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Restaurants & Bars

Road Trip: Roanoke, VA, East Tennesee, Asheville, NC

Steve | Oct 16, 202011:40 PM    

On a road trip from DC to Asheville, we had a few memorable meals despite COVID restrictions.

Our first stop was the Green Goat in Roanoke, which is in a park setting with plenty of outdoor seating. Lots of favorites on the menu, we went with fish and chips and a special of bbq meatloaf. The fish was a very thick slab of cod, beautifully golden brown with waffle fries which are not my favorite though these were addictive. The meatloaf was also a giant slab, well toasted on top. Despite it being dense it was also moist. Completely delicious. I did have to scrape off the bbq sauce from the top, as it only needed a little. Served with a load of cheesy mashed potatoes which had a nice smooth, restrained flavor. It all went down so good. Great setting and terrific eating. Across the way there was a Hawaiian shave ice place, which was fun but no competition for the many places I can get raspados in my neighborhood from street vendors who use intense homemade syrups and put a thick warm tamarind sauce on top. The syrups here were commercial and tasteless.

Our next stop was at Ridgewood BBQ in Bluff City, Tennessee. This place has garnered some fame and is locally very popular featuring a unique style of bbq, sliced pork or beef. The meat is smoked over hickory and sliced very thin and then cooked with sauce. We had ours with sauce on the side and the very large sandwiches were a bit dry, though with a beautiful smoky flavor. Smoke is always pouring out of their smokehouses. The real stars here are Mrs. Proffit's baked beans and a side of cole slaw, as well as the Tennessee country ham which was not too salty and had impressive depth of flavor. The beans had a nice oniony kick and are a must order. This place gets special mention for handling COVID so well. I was not sure what to expect, as it really is in the middle of nowhere on a lonely stretch of road, but nobody gets in without a mask and they seriously social distance everyone so there is always a wait to get in. They have a good system for taking down and calling out names. We waited twenty minutes.

In Jonesborough, Tennessee made a return visit to the Barrel House for their pinto beans and corn bread. Cornbread is nothing special, but the pinto beans are righteous. A glorious and cheap bowl of love.

In Asheville we went to the Pack Tavern for stroganoff, pot roast and a beer-cheese Philly cheesesteak. The first two dishes were spot-on perfect (highly recommended) and the cheesesteak was true to it's origin except that the cheese was a well-executed exception to the rule. We had to wait an hour to get in and they were very safe about masks and socially distancing.

In Brevard, NC, an Argentinian food truck (!) was parked at an outdoor supply store and you could eat outside on the big patio for the tap house next door. Seems like they do a weekly food truck rodeo. The name of the truck is Baires (Buenos Aires?), and it was far and away the best food truck cuisine I've had. Mini-empanadas so good I wanted to the hug the guy. And fries are doused with a real chimichurri and parmesan cheese. I hadn't had a chimichurri this good in decades. Suffered through plenty of others, but this restored my faith in humanity. I believe the truck is based out of Hendersonville, NC which is a larger town.

Last stop for us was Well Bred, a pie bakery in Weaverville, NC. We got there late and they only had one pie left, marble cheesecake. We weren't thrilled about the prospect, but got it anyway and were floored. It had an unannounced salty caramel hit to the flavor and a very thick oreo crust that was densely chocolatey, crispy and oh so rich.

On the way back home we stopped in at MeMe's Diner in Bristol, VA for more pinto beans and cornbread. This time the flavors were watery, so we were not able to repeat the success we had in Jonesborough.

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