WHERE TO HIDE AND EAT IN THE MIDDLE OF DOWNTOWN ASHEVILLE – by Stu Helm
It is a well known fact that I hate everybody. No, no, not you. You’re cool. It’s everybody else. Y’know, those people. They suck! I hate ’em. UGH! Get ’em away from me! Too loud, too drunk, too much perfume! I hate the way they look, sound, and smell, and I’m sure they taste awful. Everything about them bothers me, even the way they laugh out loud. SHUT IT! Ermergerd. Suck.
I know, I know. It’s me not them. I suck. For real. I’m maladjusted. Misanthropic. A monstrous, co-joined triplet, part Boo Radley, part Grendel, part broken robot.
“DESTROY ALL HUMANS!!!”
I’m actually quite harmless, much like a venom-less snake, or other lowly creature of the underworld, I mostly just wanna be left alone. Still, I need to eat, so here’s a short list of five places I can hide and eat right in the middle of downtown Asheville, and be left the fuck alone.
5) Karen Donatelli Bakery Cafe – Karen’s pastries are incredible, world class, pieces of culinary art that taste as beautiful as they look. There’s coffee too, and the service is friendly and efficient. When Karen or her son Vince are there, it’s nice to say hello. I sure don’t hate them. They rule. I also don’t hate the fact that 9 times out of 10, I either have the entire place to myself, or the only other customers I have to share the room with are over 70 years old. No dude-bros. No woo-woo girls. No shit-faced street trash. No babies. No toddlers. No teens. No dogs allowed. Just me, Grandma and Grandpa, some quiet music, and a case full of insanely delicious cakes and such.
4) MoJo Kitchen and Lounge – I always say, “If you like eating alone in the dark, you’ll love Mojo Kitchen!” I’m sure that Co-owners Autumn and Chef AJ jehhhst LOVE it when I say that. Sorry, Guys. As word gets out about how fucking good AJ’s food is, the “alone” part of the equation will no doubt be changing soon. So, if you’re like me, and you want to enjoy a solitary experience inside of the groovy, cave-like dining room of Mojo Kitchen, you’d better act fast, or you might have to share the cave with other humans. Or in my case, humans.
3) Foggy Mountain Brew Pub – You’ve heard the expression “location location location,” right? Well, theirs is terrible. Which kinda sucks for them, but not for you and me and awwwll the other haters of the world! Yay! Hate hate hate! Y’see, FMBP is exactly one block off of the beaten path, which seems to be just far enough out of the peripheral vision of the average tourist or bridge ‘n’ tunneler that this venue has yet to be discovered and over-run by the masses. The food is big, warm, creamy, cheesy, tasty, and served by nice, friendly people who don’t suck. The owners are really nice, so please support them. The dining room is dark most of the time, and the patio is really pleasant, especially because it’s hidden from everyone and everything else in the world.
2) MG Road – Now, this one is a little hit ‘n’ miss. Some nights, it’s thee perfect hide-away: A dark, receding room, kinda underground, with comfy chairs, and awesome grub. Other times it’s a fucking nightmare of happy people living la vida loca and laughing laughing laughing — some might say cackling — until I wanna stab my ears out with a punk wok chop-stick. On those wonderful nights when the only other people in the room besides me are a pair of anonymous silhouettes in the far corner who may or may not be spies, or having an affair, MG Road is one of my favorite dark spaces to hide in.
Above: A video tour of the back rooms of World Coffee Cafe
1) World Coffee Cafe – This is THEE ultimate hiding place in ALL of downtown Asheville. I’d been a customer of World Coffee Cafe for years before I realized that there was a back room, and then another back room, and then yet another back room! It’s like Super Mario World, Yo! To find the secret rooms, you gotsta collect the coins and punch some bricks. Not really. Just walk to the back of the main room, take a right, then take a left, and another left, and before you know it, you’re in the hidden chamber getting it on with Princess Toadstool. Ding! Ding! Ding! The coffee isn’t my fave in town — not by a long shot — and the baked goods are pretty lacking, but nothing beats World Coffee Cafe for privacy and solitude in all of downtown Asheville. I go there a lot. So, please, you go someplace else, and leave me be.
So there ya go, my fellow Grendels and Grendettes, 5 places in downtown Asheville where you can hide and eat. Four of them have great food, and one of them is so clandestine, I will drink mediocre coffee just to get away from the rest of you.
Runner-up : Starbucks – Did you know that there’s a Starbucks right, smack-dab in the middle of downtown Asheville? No? Well, it’s true. Technically it’s called “Haywood Park Cafe,” and it’s in the atrium of the building at One Battery Park Ave, behind Isa’s, or The Bier Garden, depending on where you’re standing on Haywood Ave. It’s the world’s most obscure and lonely motherfucking Starbucks ever. Go in there sometime and check it out. It’s weird, and for some reason, kinda creepy.
Hope (not) to see you there!
— END —
Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.