Asheville’s food scene has always generated plenty of news, though COVID-19 seems to have accelerated a flurry of changes.
More than two dozen restaurants and bars have closed in Asheville in the past year. It’s not all bad news, however, and some businesses have moved in to fill the gaps.
But first, some bad news: High Test Deli and Sweet Shop on Coxe Avenue has closed. The restaurant served stacked roast beef and provolone sandwiches, BLTs, tuna salad sandwiches, classic Reubens, Italians and clubs.
It was one of the few places you could find a good Chicago dog, complete with tomatoes, pickles, sport peppers, celery seasoning, onions and relish. The Cubans were delicious, the prices affordable.
Sad to see this excellent sandwich shop go? You’re not alone. But you also have options.
First, High Test has a sister restaurant in Bryson City. But if you’re looking for other places to get sandwiches downtown, Loretta’s Cafe (114 Lexington Ave.), Roman’s Deli (75 Haywood St.) and the Soda Fountain at Woolworth Walk (25 Haywood St.) all have that classic deli vibe.
City permits show a new restaurant called Casa Arepa moving into the tiny building at 134 Coxe Ave. Arepas are South American corn cakes, which can be split and filled to make toasty little sandwiches. More to come on that.
Deluxe Cafe and Wine Bar in Woodfin also recently announced its closure, according to a post on the cafe’s social media pages. The cafe opened in late 2019 and had become a neighborhood favorite for wine and light bites, including prepared food from former Ambrozia chef Sam Etheridge. The cafe currently is still selling wine at a discount. Watch Facebook for details.
Strictly Wings is the name of a new restaurant at 3935 Sweeten Creek Road. This new Arden spot does indeed serve wings in a variety of flavors from sweet to spicy, and you can have them with fried rice, waffles and a host of other Southern sides like yams, mac and cheese and collards. The restaurant also has pork chops, fried chicken and seafood platters. Strictly Wings opens officially at noon, March 12. Look for Strictly Wings-Asheville on Facebook for more.
Udon Sushi and Noodles has opened at 152 Bleachery Blvd. The restaurant serves what the name suggests, as well as some teriyaki meals and Thai and Chinese standards. Check out the menu at www.udonsushinoodle.com.
El Patron Subs and Grill has opened at 1996 Hendersonville Road, the former location of Papa’s and Beer. Don’t fret; Papa’s and Beer has other locations, which you can view at papasandbeermexican.com. El Patron serves classic subs, including cheesesteaks, plus tacos, pupusas, quesadillas and more. More on Facebook.
In the works
Botanist & Barrel: Work continues at Botanist & Barrel in downtown Asheville. There’s no specific opening date to announce yet, but the project looks exciting. In case you missed it, Botanist & Barrel is a Cedar Grove, North Carolina-based winemaker and cidery known for small-batch, natural, bone-dry ciders.
The crew will open their latest venture, Botanist & Barrel Tasting Bar + Bottle Shop, in the former Over Easy Cafe at 32 Broadway St. Expect to be able to taste lots of fun, small-batch ciders and wines. Read more about that here.
Ukiah Japanese Smokehouse is slated for the former Futo Buta at 121 Biltmore Ave, across from the Orange Peel. That’s according to city building permits, which say the restaurant is upfitting the space with a smoker, exterior banquette lounge and counter seating and a reworked entrance. The permit also says some planted shrubs will come out. The building is also due for a new coat of paint.
Blue Ghost Brewing Company has begun work to repurpose a space left after the removal of a beloved but apparently unwell oak tree. The new room allows for the construction of a more than 2,000 square foot covered outdoor seating space. The addition is slated for completion in April.
The Hungry Ghost, the brewery’s house food truck, will be stationed at the edge of the new addition, giving customers all-weather accessibility to pub fare. Blue Ghost will also soon add lagers to its beer menu for the first time. Blue Ghost is at 125 Underwood Road in Fletcher.
In case you missed it, Hi-Wire Brewing has announced plans for a new River Arts District facility at 282 Lyman St., the third Hi-Wire location in Asheville.
The bulk of the facility will be dedicated to a distribution center, but there will be room for about 350 people to drink in an outdoor beer garden constructed from upcycled shipping containers, as well as a space for events when such things are happening with frequency again.
Have openings, closing or expansions you’d like to announce? Email [email protected] with your news and tips.
Mackensy Lunsford has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years, and has been a staff writer for the Asheville Citizen Times since 2012. Lunsford is a former professional line cook and one-time restaurant owner.