SUNNY POINT – West Asheville Like anybody needs me to tell them that Sunny Point fucking rules. We all know it. I know it. You know it. They know it. I’m sure that Anthony fucking Bourdain knows it, so who the fuck am I to write a review of this beloved West Asheville mainstay? What can I possibly add to the conversation?
Maybe this: Sunny Point has the best mother-effing-fucking shrimp ‘n’ grits in the known Universe.
True story. I’m a shrimp ‘n’ grits fan. I’ll try it here and there and just about anywhere, and some places do it better than others. Some venues fail miserably, while others are happy to be mediocre, and a few have everything perfect, save the portion, the price, or a nasty-ass piece of bell pepper, or some-such other small detail. Sunny Point nails it to the wall with a 10 pound hammer. (I almost wrote “rock hard boner,” but then I thought, ew. Cast your vote: Ten Pound Hammer or Rock Hard Boner? Or make up your own! “Sunny Point nails it to the wall with a ____ ____ _____.” )
I’m from Boston (oh, BOOOO to you too) and I had never eaten shrimp ‘n’ grits until I moved to Asheville in 2005. My very first bite of this regional favorite was at Sunny Point, and wow. It was love, Baby. L-U-V. But this is not a case of my first love being so imprinted upon my heart, that no others will ever compare. I’m always willing to taste something better than something I’ve tasted before, and I’m happy to give other suitors a chance to win my hand.
So far, Sunny Point simply has the best shrimp ‘n’ grits ever. Here’s why…
• The wine sauce is creamy, mildly mustardy, and it has a shit-ton of flavor going on. Whatever secret combo of magic ingredients the chef is using in that sauce? Yeah, Man. Gim.
• The shrimp are big, fresh, thoroughly cooked (please, for the love of God, no translucent shrimp!), and there’s just the right number of them.
• The chipotle cheese grits are perfect. This yankee loves him some fucking grits and these fucking grits are fucking perfect.
• Then there’s the bacon on top. I can’t even describe how good this bacon is, so I won’t even bother. It was HNG the last time I checked. It also comes with a side-salad, which I think is really cute.
The Shrimp ‘n’ Grits portion is large, and the price is fitting. This dish is on my top 10 list of things I want to eat at all times, and that’s really saying something. I want to eat it with a shovel. Backhoe that beautiful stuff directly into my face right now. Have I convinced you that I like it? Well, I do.
The atmosphere is very bright, bustling, and breakfasty at Sunny Point, even at night. The staff has always been friendly and professional to me, and seems to be mostly (entirely?) women. I like that. There is a person in the kitchen who whistles… a little too much. It makes Dawn crazy. She hates whistling. She cranes her neck up and looks around, all angry and such. “Who’s whistling?!?” Ha ha ha!
Yay Sunny Point! It’s the best. But then, you probably already knew that.
THE BYWATER – Riverside Rd. – Asheville
So, we finally went to the Bywater the other night to celebrate Chloe Rothwell’s birthday, Carrie Faye Harder’s birthday and, like, two or three other birthdays that seemed to be all clustered-up together. I had avoided the Bywater despite the rave reviews because it features some of my least favorite things: Sunshine, people, and good clean fun.
“You can bring your own meat and cook it on their outdoor grills” was never a selling point to me, and “it’s great for families” pretty much sealed the deal. I thought I might bypass the Bywater forever, until this birthday clusterfuck happened.
Well… I had a great time! The sun was behind some clouds, the people were either cool enough, or way over there very far away from me, and the good clean fun was totally optional! The best part though — and the whole reason for this food review — was the free burger I got from the Teaufood cart! It was AWESOME. Like, really effing good. All of their food is free, you’re just encouraged to leave a tip. I left a $7 tip. It was a smallish burger, with some ruffled potato chips on the side, so I felt like $7 was fair, and the guy seemed pleased.
The meat tasted really fresh and delish, it was cooked perfectly, had some “tiger sauce” on it, a little shredded cheese, and was served on a small, soft bun. I don’t need a lot of bun with my burger. In fact, I don’t really require a lot of food. I just need a reasonable amount of high-quality eats, and that’s ezzackly what I got from Teaufood!
It was so good, I might even go back to the Bywater on a sunny day, just to get that dang burger!
VINNIE’S – Merrimon Ave.
Asheville I had the steaming pile of dog food, and Dawn had the enormous plate of sour yuck.
We won’t be back.
UPDATE: People are telling me I have to go back, and give Vinnie’s nother chance, but I’m reluctant. I don’t wanna waste one calorie on crap Italian food, know what I mean? But… maybe, possibly, perhaps… if someone offers to drive me there, pay for my lasagna, and owe me dinner if it still sucks, I’ll reconsider giving it a second try. Throw in a trip to Yolo afterwards, and I’m yeah, okay, I’m there.
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.