Oh South Slope. You so funny.
With your broken sidewalks, treeless wastelands, new construction, “up and coming” status, abandoned buildings, amazing coffee, drunken dude-bros, enclaves for locals, cracked streets, and amazing eats, The South Slope has got a little something for everyone.
• In the morning, you can grab a gourmet doughnut and some incredible coffee from Vortex Doughnuts. Or start getting your drink on at a half-dozen or more other venues.
• At noontime, you can grab one of the the best lunches in America at Buxton Hall Barbecue, or take a tour of the famous French Broad Chocolate Factory, or… continue to get your drink on at a half-dozen or more other venues.
• When evening falls, and the streets fill-up with folks who have switched from day-drinking to night-drinking, The South Slope becomes like a li’l NOLA, with great herds of hopped-up humans in various costumes, roaming from one quaff-house to the next, woo-wooing and high-fiving to life’s finer moments.
• Even later at night, The South Slope reverts to it’s more traditional role as an empty ghost town that is “a great place to get stabbed,” as the locals say.
We kid, we kid!
Awwww! South Slope, you know I love ya, Buddy! And one of the things that I love the most about you, my scruffy, scrappy, stabby little friend, is the fine food provided by the friendly folks at Salt & Smoke.
Asheville’s hard-core eaters and super-cool people have known about Salt & Smoke for a long time as the “Food Buskers” at Burial Beer on Collier Ave. More recently Salt & Smoke has gone legit and established themselves with locals, and (perhaps more importantly) the ALE, as a bona fide restaurant! They did that by bolting a food truck to the side of the brewery, out of which they now sell some of the best food in town, and that my friends, is no joke.
Some readers may recall that I ate brunch there in July, and gave it very high grades. More recently, Salt & Smoke kinda saved the day for me at dinner time. I was on foot, walking home from downtown. I was hot. I was hangry. I was literally dying from the sunshine. (It causes cancer, y’know!) And Buxton Hall Barbecue was closed for some reason. Dunno why, but I was SOL, and there’s no other food available, at all, between Banks Ave and my house, except — I suddenly remembered — Salt & Smoke!
Yay! I was psyched, and I made a bee-line for Burial Beer. When I got there I saw two smiling faces inside the trucksteraunt. Five people work at Salt & Smoke: Kelly, Pep, Max and co-owners Shannon and Josiah. Kelly and Josiah were working that day. I ordered from Kelly, then she and Josiah prepped, cooked, and ran my food to me. Here’s what I got, and what I thought of it.
As I said, I was fucking hungry, so I over-ordered, and was pleasantly surprised by the portion sizes. Yum. Good amounts of great food. I got the Shrimp & Artichoke Dip and the Mushroom Toast. Holy fucking shit, Yo. I’m telling you what. I eat out a lot, at some pretty fancy places, and no one, not ONE of the fanciest places in Asheville, has anything over on the quality of food that comes out of this humble truck, bolted to the side of a brewery, in one of the most run-down parts of the city.
It came out of the kicthen still a-bubblin’ inside of a foil baking pan, on a paper plate with charred toast on the side. Eating at Salt & Smoke is kind of like being at a fine-dining establishment, in a post-apocalyptic world. Like, all the plates and serving dishes on Earth got broken when the meteor hit the planet, so now paper plates and foil baking pans are all we’ve got left, but we still know how to fuckin’ cook, yo!
I was so hungry, and the aroma was so enticing, that I totally burned the fuck out of my mouth shoving dip into it too fast. Didn’t care. Kept eating. It was savory, and cheesy, and melty, and shrimpy, and artichokey, and awesome. It had old bay, cream cheese, gruyere, and some kind of fresh greens chopped-up on top that really made it. The charred toast was perfect, and there was plenty of it, and I ate every particle of this dish, desperately scraping the bottom of the tin like it was my first meal since surviving World War Five.
I was completely stuffed with bread and cream cheese by the time the next dish came out, but I ate a goodly amount of it anyways, because it looked fucking unreal — as in other-worldly and delicious — and since it had whipped bone marrow, I figured I should eat it while it’s hot… so I did! And fuck yes, it… Oh, wait. Did you have a question? Yes, you in the back. A question? Uh huh. Yep. Okay. Yes, that’s correct, Sir, I did indeed just say “whipped bone marrow.” And no, I wasn’t joking at all when I said that some of the most fanciest motherfuckin’ food in Asheville comes out that truck bolted to a brewery
This psychedelically-savory-looking mushroom dish had a thick slice of toasted batard bread on the bottom that was topped with fresh, sauteed mushrooms, a generous portion of house-made sauerkraut, and a drizzle of warm, silky, whipped bone marrow on top. Good lord, am I at Chez Frous-frous or what? No, I’m not at Chez Frous-frous, I’m sitting at a wooden table, in a shitty part of town, next to a brewery, eating food out of a truck in the mountains of Western North Carolina, and it’s as high-end and awesome as anything I’ve ever had.
Salt and Smoke has amazing food, that is fresh, local, sophisticated, intelligent, deftly prepared, and completely delicious. The prices are right, the eats are top-notch, and on that particular day, the Shrimp Dip and Mushroom Toast just about saved my life.
Thanks Kelly, Josiah, Shannon & crew, you guys are crushing it, and that’s why this meal is my Eat of the Week! (Yes, I am using the word “eat” as a noun, and yes, you are allowed to despise me for that.)
PS – I took 1/2 my Mushroom Toast home and reheated it the next morning for breakfast and it was fucking great!
Sallt & Smoke, Asheville
Address: 40 Collier Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: (816) 739-2582
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.
ON THE RADIO: wpvmfm.org
I believe it all. Salt and Smoke is forever astonishing me with their fabulous “eats”.