My Southeastern Adventure: A Quest for Good Food and Great Beer

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Beginning my quest with a pleasant drive northeast up to Charleston, SC, we quickly settled in and our party of twelve crowded into the local Charleston Crab House, a family-owned business founded in 1991. My boyfriend and I consumed a dozen local raw oysters each and split 1.5 pounds of Alaskan snow crab legs, devouring the oysters with horseradish and slathering each meaty bite of crab in melted butter – which dripped off of our hands like condensation on a cold beer. Our first stop was at a frozen mixed-drink bar called Wet Willie’s, whose alcoholic slushies were exclusively responsible for why there is only one picture that I have from that night.

Between the twelve of us, we collectively combined vague and hilarious memories of bar-hopping to at least five additional bars, singing “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind with the bar solo-act, and dancing on table tops. To a Florida girl, Charleston was freezing that night, probably in the low teens, so taking a rickshaw ride from one end of the city to the other was remembered by all of us as a highlight of the night.

Following a hearty breakfast of steak and eggs and biscuits and sausage gravy at Acme Lowcountry Kitchen, we finished our Bloody Marys and mimosas and made a pit stop at John Island to visit the breathtaking Angel Oak tree. Thought to be around 500-1500 years old, the Angel Oak is the oldest tree east of the Mississippi river, and it is awe-inspiring to be in its presence. These pictures barely do it justice.

Next, we headed up to Charlotte, NC – and the weather there was gorgeous! It was a solid 65 degrees all afternoon; which was ideal for walking downtown and sampling some brews from a few of Charlotte’s local breweries. A few good friends we were visiting showed us around downtown, and accompanied us to the breweries we visited throughout the week. Starting at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, we each got a flight of six, 4-ounce samples of their most popular brews. It wasn’t one of our favorite stops, but you know what they say about being “first.”

We spent a lot of time walking off the flight we just consumed strolling downtown, so we decided to make a second stop at Valhalla Pub & Eatery; a decent little bar on the corner of an alley overlooking the Charlotte Skyline. I concluded my downtown escapade there over a smooth porter, and we contently made our way back to the car prepare for our next adventure: Asheville!

As we headed west into the giant snow storm that was heading east – which even Florida experienced –we safely arrived in Asheville right before my friend’s windshield froze and the snow really started to come down on us. For a breakfast/brunch lover, I highly recommend Biscuit Head; founded in 2013 by the husband-wife duo Jason and Carolyn, they pride themselves on making biscuits “as big as cat heads” and leaving as little of a carbon footprint while doing so. All menu items incorporate a biscuit with your choice of toppings, and without exaggeration, these are the biggest, fluffiest, flakiest, most buttery biscuits you will ever have, tasting their southern hospitality in each bite.

With food in our bellies and snow on our heads, we stopped at Wicked Weed Brewing, a local bar that featured an array of local brews. We unanimously agreed that these beers topped the rest on our trip (so far). I tried the Infidel Porter (delicious) and the Dark Age Bourbon Stout; a dark, creamy, and flavorful beer that trumped the rest at 11.7% ABV.

Waking up at sunrise to see all of the newly fallen snow on the ground outside, we made sure to go sledding (my first time!) for a few hours before heading into town for lunch. Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company is a local favorite and staple while visiting Asheville. The pizza was cooked to perfection, and their brews were liked collectively by the group; our preferences ranging from IPAs to Stouts.

A trip to Asheville wouldn’t be complete without visiting the massive Biltmore Estate. Wandering the land and viewing miles upon miles of mountainous terrain was truly extraordinary. We concluded our Biltmore trip with a visit to their Winery, which provides their visitors with free wine tastings – which we clearly took advantage of. I ended up leaving with a mildly sweet Chenin Blanc (white), an equally flavorful rosé, and a full-bodied Syrah (red) as souvenirs.

We concluded our night by swinging through the Green Man Brewery, where I sipped on a silky stout before heading to Isis Restaurant & Music Hall. The friend we were staying with in Asheville happened to be a magnificent chef at Isis, and he made sure to surprise us with appetizers and desserts to accompany our entrees and showcase the skills this restaurant has when it comes to its amazing food. There was also a talented, yet quaint bluegrass trio playing on stage, which gave this high-class restaurant a feeling of being rooted to its local culture.

On our way out of Asheville, we made a point to stop at the Tupelo Honey Café, where I enjoyed a bowl of mouth-watering cheesy onion bisque with my Shoo Grilled Cheese – which you have to try to believe how incredible this sandwich really is. With only one full day left, we headed back to Charlotte to wrap up our trip by stopping at two local breweries in an area called NoDa – the NoDa Brewing Company and Bird Song Brewing. I satiated myself with a flight of 4 at NoDa (which were amazing), and indulged in some of the best beers of our entire trip at Bird Song: the Mexicali Stout, the Jalapeño Pale, and their limited time Black IPA.

To conclude the penultimate night we had in Charlotte, we saw the Rolling Stone’s magazine deemed “legendary jam band,” moe. at the Fillmore – which did not disappoint. The next day was spent playing disc golf along the hills of Charlotte, and satisfying our appetite at Boudreaux’s Louisiana Kitchen for dinner. It was a tasty Louisiana-style dinner that hit the comfort food spot inside all of us.

We woke up on the last morning on our Southeastern Adventure completely satisfied with how each and every day turned out. We indulged in all foods and drinks that we came across, and took pleasure in the outdoor activities that balanced out our gluttony. We blissfully swam though a sea of local beer, delightfully pampered ourselves with great local food, and created lasting memories with old – and new – friends alike.

PS. Can you tell I am a lover of stouts?


Photo Credit: Amber DeGrace under (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr