Monday, December 29, 2014

Asheville Birthday Weekend

In an effort to not forget about all the fun we had at the beginning of this month, I'm going to do a recap of our trip to Asheville at the beginning of November. I know, I know...I'm supposed to be recapping Christmas, but I am so behind with blogging these days! I'll get to Christmas eventually!

Months and months ago I got the ball rolling on a surprise trip for J's 30th birthday. He's not big into parties and he's pretty tough to buy gifts for (if he wants something, he goes and gets it himself), so I thought maybe a trip would be a fun way to celebrate the big milestone birthday. Plus, a weekend away without the toddler (who we do love very much!), is always much needed! I think it was mid-July when I emailed my parents some dates to come stay with M, and we nailed down the first weekend of December. After I knew we had someone to take care of M for us, I emailed our good friends Matt and Hannah who live in VA to see if they were free that weekend. After that, I don't think I planned a thing till early November!

I picked Asheville for a few reasons....a great city that's not too crowded, it has amazing food, and even better beer. All things my husband loves and appreciates! We had visited Asheville back in 2011 not long after moving to Charlotte, but on that trip we did some hiking and spent a full day at the Biltmore, so not a lot of time exploring downtown and the breweries. My recap posts from those trips are here, here, and here.

Asheville is about a two hour trip for us but it was close to six hour trip for our friends. They are heroes for making the long trip for a weekend away with us!

J and I hit the road on Friday morning, and when we left, he had no idea where we were going or what we were doing (or that we had surprise friends meeting us!). Our first stop was Asheville Brewing Company. We each ordered a flight and dined on pizza. Great beer, very low key atmosphere...definitely glad we came here. 

From here, we left the downtown area and headed toward Biltmore Village and right outside of the village we found French Broad Brewery. Super super low key, not much to this place, but again, great beer. Not a ton on tap like ABC had, but still great. Really nice people here, too.

We left FBB and decided to find our home for the weekend. I found this place on Airbnb and we were all so pleased with it. It was small two bedroom home, not too far from downtown. Asheville also recently got uber, so it was very easy to get around safely and not worrying about drinking and driving. Two thumbs up for our house and uber!

If anyone wants more details about the place, email me! I'm happy to share.

Not long after we had gotten our things put away, we heard a knock at the door and we found Matt and Hannah there. J was surprised, to say the least! He had no idea! We had some snacks and drinks and then headed out to Burial Beer Co. for some more beer sampling (are you sensing a theme on our visit?). 

Burial had some crazy beers, including a coffee saison and a Thai Farmhouse Ale. Very crazy, but very tasty.

We headed from there to dinner at Rhubarb. This place is fairly new to Asheville (wasn't here when we visited in 2011), but man oh man it was good.

 We dined and dined (and dined some more) on a lot of small plates that we shared. Everything was fantastic. We finished our meal with a ginger milk and cookies platter.

A quick shot with the Christmas tree outside!

From here we visited another brewery that was right around the corner, One World Brewing. This place was underground and really dark and everyone there was early 20's and rather hipster...we didn't really fit the "look" but we didn't care. The beer was great and we had fun laughing about how old it made us feel.

On Saturday morning, we woke up late and leisurely had breakfast and got showered for the day. We headed out around 12:30 for our 1 o'clock food tour with Eating Asheville. I could go on and on about all the great places we visited, but I'll refrain from writing a novel. Below I'll share links and names of all the places we visited along with a few notes. As for Eating Ashville, I'd definitely recommend the tour. We loved our friendly guide (Stuart), and even though it was rainy, we had a ball getting to see the city through food and drink.

Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar - super cool place to step into to browse books or have a drink!
Cucina 24 - Amazing! Highly recommend! We actually had dinner here in 2011, and loved it.
Zambras - Once again, absolutely delicious! We had a great purple potato soup here but the mulled spice sangria was my favorite part. This place would be at the top of my list of places to eat a full meal next time we go back.
Strada - Really good poached egg with basil and tomato sauce here, but I don't know if I'd rush back here. The atmosphere was quite....blah? Not bad, just wouldn't rush back to this spot.
The Gourmet Chip Company - we stepped in here quickly for a quick snack of buffalo chips. They were great but I want to go back and try all of their awesome flavors!
Rhubarb - Yes...the same one as we had dinner at the night before...and we had the same serve from the night before. She got a good laugh out of that!
Chocolate Gems - We had gelato and truffles from here. Both were excellent! I know French Broad Chocolate Lounge is a favorite spot for many, but this little shop had the sweetest owners that we met and a great choice of chocolates!
Social Lounge - This was our last stop on the tour and my least favorite. Very mediocre pasta and and cocktails.


Battery Park Book Exchange and Champaign Bar

See? That wasn't a novel of notes, was it? 

After our tour, we were stuffed (small bites everywhere sure add up!), but we weren't done with our eating and drinking. Off to Wicked Weed we went!

J and I have had a lot of Wicked Weed's beers in Charlotte, but their taproom was most definitely worth the trip. If you're not getting lots of food, my biggest suggestion is go downstairs to the bar area. Way less crowded than the main room on the top floor!

And once we were done at WW, we headed out of downtown to the Wicked Weed Funkatorium! I don't actually love sour and funky beers, but all three of the other guests in our party are big fans, so they loved this place. I will say, even though I didn't love the beer, it was definitely a cool place and worth the visit!

After our busy day, we headed back to our house and rested up before dinner. We had dinner at The Admiral, which is in West Asheville. It was fabulous. It seems like such a hole in the wall kinda place, but the food was seriously amazing. I had a short ribs dish, and I can't remember for the life of me what everyone else got (other than a great french onion soup that Matt and Hannah shared). This was probably our favorite place to eat from the entire weekend. Go here!

And that's a wrap! On Sunday morning we had some breakfast and said our goodbyes after we cleaned up the house. Our home from Airbnb was so easy to check in and out of. It was a great experience. Hope this helps anyone out there planning a trip to Asheville soon!


  1. I am dying to try Rhubarb and the Admiral! It's funny- Morgan is from Asheville and we live just about an hour and a half away. Whenever we go though, it's for big family stuff and I never get to go out to eat! Wahh! Ha! Sounds like y'all had an awesome weekend!

  2. What a great trip! I've only ever driven through there but it looks wonderful.