Asheville Barbeque and Bluegrass

We made a 1-day trip from Atlanta to the charming town of Asheville, North Carolina, at 2100 ft (650 m) in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. The residents all seem to love the place, and Asheville has acquired an impressive variety of top rankings: "One of the Best Places to Reinvent Your Life" (AARP Magazine), "A New Age Mecca" (CBS News), “One of the Happiest Places in the U.S.,” and ”One of the Top 7 Places to Live in the U.S.” as well as “One of the World's Top 12 Must-See Destinations for 2007” (Frommer's Travel Guides).

President Obama and family had been there on a short vacation just weeks before we arrived, and it was well known around town that his first stop was the 12 Bones Smokehouse, a very casual barbeque restaurant specializing in slow-smoked pork back ribs with unusual sauces. Of course we had to try it! It’s open only for lunch, and only on weekdays, with a constant line of people stretching around the building.
Lunch line at the
12 Bones Smokehouse
Rib sauces at the
12 Bones Smokehouse
12 Bones is a simple and inexpensive place, with food served on plain metal plates. Our left plate had pulled pork meat with cheese & jalapeño pepper corn grits, collard greens, and cornbread. The right plate had the famous pork back ribs with blueberry chipotle sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, and more collard greens and cornbread. Even the grits were great! It seemed as though everyone was drinking huge glasses of the sweet tea that is ubiquitous in the south, but we felt obliged to try a glass of Boogie Down Brown beer from the local Asheville Brewing Company.
Lunch plates at the
12 Bones Smokehouse
That should have been enough barbeque for 24 hours, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try more smoked meats and listen to local bluegrass music during dinner at The Fiddlin’ Pig. Again there were more great ribs, sweet potatoes, collard greens, and local beer. But the highlight was the group of four people playing bass, fiddle, guitar (and 5-string banjo), and mandolin. The girl playing the fiddle and singing was only 15 years old, and the 16-year-old boy on her left had already won awards as the best banjo picker in the south. We felt as though we’d had a real Ashville barbeque and bluegrass adventure!
Bluegrass music during
BBQ dinner at
The Fiddlin’ Pig