bugsy running on lone rock beach with the airstream and f-150 in the background

Two nights in Asheville, NC (visit #16)–Spring in the NC Mountains trip

We visited Asheville in early May 2024 as part of our short Spring in the NC Mountains trip. Read alllll of our other Asheville posts here.

From Franklin, in the mountains of far western North Carolina, it was only a hour’s drive to Asheville. While our focus was on hiking and exploring town during our two days in Franklin, when we got to Asheville our goals shifted to eating and drinking. You may have noticed on our trip planning post that of the seven items on our Asheville to-do list, five were restaurants and one was a brewery!

Campground

the view of the French Broad from the Airstream dinette
the view of the French Broad from the Airstream at Wilson’s

We’ve been primarily staying at Wilson’s Riverfront RV Park when we Airstream to Asheville. We love the location on the French Broad Greenway next to Carrier Park, we love the river in our backyard, we love the new music venue next door. There’s really just one negative about Wilson’s: the freaking jake brakes blaring down the interstate exit ramp behind the campground all. night. long. Sadly, we may have reached the tipping point where this is our last time staying at Wilson’s, thanks to those stinking brakes. Bear Creek RV Park is only a few minutes farther out from town, and is QUIET and has pretty views from hillside campsites, so that’ll be our base next visit.

Eating

chole batura at Dilbar
chole batura at Dilbar

Our first order of business upon dropping the Airstream was heading into town for lunch at Dilbar, a new-to-us Indian street food restaurant. I could eat there for every meal!!! We shared chole batura and a paneer frankie and holy cow so delicious. The atmosphere is fun, with bright decor and Indian music videos, and I can’t wait to go back. We actually ended up going a second time for a snack of pani puri!

Lest you think we were cheating on our old friend Chai Pani: we ordered carryout from there to take home for our first post-trip meal, to help us ease out of the Airstream life and back into the real world.

dinner at the bar at Plant
eating all the veggies at Plant

For a nice dinner out, we chose Plant, an award-winning vegan restaurant a short walk north of downtown. Wow! We sat at the bar in the small dining room and had super service, yummy cocktails, and all the veggies: a big salad, bbq Brussels sprout tostadas, and veggie curry. It was an all-around wonderful experience (even for carnivorous J) and we’ll be back.

fattoosh salad at the bar at Zambra
fattoosh salad at Zambra

Dinner on night #2 was a mishmash of appetizers, starting with the pani puri at Dilbar. From there we strolled down to Zambra, where we hadn’t been since our third Asheville visit back in 2017, for locally-sourced tapas. We sat at the bar and had some fantastic snacks–our favorite was the fattoosh salad.

Our usual post-workout or pre-hiking fuel stop is Ultra Coffeebar down the road in River Arts. They make fab breakfast bagels and lattes and they’re quick about it. Our favorite sandwich is the Sunrise.

Drinking

Beer

I tried to find a current brewery count for the Asheville area, but failed; I saw numbers from 28 to the 40s to the 60s, so let’s just say Asheville has a lot of breweries. We’ve been to 29 of them over our Airstreaming years (although some of them no longer exist) and have ranked our top five breweries on our Asheville Favorites post.

beers at Burial in the backyard
Burial beers in the brewery backyard

Burial was our #1 brewery for a long time before dropping to #2 behind New Origin last year. But after this visit we’re promoting it back to the top spot! The big beer garden is such a fun place to hang out, and the beers (and their names) are so complex and interesting. I loved the carrot/coconut/curry sour they had on tap–although I took a bottle home to a bartender friend and she and her colleagues absolutely hated it, so buyer beware. Burial has expanded into the property next door where they now have a gift shop and experimental music venue, Eulogy.

Bugsy sitting in the beer garden at Hi Wire's RAD location
Bugsy in the beer garden at the new Hi Wire in the RAD

Hi Wire has a new location the the River Arts District. It’s a cool beer garden surrounded by repurposed shipping containers with wild murals; we appreciated the covered outdoor seating on a chilly, rainy day. They have some unusual brews at that location that you might not see elsewhere so I got to try a couple interesting specialty sours.

beer on the patio at Diatribe Brewing
patio beer at Diatribe

The third brewery we hit this trip was new to us: Diatribe Brewing in West Asheville. We (including Bugsy) sat outside and the humans were both very happy with their beers (hazy IPA for the gentleman, tart fruit sour for the lady, per usual). Diatribe will be going on our Asheville Favorites post.

Not beer

Other than the previously-mentioned cocktails at Plant and lattes at Ultra, we had three other drinky-drinks and one other latte stop.

drinks and people watching at Asheville Club
people-watching at Asheville Club

Asheville Club is a great spot for people-watching, as it’s just off one of the main downtown shopping streets. They serve cocktails, local beers, and coffee drinks.

drinks at the bar at Sovereign Remedies
bar scene at Sovereign Remedies

Sitting at the bar at Sovereign Remedies is reliably a lovely and delicious experience. We probably go there every time we’re in town! The food is good there too, especially the upscale bar snacks.

drink at the bar at Imperial
non-mezcal drink at Imperial

After tapas at Zambra, we continued our tour of old haunts with a drink at Imperial, last enjoyed by us during Asheville visit #5 in 2018. We had mistakenly thought Imperial had closed in 2020 when its downstairs partner restaurant went kaput, but no! They’ve pivoted to a mezcal and agave-focused cocktail bar and have plans to expand into the downstairs space, and I doubt it’ll be another six years before we return!

Summit Coffee is an uber-hip coffee shop in the River Arts District; we caffeinated there on our way to Marquee, our favorite funky art market.

Culture

mimosa in Momentum Gallery
mimosas for the moms at Momentum Gallery

Asheville isn’t just a beer town, it’s also one of the biggest art centers in the Southeast. We are drawn to off-beat contemporary art, crafts, and furniture, and enjoyed a gallery crawl around downtown to Blue Spiral 1, Momentum Gallery (where I scored a complimentary Mother’s Day mimosa, shout out to the pet moms!), the Haen Gallery, and K2 Studio.

Summit Latte and Bugsy in Marquee art gallery
art, dog, Summit latte at Marquee

There’s also a million (actually around 240) galleries, studios, and workshops (and breweries and cafes) scattered around the River Arts District; this trip we spent all our RAD art time browsing the massive Marquee, with Summit lattes and Bugsy leash in hand.

watching a Dead band at The Outpost
listening to a Dead band at The Outpost

Asheville is also a music city! After our time downtown at Dilbar and crawling galleries, we went home to find a Grateful Dead cover band playing next door to the campground at The Outpost, a new outdoor music venue on three acres fronting the French Broad River. We decided to skip our planned outing to New Origin (partially decided by my very favorite beer, their blueberry-cinnamon sour, being unavailable) and instead grabbed Bugsy and sat on the lawn watching the first set from the talented band.

breakfast sandwich and latte from Ultra after a Madabolic workout
post Madabolic bagel and latte from Ultra

Does going to the gym count as culture? It should! Our home gym, Madabolic, has an Asheville location and we like to hit it once or twice while in town to sweat out the toxins of our Asheville lifestyle.

Nature

hiking in Bent Creek Experimental Forest
hiking in Bent Creek

Our hiking miles were concentrated in the Franklin and Black Mountain areas, so for Asheville hiking we looked for shorter senior-dog-friendly hikes close to home. We landed on this little loopy 2ish-mile walk in the woods about fifteen minutes from the campground. The trails we explored are part of the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, the oldest experimental forest in the East, still in use for researching forest health and productivity.

Bugsy by Bent Creek
Bugsy and Bent Creek

Fun fact: George Vanderbilt, of Biltmore Estate fame, once owned the Bent Creek basin before selling it and other property (over time, GV’s land holdings went from 125,000 acres to the current Biltmore yard size of 8,000 acres) to the federal government to create Pisgah National Forest.

running across the Haywood bridge toward the RAD
running over the Haywood bridge into the RAD

Finally, while J returned to the gym for a second day, I ran for my second workout. Running along the French Broad Greenway is a delight. You can do an out-and-back along the river and make a run of just about any length you like; my favorite from Wilson’s is a perfect six-mile lollipop out to the Haywood Rd bridge and back along the RAD side of the river. It’s flat, paved, and very popular, making this solo female runner feel safe.

After our morning workout and Ultra breakfast bagel and latte, we hit the road to our next destination, Black Mountain. It felt a little odd to relocate to a campground only twenty minutes away, but we love being based in Black Mountain to get the full experience of the little mountain town.

To do

  • During our gallery crawl, we spotted the Moogseum, a museum dedicated to Moog synthesizers!
  • Cultura, a fine dining restaurant from the Wicked Weed folks, was already on our list, but we peeked in and it looked like a winner
  • The Market Place: we don’t really know anything about it other than it was a 2024 James Beard Outstanding Restaurant nominee
  • We stuck our heads into Ben’s beer garden; it’s huge and it looks awesome but it was completely empty (it was early) so we want to check it out next time

Comments

One response to “Two nights in Asheville, NC (visit #16)–Spring in the NC Mountains trip”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *