As a blogger passionately dedicated to unearthing all of Charlotte’s culinary delights, I do feel a bit guilty about already venturing west in search of good food. But we all know (well, anyone from around here) that a mere two hours outside of our Queen City there is a funky little mountain town called Asheville, that truly is a mecca for us foodies (and vampires too, but clearly that’s for another blog).
This past weekend, I was lucky enough to eat my way through Asheville and have to say, both my husband and I were a bit apprehensive when my dear friend Natalie (an Ashveville local) suggested a TAVERN for dinner. My husband actually pulled me aside and said, “Bar food?? I want something better than bar food!” (a proud moment for me, we ARE making progress with him!). The suggestion came after my husband’s flat out refusal to eat at the Laughing Seed (while I am working on his palate, we still have a long way to go before I can get him to enjoy, or even appreciate, a fully vegetarian restaurant). I too was a bit concerned that Natalie was just suggesting this restaurant to appease the caveman’s need for fried jalapeno poppers and beer.
I have never been happier to be proven wrong. Although the atmosphere does fit in with conventional expectations of what a tavern should be (complete with a basement that once supplied alcohol during the prohibition), the menu delivers simple, familiar dishes – but done so right!
A must have starter is the Sourdough Breadstick Basket. While the bread is fantastic, to me it is just a vehicle to shovel as much of their homemade spicy honey mustard into my mouth as possible (order extra, and urban legend claims you can buy it by the gallon if you ask someone in the kitchen).
I spend a good portion of my life in search of the world’s greatest shrimp and grits. These did NOT disappoint. Served in a tasso gravy, this dish is seriously spicy, seriously creamy and seriously divine! The stone ground grits were the perfect texture, and the plate was so big it was hard to finish (don’t worry, I managed.).
My husband ordered the baby backs (once a caveman, always a caveman) and they were fall off the bone delicious. I haven’t even begun to crack the code on NC barbeque, but I do know this sauce had the optimal combination of spicy, sweet AND smoky.
With an array of comfort foods done stylishly, and an extensive list of beers on tap (including four taps dedicated to limited release brews), Pack’s Tavern is yet another must see stop while in Asheville. There is absolutely something for everyone on the menu (foodies and caveman alike), and anyplace that has Lindeman’s Framboise Lambic ON TAP clearly knows what they are doing.
20 South Spruce Street
Asheville, NC 28801