Last Asheville post for you…this time food focused! While I do love hiking and all of the outdoor activities that the Asheville area has to offer, the food and general good vibe of the city are what keep me coming back. I don’t know if it was the arrival of fall and the awesome weather but the streets were packed and everyone seemed to be in a great mood. We received friendly and outstanding service everywhere we went over the course of the weekend. I was also so excited to be with a group of girls who enjoy food as much as I do. We were definitely in the vacation mindset when it came to eating and it was wonderful!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, we ordered in pizza and salad on Friday night. We got the food from a restaurant named Piazza in Fairview and it was excellent. They feature wood-fired pizza, pasta, salads, etc. Although we did not take advantage of it, I would like to share that they do offer gluten-free pizza crust and pasta for those with dietary needs.
Our next meal out was at Zambra on Saturday night. Zambra is a tapas restaurant that I have been hearing good things about for years (like since I was in college and working as a camp counselor!) so I can’t believe that this was my first trip. It seemed like a perfect for girls weekend dinner out. I mean, not that tapas with guys isn’t fun but I think it’s a better girlfriend date option.
Our reservations were for 7:45 but the restaurant was slammed and we were not seated until about 8:15. It was worth the wait because we scored a table back in one of the alcoves that are a little quieter and private. We were easily able to chat and share food. I would definitely recommend requesting one of these tables if you visit Zambra.
We were provided with a wine list, the set menu as well as the daily specials. Although Zambra started out with a clear Spanish tapas focus, our server explained that they have shifted away from that over the years and now it’s a little more anything goes. In fact, their website states, “Our food features the tastes of the Western Carolinas – with appropriate gypsy influences.” Haha. Like most restaurants in Asheville, Zambra focuses on farm-to-table food and utilizes local ingredients whenever possible and also imports a lot of things from Spain.
We opted to do our ordering in two rounds so that we could have a little halftime break/regroup in the middle to assess what else we wanted to order. We started out with two salads to get our veggies in before the feast. Honestly, we all just love salad and wanted to try both on the menu. This was the mixed greens salad with almonds, goat cheese, apples and maple-shallot mojo.
And the baby arugula with manchego, candied pecans and dried cherry mojo. On the side is the pomegranate braised pork spring rolls. These were amazing and we ended up getting a second order of them.
Gnocchi with basil, sweet pepper, radish and goat cheese.
Our last course of the first half was the grilled beef tender with piquillo peppers, roasted garlic and potatoes with kale. I don’t usually love garlic in it’s whole form but it was so mild, soft and buttery from the roasting and complemented the steak (which was perfectly cooked) nicely.
During our break we consulted all of the menus again…including the wine list. Zambra offers a lot of unique wines and I was excited to see that I had never tried any of the reds by the glass. Our server was so personable and on it. Despite the restaurant being busy, he took time to answer questions and offer suggestions.
He even brought us a samples of the wine we didn’t order after a debate over three wines. For the record, I loved the Lan Tempranillo and the La Planta Tempranillo.
Round two featured potatoes bravas which were perfectly fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce. These things were seriously addictive. Also, more spring rolls!
Pan roasted scallops with brown butter mojo, pineapple, country ham and rosemary served over orzo. I was surprised by the generous portion. We got three sea scallops. I feel like two is the standard for tapas.
And finally, coconut curry meatballs and grilled bread.
I’m so happy that I finally tried Zambra. We were impressed by the service and the value. Our total bill only came out to $130 (before gratuity) for all the food above + 5 glasses of wine. Crazy!
I also posted previously about our dessert stop at French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Each of us ordered a slice of cake and coffee or tea. This is my favorite carrot cake in the world. I’m grateful that it’s two hours away or I’d be in trouble!
We had Sunday brunch at Laughing Seed after our morning bhakti vinyasa class at Asheville Yoga Center. I swear, I want to drive to Asheville every Sunday to take the bhakti class and eat brunch. I was so undecided on what to order because everything sounded so good but ended up with the roasted root vegetable hash. Once it arrived I joked that it was perfect for me given that it was served in a bowl over a bed of spinach. Felt just like home.
Roasted carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes with tempeh over grits and spinach. Topped with roasted asparagus and vegan gravy. I ate every last bite!
After one more stop by French Broad for (unpictured) peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip cookies we hit the road. Already looking forward to my next weekend in Asheville!