A national brewery will bring its annual event back to Asheville, a local food truck finds a permanent home and a taco eatery reopens after a full redesign.
An Asheville brewery is rolling forward with one of its annual, popular events after being canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Belgium Brewing will revive Tour de Fat Asheville on Oct. 8.
The details for this year’s festival of wheels are still being planned, according to a spokesperson, but it will stay true to its foundation.
Tour de Fat is a community-driven celebration centered around bicycles and beer. In 1999, New Belgium launched the event and have presented it annually in Asheville and Fort Collins, Colorado. Traditionally, Tour de Fat features a pedal-powered bicycle parade with costumed riders of all ages among the fold. Plus, music, games, entertainment and plenty of New Belgium beer pouring from the taps.
The event benefits bicycle advocacy and nonprofit organizations in the cities. More than $5 million has been raised to support bike advocacy, education and trails.
New Belgium is at 21 Craven St. in Asheville. For updates, visit newbelgium.com/events/tour-de-fat/.
Putting down roots
The Trashy Vegan food truck is making big moves this year.
The Trashy Vegan owners, Joel Boggs and Michelle Edwards, have claimed a permanent address at 697 Haywood Road in West Asheville, in Foothills Butcher Bar’s former west location.
The neighborhood is where the partners got their start and where much of their customer base resides, Boggs said.
“West Asheville still has the local vibe to it. We love West Asheville. It only seemed right,” Boggs said. “It’s a good location and it just so happens to be a prior butcher shop so it’s ironic and serendipitous at the same time.”
Boggs and Edwards are aiming for a late-March to early-April opening. Tentatively, the hours will be 2-8 p.m. Friday through Tuesday.
In 2020, the business partners launched the food truck. The short menu features soy-based “chicken” sandwiches and nuggets, fries and various kinds of burgers, such as a pineapple pepper jack jalapeno burger.
“We try to take things that are typically not seen as vegan at all or associated with veganism — like a burger — and do those vegan. And (we) try to do them as well as possible … so people realize that there are vegan options pretty much for anything out there and you’re not really compromising on taste or flavor.”
The restaurant’s menu will feature the items customers are used to and many new additions, he said. Beer and wine will be offered, too.
The same laid-back vibe of the food truck will carry over to the brick and mortar eatery.
“We’ll try to keep it still ‘trashy’ and still 100% vegan,” Boggs said. “What exactly that looks like, we’re not entirely sure yet.”
The name The Trashy Vegan is in reference to the menu offering items some may consider being junk food, he said.
“We also didn’t want it to seem stuffy. We wanted it to be more approachable,” Boggs said.
Also stop by the sister business, Dough House Vegan Donuts in Black Mountain, that the partners opened in January. The shop offers vegan and gluten-free doughnuts and coffee at 601 West State St.
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Zia Taqueria has reopened after a renovation project wrapped that closed the West Asheville restaurant for several weeks. Customers can expect a full overhaul of the space and menu.
“Every single of our old recipes we’ve taken the time to evolve and, in our opinion, improved,” said Robert Tipsword, co-owner and operator. “Even the experience inside the building is a super relaxing and enjoyable environment and I think people are going to notice that right away when they walk in because it’s just a totally different feel in there and we’re loving it.”
Zia Taqueria closed from Jan. 3 until Feb. 17.
The restaurant is open from 4-9 p.m. Thursday-Sunday at 521 Haywood Road. The limited hours are to allow the team to ease into the new concept and smooth out operations. Over time, hours will be extended. Tipsword projects longer, regular hours to return by mid-to-late spring, he said.
Delivery and carryout service has been suspended until the restaurant returns to fuller hours, he said.
“While we’re doing these new processes and developing that we’re trying to stay focused on our customers that are in the building to make sure we give them the experience that we’re aiming for,” he said.
Returning customers will find many changes from what they order to how they order.
The restaurant is no longer operating as a fast-casual concept with counter service. It has adopted a traditional full table service format complete with hosts and servers.
The notion is to make the business more profitable so it may account for cost inflations and higher pay for staff.
“Having an a la carte functioning restaurant where people come in and get one single taco, chips and salsa and get water didn’t work out anymore to a profitable concept,” Tipsword said. “We needed to make it more about getting entrées, especially since we’re becoming a full-service restaurant and service would inevitably slow down a little bit comparably to the previous concept.”
Tipsword’s decision to run a more traditional hospitality-driven business also is to support a model conducive to staff retention and on-the-job experience.
“I think that it derives more satisfaction with the employees and the cooks,” he said. “When you’re just trying to get stuff out the window because you’re feeding 400 people a day, that is a harder achievement this day and age than it is to have someone come on and be using their skills and feel like they’re learning skills.”
This is the first time the building has received a full upgrade since it opened in March 2013, he said.
The front of the building was redone, and the dining room was gutted to make room for a new seating layout and larger bar.
“I don’t think there’s anything that hasn’t been renovated or touched in the dining room at all,” he said.
The bar size was increased from 23 feet to 31 feet. The kitchen received a thorough deep clean and maintenance service.
The menu has greatly evolved with some classic, reimagined and new dishes offered.
A few “nostalgic” items still on the menu but with enhancements are the Beef Barbacoa and Red Chili Pork.
A new addition, two dishes will feature meat sourced from local farm Hickory Nut Gap. The Carne Adovada is made with red chili braised pork. The Birria taco is made with oxtail and short rib.
The Baja and grilled fish recipes have been longtime bestsellers and are still exactly the same, he said.
There are more full-service style entrées, including one featuring New Mexico red chili dry rub skirt steak and another starring a hatch green chili cheeseburger. He also recommends the vegan double-stacked tostada.
Pull up a seat at the spacious bar complete with a new drink menu. A cocktail to try is the Prickly Pear frozen margarita made with real, organic prickly pear cactus fruit.
For more about Zia Taqueria, visit ziataco.com/avl.
Tiana Kennell is the food and dining reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter/Instagram @PrincessOfPage. Please help support this type of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.