THE BLOCK off biltmore

Location:  

THE BLOCK off biltmore

39 S. Market Street

Asheville, NC

Atmosphere:  The BLOCK off bilmore (TBob, for short), is unlike any other establishment I have been to.  It’s described as an “eco-vegan, social justice, solidarity bar”, with all vegan alcohol and food.  All of the beverages, food items, and spirits are locally made, which supports smaller businesses in the community.  TBob has only been open for about 5 months, but has already become known for its community-based events, Open Mic Night, and delicious cocktails.

Food:  TBob hires local food artists to prepare and sell 100% plant-based foods on a nightly basis.  This not only supports local cooks/chefs, it exposes customers to a variety of freshly made, creative dishes and snacks.  Locally made gourmet potato chips, pretzels, and dark chocolate truffles are also available, in addition to absolutely fabulous coffee, served in small or large french presses.  The food options are always different, which is part of the fun of stopping by!   I’ve had many meals at TBob, including chana masala, mofungo, tempeh scramble with home fries, falafel, rosemary tofu and small plates/apps.  I’ve had incredible desserts including the best cupcakes I have ever had!

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 6.35.58 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 6.35.38 PM.png

Dig it or Ditch it?  DIG IT!  What’s better than a 100% vegan establishment that supports local businesses and the community?  I like the fact that the food is made with care from local food artists, and it is always spectacular!  If you’re in Asheville, stop by TBob for live music or a community based event, and order a plate of creative vegan food!

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 6.35.09 PM

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 6.36.07 PM

Nectar Nourishing Food and Juice Café

Location

Nectar Nourishing Food and Juice Café

853 Merrimon Avenue

Asheville, NC 28804

www.nectaravl.com

Atmosphere:  I’ve been wanting to visit this place since I moved here, and I’m glad I finally did! The atmosphere is like a super laidback yoga studio that happens to serve up plant-based food, juices, and smoothies.  Wooden tables, an earthy color scheme, and a noticeable airiness makes this place the perfect spot to chill and let your stress melt away. 

Food:  As always, I couldn’t decide what to order so I got the Mac & Cheese and Garbonzo 2’na Sandwich.  

  
The Mac & Cheese pictured above featured perfectly cooked pasta smothered in tons of vegan cheese sauce, paprika, and green onions.  The cheese was smooth and creamy, with a slight tang, nuttiness, and smoky flavor.  It was filling and delicious, all for $7.00!

  
The Garbonzo 2’na Sandwich ($7.50) was beautifully plated (as you can see), and was a great surprise.  I wasn’t expecting it to taste much like actual fish, but it did, and without the overpowering smell! It was covered with crunchy spiraled carrots, spring mix, and tomatoes on gluten-free seeded bread that was hearty and filling.  The fresh toppings and garbonzo bean mixture was reminiscent of tuna fish and was quite awesome.  I’d order it again for sure.

Dig it or Ditch it?

Dig it!  I felt relaxed as soon as I walked in, and was pleasantly surprised by the fresh and flavorful menu options.  Next time, I’ll try out their smoothies and pizza, and maybe even a little yoga! 

The Noodle Shop

Location:

The Noodle Shop

3 S. Pack Square

Asheville, NC 28801

*No website, but there is info on Yelp 

Atmosphere:

The Noodle Shop is a cozy spot situated across from The Asheville Art Museum, in the oh-so-hip(ster) downtown area.  With plenty of outdoor seating, it’s the perfect place to people watch, if you’re into that sort of thing.  The servers are friendly and the place is as chill-y as the the temperature. (That was really lame. I apologize.)

Food:

The Noodle Shop features Asian fusion dishes with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options on both the lunch and dinner menus. 

I ordered the Crispy Tofu ($6) for my appetizer.  The portion was a decent size, and was served quickly.  A light, flaky, and fried coating covered soft and juicy tofu.  The chili sauce was very sweet, and I did not detect any heat or spice what-so-ever. I also wish they had put more sauce on it, or served it in a ramekin for dipping.

  
 
For my entreé, I order the Stir-fried Noodles with rice noodles and added tofu.  The dish was $8.50, and they charged $5 for the tofu.  This dish was comprised of thin rice noodles, carrots, yellow onion, bean sprouts, green beans, and tofu.  The flavor was predominantly soy sauce.  Ok… The only thing you could taste was salty soy sauce and unmarinated tofu. The noodles were cooked nicely, as were the vegetables, but unfortunately their flavors were overpowered. (Photo was edited for brightness. I sat outside and it wasn’t very sunny.)

  

Dig it or Ditch it?

I wanted to dig this place because of its awesome location, but unfortunately this is a “Ditch It” for me.  The Stir-fried Noodles seriously lacked in the flavor department and seemed to be what I imagine drinking a soy sauce packet would taste like.   Since a pack of tofu costs around $3, I thought charging $5 for the tofu was a little steep, especially since there wasn’t that much of it in the dish.  I sound extremely cheap, but hey, it’s the truth. There were other vegan options on the menu, and this place has good reviews on Yelp, so perhaps I just didn’t order the right thing.  With so many other great restaurants around, I don’t think I’ll be visiting The Noodle Shop anytime soon, but I will return in the future and try something else. As always, props go out to any and all places that offer plant-based and cruelty-free options.  Let me know if you’ve been here and how you liked it!

Vortex Doughnuts

Location

Vortex Doughnuts

32 Banks Avenue, Suite 106

Asheville, NC 28801

VortexDoughnuts.com

Atmosphere

Well, here’s a vegan-friendly coffee/donut shop in Asheville! Strong, specialty coffees and a selection of fresh, vegan donuts make the vibes of this place pretty awesome.  This place was designed for people to just come in and chill with free wifi and plenty of seating.

Food:

Freshly made, V-E-G-A-N D-O-N-U-T-S!  If those words didn’t make you hop in your car and drive over, I’m not sure what will.  I’ve tried plant-based donuts in the past, and they have been rubbery, dry, or really fall short in the flavor department.  These donuts, however, where little sugar coated miracles.  

 
The donut above was a sugar covered donut with a dark chocolate swirl.  It was fresh, light, chewy, and not the least bit dry.  The donut itself was fried and sweet, and the sugar coating amped up the sweetness. The dark chocolate swirl added a slight bitterness that kept the sugar-yness in check.  Words cannot do this justice. You just have to trust me and try it for yourself. 

Next, I tried the strawberry glazed donut.  The base donut was the same… Fresh, sweet, and perfect.  The strawberry glaze was sweet yet had a natural strawberry flavor. 

  
Dig it or Ditch it?

Dig it!!! These were hands down the best donuts I have ever eaten.  Let’s just say if I could eat these everyday, I’d be perfectly fine with gaining 100 pounds.  To make the place even better, they have BOGO hours during the week, so you get 2 of these bad boys for about $4!  Check out their social media accounts for updates and BOGO hours!

The Laughing Seed Café

Location:

40 Wall Street 

Asheville, NC 28801

The Laughing Seed Café

Atmosphere:

Cute, casual, and classy, The Laughing Seed Café is the perfect spot to grab lunch or have a nice night out.  The staff is super friendly and I was greeted as soon as I walked in.  A nature inspired color scheme and plenty of natural light instantly makes you relax and feel at home. 

  
Food:
As always, it took me awhile to decide what to order.  The menu includes vegan, vegetarian, raw, and/or gluten-free options.  To start, I ordered the Jalapeño-Onion Fries ($6.00). Super crispy and well-done, these fries were exactly what fries should be. Served up with creamy and slightly spicy Chipotle Ranch dip, these were pretty addicting.  As far as the jalapeño peppers and onions go… Well there were a few in there, but based on the name, I expected them to be a bigger component of the app, but I’m glad they weren’t.  These were perfect as they were. 

  
For my meal, I order the Asian Fusion Salad, and what I ended up getting was a massive mountain of vegan deliciousness. A slightly sweet peanut sauce covered udon noodles, carrots, onions, sprouts, broccoli, radish, cabbage, which was all topped with sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  This thing was so fresh and flavorful it was well worth the $13.00 they charged for it.  I ate some there, and actually got two more meals out of it when I took it home.  

  
Dig it or Ditch it?

Dig it! The creative menu and fresh ingredients makes this the place to be in downtown Asheville. With so many options, I will be back for sure!  If you go, let me know what you try!