With 30 local breweries, Charlotte has a booming craft beer scene. One particular spot has decided to stand out by taking their brew skills to the next level. In addition to traditional ales and lager, Lenny Boy Brewing Co. has expanded their beverage menu to include sours, gluten-free wild ales, and organic kombucha. With a wild flavor list including Lost Rose, Lavenderade, and seasonal Sweet Potato Pie, Lenny Boy is actually the only certified organic kombucha in the entire Southeast. This wide variety of options mean that drinkers and non-drinkers alike are sure to find a new favorite brew.
Featuring a bright, spacious taproom adorned with greenery and views into the brew warehouse, Lenny Boy puts a strong emphasis on their slogan “Culture Matters.” How does a brewery build culture, one may ask. Aside from providing an opportunity for groups large and small to gather, Lenny Boy loves local. By partnering with local groups and organizations to host art shows, weekly fitness classes, non-profit events, trivia, and more, Lenny Boy connects people with culture. Real, local, culture that builds community.
Oh, and there’s always dogs.
What more could you want in a brewery?
Lenny Boy has it all.
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.
Living in Charlotte, North Carolina, I have access to many local gems, as well as short distances to other incredible cities, such as Asheville, North Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia. While these are all amazing options for a weekend getaway, sometimes we just don't have the time to drive even two hours out of the city. The good news is that doesn't have to be a deal-breaker!
With only one night to spare in our crazy schedule, I did some detective-level internet searching to find the perfect getaway location for us. The best part? It was only a 40-minute drive away. At first that might not seem very enticing. A getaway is supposed to be removed from home, right? At this quiet, secluded, and nothing but peaceful Airbnb, it wouldn't matter if it was a 5-minute drive down the block- it had everything we needed, and nothing we didn't!
From the moment we arrived on the property, we were greeted warmly and directed to all the locations we may need, from the room itself to the eco-toilet to the hottub and the paths around the edge of the farm. Our room, a barn loft situated on a 20-acre farm, was tucked in one corner of the property and felt close enough to the other amenities, but also private and secluded.
As the only guests on the property at the time (it was a random Thursday night after all), we had the place to ourselves. The hosts do live on-site, and you may catch them in a conversation or two, but it never felt overbearing or cramped.
The room had everything we needed, from plastic wine cups to basic grilling supplies, and a lovely tea and coffee bar, as well as a mini-fridge. Our room featured a private deck with a grill out back, and right outside our door was the fire pit. After dinner out, we enjoyed wine and the hot tub, but decided against building a campfire this time around.
The eco-toilets were the absolute cleanest and well-maintained outdoor toilets I've ever used (which is a lot) and I felt extremely comfortable walking the property, even at night, to use the sink. Perhaps one of my favorite features of the entire farm was the outdoor rain shower. It was in fact raining during much of our stay, and there's something so calming about showering outdoors in the woods with the rain tapping the roof above. Despite the rain, our stay was so wonderful and cozy, although if you happen to visit during sunnier weather, the hosts even provide hammocks for you to enjoy in the adjacent woods.
While our stay was brief, this quick off-the-grid adventure was exactly what we needed to reconnect and reset.
Oh, and if a barn loft doesn't strike your interest, the farm also has its very own stone greenhouse or woodsy treehouse which is definitely where we'll be staying next time around.
More information can be found on the farm's website, The Green Omnivore.
Photos by The Green Omnivore
One of the things I love about Asheville is the overwhelming sense of comfortableness that this city exudes. Everyone is simply comfortable being themselves, and expressing it in a way that suits them. One very noticeable way this can be seen is through the city's prominent street art. Every street, every corner, and every alley is guaranteed to feature a work of art, and if you walk the streets long enough, you will start to recognize an artist's work by the style you see repeated throughout.
The best place to view a highly concentrated amount of street art without the worry of potentially getting hit by a car is in a quiet corner of the River Arts District. This patch of land, located on Old Lyman Street, is known as the Foundation Walls Project. Property owner Brent Starck began the project when he couldn't face tearing down the falls that had been covered primarily in graffiti tags. Instead he worked with the Asheville Legal Department and the Graffiti Appeal Committee to come up with a plan for allowing artists to put their work out there in an organized and inclusive manner. As long as artists follow the rules (no racist, hateful, or inappropriate content), they can obtain a permit and are free to let their designs come to life.
Foundation Walls is a great place to see a lot of the city's artists in one area. The artists respect the work of others and work to support each other, rather than compete for the best wall space. The inclusive and collaborative approach makes unique park a noteworthy destination during your stay in Asheville.
What's your favorite street art destination? Share in the comments below!
The first stop on our tour of Asheville is one of my favorites- a place that I keep going back to every time I visit. We all have our favorites and sometimes tradition trumps quality, but not in this case! This time around the tradition was born because of the quality; the quality of food, service, and atmosphere!
Sunny Point Cafe in West Asheville has it all. While I've only been there for some amazing brunches, they also feature equally amazing lunch and dinner menus, as well as a selection of wines, craft beers, and cocktails.
Rated #1 on TripAdvisor for the best brunch in Asheville, Sunny Point Cafe can also be found on hipster foodies' lists everywhere, ranking in the Top 10 for Best Asheville Brunch/Breakfast spots. Some examples of their award-winning dishes (yes, they have won awards for their amazing culinary talents), are the shrimp 'n' grits, which won the 2016 and 2017 Stoobie Award for Asheville's Best Shrimp 'n' Grits. I've also heard that their avocado toast is among the best in the city.
My personal favorites are the Huevos Rancheros- eggs topped with black bean cakes, feta, and cilantro crema (a gluten-free dish), and the Fried Chicken and Waffle sandwich- a pecan waffle topped with fried chicken, bacon, pimento cheese, and jalapeño jam. Their menu also features several options that can be made gluten-free or vegan.
INSIDER TIP: Because of the cafe's popularity, it is more than likely that you will arrive and have to add your name to a long list of those waiting- DO NOT LEAVE. I know how easy it is to be turned off by long wait-times, but believe me it is well worth it. In fact, the cafe understands your displeasure with having to wait, and makes it infinitely more enjoyable by providing a coffee station in the outdoor waiting area, where you can help yourself to unlimited refills of fresh coffee, and enjoy watching West Asheville life pass you by. On a nice day, you may even get to experience some live music, as local bands have been known to set up and play for hungry customers.
Aside from the incredible variety of dishes and flavors that are served up here, one of my favorite things about Sunny Point Cafe is that they are very socially conscious, featuring a different nonprofit partner every month! Every table in the restaurant has an envelope on it for customers, should they so choose, to donate money for the nonprofit that month. Along with the money from generous customers, Sunny Point also adds a donation to the collected funds, and delivers it to the chosen partner. In 2017, they raised and donated $16,856, and in 2018 they increased that number to $20,517. Read more about the organizations they've partnered with here.
INSIDER TIP: After your meal, head outside to the neighboring garden- here you can walk through the garden beds and see where the cafe plants and harvests the produce found in your meals! It's as fresh as you can get!
INSIDER TIP: Take a bit of the West Asheville flavor home with you! You can shop the selection of jams, dressings, and sauces that you may have experienced in your meal. If that's not enough, you can even purchase the Sunny Point Cookbook, featuring several recipes that have developed since the opening of the cafe, as well as other timeless comfort food dishes.
Have you been to Sunny Point Cafe? Let us know your favorite dishes in the comments! Got another favorite Asheville brunch spot! Let us know so we can check it out!
I've been to Asheville a handful of times, as it's roughly a 2-hour drive from Charlotte, and each time I love taking advantage of all this amazing city has to offer. From the wide selection of craft breweries, local coffee shops, and eclectic restaurants, it is truly a millennial's dream. If those are things you also value, then Asheville is the place for you.
Located in the western part of North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has a population slightly under 100,000 people. Known for its vibrancy, it has a large (and growing) art scene, fascinating historic architecture, and is what a foodie's dream are made of. Walking the streets you are guaranteed to see layers of art and messages of peace adorning the walls. Ample opportunities exist to experience the local culture through artisans, food, and entertainment.
And if the city life becomes too busy for you, an escape to the mountains is a stone's throw away. From the Blue Ridge Parkway to waterfall hikes to cozy cabins, the great outdoors is ready and waiting for you.
In this new mini-series, I'm going to share all that I have come to know and love about Asheville, from the food and drink to art and nature. I was quick to identify Asheville as my spirit city, and if you stick around you may just find that it has something for you too.
If you've ever been to Asheville, share your favorite spots and things to do in the comments!
p.s. if this content looks familiar, it's because you've seen it before! This originated over at www.feedthepassport.com and is migrating here to our site. Feed the Passport is transitioning into a foodie-focused travel blog and we are picking up the pieces, focusing on the hidden gems, hole-in-the-wall, off-the-beaten-path treasures in cities around the world. Stay tuned on both accounts for the best in what to do, where to stay, what to eat, and how to experience the authenticity of each place we visit.
I like hidden gems, hole-in-the-walls, and offbeat destinations