Eating in Asheville just got even more remarkable, if that is even possible. Two cases in point: White Duck Taco, a wildly popular venue in the River Arts District, just opened a new downtown location on Biltmore Avenue. Also, Early Girl Eatery owners, John and Julie Stehling, just recently opened King Daddy’s on Haywood Road in West Asheville which pays tribute to the American soul food pairing of chicken and waffles.
White Duck taco is well known for their delicious and creative tacos and may I say…cheap tacos. Their River Arts location is always bustling and you can usually expect a line, but don’t let that deter you. I’m not sure I have ever been there and not had to wait in line, but it does move very quickly and is always worth the wait. The downtown location is larger with more indoor and outdoor seating capacity, has a full bar and comes with the added bonus of being with walking distance of this Asheville Bed and Breakfast.
We visited the downtown location last week and feasted on Korean Beef Bulgogo with avocado puree and kimchi…yum, Steak and Cheese with pico, lettuce and mexican crema, Jerk Chicken with purple slaw and pineapple, Thai Peanut Chicken with tropical salsa, BBQ Pork Carnitas with bbq slaw and beans, and the Fish Taco. What’s hard to believe is that these delectable tacos are only $3.45 a piece. The BBQ Pork Carnitas is always my personal favorite. This is a great lunch spot, especially after eating such a big breakfast at our Asheville Inn. Sample a taco or 2 and wash it down with a seasonal Sangria, fresh lime Margarita or a locally brewed cerveza.
Early Girl Eatery, also a local favorite since opening its doors on Wall Street in 2001, has finally found the perfect spot (on Haywood Road) to fulfill their original vision. As the story goes, they had hoped to open a restaurant on Haywood Rd. in West Asheville back in 2001. For a host of reasons, they ended up downtown (which we are glad about) and tried to serve waffles and fried chicken. Unfortunately the electrical wiring in the downtown location was most uncooperative. Every time they plugged a waffle iron into an electrical outlet something else would shut off…..like the cooler. Since coolers are an essential appliance to the overall function of the restaurant, waffle dreams had to be put on hold.
In 2014 their vision has come full circle in an historic building with all the conveniences of modern electrical wiring. King Daddy’s offers all kinds of waffles; Belgian, Sweet, Pumpkin, Cracklin’ and Vegan/Gluten-free. To fully realize the dream, your light, fluffy waffle can be escorted by Fried, Heirloom, Habanero Sweet Potato, Korean, Grilled and Gluten-Free Fried Chicken. Of course they also have Chicken and Gravy, Biscuits and a bunch of yummy sides, salads and appetizers.
We sampled the Sweet Potato Hush Puppies, which are gluten free and fabulous and the King Daddy Wings with all three sauces (Korean, habanero and sweet NC BBQ). They were really good! We even tried the Fish and Chips, which was one of the best offerings of this fried English dish we have found in the area. They give you a bowl of “chips” a.k.a. French fries as big as your head. We took the kids so they took advantage of what they now hope will be a part of a new family dinner tradition — the Belgian waffles with strawberry, chocolate chips and of course whip cream.
The waffles were light, airy and heavenly. I serve up a mean waffle at the B & B… so my guests tell me, but these were truly delicious. My husband feasted on the Habanero Sweet Potato chicken, which was juicy, spicy and also scrumptious. I had the Warm Sesame Kale Salad with beets and glazed pears. I can’t pass up a good Kale salad. I could live on kale, beets and more kale. Everything we tried was really good, fresh and applying the same approach as the Early Girl Eatery, locally sourced wherever possible. The atmosphere is very cool and casual and a very good use of the space. The service was stellar. My parents went the night after we did, in search of good quality fish and chips and had a very similar experience. I’d put this on the list of where to eat when visiting Asheville, especially if you have any dietary restrictions.