Weekend Getaway: Vegan Asheville

Only a few hours from Knoxville, Asheville is both a fantastic weekend destination and a really great place to be vegan. I usually  go every few months, and I’m starting to get pretty familiar with the restaurant scene—Plant, Laughing Seed Cafe, and Early Girl Eatery are among my favorites.

So when friends invited me to the Winter Warmer Beer Festival, the answer was obvious (Beer? Yes please). And when the weekend came around and I had a cold and a double eye infection, I had 2 non-refundable tickets and no way out. Luckily (unluckily?), people just thought I was really stoned, and weren’t at all fazed by my zombie-red eyes. The lineup was great, and I’d highly suggested it to any and all beer fans.

I won’t give you a play-by-play of all the different beers I tried, but a few of the standouts for me were Blue Kudzu Sake Company and Holy City Brewing, in addition to the many breweries present that I’ve loved for a while, like Yazoo, Catawba, Highland, Terrapin, and of course New Belgium

Another highlight was the beer ice cream from The Hop Ice Cream Cafe, which brought 2 vegan flavors to the festival – Green Man Forester Winter Stout almond milk ice cream and Urban Orchard Ginger Champagne Cider sorbet (I tried both, but I particularly liked the cider sorbet).

Owner Greg Garrison  told me that they always have vegan options available, so next time you’re in Asheville, be sure to stop by one of their award-winning locations.

The Asheville Scramble at Mayfel's

The Asheville Scramble at Mayfel’s

After the festival wrapped up, we found our way to a bar called The Crow and Quill, which lay behind an unmarked door on Lexington Avenue. Let’s just say that if you’re a fan of Edgar Allan Poe and mixology, you will love this place.  

I was with a largish group of rambunctious friends, and I’m pretty sure the bartenders would have liked to kick us out (“He can’t sleep there” is a direct quote), at least until the former music major in the group found some sheet music and started playing the piano. Eventually she started getting tips, and a few of the regulars even joined in on a rendition of “Memories” from Cats

As the evening wore on, we moved to The Southern, where my cold and 7 hours of drinking caused me to attempt to sleep on a table. My wonderful man found me a Seitan Sandwich to wake me up, and it was delicious—”bourbon-aged vegetarian Worcestershire marinated seitan” with onions and avocado on a hoagie roll (86 the provolone and aioli, and you’re good).

Many hours later, we all gathered again for breakfast at Mayfel’s, a Louisiana-themed restaurant in downtown Asheville.

As we waited for a table (don’t expect to be seated right away, especially for brunch), I popped next door to Spiritex, where I picked up a 100% organic cotton t-shirt for myself and a gift for an upcoming baby shower.

The Asheville Scramble was awesome, and everything you need after a beer festival. I ordered collard greens on the side instead of the biscuit, and then dumped them in and mixed it all up…heaven.

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Emily Winsauer

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