I don't know about y'all, but tacos are one of my favorite foods. I mean, we served jerk chicken tacos at our wedding, so we will let that speak for itself.
I believe the main reason for most peoples' love for tacos, besides from the general deliciousness, is that they are so versatile and have the option to be completely customized. And the thing is, no matter how you change up a taco to fit your personal preferences, and no matter what theme you're in the mood for, you can always make a taco work.
This is why the White Duck Taco Shop (WDTS) in Asheville is one of my favorite local places to get tacos. The menu is so diverse in the types of tacos offered, with a range of flavor palettes and something guaranteed to meet the tastes of everyone! They standby their claim that "if you like food you will love us!"
My personal favorites have been the buffalo chicken taco, as well as the pork belly with pickled watermelon rind. Honorable mentions are the black bean and Bangkok Shrimp (you might need a few extra napkins for this one).
Now, WDTS has several locations throughout NC, as well as a few in South Carolina and Tennessee, including one in my very own Queen City of Charlotte. However, I have only ever visited the Asheville locations because everything is just better in Asheville. The original location is located in the River Arts District (RAD) and is the first location I visited. They have since moved a block over from their original setting, but the atmosphere hasn't changed!
During our most recent trip to Asheville, we visited the downtown location as it was within walking distance of our hotel. Now, it is COVID time, so things were a little different, but with plenty of outdoor seating and the same delicious menu, the tacos were as good as ever!
Need to know:
Location: View the map here
Menu can vary by location/season- view here
What's your go-to taco order? If you've ever been to White Duck Taco Shop, or any other honorable mentions, let me know in the comments!
If you've ever strolled the streets of downtown Asheville, you may have noticed a bright red double-decker bus. It would be pretty hard to miss, after all, and may even make you do a double take, as these buses are a bit of a rare sight this side of the world.
Double D's Coffee and Sweets is located within this particular bus, nestled in a shady corner on Biltmore Avenue, right in the heart of the city.
While you first feel a bit of surprise, you will quickly feel enchanted as you step into the unusual world of a coffee bus. From the bus people themselves, the experience has an effect on children and adults alike.
Stepping onto the Double Decker Bus has a very distinct effect on people. For children, it makes them feel like grown-ups. They get to be the captain of a vessel that only encourages their imagination. For people who are already grown up, it makes them feel like kids. However, regardless of age, the Bus ignites something special in every customer who walks through those red doors, and the result is always positive. A cozy red Bus nestled into a cozy, quaint town makes everyone feel at home. The vintage surroundings paired with organic coffee roasted locally by Notorious Coffee Roasting Company and local desserts made with love is the recipe for Asheville's Landmark Coffee Bus.
With a menu featuring classic coffees, hot or iced, as well as flavored lattes, chais and frappes, there is something for everyone at this one of a kind coffee shop. Needing a little bit more than a coffee? Try a smoothie or even one of their milkshakes! They also have an assortment of pastries and other sweet desserts. My personal go-to anytime I see it on the menu is a lavender latte, and the Double D's Lavender Honey latte did not disappoint!
Need to know:
41 Biltmore Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
Double D's Coffee & Desserts has reopened with an extensive safety system in place. We are confident that the level of safety precautions we have provided will protect our customers and our employees. We require 6 ft. distancing, face coverings at all times, except when seated at a table. We consistently sanitize all tables and high touch areas. All employees have temperature checked before they start their shift.
Empanadas. You know em, you love em. Even if you have never had an empanada before, I can confidently say that it is something you will like. How can I be so sure of myself, you may ask. Because an empanada, at its core, is a fried or baked pastry stuffed full of a variety of fillings including meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, and even sweets such as chocolate. And honestly, who doesn't like a warm, gooey, bread pocket spilling over with deliciously flavored filling?
Empanadas are a popular snack in regions around the world, including Latin and South America, South Asia, and Southern Europe. These delectable little treats have their origins in Spain, and due to their widespread popularity, the exact style and flavors have adapted to each region they have become known in.
While each corner of the globe has modified the empanada to become symbolic of its own culture, the basis of the snack remains the same- hot and delicious. They are often served with sprinkled cheese, a side of salsa, or drizzled with sauces. In most places where empanadas are found, they are sold as a quick and easy street food.
I have eaten many an empanada, in countries around the world, as well as made my own homemade version. The best part about these little treats is the infinite ways you can customize them to fit your taste preferences. Have a sweet tooth? Fill them with chocolate and sprinkle on some powdered sugar. Vegetarian? They are great filled with cooked peas and carrots. Love seafood? Fill those babies up with fish! Make them bigger for a meal or bite size for a party snack. Deep fry them to perfection or bake them for a healthier version. The options go on and on.
In my household, my Jamaican husband grew up on patties, which is a Caribbean take on empanadas. The brand that we buy are a little bigger and more robust than many empanadas, but the idea is the same. A nice flaky pocket filled with beef, cheese, or a vegetable curry mix. So good!
Here's an easy recipe for Cheesy Ground Beef Empanadas I found on the blog Great Grub Delicious Treats. This recipe uses pie crust for the outer layer, making it an easier and faster alternative to making your own dough.
Cheesy Ground Beef Empanadas
Prep Time- 20 mins
Cook Time- 30 mins
Total Time- 50 mins
The small town of Mindo, Ecuador is nestled tightly in the Andes Mountains cloud forest, one of the richest bio-diverse ecoregions in the world. Mindo is a well-kept secret and has no shortage of fascinating attractions, but its reputation and popularity as an adventure destination is growing rapidly.
Just a block or two off the main square, you will find a tall building looming over the trees. Featuring on-site chocolate making, a delicious cafe, locally roasted coffee, and rooms with a view, El Quetzal is THE destination for chocolate lovers and adventure seekers the world over.
After you grab a bite to eat at one of the many delicious cafes in town, you can check into your room at the chocolate factory! Located up a few flights of stairs, we choose the room that features a balcony, swinging hammock, and amazing views of Mindo and the surrounding mountains.
Because we were guests in the lodge, we were permitted free entrance into one of their world-famous tours. You can follow along as a guide walks you step by step through the bean-to-bar chocolate-making process. Starting with the cacoa bean, you will learn about the ins and out of how modern-day artisans have turned this amazing bean into one of the most lusted after flavors across the world. You'll even get to sample a batch of fresh chocolate brownies and experience for yourself the rich flavors grown right in the Ecuadorian valley!
Breakfast the next day was the cherry on top! We woke up and were treated to special seating on the veranda, surrounded by beautiful foliage and the sounds of the town waking up. Choose from a selection of cooked-to-order meals and fresh coffee-there's really no better way to start your day!
Staying at El Quetzal was more than just finding a room on Airbnb- we got to experience part of the amazing chocolate-making culture of Mindo. The secluded atmosphere allowed us to observe Mindo life from above, taking it all in.
Need to Know:
- Chocolate tours are offered 7 days a week, from starting each hour on the hour from 10:00am-5:00pm
- Cost $10/person (*Free entry if you are staying in one of their Airbnb suites!)
- You can book a stay in the lodge here
new to airbnb? use my referral code here and get $55 off your first booking
Do you ever find yourself in a situation when you have a friend coming to visit and you know you want to spend some time catching up, but all of a sudden you feel like you just moved to the city you’re in and can’t think of a SINGLE decent place to go for drinks? Or coffee or breakfast or dessert? You spend weeks or months making mental notes of all the new places you want to try but when the opportunity arises to go somewhere, it’s as if everywhere you’ve ever heard of vanishes, leaving you panicked as your quickly do a Google search of “good restaurants in…” or “best place to eat near me.” Maybe it’s just me, but I have started keeping a written list of those such places so that I don’t keep finding myself in that situation.
The most recent example is when a friend was coming into town for a few hours, and while we both knew we wanted to grab some drinks, dessert was mentioned, and I quickly found myself falling down the rabbit hole of local instagram foodies, trying to find something visually appealing that caught my eye and met the criteria established.
This time, it manifested in the form of Barcelona Wine Bar. I’d heard of it. I’d seen pics of it. I knew they had alcohol. So far so good. A little more scrolling and voila, dessert was spotted. This was the place.
Upon entering said place, my initial feelings were validated. With shelves of books, antique knick knacks, and a few scattered plants, I immediately felt as though I was entering into a cozy cellar that featured warm lighting and delicious smells.
After a round of sangria, we decided to throw some tapas into the mix before moving on to dessert. The abondigas, spiced meatballs in a tomato-based sauce paired great with the complimentary bread that we couldn’t get enough of. The pork belly with almond slivers was so extremely tender it almost melted in your mouth. And the garlic aioli topping the patatas bravas was worth licking the plate for. Of course we didn’t…
We allowed the savory goodness of meat and bread, sauces and spices, to almost dissuade us from ordering dessert. But alas, we came here for a reason and we could not leave without fulfilling our quest.
The crepas allowed us to complete our mission. Stuffed with the lightest, yet creamiest coffee filling, drizzled with chocolate sauce, and sprinkled with whole hazelnuts, the rich flavors were so smooth and airy with just the right amount of crunch.
The next time I need to find the perfect spot in a pinch, there will be no hesitation.
I like hidden gems, hole-in-the-walls, and offbeat destinations