As a college student, I have to eat on a budget. Well, I have to do pretty much everything on a budget. So, as I was trying to plan an epic Christmas present for my wonderful boyfriend, I realized that the college version of “epic” may just have to be a candy bar and socks. Luckily (or not so much), my boyfriend was in the same situation! After thinking about it for a while, we decided that rather than trying to spend too much money on items that the other may or may not even like, we would just go on a memorable date that we would both enjoy.
Well, I love food. I mean, I really love food. This is one of the many reasons I enjoy living in Asheville; I love trying new foods. Rather than just picking one restaurant out of the hundreds in the city, we decided to try five all in one night. As I said, I wanted to do something epic, and “epic” now meant that I would probably have to be rolled out of the last restaurant.
When planning the date, I wanted to hit some of Asheville’s best names, so naturally I turned to Ask Asheville and planned the adventure. Finally I narrowed my list down to the best diner, taco, sushi, tapas, and desert places in town.
My boyfriend, Jeremy, and I both run track for UNCA, and we headed out on our food excursion right after a workout, voraciously hungry. Our first stop was the Corner Kitchen, voted Diners’ Choice at Opentable.com, located in a quaint old house in the Biltmore Village. Since we didn’t know how much food we were going to eat throughout the whole evening, we decided to just go with one appetizer and, being the seafood fans we are, we went with the lobster tacos. And it was a great choice! The only problem I had with the dish was that I didn’t have 5 more plates of it. The lobster was buttery, melting in my mouth, and the savory slaw brought a little sweetness to the heat of the tacos’ sauce. That one plate assured me that I will have to go back to try the rest of the menu.
I’ve lived in Asheville for a few years now, and I thought I really knew my way around the city. Apparently, I was wrong. So, rather than driving straight to White Duck Taco – one of Asheville’s best taco eateries – I showed Jeremy all around the dark and quiet night version of the River Arts District. On purpose, obviously, we weren’t lost. But, we got there eventually. And the drive was worth it. I had never made my way to the little restaurant, but as soon as I saw the colorful chalkboard menu I knew I would be coming back multiple times. I love duck, and I love tacos, so the combination of the spicy duck combined with the sweetness of the fruit all wrapped in a tortilla was like a love song in my mouth. I was right about coming back to eat there, by the way. We came back a solid two days later.
My knowledge of downtown also is not quite as extensive as I thought, but after a couple wrong turns we made it to Wasabi, voted 2013 Best Sushi of WNC. As I said, I love trying new foods, and sushi is something that I have never really enjoyed before, so I wanted to try one more time. I love sashimi, so I got the smoked salmon so that I’d at least have something I would like.
Naturally, we got the most expensive roll on the menu, but it was well worth it. The salty, crunchy, meaty tastes swirling over my taste buds as I shoved the entire too-large piece of sushi into my mouth each time changed my view on the delicacy. Oh, and did I mention that I actually at the dish with chop sticks? This was probably my biggest accomplishment of the night.
Social Lounge and Tapas is located, luckily, precisely two buildings down from Wasabi on the same street, so we made it there in great time, despite already being full. In need of some snacks, we went for the gourmet popcorn and gorged on the entire buttery plate while chatting and watching a football game.
Apparently, seafood was the theme of the evening, so we got fried calimari also, off of Strada’s menu at the bar. It is hard to go wrong with fried bits of sea creature dipped in a sweet marinara sauce, and this dish did not disappoint.
For our last stop of the night, we opted to go to our favorite dessert place over trying something new. Old Europe has been our spot since that awkward “friends” time before dating, and there are always at least ten desserts that I want to cram on my plate every time we go. One of my goals has been to eat every treat in the glass case, so I tried the creamy coconut cake as this is one of my favorite desserts and I haven’t tried Old Europe’s version yet. The moist cake layered with sweet and creamy coconut icing melted in my mouth so fast that I had to get another dessert.
As full as I was, I took my Chocolate Bourbon Chestnut Cake home and thoroughly enjoyed it the night before classes started while I mourned the end of break.
An evening spent with my wonderful boyfriend eating Asheville’s finest food and touring the city is a date I will not soon forget. I do believe this will have to be a new Christmas tradition!