I love Asheville, NC for the variety of local independent restaurants that it boasts. Whether casual or fine dining, breakfast or dessert, chances are that you’ll find a great unique spot boasting local flavor!
Here are a few places I visited during a recent trip and would highly recommend:
I accidently wandered upon the French Broad Chocolate Lounge as I was meandering downtown Asheville on a Sunday afternoon. Amazed that it was open on a Sunday and even more so that they stayed open until 11pm I decided to make this an evening stop after dinner (not that I needed one after having previously finished a four-course meal!).
The French Broad Chocolate Lounge originated as French Broad Luscious Chocolates, an artisan chocolate company started by Jael and Dan Rattigan. The Rattigans are self-taught chocolatiers who previously owned a chocolate and bread bakery in Costa Rica before moving to Asheville in 2006. Originally selling their chocolates on the internet, through local stores and farmer’s markets, they opened the French Broad Chocolate Lounge in 2008. Originally they occupied only one story of the three-story building which houses it. However quickly running out of room they grew to occupy the upper two levels, the third housing their production kitchen. All of the fine artisan chocolates in the case as well as the pastries and desserts that they serve are prepared in-house. A refreshing change from so many places that serve the standard thaw-and serve items purchased from major national food suppliers. They also source many of the ingredients (mint, honey, milk, and many others) from local growers and producers, purchasing organic products whenever possible.
Not being a huge lover of chocolate (a little bit is fine but one or two bites will do me) I decided to try their signature ‘liquid truffle’….a very thick, unctuous, rich demitasse sized cup of chocolate intensity! Available in a variety of flavors, I chose the lavender honey liquid truffle which was every bit as rich as a truffle, creamy smooth, and full of lavender flavor and hint of sweetness.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge’s
I was probably more entranced by the display of beautiful handmade truffles which were produced in every conceivable flavor combination imaginable. Flavors included Strawberries and balsamic vinegar, Fig & Port, Lemon and Peppercorn and many many more. Each is enrobed in a coating of perfectly smooth chocolate and then distinguished in a distinctly different manner to indicate their specific flavor.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge is open seven days a week and features coffee, tea, and wine as well as a variety of desserts made on premises. They also have a tasting of local cheeses to accompany wine for those looking to have a savory sample before getting their chocolate fix. Free Wi-Fi also makes it a great place to catch up on email and do business while treating your sweet tooth.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge
When it comes to eating out or even at home for that matter….I’m always up for breakfast! I particularly enjoy restaurants that find it within themselves to go above and beyond the basic egg, bacon and toast offerings. When I visit a restaurant known for their breakfast offerings, I expect and hope to find some unique dishes, flavors, and unexpected treats. Sunny Point Cafe does just that! Located on a busy stretch of Haywood Rd. in West Asheville, Sunny Point is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week and also offers dinner during certain times of the year.
My first visit to Sunny Point was in late 2008 and left such a great taste in my mouth I couldn’t wait to return! In addition to their extensive menu which offers plenty of enticing offerings they typically offer a variety of chalkboard specials each day. During this visit I selected from the chalkboard offerings and went for the Italian Hash.
A mixture of fried potatoes, Italian sausage, onions and peppers was topped with two eggs and a red pepper cream sauce. A delicious, savory, and very filling start to the day! I also added on one of their signature mile-high biscuits which was tender, light, just slightly sweet and oh so good when thickly layered with the local jam that graces the table.
626 Haywood Road
Asheville, NC 28806
Located just down Haywood Road from Sunny Point, the West End Bakery and Cafe is always a busy place. This was the second time I stopped in to check it out and both times nearly every table was full. I had just finished breakfast at Sunny Point so was more in search of potential for the next visit and, truth be told….any tempting baked goods that could make for good noshing on the drive back to Savannah.
Immediately upon entering I was overcome by the wonderful aromas of fresh baked goods, freshly cooked breakfast items and the rich deep flavor of that wonderful black elixir of life….COFFEE! As luck would have it….as I approached the bakery case I was entranced by the absolute perfect vision of bakery loveliness itself….a dinner plate sized Cinnamon Roll!!!! I knew what would inevitably happen so I tried to take a photo of them through the case but no luck. The glass provided glare that didn’t begin to do justice. I purchased one for the drive back and I was right….it never made it home to be photographed for this post. I can tell you though that even if I had purchased two, I’m still not certain I would have had a photo subject by the time I arrived home. If for no other reason, pay a visit for their cinnamon rolls…perfect for a long drive home!
757 Haywood Road
Asheville, NC 28806-3132