Veteran restaurant reviewer Kay West’s top five Asheville discoveries of 2019

After more than 30 years writing about Nashville’s dining scene, when people found out I was moving to Asheville last January, I was inundated with restaurant recommendations. Since then, I have checked out many and discovered some on my own. Here are five of the countless food-related reasons I’m glad to be here.

All you can eat mussels, Bouchon. No place made a solo stranger feel more at ease than Bouchon on Monday nights when I bellied up to the bar with a bowl of plump mussels Parisienne-style, a cone of crisp frites, a hunk of baguette, a ramekin of butter and a cold, local IPA.

Creamed nettles, Cucina 24. Who knew nettles were edible? Not me, but after a fellow Nashville expat and I shared this creamy, dreamy dish at a high-top in the bar one night, I went back a week later for an encore, only to find out the season was fleeting. But not so my abiding affection for Cucina 24.

Lengua taco, Taqueria Munoz. They had me at hand-patted fresh corn tortillas, but ladle on chunks of braised, melt-in-your-mouth-tender beef tongue, squirt on some fresh lime and a sprinkle of cilantro, and I was hooked.

Beef tartare, Bargello. Executive chef Jordan Arace creates a delectable presentation of this classic — a log of dry-aged beef, perfectly salted, subtly seasoned with Moroccan-spice ras al hanout, egg yolk dabs on the plate for dipping and grilled sourdough.

Tailgate markets. It has been pure joy and delightful discoveries getting to know Western North Carolina seasons, growers and makers via Asheville’s weekly tailgate markets.

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