Asheville, NC is not the first place you’d think of when you’re looking for great, cheap eats. But the city surprises with its gastronomic pleasures, and after a while you might find yourself visiting the same tasty restaurants two days in a row, and maybe wishing that you had a few more days to finish exploring the city’s best restaurants.
In many places, cheap food means bad food. It might mean that you get processed food instead of fresh food, questionable ingredients instead of organic harvests, and not-so-great-tasting meals. However, in Asheville, a tight budget goes a long way when it comes to food.
Rocky’s Hot Chicken
Crispy, spicy chicken you’ll drool over for days after your visit. You can pick your selection of chicken parts (thigh, legs, wings, breasts etc) and your desired spice level (there’s a handy chart on the wall that gives you handy references to other spicy foods. For example, the extra-mild is as spicy as Tobasco Sauce, and the Mild-ium is as spicy as Thai hot peppers). The sides are spectacular. Try the green beans and sweet potato fries.
$9.50 for a plate consisting of two thighs and two sides.
Organic but non-pretentious healthy fare. It’s most famous entrée is the fried chicken, but I had my fill at Rocky’s and decided to order the trout instead. I did not regret my choice – the fish was pan-fried and a classic example of crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. My girlfriend ordered a half-portion of the Farmer’s Salad and I stole a couple of bites of it. The dressing was really tasty and the addition of sunflower seeds made the salad very memorable. I’d come back to this restaurant in a heartbeat.
$3.50 for a half salad, $10 or so for the trout with a side
12 Bones Smokehouse
Barbecue at its best. You don’t want to miss this classic Asheville institution. Hell, Obama ate here twice! You’ll find yourself gnawing at the ribs and tearing at the pulled pork. Oh, the sides are lip-smackingly good too. Try the Corn Pudding and Collared Greens.
$6.50 for a pulled pork sandwich with two sides, about $11 for a half-rack of ribs (6 bones), two sides and cornbread.