After moving away to the big city and coming back to my hometown located in the heart of the mountains of Western North Carolina, I’ve come to realize that there are many things I took for granted growing up in such a beautiful and remote place. I had assumed everyone’s experience of the world was the same as mine. But it was only when I came back home that I realized just how different the outside world could be. I have discovered a newfound appreciation for the simple ways and learned to enjoy the slower pace that comes with these mountaintops after spending years trying to keep up with the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s no wonder Asheville, NC remains a top destination for tourists all over the world. That’s why I decided to compile a list for all those newcomers and frequent visitors alike of 3 of my favorite places to eat when visiting Western North Carolina.
Starting off the count down is a little pizza joint I frequented during my years as a college student at Western Carolina University. Located in a small town few know about called Sylva, NC, it’s the perfect spot to hang out and grab a beer and enjoy some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. That’s no exaggeration. I’ve looked to other places from Chicago to New Orleans, and nothing has compared to the wonderful goodness that is Speedy’s Pizza. Maybe it’s a combination of the atmosphere, small town charm carved into the very soul of the mountains or maybe it’s just the fact that their gourmet white pizza with an olive oil base, feta and mozzarella cheeses, red onions, fresh tomatoes, and black olives really is a gift from the heavens. Either way, it makes the list of one of my personal local favorite restaurants.
Bringing in the number two spot is a little joint known as Fat Buddies. There are currently two locations, Franklin, NC and Waynesville, NC. It’s casual dinning (as most local favorites are) with a laid-back atmosphere and southern hospitality that the south is known for. The walls are decorated with Nascar memorabilia and there is plenty of food to go around. From their infamous nuclear wings to their pulled barbecue pork, their food won’t disappoint and don’t forget the sweat tea. Theirs is some of the best around. Brewed to perfection with just the right amount of sugar. It won’t leave you in a diabetic coma, but in my opinion, it’s the way sweat tea in the south is done.
Papa’s and Beer
Wrapping up this list is Papa’s and Beer. It has a few locations around the Asheville area and a couple in South Carolina including one in Greenville, SC. Their authentic claim to good Mexican food doesn’t disappoint for Mexican food lovers and it’s not a surprise that they were voted the number one Mexican restaurant in Asheville, NC. For guacamole lovers, I highly recommend their fresh table-side guacamole, but be warned, the portion is large enough to feed the entire table or make a meal for one person. The title says it all. Handmade at your table with only the freshest ingredients, no prepackaged, left in the fridge for days crap. For those with a gluten allergy, their chips are notoriously famous for being gluten free and in my experience, when in doubt, you can always ask for gluten free options since many of their dishes come with a corn tortilla option.
That’s it for this list. Short and to the point, but there will be more to come so be sure to check back for more local favorites and insider tips on getting the most out of your Asheville, NC experience.
Have a local favorite not listed here? Feel free to share with us!