The New Year’s Vacation: Part IV

A continuation of our trip to Asheville. See Parts I, II, and III.

I never thought there would be a morning after a holiday that I wouldnt wake up with either a hypoglycemic hangover from too much alcohol or too much sugar the night before, but I proved myself wrong in 2012. Unfortunately, I instead woke up with a not-enough-sleep-over because although Grady’s first trip to 2012 grass was around 1:45AM, he still insisted on his second between 6:30 and 7. We endured, and went out to celebrate 2012 in Asheville.

Like I mentioned, nothing is open before 10 and many places close on Sundays, which made food on New Year’s day even more difficult. After walking with Grady [the plus of it being so empty in the mornings is his ability to run off-leash in the parks because there were no distractions] and tiring him out with hills and hellos from so many passersby, Shaun and I headed to the place that had topped both of our lists* before we came: Tupelo Honey Cafe. It’s a pretty famous place, known for farm-to-table, vegetarian, southern food [or “new south” as they like to call it]. Perfect, huh?

Sadly, we got there around 1PM and discovered a 1.5-hour wait for a party of two and a sign on the door informing us they would close at three and not re-open until the 5th for construction. I’m so fundamentally opposed to the long-wait-for-brunch phenomenon that we decided we’d cut our losses and move down our list. Same deal at Early Girl Eatery – 1.5 hours, maybe more. Was I not going to get some vegan southern food on this trip?

Fear not, friends, Green Sage Cafe to the rescue.** Like most Asheville restaurants, Green Sage bills itself as local, healthy, natural, organic and mostly vegetarian food. They served anything from noodle bowls to sandwiches to smoothies to breakfasts, but I knew exactly what I needed when we walked in: vegan biscuits and gravy. Even the biscuit was vegan – not that I don’t love the biscuits at Bluegrass here in C’Ville, but I’m just not the biggest butter person. The vegan gravy was portobello-based. They also had a tea bar, where I sampled a few teas and Shaun tried Pisgah’s Pale Ale. Even I liked this one [for a pale ale] – Pisgah really is a good brewery. Shaun’s meal was a soy sausage burrito, otherwise known as a meal for ten people, with a green chile sauce. And obviously we had to try a single order of a carrot cake pancake, because, c’mon. And yes, it’s as good as it sounds: chunks of carrot, raisin, and cinnamon with maple-cream-cheese syrup.

carrot cake + pancake = heaven.

My vegan biscuit and gravy came with tofu “scrambled eggs,” sweet potato “hash browns” and a kale and onion salad. Holy crap, I love kale. This was my favorite dish in Asheville, hands-down, and Green Sage was my favorite of all of the restaurants.

"green sage plate."

zee monster burrito.

Sleep caught up with us after lunch, so we took our books to French Broad Chocolate Lounge to relax and read away the afternoon. French Broad is a pretty well-respected chocolate company [reminiscent of Gearhart’s here in C’Ville] that makes delicious candies, brownies, wedding cakes, you name it. Their lounge is stellar. We shared a french press of Counter Culture [34 ounces for five freaking dollars, what a great price], Shaun got another Pisgah Valdez [the coffee stout] and we sampled a “Spicy Nibby Brownie,” their famous chocolate brownie with cayenne pepper in it. French Broad roasts their own cacao nibs, so it was toasty, dense, and delicious.

And, in Asheville, puppies get dessert before dinner, too. In fact, they have their own ice cream parlor: The Hop. We drove down there after French Broad and discovered a cute little joint specializing in puppy ice cream, vegan ice cream, and sundaes. While Grady had his cup [bananas and peanut butter, frozen], I tried vegan chocolate ice cream. It was made with coconut milk, so I wasn’t the biggest fan [didn’t beat Lula’s], but Shaun seemed to enjoy his beer-flavored scoop. Are you surprised?

he loved it.

As we were sitting in the parlor with Grady, we remembered that Tupelo’s had a second location in South Asheville, and when we checked the website we discovered it wasn’t closed. We made a reservation for dinner and headed out there after a quick driving tour of West Asheville [reminded me a lot of Richmond, super cute, but all was closed].

I have to say, for how high Tupelo’s was on my list, I was pretty disappointed. The best part of my meal was the vegan black eyed pea salad I ordered in honor of New Year’s Day, and the rest was a sort of cheesy mess. I got an open-faced vegetarian melt because I was tempted by the whole-grain sourdough bread, but it turned out to be mostly a pile of cheese. I feel like Tupelo’s is the Applebee’s of Asheville’s vegan & vegetarian scene, but at least they had a bazillion vegan and vegetarian options, it’s still a local joint, and they use local ingredients. Anything local is better than Applebee’s! I was also excited to try my first taste of moonshine [they infuse their own moonshine and make clever cocktails], but unfortunately the ABC store had run out of essentially everything, so I chose a Cotes du Ventoux curated by the owner of Bouchon. [More on that tomorrow!] Shaun had a delicious Highland Brewing Cold Mountain Winter Ale, brewed in Asheville with malt and vanilla. Yum.

Shaun’s black-bean veggie burger was topped with pimento cheese, which is basically a classic southern mayo and cheddar dip. This fulfilled my wish of not leaving Asheville without trying pimento. I’m working on a vegan version now! He chose a side of goat cheese grits, which were not as creamy as I’d hoped.

there's a burger under there.

And there’s my melt. It was alright. The pickled okra and of course the black eyed peas were my favorite.

there's bread under there.

We left a bit unsatisfied but thankful we gave it a try. It’s funny how your opinions change from doing initial research to actually visiting a city!

Stay tuned in the next post for: a bowling alley in a house, more local brews, and delicious French food.

* Shaun’s list was probably topped with Thirsty Monk, actually, but I keep telling him he needs to wash down beer with food at least some of the time.

** Another interesting thing about Asheville is that most of their restaurants have two locations: a South or West Asheville one, and then one Downtown. It seems that most of the places opened their Downtown locations more recently, further indicating how new and booming the town has become in recent years.


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Categories: Beverages, Dog, Food


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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8 Comments on “The New Year’s Vacation: Part IV”

  1. January 8, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    I should not come on here when I am hungry lol! That carrot cake pancake is calling my name! It all looks very delicious!

    • January 8, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      It’s such a simple idea, but it was REALLY good. You should take a trip to Asheville and try them out 🙂

  2. January 13, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so
    I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the
    whole thing. Do you have any helpful hints for rookie blog writers?
    I’d certainly appreciate it.

    • January 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

      Thanks for reading! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so it’s nice to know people are still taking a look. As for advice – write about things you really enjoy. It definitely comes across in your tone/style if you’re writing about something you love, versus writing about something you think people will read. Good luck!


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