What’s new in food: BattleCat brings more coffee options to East Asheville

COPY CAT: BattleCat Coffee’s recently opened Tunnel Road location offers the same drinks and baked goods as the West Asheville flagship shop, says co-owner Devin Walsh, right. Also pictured is East Asheville store manager Hayley Lusk. Photo by Shiloh Slattery

Tell someone you live in Beverly Hills, and it’s unlikely they will make an automatic connection to Western North Carolina. But indeed, there is a Beverly Hills in Asheville, an older, quiet residential neighborhood with about 15 tree-canopied streets tucked into the hillside adjacent to the Asheville Municipal Golf Course.

On June 7, the West Asheville-based BattleCat Coffee opened a Beverly Hills location at 855 Tunnel Road. In the grand tradition of locally grown coffee shops, bars and restaurants, co-owner Devin Walsh says the building was formerly home to either a motorcycle repair shop or hardware store. Or both.

The East Asheville outpost is a partnership between Amber Arthur, owner of the original BattleCat Coffee in West Asheville as well as PennyCup Coffee, and Walsh, owner of Daymoon Coffeebar & Books on Old Charlotte Highway in Fairview.

It’s not the first business relationship between the two. Walsh, a Texas native whose first job at 16 was in an Austin coffee shop, bought Arthur’s Mountain Mojo coffeeshop from Arthur in 2017 and turned it into Daymoon. When he decided to do a second coffee shop, the Oakley resident cast a critical eye on his own part of town.  

“I’ve lived there since I moved to Asheville in 2011,” he says. “It’s a great area with a lot of people but not much to do, so really a prime market for small business.”

Arthur thought so too; so much so that later this year she will open a Texas-style two-steppin’ honkytonk named Sissy’s (after the Debra Winger character in the movie Urban Cowboy) next door to the new BattleCat. She and Walsh intend to eventually add a Tex-Mex food truck to service both businesses for breakfast, lunch, dinner and post-mechanical-bull-riding recovery.

The drinks menu at BattleCat Beverly Hills is similar to the one at BattleCat West, and Walsh makes the scratch-baked breakfast breads, muffins, cookies and other goodies for both BattleCat shops and Daymoon. The Beverly Hills shop hosted a successful flea market pop-up soon after it opened and will continue to support budding local businesses, including plans to host a mobile Spanish-language bookstore.

Walsh says the business also helps teachers at nearby Haw Creek Elementary School offset the costs they incur for equipping their classrooms with funds raised through a 7% surcharge added to credit card payments. “It’s not right that teachers pay an average of $200 per school year from their own pocket, so we want to help defray that,” he says.

BattleCat Beverly Hills is at 885 Tunnel Road. Hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For events and specials, follow the shop on Instagram at avl.mx/dth.

Mikasa Criolla debuts packaged empanadas

Since opening Mikasa Criolla Empanadas in the S&W Market food hall in December 2022, chef Santiago Vargas — co-owner with Ana Austin — has been spreading the love for the classic Peruvian street food one asado-, chorizo-, pork tamal-, chicken chili- and mushroom-stuffed hand pie at a time. With the April launch of the restaurant’s packaged, frozen empanadas, shoppers can now prepare vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian varieties at home.

The frozen products are available at the Mikasa Criolla counter in the S&W, as well as at local retail outlets, including Mother Ocean Seafood Market, European Market, New York Butcher Shoppe, Delish in Arden, Grateful Roots in Leicester, Sara Jo’s Station in Hot Springs and more. Customers can also pick up bottles of Vargas’ green sauce and rocoto hot sauce at those locations.

The business is in the process of becoming certified to include animal proteins in the frozen empanadas, but for now, the line includes four types that feature plant-based proteins or vegetables in gluten-free, vegan or regular dough. Austin recommends cooking them in an air fryer. “It’s the best and easiest way,” she says. “They cook in less than 15 minutes and come out crispy.”

The partners have just signed a deal with Fletcher-based Blue Mountain Distributors for wider marketing of the products in North Carolina and beyond and deeper distribution in conventional groceries like Ingles.

Mikasa Criolla Empanadas is in the S&W Market at 56 Patton Ave. For a full listing of retail outlets, visit avl.mx/dtk.

Mount Mitchell Café now open

Downtown Asheville is rife with rooftop bars filled with patrons soaking in the Land of the Sky, but there’s only one place to get a meal at 6,200 feet, and that’s at the recently opened Mount Mitchell Café & Eatery at Mount Mitchell State Park. The peak of Mount Mitchell — at 6,684 feet — is the highest point east of the Mississippi and was North Carolina’s first state park, founded in 1915.

The original restaurant operated since 1953 as the Mount Mitchell State Park Restaurant. It closed for the season in November 2019, but due to COVID-19, did not reopen in spring 2020. Last fall, the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation awarded hospitality industry veterans Melissa and Leigh Howell, owners Pig and Grits in Burnsville, a four-year contract to run the restaurant. The pair was involved in the final stages of the $2.7 million renovation.

The ridgetop building of native stone received a complete makeover, which included a full kitchen overhaul, new flooring in the dining room and lounge area, and new windows throughout showcasing views of the highest peaks in the eastern U.S.

In a release from Explore Burnsville, Melissa Howell says, “We designed the menu to be fresh and approachable, with no unpronounceable items.”

That means sandwiches — including the 6684’ Burger, recognizing the mountain’s elevation — paninis, soups, salads, plates and a Little Hikers children’s menu. In addition to the 6684’ Burger, several items reference mountain history, including Camp Alice Chili, named for a cook at the former logging camp at the bottom of the hill below the restaurant, and the Elisha Pimento Melt, a nod to the mountain’s namesake, Elisha Mitchell.

Mount Mitchell Café & Eatery is at Mount Mitchell State Park, 2388 N.C. Highway 128, Burnsville. It’s open 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. daily May-September, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. in October and closed November-April. For more information, visit avl.mx/dti.

Wine dinner at RendezVous

RendezVous will host its first wine dinner of the summer on Thursday, June 27. Four courses and an amuse-bouche by chef Benjamin Anderson will be paired with Oregon wines chosen by sommelier Richard McKinney and served on the East Asheville restaurant’s porch. Among the dishes on the menu are vichyssoise with Marcona almonds, fresh corn and pea shoots, and roasted lamb chops with cornmeal cakes and braised local cabbage.

The dinner begins promptly at 6 p.m. The cost is $100 per person.

RendezVous is at 184 New Haw Creek Road. For reservations, visit avl.mx/dte.

Botanist & Barrel’s new summertime wines

Botanist & Barrel has introduced two new vintages of wines for the summer of 2024.  Defi Sangiovese Pet Nat Rose was created by B&B sommelier and co-owner Amie Fields, giving her love of Sangiovese rosé a sparkling twist with fresh strawberries, watermelon, wild roses and a touch of citrus zest.

Perfect for chardonnay lovers, DeFi Vidal Blanc is rested in neutral French oak wine barrels to create texture, body and creaminess to balance the natural high acidity of the grapes. The grapes were handpicked from S&W Vineyard in Virginia and fermented with native yeast.

Both wines are $32 and available to online at avl.mx/dtb, as well as at the Botanist & Barrel wine bar and bottle shop at 32 Broadway. 

Devil’s Foot releases summer sodas

Asheville-based Devil’s Foot Beverage Co. rolled out some new flavors this month to celebrate summer. The classic tastes of summer — lemonade and limeade — come together for the Sparkling Lemon Lime soda, made with fresh citrus and lightly sweetened with organic cane sugar. Just in time for Coke floats is Devil’s Foot Cola, which adds organic cane and brown sugar to a signature herb and spice blend.

There’s no tequila but plenty of that margarita mood in Devil’s Foot’s just-released Zero Proof Margarita. The eighth in the company’s Zero Proof Cocktail series, it includes fresh organic lime juice, organic orange, South Carolina honey, organic cane sugar and sea salt.

The sodas are available at Devil’s Foot’s The Mule taproom at 131 Sweeten Creek Road. They can also be found online at avl.mx/dtc and are coming soon to Earth Fare and Fresh Market stores.

Happy hour appetizers and brunch at RosaBees

Despite multiple attempts by lobbyists and the hospitality industry, North Carolina remains one of eight states in the country that do not permit businesses to host traditional happy hours — usually a couple of hours late afternoon or early evening when some alcoholic beverages are discounted. Any drink specials must be available all day.

Melissa Gray, renowned pastry chef and owner of RosaBees restaurant — where savory Hawaiian meets sweet Asheville in the River Arts District — has introduced happy hour half-price appetizers Tuesday-Thursday, 5-6 p.m., with drink specials available all day on those days. Quaff $4 Maui Brewing beers on Tuesdays, $2 select house cocktails on Wednesdays and half-price sake on Thursdays.

Chef Cookie Hadley also now serves brunch Wednesday-Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Dishes include banana nut French toast, brekkie okonomiyaki (a savory Japanese pancake) and the Waikiki breakfast with teriyaki-glazed, house-made Spam or organic tofu.

RosaBees is at 27 Foundy St. For more information, visit avl.mx/ds1.  

Editor’s note: This story was updated on June 28 to correct a misstatement about the ownership of Tiger Bay Café. The owner of that business is Corinne Hines.


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About Kay West
Kay West began her writing career in NYC, then was a freelance journalist in Nashville for more than 30 years, including contributing writer for the Nashville Scene, Nashville correspondent for People magazine, author of five books and mother of two happily launched grown-up kids. In 2019 she moved to Asheville and continued writing (minus Red Carpet coverage) with a focus on food, farming and hospitality. She is a die-hard NY Yankees fan.

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