Want to score a lunch with Stu Helm, Asheville’s Facebook Food critic? Here’s how


By Stu Helm


I had a meeting with Ashvegas last week, and he said that he’s gonna buy us lunch!


Well, not all of us. Just me, and one of you.

If you wanna have lunch with me, on Ashvegas’ tab, all you have to do is post your suggestion in the comments section below. Please make one (only ONE) suggestion at a time of a restaurant, vendor, or food item that you are a very passionate fan of.

If you are selected, you and I will do lunch, as per your suggestion, and good ol’ Ashvegas will foot the bill! Totally true story.

Before you post your top million favorites, here are some guidelines:

1) Keep it to one at a time, please. For realsies. Just one. Uno. No mas. That’ll force you to really think about it.

2) It’s gotta be someplace I’ve never been to, or at least be a dish that I’ve never had. If you make a suggestion and I’ve already been there, done that, I’ll let you know and you can try again.

3) It should be someplace that I’m not likely to get to on my own. I live in downtown Asheville, and I do not drive a car. Try to pick a place outside of the Downtown/River Arts District area.

4) With the above in mind, you should be willing to pick me up in your car / truck / tiny magical chuck wagon, and drive me home afterwards.

5) You should also be willing to have your picture taken and posted online, along with the story of our lunch together.

Here are some DO NOTs…

1) Do not be a douchebag. I am not eating lunch with any douchebags.

2) Do not be a restauranteur suggesting your own restaurant. Tackyyyyyyyyy!

3) Do not be my friend or family member already. Ashvegas didn’t offer to fund my social life.

I’ll be selecting my lunch date based on the suggestion, the description, and the personality displayed in the post.

Simply typing “Bubba’s Butter Barn in Baconville” ain’t gonna get you the win.

Actually, if there was such a place, maybe… but anyhoo, show some fucking flare, People! I know you can do it.

Good luck! I’m looking forward to lunch together!!! Mmm… hungry.

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.


Roxanne February 8, 2014 - 10:41 am

Hey Stu,

I dig your blog. You could not have chosen a better Asheville fixture than Duncan G to share lunch with.

Even if we don’t have lunch together I suggest you check out the Mojo Kitchen and Lounge in the One Stop on College St. They are open for lunch on Thursday and Friday. I had the curry calabaza soup, fish tacos with pineapple black bean salsa, lime cilantro slaw, etc. The chef, AJ, is legit and very creative (in a good way – a creative chef is not always a good thing). The service is excellent and the laid back atmosphere is a plus.

PS The barbecue rib pork rolls (rolled in wonton wrappers and deep fried) will turn you into an effing addict

Happy Lunching! You certainly have enough selection in WNC to keep your blog going for many years to come.

Stu Helm February 10, 2014 - 8:40 am

Thanks for the tip, Roxanne! I’ve been meaning to try the one stop mojo kitchen. It’s been great finding out how many people know Duncan! I’m starting to figure out that he is a Asheville fixture!

WDH3 February 7, 2014 - 11:05 am

A little underground breakfast club open on Saturdays only-Barnardsville, in an old chicken house. dirt floors, minimal heat, mega portions. I have photos. Lets take Duncan with us.

Jason Sandford February 8, 2014 - 7:48 am

I wanna go! Can you send a couple photos? Ash egas@hotmail.com

Wdh3 February 8, 2014 - 12:11 pm

The only catch is you have to wear a pillowcase over your head for the ride out there.

Stu Helm February 10, 2014 - 8:43 am

Hahahahahahaha! Don’t do it, Jason!

Stu Helm February 10, 2014 - 8:42 am

Ha ha ha ha! I’ve seen too many Cohen Brothers’ films to fall for that one. I’m don’t wanna end up in the wood chipper!

jhusch February 6, 2014 - 6:43 pm

Being a hendersonvilleian (yes, i made that up because I can) I will have to recommend that West First Pizza. Wood fired pizza, all delicious and somewhat trendy (for hendersonville.) Not only that, with tasty beer (including the local hendo brewed Southern Appalachian Brewery Beer on tap) and a free ride to and from the location, that frees you up to drink as much as you would like. Hell, I’ll even eat less pizza in order to allow you an extra beer (or two).
Just a thought.

Stu Helm February 10, 2014 - 8:44 am

Mmm, good one, Thank you. I don’t get out to Hendo as much as I should.

MontreatGal February 5, 2014 - 12:43 pm

How about heading out of downtown to the wonderful town of Black Mountain (Mayberry ain’t got nothing on us!)?? Ride of course included. There are so many options for eating, but the one place all my friends from out of town love to go to when they visit is My Father’s Pizza. Great brick oven pizzas, lots of pasta options, salads and sandwiches too. Good beers too. Nice local, not-a-chain, great atmosphere place in a neat little town you might not get to see very often.
Pick me! Pick me!

Stu Helm February 10, 2014 - 8:46 am

I haven’t been to Black Mountain in ages. I’ve eaten at My Father’s Pizza and liked it a lot! Thanks for reminding me that I need to get back to Black Mountain.

hauntedheadnc February 4, 2014 - 10:24 pm

Gotta disagree with Stone Bowl, and suggest going a little farther south to Koreana on Airport Rd. Good enough to make one lapse into lolspeak — it is teh noms. And I stand by that. “Teh noms.” You may quote me on that. I especially love the seafood and tofu stew with the funky mushrooms that look like something out of a sci-fi movie. They know to make mine without eggs, because they also know that if they do make it with eggs I’ll just throw an absolute fit and cry and be no good to anyone for the rest of the day.

I’ve raised the question to the waitresses and we’ve discussed it without finding an answer: How does a culture get as far as Korea’s has living entirely on a chicken-based diet? There are stealth eggs sneaked into everything they make… but once we managed to work around that, Koreana quickly became one of my favorite places to eat, bar none.

Stu Helm February 5, 2014 - 7:00 am

Oooh, good one! That does sound intriguing, especially the mushrooms your described. I love mushrooms! And I like it that you stand by “teh noms.”

You’re in contention for the free lunch for sure!

MC February 4, 2014 - 7:54 pm

I would love to share a savory crepe with you at the Twisted Crepe! Unbelievable flavor combinations make this the most delicious lunch downtown. The amazing thing is each bite gets better than the last as the sauces sink to the bottom. I have a pretty cool ride, and would be glad to pick you up!

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 8:13 pm

I’ve been to Twisted Crepe, and really enjoyed it! Not only tasty, but also very affordable!

Do you have a 2nd suggestion, MC? Someplace outside of Downtown?

JML February 4, 2014 - 5:20 pm

GLASS ONION in Weaverville. This organic and locally sourced Italian restaurant is amazing every time we eat there. The menu changes, everything is TASTY. I have a car. Let’s do it! JML

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 8:11 pm

Oh, JML! Good one, but Jarrod below already beat you to the bunch with his suggestion of Glass Onion. Do you have a 2nd choice?

Chris Power February 4, 2014 - 2:33 pm

How about something simple like pizza and beer at Barley’s Taproom?

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 8:09 pm

I’ve been to Barley’s a bunch already, Chris! You can make another suggestion if you’d like. The further form downtown, the more likely the chances that I haven’t been there. Thanks!

Jarrod February 4, 2014 - 12:42 pm

I would suggest a really great Chinese restaurant but since there isn’t one in the whole of WNC, I’ll throw out The Glass Onion in Weaverville. It’s been there about a year and I’ve had two meals there. They call it “global Italian” and I find they do seafood right and are fairly adept at other things too.

Plus it’s named after a Beatles song so it can’t be THAT bad.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 8:06 pm

I agree with you about the Chinese food situation. There’s some Ok Chinese food, but nothing stellar.

The Glass Onion sounds great! I’ve heard good things from other people, and I love Italian food!

Good suggestion!

Ben Atkins February 4, 2014 - 9:15 am

Hey Stu,

Has anybody suggested Main Street Grill in Weaverville? My Attention Deficit Disorder precludes me from reading all of the other posts to find out.

Anyway, it’s a great hole in the wall with amazing burgers and other great bar food. I have been trying to sell this place to anyone I can for years. If you’re interested, Here’s there website: http://mainstreetgrillweaverville.com/menu/

I am up for lunch on Saturday or whatever works for you. U cab drive if you don’t mind a very messy hatchback and you aren’t allergic to dogs.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 9:28 am

You made me LOL out loud with your ADD comment, Ben, thank you.

No one has suggested the Main Street Grill yet, and I love the idea that you’ve been trying to sell in to people for years.

You’re top contender fer shizzle.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 9:41 am

Oops, sorry, typo. You’re A top contender.

No one is number one just yet!

Ben Atkins February 4, 2014 - 9:43 am

Cool! BTW, I meant to write I can drive, but my iPhone translated those correct English words into nonsense.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 9:48 am

Okay, that’s two LOLs you’ve gotten out of me in row, Doug, and that’s not the easiest feat in the world. You might be edging out the competition with your sense of humor.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 5:37 pm

Ben. Not Doug. I wish I could blame that one on my iPhone, but nope, I’m just an idiot.

Zaraboo February 4, 2014 - 1:56 am

It used to be the Old Haywood. Nice burger nothing fancy but a fun lunch experience

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 9:30 am

I’m confused, but I sure do like fun lunch experiences! What used to be the Old Haywood, Zaraboo?

Santa February 3, 2014 - 11:52 pm

Oysterhouse Brewing: Great small batch beers (tied for top IPA in an IPA town, in my opinion) and the split from The Lobster Trap.. So how are they doing over here in West Asheville? I think pretty good. I think it was their BOLT that got me: Pepper bacon, oysters, lettuce, tomato on City Bakery bread. Or was it the sweet potato puppies with honey butter?

There’s a lot going on the west side.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 5:54 am

That’s a very good suggestion! Thanks, Santa, (and thanks for the toy train at Christmas too!) you’re a contender!

Doug February 3, 2014 - 7:56 pm

Hey Stu — I’m new to the Asheville area as well, having moved to Weaverville last summer. Little did I realize I moved into the same town as the best damn pizza joint I’ve ever been to — Blue Mountain Pizza. My suggestion is their Carolina Dreamin’ pie (mushroom, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes), with a pint or two to wash it down.

And if Ashvegas isn’t willing to pay for the beer, then I am! I’ve got the time, I’ve got the car, I’m not a restauranteur, I’m not a relative and I’m not a douchebag!

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 9:35 am

I’ve been hearing great things about his Pizza Place, Doug. I think that Duncan may have mentioned it when we went to Newbridge Cafe together.

I love pizza, and that Carolina Dreamin’ one sounds great.

You’re definitely a contender!

Doug February 4, 2014 - 1:51 pm

Bitchin’! I especially like how you refer to “Ben” of the Weaverville Main Street Grill as “Doug” in your reply. Pyschologically, I clearly have the edge over him, am I right? And BMP has the better beer selection — jus’ sayin’ . . .

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 5:36 pm

Doh! I am easily confused. Ben? Doug? Who am I?

Das Drew February 3, 2014 - 7:05 pm

Jew Garden’s Greek Burger.

avery the dog February 3, 2014 - 7:01 pm

Avery’s Hotdogs!

Craig Collins February 3, 2014 - 6:39 pm

It is not my life’s ambition to eat lunch with you just because you have a regular blog post in Ashvegas and use vulgarities liberally. Get over yourself. Maybe you should express some interest in the people you would eat with and how they would enlighten you, rather than placing your arbitrary demands on them.

Z February 3, 2014 - 11:58 pm


Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 5:57 am

Ha ha! Ezzackly.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 5:57 am

Who said anything about a “life’s ambition?” It’s called a FREE LUNCH. But don’t worry, Graig, you’re in no danger of being selected. Lunch with a mean person is not one of my life’s ambitions.

Nathan Boniske February 3, 2014 - 6:39 pm

Taqueria fast in woodfin. True mexican…

Jason W. February 4, 2014 - 12:33 pm

Yep, I second Taqueria Fast.

Big Al February 3, 2014 - 5:49 pm

“…and am willing to cart your pseudo-hippie/hipster ass around.”

Isn’t “pseudo-hipster” a double negative, as most hipsters are pretty fake to begin with?

Not that I am implying that Stu is a hipster. He has only admitted to having been mistaken for a homeless person.

mrzeau February 3, 2014 - 3:57 pm

So, you say you like you a nice reuben? Howzabout a grouper reuben? East Village Grille (the silent “e” makes everything taste better) makes a damn fine grouper reuben, one that’s well worth venturing to the wilds of East Asheville to sample. This ain’t no Jews-from-Brookline style reuben, mind you – it’s much closer to what we Jews from Philly used to call a corned beef special, meaning it’s served w/ cole slaw and 1000 island dressing rather than sauerkraut. So, you’ve got your grilled marbled rye, your swiss, a bigass piece of fried grouper that sticks way out the back of the sandwich, and the aforementioned slaw and dressing. Put it all together and you get a sizable sammy that’ll make dinner superfluous and that’ll put a smile on your dressing-smeared face. And, yes, East Village Grille has a friendly and good looking waitstaff.

Z February 4, 2014 - 12:02 am

I am going to 2nd this suggestion for not only and also the points listed above BUT ALSO the fact that East Village has TIGER WINGS which really are the absolute best wings in town. Seriously. Been here for 8 years now and no one else comes close. East Village has a massive food and drink menu, great service, a nice vibe, and damn fine food. Heck, I’d pay for Stu’s lunch ITS THAT GOOD.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 6:03 am

Mmm, Tiger Wings…

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 6:02 am

Oh, man! You are really selling it, MrZeau, and it sounds great!!! You’re def one of the top contenders! The only thing holding me back is that I’ve actually eaten there a couple of times, but not for years, so it might be time to head back. If I’ve got the right place, they make a “cheeseburger pizza” that is really phenomenal. Thanks for this excellent suggestion!!!

mrzeau February 4, 2014 - 5:46 pm

Cool! Hey, with the Ashvegas coverage, we could give Asheville what it really needs: pictures of two bearded dudes stuffing their hairy faces.

Plastic Paddy February 3, 2014 - 3:49 pm

Well if you want to have the best fucking sushi in WNC then we need to head to Umi in Hendo (or Sora in Brevard if you’re not in the mood for old people or just want a nice drive through Mills River, same people own both). I really just want some free sushi and am willing to cart your pseudo-hippie/hipster ass around.

P.S. I eat at McDonalds on occasion.
P.S.S. At least I’ve had a fucking raw oyster before yesterday.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 6:14 am

Hey, I get it, you wanna say swears to the guy who swears a lot, and be funny and irreverent and all that good stuff, but calling me a “pseudo-hippie/hipster” ain’t gonna get you a free lunch. For reals.

Plastic Paddy February 4, 2014 - 1:03 pm

this must be why I can’t make friends. sad.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 8:14 pm


Katherine February 4, 2014 - 1:34 pm

I don’t care for lunch with Stu (no offense) but really do have to second Umi in Hendo. It really is above all other sushi places in the area.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 8:20 pm

Gee thanks, no offense taken… I guess. Well, no, maybe I am offended. I’m not sure about that, but I am sure that I’m not a sushi fan, so I probably won’t be hitting up Umi anyway.

I’ll let you know later what I decide about whether or not I’m offended by the fact that you took the time to let me know in writing that you don’t “care for lunch” with me.

I mean, it is kind of a jerky thing to say, but I’m the first to admit that my personality is not everyone’s cup of tea.

I’m torn. Offended… Not offended… Yeah… I’ll decide later.

I’m leaning toward offended.

Katherine February 5, 2014 - 10:26 am

Don’t be. It’s nothing personal, I don’t even know you and there-in lies my reasoning. I do enjoy your reviews and I enjoy your “every man” style as they make the reviews more accessible, some of these foodie types are real snoots. Unfortunately the profanity is troublesome to me. That’s my issue not yours.

Stu Helm February 5, 2014 - 3:42 pm

You made me feel better, thanks, Katherine! You’re obviously a nice person. Sorry about the swears!

Fark February 3, 2014 - 3:36 pm

Stonebowl Korean restaurant in South Asheville. The one and only reason I ever venture into South Asheville! Not only does the food rock but you get like 10 tasty small Korean side dishes with your meal.

Stu Helm February 3, 2014 - 6:56 pm

Mmm… that sounds good, and different, and interesting, Fark. I like tasty side dishes. You’re a contender for sure!

Briar February 3, 2014 - 3:35 pm

Full disclosure, I work there, but I legit think Stu would enjoy The Barleycorn Pub’s hanging kabobs with barley mushroom risotto and Moroccan-spiced cauliflower. SO.FREAKIN.GOOD. We also have 16 rotating taps so there’s always a great beer to be had. The pub is in the former Burgermeister location, so West Asheville is outside of Stu’s typical radial transportation (unless he enjoys long walks.) Not to toot my own horn here, but I’m pretty good at that whole conversation thing, too. Food, talk, beer, talk, food, talk. Stu, you in?

Stu Helm February 3, 2014 - 6:58 pm

This is a very good suggestion, thank you! I don’t get to West Asheville as often as I would like, and what you’ve described sounds yummy! You’re definitely in the running, Briar!

Briar February 4, 2014 - 10:25 am

Stu, what can I do to sway you? I don’t have ADD, but I have other human frailties that might come across just quirky enough to interest you. Or they might just creep you out. It’s a grab bag of fun!

Also, if kabobs aren’t your thing, The Barleycorn has some pretty dope sandwiches like the bacon-wrapped meatloaf sandy with stout sauce. Or you can enjoy a nice gut warmer with the mulligatawny shepherd’s pie smothered in a tator tot cheese topping. WHAAT!? Also, they make their own ketchup. No lie.

Please tell me I’ve perked your interest a wee bit.

the website: http://www.thebarleycornpub.com

Briar February 4, 2014 - 10:33 am

Correction: I was just told I DO have ADD.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 11:19 am

Ha ha! That’s fine. If I ruled out people with ADD, I’d eat alone for half my life.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 11:16 am

Ha ha! You’re in top contention, believe me, Briar. The only thing that is holding my hand is that you work there, but since you’re not the owner, and I like your fervent loyalty, you haven’t been ruled out! Plus the food sounds awesome and I do like Kebab. A lot.

Briar February 6, 2014 - 11:30 am

Sweet! I honestly love the food.

Jody F February 3, 2014 - 3:35 pm

You should come to the fucking Eastfuckingside, which has very few douchebags. There are plenty of other potentially disagreeable archetypes to choose from though, so you won’t be bored.

We have a dearth of quality dining options out here, so I get all fired up when I find a good one. Cafe Azalea, on the crapfest that is Tunnel Road, is a shining beacon of tasty and reasonably affordable interesting fare.

I know you’re a meatloafophile, and their veal and mushroom meatloaf is a different take on the classic American dish. No ketchup or crispy crust, but you do get a huge portion of savory, flavorful comfort, along with pillowy mashed potatoes and deliciously different asparagus. Not sure what they do the asparagus, but they’re unlike any I’ve had. Your pee will still smell funny, though.

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 6:05 am

Ha ha ha! The use of the term “disagreeable archetypes” has made you a top contender! Azalea Cafe is now on the list of possibilities. You make it sound really good!

Maughta February 3, 2014 - 3:20 pm

We will track down the El Kimchi truck and FEAST on their Bibimbap, THE BEST meal in Asheville. If they’re parked by a bar, even better, I’ll buy you a drink.

Stu Helm February 3, 2014 - 7:00 pm

Hmmm, Jason wants me to do more food trucks, so you’re suggestion is a good one. Thanks, Maughta, you’re in the running!

chris February 3, 2014 - 8:57 pm

It’s at the Brew Pump in West Asheville every Friday…

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 9:38 am

Thank you!

Lanie February 3, 2014 - 3:07 pm

Hobnob Cafe in Brevard..always wanted to try it!

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 9:39 am

I’ve been there! It’s great! And, I designed their logo, signage, and several food-related cartoon characters for them years ago. Great people, great food!

Stu Helm February 4, 2014 - 9:40 am

Oh wait, no. The one I went to was in Boone. Did they open another location?

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