For my birthday Mike and I went on a cocktail and app crawl around Asheville and it was epic with a capital 'E'! With so many places on my 'want to try' list I didn't want to spend my entire evening at one place with one menu. So we decided to try four different places around town with one rule: only one drink and one app per place.
Spoiler: our rules broke down at our last stop.
Our Tasting Trail included the following restaurants in this order: Bull and Beggar; District Wine Bar (both in the River Arts District); The Foundry Hotel/Benne on Eagle; and, En La Calle (both off Eagle Street in downtown Asheville). Having two sets of restaurants so close to one another was the difference maker. It only took one Uber to get from RAD to downtown, and of course, our Ubers to and from home.
Here's everything we got everywhere we went! Don't forget to check out my list of tips at the bottom of this post for recreating the best Asheville date night ever!
Restaurant 1 | Bull and Beggar
(River Arts District)
WHAT WE ORDERED: Food: Dozen raw oysters // Drinks: Cabernet Franc "Brézé" sparkling rosé (me); IPA (Mike)
We'd never been to Bull and Beggar before and heard such amazing things! If we'd had a full dinner at one place I probably would've chosen this spot. Instead, we hit up the half-off seafood happy hour from 5-6pm for our first course.
We got a dozen oysters, chef's choice of selection. WOW were they good! You can absolutely get fantastic oysters here in Asheville if you go here. From left to right you can see how we ranked our favorites.
Restaurant 2 | District Wine Bar
(River Arts District)
WHAT WE ORDERED: Food: Cheese board featuring goat cheese chèvre, tome, and carse cheeses // Drinks: Nebbiolo (me); Cabernet (Mike), per staff recommendation on the best pairings for our cheese board.
District Wine Bar always delivers in both taste and atmosphere. It's just so chill with the most charming decor, and a lovely patio. The staff is so friendly and knowledgeable about all of their wines. And boy do they have some nice wines. I like to follow their suggestions on the best wine to pair with our food. They always nail it.
Dress // Sandals // Bag
We took our wine and cheese board out to the patio to enjoy the lovely weather and fresh air. That's basically my love language -- a date with my hubby, nibbling on cheese, sipping good wine, outside, in the evening. District is becoming my happy place and I want to spend lots more time on this patio in the coming months!
The Foundry Hotel
After District we took an Uber for $7 to Eagle Street downtown for our next two stops, the Foundry Hotel and Benne on Eagle.
The Foundry Hotel recently opened and I've been dying to check it out. It's a huge space with a giant courtyard in the middle. The glam-industrial decor is heaven. Love the mix of exposed brick with crystal chandeliers and velvet furniture. They have swing bands perform 1930s music in the lounge a few nights and I cannot wait to go back for that!
Restaurant 3 | Benne On Eagle
WHAT WE ORDERED: Food: Deviled Egg spread with homemade saltines and watermelon radish // Drinks: Chili & Lemongrass cocktail, made with local Chemist gin (me); Cardamom & Banana, made with rye bourbon, nicknamed the Cardi B (Mike)
After exploring the hotel lobby, lounge, and bar, we walked down to Benne on Eagle, a restaurant connected to the hotel. (There's an exterior entrance to the restaurant on Eagle Street if you're not coming from the hotel.)
Benne on Eagle dishes up Appalachian soul food so we wanted to sample something with unmistakeable southern flavor. The deviled egg spread was ah-maaaa-zing -- it's a bowl full of the best part of deviled eggs! The watermelon radish was a fun dipping option to alternate with the crackers.
Also -- our cocktails were so so so good. We asked the bartender for her recommendations and she nailed it. Mike went out on a limb with the Cardamom & Banana but wound up loving it! We definitely want to go back for a full meal, the menu looks awesome!
Restaurant 4 | En La Calle
WHAT WE ORDERED: Food: Lobster nachos; shrimp tacos; avocado tostado // Drinks: Blood orange margaritas; shot of blanco Casamigos tequila for me, reposado for Mike
On our fourth and final stop at En La Calle, we broke the rules and ordered more than one app...and drink if you count the tequila shots. (One last hoo-rah before the night was over!) The bartender, Jesús, guided us on everything, from food to drinks, to which tequila to shoot. They have a TON of tequilas to choose from, many of which you can't find in other places. If you're a tequila fan this is definitely your spot!
We got to En la Calle around 9pm so the lighting wasn't super conducive to bright food pics -- sorry! But I can report the flavor was incredible. I'm glad we ended at En La Calle where we could kick back at the bar and get down on some guacamole. The plates were perfect for sharing. I would recommend 3-4, depending on how hungry you are. Also, if you want a more upscale dining experience with the same flavor profile, check out their sister restaurant, Limones, located right next door.
Tips For A DIY Cocktail-App Crawl
Date Night In Asheville
I can't tell you how much I loved this approach to dining out for date night. If you want to follow this same tasting trail around Asheville, or create your own, here's what I recommend planning in advance to get the most out of it!
Start early. Mike and I left the house before 5:30pm. We wanted to make Happy Hour at Bull and Beggar that ends at 6. Regardless, if you don't want to stay out too late, get going on the early side.
Schedule enough time per stop. We spent about 45 minutes to an hour at each restaurant. It was plenty of time to take it slow, savor each course, and move along before we were tempted to keep ordering!
Take an Uber. If you're going to drink, there are way too many cocktails on this crawl to even think about driving. We took three Ubers -- one to RAD, one downtown, one home. They were all very reasonably priced.
Consider going on a weeknight. We went on a Tuesday which helped with crowds and wait times. Uber prices weren't as high, it was easy to get tables everywhere, and the staff at each place were freer to talk us through their recommendations. Which brings me to...
Ask the staff to guide your tasting. Nobody knows their menus like they do! I always love knowing what the staff loves versus what's very popular. They're great at suggesting pairings to elevate your experience of their food and beverages.
Mix up your cuisine. Try different concepts and types of cuisine along your trail. You'll give your taste buds and tummies something to look forward to every step of the way!
Start light, end heavy. Don't front load or you'll never make it! Start with light appetizers or small plates that don't pack a heavy punch. As you progress with your restaurant crawl, you can order more filling dishes. I recommend your last stop be the place you order the biggest plate...or break your rules and get more than one dish (like we did).
Thanks for coming by to check out my ideas for a fun date night out in Asheville! We have so many amazing places to eat and drink, I can't wait to do it again soon!
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