers a meaty alternative for those looking to watch the Derby on a 10-foot projector screen. “We will have artisan burgers and brats, hot and fresh off the grill, along with excellent mint julep, bourbon and beer specials,” reads the bar and restaurant’s Facebook page. Albi & The Lifters will play a jazzy set, and the best dressed patrons can win a gift card valid at Filo or Post 70.

The Derby Day Cookout is at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at Post 70, 1155 Tunnel Road. Visit for more details. 

Luella’s Bar-B-Que South opens

Luella’s owners Jeff and Ashley Miller have opened a second barbecue joint. Though it’s got the same menu and cozy feel as its sister eatery on Merrimon Avenue, the South Asheville location has more TVs and a layout that’s better suited to live music. With indoor, outdoor and bar seating, the new spot can accommodate roughly 100 diners and uses two small smokers.

Luella’s new location is at 33 Town Square Blvd. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Visit for updates.

The Lantern Restaurant & Bar’s Porch Party

After opening inside Hendersonville’s historic The Charleston Inn in 2015, The Lantern Restaurant & Bar is stretching out and adding porch seating. To celebrate, executive chef Casey Maness will host a day of al fresco festivities, including live music by local band West Sound from noon to 7 p.m., and a low country crawfish boil that comes with “a cheesy plastic bib,” according to the chef. Regular menu items like the low country shrimp and grits, she-crab soup and crab cakes will also be available.

The Porch Party is 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at The Lantern, 755 N. Main St., Hendersonville. The crawfish boil costs $25 per person. Visit for more information.

Last call for Velvet & Lace

Velvet & Lace — a monthly guest bartending series hosted at Buxton Hall Barbecue and launched to highlight Asheville’s female talent — holds its final iteration this week, showcasing Burial Beer Co.’s Kristen Oxtoby and New Mountain’s Kimber Lawson. And since this last round of the dark and witchy run falls on Cinco de Mayo (and amid Asheville Cocktail Week), it includes a tequila ice luge and tacos. Guests can enjoy a photo booth while DJ Night Nurse (also known as Mary Kelley) spins.

Velvet & Lace is 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Thursday, May 5, at Buxton Hall Barbecue, 32 Banks Ave. Visit for updates. 


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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