Stu Helm’s Top 10 Lunches in Downtown Asheville
Let’s Get Listy Wit It! The following top ten list includes places and items that I eat for lunch most often, places I think about eating lunch at more than other places, and a place or two I plan to eat more lunches at in the future. Of course, duh, I’m not just getting listy for no reason, I am recommending these lunch items and venues to you very highly.
1) The Fried Chicken Sandwich at Buxton Hall Barbecue – I probably eat more of these than any other single item available in downtown Asheville. I ate one today, that’s what made me think of doing this list, I ate one a week ago. I ate one less than two weeks before that. I wouldn’t be surprised if I eat 30 or more of these in a year. #1 with a bullet, Baby.
2) Burger at Chestnut – I eat a lot of cheeseburgers. I eat ’em here, I eat ’em there, I eat ’em everywhere and anywhere, I’ll even eat ’em in my underwear, so if you’re not a square from Delaware, put your hands in the air, and say HO-oh-oh-ly fuck for the basic burger at Chestnut. It’s killer. Always cooked just right, and made with high quality shit, Yo. Add whatever you want to it — for real, anything you want — and order it with a side of house made chips instead of fries for a real treat.
3) Special of the Day at Mojo Kitchen & Lounge – I order the Chef’s Special at Mojo Kitchen and Lounge more than I get the daily special at all other eating establishments in Asheville combined. #TrueStory And that is because Chef A.J. Gregson is a fucking genius, and I don’t use that word lightly. I truly think A.J. has a certain genius for throwing a million ingredients together, and magically having them turn into one cohesive, yet multi-faceted experience that blows my mind more often than not. Sometimes I wonder if Chef A.J. might smoke a lot of weed, because… I sure as fuck do, and his food is soooo fucking stonery, I wanna pack it in a fucking bong and fire it up.
4) Pizza at Manicomio – Yeah, man! The brand spanking new pizza place right-the-fuck-in-the-middle of downtown Biltmore Ave. Y’know, where Hannah Fartagain’s used to be. Well, pizza makers Mike and Jon, along young Jesse & a sizable crew, have really spruced the space-up, made it awesome & cozy, and basically breathed new life into a shitty dead-zone that’s actually a prime location. Manicomio is serving the best pizza Asheville has seen since the legendary Circle in The Square closed its doors forever ago, and they shot straight to the top ten, when it comes to places I think of for lunch now.
5) Meat Pies at Pete’s Pies – I want to eat Pete’s meat pies more often than I actually do eat them, but I eat them much more often than I eat many other lunch items downtown. The steak and ale pie, the steak and mushroom pie, and the chicken pub pie are all favorites of mine, and they are so fucking good that right now, even though I’m still stuffed full-to-poppin’ with fried chicken sandwich from Buxton hall, I am literally craving one of Pete’s meat pies. Who am I kidding? I’m craving ALL of Pete’s meat pies! Pete even does these wee little versions of them, so you can try a “pie flight.” For the love of fuck, that’s cute. As the winter months settle in, I’ll be eating many more of these super-comforting pies, you can bet on it!
6) Turkey Club Sandwich at City Bakery – It looks like a turkey club sandwich, it tastes like a turkey club sandwich, it walks, talks, and quacks like a turkey club sandwich, and by God it is a turkey club sandwich! If you look up “Turkey Club Sandwich” in the sandwichtionary there is a picture of the City Bakery turkey club sandwich next to the definition. Or, there would be, if said sandwichtionary existed, because the City Bakery turkey club sandwich is perfect in every way. It’s got all the solid, classic ingredients, with nothing crazy or newfangled thrown in the mix. It’s stacked. It’s cut into quarters. Each quarter has a toothpick in it. Each toothpick is capped with colorful curly cellophane. Per. Fect. I love it.
7) Chipotle Turkey Club at 67 Biltmore Downtown Eatery & Catering – See above, but with some crazynewfanglesauce. This sandwich — more than, but along with a few others on the 67 Biltmore menu — is my motherfuckin’ jam. It’s the type of sandwich that gives me a massive case of the sads when it’s gone. One day, when I’m dead and living in heaven, this will be my forever lunch.
8) Reuben at Chestnut – Yeah, yeah, settle down, Joe. I know I gave your place two spots on this list, but this one is all on Chestnut cook Dave Bristol, who makes your Rueben better than you do. In fact when Dave sky-rockets the fuck out of your kitchen in the form of Spaceman Jones — his rap-star alter ego — I will have to figure some shit out. Dave, can you please teach Joe how to make his Reuben before you go?
9) Daily Thali at Chai Pani – Sometimes, Chai Pani calls. As you can tell from the rest of this list, I’m stuck in a pretty deep rut of typical American lunch fare most of time. Meat and carbs! Carbs and meat! Slice of cheese? If you please! (I’m working on a musical… #noiamnot) Yeah, my name is Stu Helm, and I’m cheeseburgerholic for sure, but I do crawl out my lunch box every once’t in a while and when I do, I usually go for some nice, clean, fresh, delicious, comforting — sometimes even vegetarian!!! — thali at the award winning Chai Pani, located right on Battery Park Ave in Downtown Asheville. It’s awesome, and quite a filling portion, so it’s often the only thing I eat that day… apart from snacks… and ice cream… but before I eat my thali, I always take a picture of it for Instagram. It’s really pretty and photogenic, and I always caption the post with, “Good Golly, that’s good thali.” Every. Single. Time.
10) Burger and more at Montford Pull-up via Takeout Central – It has recently become possible to combine two of the greatest things in Asheville into one amazing lunch-time experience without even leaving the comfort of my own fucking house. I work at home, and all-too-often I drink coffee and eat… nothing… until well past 2pm. #truestory So, by the time I remember to eat, I’m starving my face off and ready to kill people. It’s a terrible habit. One that I can not break, and now I don’t need to, because now, when 1pm rolls around and I’m starting to get really hungry, I can just open a new browser tab, go to TakeoutCentral.com and order whatever the fuck I want from The Montford Pull-up, which I fucking love, but normally don’t get to very often, because it’s way the fuck over there in Montford, plus there ain’t no tables or chairs at The Pull-up, so me without a car, I got no convenient way to get there, and nowhere to eat when I do get there. WELLLL, other people have cars, including those good people who work for Takeout Central. I recently ordered a burger, plus wings… plus a giant grit cake… for lunch from from the Pull-up, and it all showed-up piping hot, even the grit cake. Ordering lunch at home from Montford Pull-up using Takeout Central is the greatest thing to ever happen to me in my entire life. Just about.
I’m sure most of that came as no surprise to some of my regular readers. I’ve written about that dang chicken sandwich almost as often as I’ve eaten it, but what can I say? When I churn-out a Top 10 List, I don’t wrack my brain for oddities, rarities, and elusive “bests.” I just toggle through my actual eating habits in my mind, add a few of my fondest desires, and blurt it out through my fingers onto Ashvegas.
I hope you enjoyed gettin’ listy wit it, and that I gave you some new ideas for lunch downtown! Please visit me on Facebook to share your own Top Ten Lunch Spots with me and each other!
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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.
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