Nestled cozily in the magical Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina is a town I can easily call one of the most beautiful, musical, foodie-positive places I have ever visited. Maybe it was something in the air, or the amazing local food, but Asheville, North Carolina is a pretty sweet town.
From the moment my friends and I entered the winding, rolling roads in the mountains just outside of Asheville, there was an almost instant change in the “vibe” of the environment. Of course, it might have been the fact that our backsides were so sore from the way we stuffed ourselves into my friend’s SUV (with all of our bags, instruments, and, of course, beer), but we were so excited to get out of the car once we arrived, that we practically looked like we were piling out of a clown car at the cabin we were set to stay at.
Although our “cabin” was in fact a surprisingly extravagant hillside mansion (at least to my standards), we made ourselves leave its comfort for our first night of musical and alcohol-infused shenanigans. The main stop of the night? A totally free concert with an amazing Rock band, Electric Church, in the basement of the venue, followed by Badger, a band based mainly on conversation between bass guitar and synthesizer. The amount of free music in the area was almost unbelievable, considering the cheapest concert ticket you could get in D.C. or Baltimore was still $15 out of your pocket. The rest of the weekend continued to surprise and delight, both musically, atmospherically, and, of course, through all of the delicious food we could get our hands on.
I like to think that cities and towns have personalities of their own – that they are living, breathing entities with their citizens circulating through the vein-like streets and buildings that give it its unmistakable identity. The people and atmosphere that gives Asheville its scene are remarkably unique to say the least. Free music flows through the airy sidewalks and nightclubs (if you can call them that, they’re more like “hangouts”). Fresh aromas of vegetarian and carnivorous cuisine alike flood the air while extravagant storefronts push into the walkways.
We had trouble narrowing down the restaurants to try, since everywhere we went, people recommended this place and that, pushing and pulling my starving taste buds in a tug of war with my wallet. By the end of our weekend, however, we tallied up the votes and chose Sunny Point Cafe, a place a bit off the beaten path on Haywood Road that is locally famous for its brunch and Bloody Mary’s (although Mimosas seemed to be the thought of the morning for us that day).
Although we had been warned to get there early, we woke up decidedly hungover and exhausted from the night before, still full of food and drink and moving slower than ever. We struggled to find a parking spot as we gazed out the car windows at the groups of people waiting around by the front entrance. Were they waiting, or just hanging out? It was hard to tell, but we later were enjoying some fresh brewed iced coffee doing the same exact thing while we waited.
Continuing with the seemingly Asheville-invented tradition of free music, there were a couple guitarists playing in the garden-like waiting area for tips. Their Bob Dylan covers and bluesy guitar riffs filled the air while a friend and I conspired. “We could do that!”
After what seemed like forever, we were lead inside a removable sunroom and sat down at a table right by one of the giant “windows” of the room. Settled in with our iced coffees and much needed water, we decided it was time to restart the stomach stuffage and started ordering food and drinks until we decided our bank accounts were empty. I went with their vegetarian breakfast burrito, with vegan chorizo! It was everything my body had craved that morning – the perfect mix of savory and sweet, and a little spicy. It was nearly Chipotle-sized, but my taste buds urged me to press on until the burrito, newly cooked and salted tortilla chips, AND the sliced breakfast potatoes dressed in herbs, spices, and salt were no where to be seen. I encouraged myself even more, repeating that I had just hiked 5 miles the day before, and hey, I deserved the extra calories!
In the perfect fashion to end a trip to Asheville, we visited a pretty hip bookstore where I got a fairytale magazine (picture what a magazine would look like if you lived in Wonderland), and studied the streets and buildings one last time. This unique of a place required more than one weekend of visitation. I’m sure we were all silently planning in our heads when we would be back. Who knows? Maybe Asheville could be a more permanent home one day. Only time in the mountains will tell.