Asheville’s South Slope brewing district is one of the most happening places in town, with eight local breweries all within walking distance of each other. With joint efforts of these fine establishments, this part of town births about a zillion new brews every year, earning my hometown the nationally recognized designation of “Beer City.”
For travelers intent on testing that appellation, the South Slope is a must-see stop on your visit to Asheville. Here I’d like to not only highlight the best breweries on the Slope—which I’ve taken a stab at before—but a variety of merry-making destinations, with which you may formulate a true night on the town.
Located across the street from the Orange Peel, Ukiah serves Japanese-Southern fusion in a refined atmosphere, with plenty of outside seating. Now personally, Japanese and Southern are two of my favorite culinary traditions, and so my mouth swelters at the mere thought of fusing them. After taking a gander at their menu, I think you will too.
Gyoza, bao buns, baby back ribs, ramen, duck-dumpling hot pot, pork belly skewers and Tokyo street corn. As to the drinks: sake, local brews, Japanese whiskey, and seasonal cocktails. If that isn’t enough for you, come for their weekend brunch to try some karaage chicken and waffles, or a breakfast ramen featuring maple shichimi bacon.
Hours: 5pm to 9pm Monday, through Thursday. Noon to 9:30pm Fridays, 11am to 9:30pm Saturdays, and 11am to 9pm Sundays.
This South Slope biergarten devotes itself to Wicked Weed Brewing’s sourest and funkiest beers. Speaking as both an Ashevillean and a connoisseur of strange drinks, I say if you want to try the local beers, you’d better be down to get sour and funky. It just goes with the territory.
Their food menu balances out all that funk with a bit of savory. Cubans, fried chicken cutlets on Italian hogies, muffulettas, and a chorizo torta on house made pan telera. As of my writing, their current pours include “golden ale” (apricot-infused sour), the “milk and cookies” (a milk stout with golden raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla), and the “aranasa morte” (with four pounds of pineapple per gallon).
Long story short, it’s a great place to try Asheville’s most eccentric brews. And if they spark further curiosity, Wicked Weed offers free tours of their facilities, on the other side of the South Slope.
With great beer comes great live music. This has been the law of the land for time immemorial. On the South Slope, you can find both at Rabbit Rabbit, an outside event venue right next to Asheville Pizza and Brewing. A rotation of local food trucks cater Rabbit’s many events, with AVL Tacos as a mainstay, offering burritos, nachos, poke bowls, and of course, tacos. If, on the other hand, you find Asheville Pizza’s pies simply too tantalizing to pass up, you can order one there, and take them out to enjoy al-fresco at the Rabbit.
Upcoming events include a family movie night, showing Incredibles 2, live music from Beach House, and a Silent Disco every Friday night.
Hours: 5pm to 10pm Wednesdays, 4pm to 10pm Fridays, 1p to -9pm Saturdays, and 1pm to 5pm Sundays. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
Although one of the lesser-known of Asheville’s local beer-brands, Burial is my top pick for atmosphere, style, and creative flavors. Each of their brews is christened with a name that any album-cover would be proud to bear, and reading their poetic descriptions provides a sort of heart-pumping entertainment unto itself.
Literary value aside, this season’s crop including “Idol for None,” flavored with maple, sea salt, and cinnamon, “Like Voices in the Air,” a raspberry-blueberry-apple cider, and the “Ninth Passing,” with French Broad chocolate, vanilla, and I quote “the largest swath of macaroon coconut to ever touch our steel.”
To keep things exciting, Burial Beer also hosts weekly events. Wednesdays see a pop-up kitchen headed by Braised + Confit, serving haute-cuisine from noon until sellout. You’ve got “Taco Thursdays,” Sunday brunch with live music, and “Monday Shifties,” with cheeseburgers and pints on sale for $14.
Hours: Noon to 11pm Sunday through Thursday. Noon to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays.
This downtown board game café has long been one of my favorite hangouts in Asheville. They’ve recently re-opened on the South Slope, and to say I’m over the moon would be an understatement. With a stockpile of over seven-hundred games, Well Played is an awesome place to kick back with your friends and enjoy a few drinks. Espresso, tea, cocoa, local beer, house cocktails; it's all there, with slushies and boozy shakes coming soon.
Round out your board-game night with some of their decadent snacks (duck fat pretzels, parmesan truffle fries), an artisanal sandwich or flatbread, or my own top pick: a root beer float. Take the kids for a family outing, take your date for dinner, take your friends out for drinks. Well Played is truly a place for all occasions.
Hours: 8am to 10pm Saturday through Thursday. 8am to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
Ukiah Japanese Smokehouse
121 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
147 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
75 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Burial Beer Company
40 Collier Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Well Played Board Game Café
162 Coxe Ave Suite 101, Asheville, NC 28801