Asheville: Tupelo Honey Cafe
Asheville, North Carolina is a city known for its overabundance of amazing restaurants, so when an eatery here rapidly ascends from newcomer to local favorite, you know it’s doing something right. In the case of the Tupelo Honey Cafe, that ‘something’ is just about everything.
Start with the restaurant’s ideal location in the heart of downtown. From a table on the Tupelo Honey patio, you can sample Asheville’s unique flavor even before the food arrives: listen to the impromptu music concerts coming from Pritchard Park, or simply ‘people-watch’ as locals and visitors stroll to and from the city’s ample nightlife hotspots. Inside, the café features a large, open kitchen and a small, New Orleans-style dining room that one reviewer likened to ‘an old-fashioned tearoom’.
However. a restaurant makes its name with its food, and Tupelo Honey has carved out a reputation for taking down-home Southern cooking and giving it a creative, organic, locally-grown Asheville flair. Executive chef Brian T. Sonoskus has even established a nearby farm, Sunshot Organics, to supply the restaurant with a constant supply of natural, pesticide-free, locally grown products. Chef Sonoskus supplements that with food from other local growers, and serves only ‘free range’ organic eggs and chicken breasts.
Your vast array of choices begins with deciding ‘when’ to visit Tupelo Honey. The dinner menu is filled with a spectacular selection, but locals and visitors also line up for the café’s breakfast, which features a sweet potato pancake topped with peach butter and spiced pecans that has become an Asheville institution. Fortunately, the breakfast menu is available all day, so even an evening guest can get a taste of this morning masterpiece.
If you are here for dinner, start with the appetizer menu, which features classic Southern fare such as Fried Green Tomatoes, or new classics like the Cheesy Grit Cakes, which are drizzled in a spicy rooster sauce and served with fresh salsa and sour cream. You can also choose “classic” chicken wings in a honey chipotle sauce, or opt for the healthier Tupelo Tofu Wings.
In the same way, entrée choices are designed to satisfy both those looking for classic home cooking or those wanting something a little out of the ordinary. For instance, there’s French Broad Flank Steak, Nutty Fried Chicken and Pritchard Pork Tenderloin, but there’s also a Grilled Vegetable Trio that comes with Portobello mushroom, eggplant, and zucchini, served with citrus peel couscous. Seafood lovers will crave the wild sockeye salmon or the grilled mahi mahi, and people looking for a truly southern dish can sample the flavors of the Low Country with Shari’s Shrimp & Grits.
When it’s time for dessert, ask your server about the special: usually, it’s a treat involving fresh, locally grown fruit, such as a delectable blueberry cobbler a la mode. There’s also Tupelo’s wildly popular version of a southern staple: Classic Banana Pudding.
No matter when you come to Tupelo Honey, the restaurant’s popularity means you’ll likely have to wait a short while to be seated. But regulars will tell you it’s well worth the wait for a dining experience that’s a lot like Asheville itself: classy but casual, friendly and fanciful, and always worthy of a repeat visit.
Tupelo Honey Cafe
12 College Street
Asheville, NC 28801
Breakfast & Lunch: Tuesday - Sunday 9am - 3pm
Dinner: Tuesday - Thursday 5:30pm - 10pm, Friday & Saturday 5:30pm - 11pm
added: December 15, 2008
updated: December 24, 2008