Downtown Food Tour

After 27 years of marriage, the world is still my oyster!  With so many things to see and do in our new home, we decided that taking a food tour of downtown Asheville would be an excellent way to spend our anniversary.  So we donned our walking shoes and stretchy pants and off we went to eat our way through the city.

Downtown Asheville Food Tour

Stu Helm Asheville Food Tour guide 2

Our fearless leader, Stu Helm, local food critic and tour guide extraordinaire, led 14 of us on an unforgettable tour of the city with a culinary twist.  Stu peppered our journey with historical facts, local lore and gave his unabashed opinions of local establishments when we asked for it.  He always had something interesting to share with us and never tired of our ( silly questions.  His knowledge and professionalism, as well as, his humor made this city tour a delight.

Our first stop…well to some it might seem a small misstep as we arrived only to find they were not quite ready for us do to an unexpected lunch rush…but wait…Stu made a call and voila…our first stop would be a chocolate shop.  In my opinion, life is short so you should always start with dessert.  So we headed to The Chocolate Fetish for an abundant amount of samples and a wonderful historical tour of a chocolate factory that even Willy Wonka would be proud.  A fun fact is that they reportedly yell “Lucy” when the assembly line gets out of control – guess that’s an age tell for me.

Chocolate Fetish Asheville
A peek into the chocolate dipping line at The Chocolate Fetish

Featured Asheville Restaurants

After sugaring up, off we went to enjoy small plates with drink pairings (you fill out a pre-tour survey indicating your preference for vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian food and either alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks) at 7 more restaurants.

Modesto Asheville Food Tour
Modesto paired fresh margarita pizza with either red wine or this refreshing basil, fruit spritzer.

At each establishment, tables were waiting for us with specially prepared dishes that the chef had created just for us.  Someone from the restaurant, usually the chef, greeted us and explained the dish and gave us a special insider glimpse into what made their establishment special.  Each tour is unique, but on this 3 1/2 hour tour, we visited The Chocolate Fetish, Modesto, Blue Dream Curry House, Bhramari, The Black Bird, White Duck Taco Shop, Strada Italiano and the Social Lounge.  While each place had something distinctive to offer, one thing rang true at each – the chef  had cultivated relationships with local farmers to bring to life fresh and inspired dishes that represented what was seasonally available on that day.

Strada Italiano Asheville Food Tour
One giant raviolo nearly as big as the bowl it is served in at Strada Italiano – yummy

My trusty FitBit recorded 5000 steps and 6 flights of stairs – probably not enough to work off the calories, but it was worth it. Besides the fantastic food and learning more about Asheville and its restaurants, I also had a great group of companions on the tour.  Most from out of town, and some getting to know their home town a little better just like me. As with most memorable meals, it was not just about the food, but also about the company and the conversations. During one such conversation, it was fun to see the look of confusion on the face of a young man celebrating his 25th birthday as he realized I had been married longer than he had been alive…I think he thought it was a miracle.  Maybe in this day and age it is – whatever you want to call it – I’m forever grateful this day arrived.

the world is your oyster food tour

As I explore my new home with fresh eyes, I invite you to do the same in your hometown or on your next vacation.  I lived in Dallas for 16 years and the thought of a restaurant tour never crossed my mind and that’s a shame. Food tours are available in most cities for about the same price as you might spend on a high-end dinner.  It’s a great way to a few hours sampling the local food,  learning something new and making some new friends.  Go ahead and explore – the world’s your oyster too!

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