North Carolina

"Where should we eat tonight?"

When people visit Asheville, North Carolina, there is a big decision they make every day: "Where do we eat dinner?" Now you could decide to picnic just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy a amazing and restful mountain view (this is about my speed), but if you want to find a restaurant downtown, oh my...there are so, SO many choices, and everyone has their own opinion as to the correct answer to this question so...I figured this would be fun to talk about, since I definitely have my favorite hangouts around here. And just a quick note: the list and descriptions below are not in any specific order. I am listing local restaurants as they come to my mind...

Chai Pani

This place is honestly probably my number one favorite restaurant in Asheville. This is a celebration of Indian street food. Heck, some of the best food of any country is its street food, and Chai Pani features chaat - crunchy, spicy, sweet, tangy, brightly flavored Indian street snacks. And because there's nothing more comforting and delicious in any culture than a home cooked meal, Chai Pani also serves thalis - traditional family meals highlighting India's amazing culinary diversity. Either way you go (the chaat or thalis), you won't be sorry.

22 Battery Park Ave
Asheville, NC 28801

(828) 254-4003

The Market Place

The Market Place has been a fixture in downtown Asheville since 1979. Though it’s beginnings rose in the streams and mountains of western North Carolina – a place of mountain trout and small farms – it also has a hand and heart inspired by traditions far from our borders. This mélange of local food prepared with other worldly traditions of the table may have helped the Market Place garner national attention but the keen reverence for the heritage and roots of Appalachia has always remained at the center of what we do. Joy took me here for my birthday last year and it was truly remarkable.

20 Wall Street
Asheville, NC 28801

(828) 252-4162


Cúrate is a celebration of traditional Spanish cuisine. If you have ever visited Spain, Cúrate’s menu will transport you back to the country of flamenco, olives, almonds, and sherry. If you’ve never been to Spain, Cúrate will introduce you to the country’s lively tapas bar tradition of small plate dining on foods flavored with a touch of sherry, or perhaps smoky paprika, and always the choicest olive oil.  Cúrate should definitely be on your short list of awesome restaurants to try in Asheville.

13 Biltmore Ave
Asheville, NC 28801

(828) 239-2946

Wicked Weed Brewing Pub

If you like great food and amazingly interesting beer, then you need to try Wicked Weed Brewing Pub. Located in downtown Asheville, the Brewpub is the original home of Wicked Weed Brewing housing a full restaurant, downstairs beer bar, bottle shop, and original 15 barrel brewery. If the weather is nice, I'd recommend sitting outside in their ample patio area.

91 Biltmore Ave.
Asheville, NC 28801

(828) 575-9599

The Admiral

This is on my list so that Joy doesn't yell at me. If I want to really celebrate and my my wife happy, I take her to The Admiral. But I have to remember to make reservations several days in advance). I'm not kidding about that. The restaurant itself is absolutely and completely unremarkable. It's a shoddy cinder block building. But OMG, go inside and sit down and look at the menu. It's absolutely amazing. This chill West Asheville American dishes up a globally inspired seasonal menu that changes frequently, featuring plates like Korean fried chicken, duck leg adobo and elk loin.

West Asheville
400 Haywood Road
Asheville, NC 28806

(828) 252- 2541

For more recommendations and things to do in the area see my page about the River Arts District.  

"No Boundaries"

The Great Smoky Mountains

Becoming a national park was not easy for the Great Smokies. Joining the National Park System took a lot of money and the hard work of thousands of people. Establishing most of the older parks located in the western United States, such as Yellowstone, was fairly easy. Congress merely carved them out of lands already owned by the government—often places where no one wanted to live anyway. But getting park land in this area was a different story. The land that became Great Smoky Mountains National Park was owned by hundreds of small farmers and a handful of large timber and paper companies.

A New Idea

The idea to create a national park in these mountains started in the late 1890s. A few farsighted people began to talk about a public land preserve in the cool, healthful air of the southern Appalachians. A bill even entered the North Carolina Legislature to this effect, but failed. By the early 20th century, many more people in the North and South were pressuring Washington for some kind of public preserve.

Efforts to create a national park became successful in the mid-1920s, with most of the hard-working supporters based in Knoxville, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina. Surprisingly, motorists had the biggest role in the push for a national park. The newly formed auto clubs, mostly branches of the AAA, were interested in good roads through beautiful scenery on which they could drive their shiny new cars.

In May, 1926, a bill was signed by President Calvin Coolidge that provided for the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park. This allowed the Department of the Interior to assume responsibility for administration and protection of a park in the Smokies as soon as 150,000 acres of land had been purchased.

Since the government was not allowed to buy land for national park use, the former political boosters became fund raisers. In the late 1920s, the Legislatures of Tennessee and North Carolina appropriated $2 million each for land purchases. Additional money was raised by individuals, private groups, and even school children who pledged their pennies. By 1928, a total of $5 million had been raised. The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund matched what had been raised and donated $5 million, assuring the purchase of the remaining land.

But buying the land was difficult, even with the money in hand. There were thousands of small farms, large tracts, and other miscellaneous parcels that had to be surveyed and appraised. The timber and paper companies had valuable equipment and standing inventory which required compensation. Worse, in some ways, were the emotional losses to people who had to walk away from their homes. Lifetime leases allowed some people to stay temporarily, particularly if they were too old or too sick to move. Others could be granted leases on a short-term basis. However, they could not cut timber, hunt and trap at will, or otherwise live as they always had.

The facts about this place (to me anyway) are interesting, but the real interest is the nitty-gritty history of this place. People lived out their lives here. They composed their music here, wrote their stories here and crafted their poems here. And walking the trails, you can still make out the presence of the past if you listen...

There’s an old weather bettion house
That stands near a wood
With an orchard near by it
For almost one hundred years it has stood

It was my home in infency
It sheltered me in youth
When I tell you I love it
I tell you the truth

For years it has sheltered
By day and night
From the summer’s sun heat
And the cold winter blight

But now the park commisioner
Comes all dressed up so gay
Saying this old house of yours
We must now take away

They coax they wheedle
They fret they bark
Saying we have to have this place
For a National Park

For us poor mountain people
They don’t have a care
But must a home for
The wolf the lion and the bear

But many of us have a tltle
That is sure and will hold
To the City of Peace
Where the streets are pure gold

There no lion in its fury
Those pathes ever trod
It is the home of the soul
In the presence of God

When we reach the portles
of glory so fair
The Wolf cannot enter
Neither the lion or bear

And no park Commissioner
Will ever dar
To desturbe or molest
Or take our home from us there

-By Louisa Walker