Stu Helm, Asheville’s Facebook Food Critic, on 12 Bones, City Bakery


The latest, from Stu Helm, Asheville’s Facebook Food Critic:

12 BONES – River Arts District 

So there’s a really famous guy who really likes 12 Bones. You all know him. Some of you love him, some of you hate him, but like it or lump it, he’s The Boss. Obama? Oh, yeah him too, but I’m talking about Stu Motherfuckin’ Helm: Facebook Food Critic! That’s me.

My mom is always up for a trip to 12 Bones and will often invite me along. When I can spare the time & money, I jump at the chance! I’ll even break three of my own rules to get a taste of that Bonesy goodness:

Rule #1 – I don’t wait in long lines for food. But I will at 12 Bones. The line goes FAST, because these folks have their shit down. That line can be out the door, running down the side of the building, and spilling out into the parking lot, and I’ll be unfazed, because I know the people in charge are on it.

“Let’s do this!” I’ll say to my mother.

“Jump out and save a spot! I’ll park the car!” she’ll reply, barely coming to a stop.

They have their system. We have ours.

Rule #2 – I don’t eat off of tin plates. What am I? A fucking Boy Scout? I don’t ever wanna hear the sound of a metal fork scraping a tin plate while gittin’ my grub on. Eff that sound. Horrible. I hate it. At 12 Bones they could serve my food on a chalk board and give me a fingernail-fork and I wouldn’t give a shit. Nom nom nom… screeeeeeeeeech… nom nom nom…

Rule #3 – I don’t eat at long tables with total strangers. Are you kidding me? Other people are often the worst part of any experience for me. “Excuse me, Sir and/or Madame, could you please pass me a fucking jig-saw, so that I can just… cut this sucker in half… there we go… and push you and your family way over there into the corner very far away from me and my experience? Thank you!” That’s how I feel about sharing a table with strangers. My thoughts turn to power-tools. Not good. At 12 Bones, I still hate it, but I’ll put up with it, because the food is that delish… fucking killing me tho’. Sometimes we luck out, and score a table to ourselves inside, and that makes me very happy.

My friends always wanna know what my favorite dish there is, and believe me, jaws hit the floor when I they hear my answer:

Turkey Plate.


Yeah, Man. Turkey plate.

I’m not the biggest fan of having grease or sauce all over my face and hands, even if the ribs are amazing (which they are), and sometimes, I’m just not in the mood for any pork or red meat of any kind. I do love me some chicken, but one day, on a whim & almost as a joke, I said to the nice lady taking orders, “I’ll have the turkey plate!”

I thought my mom was going to disown me.

But I’m here to testify, Brothers and Sisters: That shit is good!

Great, in fact. Totally awesome and — to me at least — completely unique. The turkey is always moist, smokey, all white meat, carved medium-thin, right off the bird, and served with two sides. The sides at 12 Bones are really good. I give them a Stoobie Award for Best Collard Greens in Asheville, and the Jalapeño Cheese Grits are of a high quality, with just the right amount of creaminess and just the right amount of heat. The baked beans are great too, an so is the piece of corn bread that always comes with your meal at 12 Bones. It’s never dry, and has a sweet ‘n’ savory thing going on that is really yummy

My sister has been getting the turkey sandwich with melted brie on Texas toast. It’s something special. It really is.

Even my mom has come around, and agrees that this turkey is amazing. We’re thinking about ordering the Thanksgiving spread. I grew up, like a few hours from Plymouth fucking Rock (true story) so for our family to even consider ordering a restaurant turkey, with collards, and grits, on Thanksgiving is almost historic.

This turkey is epically yum.

CITY BAKERY – N. Charlotte St. & Biltmore Ave., Asheville

Best hot cup of dark roast coffee in Asheville, period.

Let the haters hate and doubters doubt, but I’ve spilled more drops of coffee than most people will drink in their entire lives…

The coffee knobs on my adrenal gland go up to eleven…

If I had to take a piss-test right now, it would totally come back positive for “Jesus fucking Christ you drink a lot of coffee!”

I’ve tried just about every hot cup of coffee in Asheville worth trying, and I am totally confident in making the above statement. I’ve never had their medium roast, I’m sure it’s good, but this is the dark roast I’m talking about here, Karl. (Random Slingblade reference.) It is the titty-ass bomb. Full, rich… it has plenty of what I crave: the flavor of motherfucking coffee. 

Plus, it comes in a good, thick, deep, ceramic mug. Eff glass mugs, and especially eff paper cups. If I wanted to taste paper, I’d eat some fucking paper.

Other things I enjoy at City Bakes include the thumbprint cookie, which is a cheap and chewy nosh, the breakfast biscuit sandwiches, which are salty, warm, and comforting, and the staff, which is friendly, polite, and yes… attractive!

Some readers have expressed a distaste for my repeated use of the word “attractive” to convey my feelings about my particular experiences in various dining situations. What can I say? That’s just me. I’m well-known by my friends as someone who finds a wide variety of people to be attractive for various reasons, that are not always related to the physical gifts, or lack-thereof, that nature might bestow upon us at birth, or that life might toss our way along it’s rocky path. And it’s a not a sexual thing, Perverts, it’s just an observation about how people in a professional work situation present themselves to the public. And I guarantee you, no restaurant staff, in any review I ever gave, got their feelings hurt because I described them with the word “attractive.” Would you? No. Don’t be an idiot.

(BTW – “Good, thick, deep,” was just for you, Spycey Spyce!)

Other recent Stu Helm reviews here on Sunny Point, Bywater and Vinne’s; and Bull & Beggar and Bojangle’s; and Tod’s Tasties and Dough.

Stu Helm is an artist and writer 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 restaurant reviews strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook in 2013.


Davyne Dial November 19, 2013 - 10:50 pm

BBQ afficinado here….and just want to recommend the Thursday night bbq buffet at the “Fireplace Restaurant” on N. Merrimon, for a Stu-review. I do love me some 12 Bones, but I think Fireplace has comparably well smoked meat and sides are good.

Stu Helm November 20, 2013 - 7:33 pm

I haven’t tried Fireplace yet, but have been curious. I’ll go on your recommendation, Davyne Dial. It’s take out only, right?

D.Dial November 25, 2013 - 8:25 pm

No..the BBQ buffet is not takeout…of so, I’d fill up my trunk.

SuckItMcGee November 19, 2013 - 9:26 pm

Since we are talking about turkey sandwiches, how about Moe’s thanksgiving Thursday sandwich? It has all the fixings on it that make a truly great turkey sandwich, reminiscent of mom’s house.

Lilli Rayne November 19, 2013 - 6:11 pm

That 12 Bones turkey sandwich is the thing of DREAMS, legitimately. I’m a huge fan of all things from 12 Bones, as you said, their grits are the pretty much fantastical but that sandwich. God, I can’t get over that sandwich. I’ve had a few meals from there now, but nothing has measured up to that sandwich yet. I went to 12 Bones on my first week here in Asheville and I swear, it continues to be in my top five without a doubt.

Bdizzle November 19, 2013 - 4:19 pm

YES – CITY BAKERY. And they have vegetarian options that aren’t carrot shreds rolled up in hummus. Try the vegetarian BLT. And sing.

FDR November 19, 2013 - 3:21 pm

I love his reviews but what about Luella’s BBQ?

Chris November 19, 2013 - 3:00 pm

Stu is my new best friend. These are the best of his always hilarious reviews.

Adam November 19, 2013 - 12:22 pm

Does Webos have the smoked turkey sandwich from 12 Bones? If not (and I strongly suspect not), then they aren’t better than 12 Bones 🙂

Jason Kurtz November 19, 2013 - 7:07 pm

They have smoked turkey that is great not sure if they offer it on a sandwich. I have tried everything they have and nothing was bad. They are definitely cheaper than 12 bones. Everyone has a different taste and what they like when it comes to bbq. Give it a try I am sure you will not be disappointed. They have been there for 2 years now and have some customers that come in everyday.

Jason Kurtz November 19, 2013 - 11:36 am

Please review webos bbq they are so much better than 12 bones

Stu Helm November 19, 2013 - 2:27 pm

Where is it? What do you recommend from the menu?

Jason Sandford November 19, 2013 - 2:41 pm

Stu, my dream: I want you to start reviewing local hotel breakfast buffets. Just show up, chow and review. Also, the lunch counter at whatever the drug store is there on Merrimon – Rite Aide? Used to be Eckerd’s…

Stu Helm November 19, 2013 - 8:31 pm

Ha ha! I might be a little too homeless-looking to pull off the hotel buffet thing, Jason. I don’t think they like me being there even when I’m a registered guest! 🙂 The lunch counter at the drug store sounds intriguing though. I’ll have to hunt it down.

guy November 19, 2013 - 9:43 pm

I work at a hotel with a breakfast buffet. I eat there every Friday and love it. If you want to give it a whirl, respond to this and ill give you the details. Also, its not the gpi.

Stu Helm November 20, 2013 - 9:44 pm

I’m responding, Guy! Gimme the deets on your Hotel buffet, and I’m there!

Jason Kurtz November 19, 2013 - 7:01 pm

Webos is in East Asheville across from the municipal golf course. They are located on the side of the shell station. Open Tuesday through Friday 11am-6pm. They do have smoked turkey, brisket, pork everyday and smoked chicken and ribs on Friday’s. Very responsibly priced. Only drawback is its take out only. With picnic tables outside. Check it out you will not be disappointed. They also have a website with a menu and prices.

Stu Helm November 19, 2013 - 8:27 pm

Thanks, Jason Kurtz, I might have missed Webos forever if you hadn’t suggested it to me. I’ll give it a shot, and try the turkey, the chicken, and the ribs!

Foothills Dweller November 20, 2013 - 3:57 pm

That sounds good – a lot closer to me than 12 Bones. Might be worth a drive up the mountain soon.

Nate November 19, 2013 - 7:51 pm

Webo’s is one of the Asheville area’s many fine gas station restaurants, located in the Shell station at the intersection of Fairview Road and Swannanoa River Road, right near the golf course. It’s only open four days a week (T-F, 11-6). I’ve been driving by it in the evening and on weekends for a while now and wondering if the food was worth a visit, and hearing at least one endorsement is encouraging.

Murphy November 19, 2013 - 9:13 pm

There’s an idea … gas station eateries … Area 51, Webos, surely there are more …

Ashley November 21, 2013 - 4:35 pm

There’s a great Thai place in a gas station in South Asheville. Sweeten Creek at Mills Gap.

Jim Shura November 21, 2013 - 7:54 pm

Are you talking about 51 Grill, Murphy? Webos is really good. Only had the pork so far.

FDR November 19, 2013 - 11:15 am

I call BS on City Bakery review, but not on the coffee. He didn’t mention that it always smells like burnt bread or toast and the fact the Challah bread is dry and the Croissants aren’t buttery. OMG have you had one of their doughnuts? That’s just a roll with icing. Stu? Now this is just my personal opinion like yours, so we can agree to disagree on the greatness.

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