Jason and Carolyn Roy opened their first Biscuit Head location in Asheville, NC to share their love and passion for southern cooking and local ingredients. With features in the New York Times, Food and Wine, USA Today, and more, Biscuit Head was an immediate success. They have since opened three additional locations, two in Asheville and one in Greenville, South Carolina. All locations have a strong commitment to maintaining a low carbon footprint and partnering with local vendors- we love to see it.
I had been wanting to grab breakfast at Biscuithead for the past several years, but we always ended up heading somewhere else every time we visited Asheville- check out my post here and you'll know I'm not complaining. However, I do like to try new things so I was thrilled when we finally got to check it out this past August. I was even more thrilled when I saw their social distancing procedures. Outdoor seating, touchless menu and ordering. It was all great.
Now, my husband is one person that you would not, in fact, call a biscuithead. He grew up in the South alright. South Jamaica that is. Biscuits aren't really their thing. Me however, I am a born and bred true biscuithead. Gimme a biscuit drizzled with honey, layered with jam, topped with a piece of salty ham and cheese. Whatever, I really don't care. I just appreicate a good biscuit, and therefore, I appreciate the fine eating establishment of Biscuithead.
We visited the Biltmore Ave, location, just a few minutes outside of downtown. It was doing a pretty steady business for a random late Tuesday morning. With a menu that features just a plain regular biscuit, or a gravy flight for those who like it all, Biscuithead even has gluten-free and vegan options, making it a place your entire party can dine at. Whether you're a biscuit purist or an innovative eater, you'll find something guaranteed to satisfy. In case you love your meal so much, you can order meal kits to go, as well a cookbook featuring all of their signature dishes.
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.
Recently I celebrated my second wedding anniversary. Given the year that 2020 has been, we decided to head to Charleston for a long weekend, staying in a relative's guest house. Our plan was pretty simple. Stay in the outside guest house. Spend some time outside, maybe on a beach somewhere. Eat some delicious seafood at a park. Stay away from everyone. Foolproof. Well, if you haven't already noticed, the plan was to head to Charleston and yet, this blog it titled 48 Hours in Asheville. Hmmmm.
Apparently our plan wasn't foolproof enough, as 2020 threw another curveball at us- one we really couldn't do anything about, and that curveball greeted us in the form of Hurricane Isaias. If our trip had been for a week, it wouldn't have been a problem, but due to the timing and only having a few days of vacation, we didn't think it made sense to head to Charleston to sit inside all weekend because of the rain. So we rerouted ourselves and headed west to Asheville instead.
Of course, 2020 being the year that it is, we still encountered a weekend full of rain. However, we didn't let that get us down! Asheville is one of our favorite cities after-all and we made the most of it. Continue reading below to find out how we spent 48 hours in our favorite funky city.
Where To STay - Aloft Hotels Downtown
We have visited Asheville, North Carolina a number of times, and each time we have stayed somewhere different. This most recent trip, we decided to make things easier on ourselves, staying in the heart of the city at Aloft right in the middle of Downtown. Aside from the fun, modern decor and beautiful amenities, Aloft features an ideal location within easy walking distance of many of Asheville's well-known destinations, including breweries, shops, and parks. Because we wanted to adhere to social distancing guidelines, as well as just generally spend quality time together, we spent a good amount of time on the hotel's balcony. Here we soaked up the city's golden hour on comfy couches and listened to the sounds of the city below.
Where To Eat
Coffee- Double D's Coffee Bus
If you're like me, coffee is a necessity, but it's also a way of life. No matter which way you feel when it comes to this liquid gold, Double D's Coffee Bus is a fun experience for all, with a menu just as inclusive. Go ahead and grab a latte or hot cocoa as you stroll the streets downtown.
Breakfast- Biscuit Head
A multi-location breakfast joint, this casual breakfast/lunch spot is perfect for a brunch date or a place to meet up with friends. If you couldn't tell by the name, their specialty is the biscuits. Big, fluffy, and loaded with delicious Southern goodness, this is not the place to go if you are trying to cut back on the carbs. Whatever you get, be sure to add a side of the pimento cheese grits! Look out for a full review coming soon!
Lunch- White Duck Taco Shop
You may have seen my previous post about my all-time favorite taco shop. White Duck Taco Shop can be found in three locations throughout Asheville, as well as several other cities spanning the state of North Carolina, and even venturing into Tennessee. With an expansive a la carte menu featuring taco classics or options for the more adventurous eater, this Asheville staple is one you can't pass up!
Dinner/Drinks- Wicked Weed Brewing
We love good beer in our family and Asheville is THE place to go if you feel the same! With roughly 50 breweries throughout the Asheville area, you will everything from small-town batches to globally known brands. During our quick trip (and because of the relentless rain) we headed to the closet spot, just a short 5-minute walk from our hotel, Wicked Weed Brewing. With a small but satisfying menu and spacious outdoor and indoor seating, we felt safe, comfortable, and full. This is the perfect place to visit for socially distant drinks and brewpub food, rain or shine!
What To Do
Of course no one wishes for rain on their vacation, especially when you only have a few days and most of your favorite activities are outdoors! What's important is making the most of your time and enjoying your travel partner no matter what the circumstances (often easier said than done)! Aside from wanting to spend time simply r e l a x i n g we did venture out around the downtown area.
Asheville is well-known for the plethora of family-owned shops featuring local artists and handmade goods. Kress Emporium, located a block off of Biltmore Avenue, features over 80 regional artists, antique curators, and sellers of fine homemade goods. If you're looking for a place to pick up a gift for a friend back home, this is THE place to go. Pottery, jewelry, candles, art, and more- you can spend hours strolling the artist booths (and avoiding the rain outside).
Mast General Store is another regional favorite. With several locations throughout the south, this family-owned company has established quite the presence in downtown Asheville. Browse the racks of tourist t-shirts, stickers, and mugs, or head downstairs to an entire floor filled with outdoor gear for your next camping trip! Pick and choose from the candy bulk bins and sample some locally made jam.
If you're lucky enough to catch a quick break from the rain, head over to Pack Square Park to stretch your legs and enjoy some outdoors (with easy access back inside if it stars to rain again)! Walk around the Vance Memorial and view the Black Lives Matter mural painted on N Pack Square.
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
Visiting the Equator is somewhat of a novel idea and a fun activity to do, but it especially makes sense to do so in Ecuador, which actually translates to equator.
Ecuador's capital city of Quito is one of the highest capital cities in the world, located at 9,350 feet above sea level, and is the closest capital city to the equator. Ecuador takes great pride in having such a strong claim to the equator and has gone to great lengths to ensure a satisfying experience when visiting this imaginary line.
The Mitad Del Mundo monument is a 100-foot tall building created in dedication to the location of the equator. Surrounding this monument is somewhat of a small village, filled with shops, food, and even a museum. All of this was built to celebrate Ecuador's proud relationship with the equator, but what's truly ironic is that this structure and small town were actually constructed about 800 feet off of the actual coordinates of the position of the equator. While the reasons for the slightly askew monument are a bit unclear, the immense pride of the Ecuadorian people and their love for the equator remains stronger than ever.
Visiting Mitad Del Mundo, or Middle of the World, whether it is the true equatorial location or not, is a cool experience. From balancing eggs on nail-heads to getting your passport stamped, browsing through the museum and learning about the history of Ecuador, and grabbing some delicious ice cream (remember it's hot at the equator), there is something for everyone! If standing in two different hemispheres at once really excites you, you do not want to miss this.
If you do want to visit the other equator, just walk a few blocks, roughly four minutes, down the road to Museo Intiñan. Unfortunately we were not able to enter as we arrived too late, but it look pretty fascinating from the outside.
I previously wrote about my visit to the Butterfly Garden in Mindo, but there is another beautiful garden worth visiting in this tiny tourist town. The Orchid Garden, or Jardín de Orquídeas, is a beautiful and tranquil garden located a few blocks away from downtown Mindo in the Ecuadorian cloud forest. Located on the grounds of the Cabanas Armonia hostel, this garden is a portal into another world, full of hundreds of colors and over 250 species of the most amazing orchids. Take a tour through this private collection of unique flora, experiencing this delicate ecosystem up close and personal.
The tour takes approximately 40 minutes, after which you can wander on your own, taking photos and viewing the elaborate planting and cultivating system that has been established. If you have the time, you can also request a bird tour, taking in even more of the natural color found throughout Ecuador.
Free to guests of the hostel, admission to the gardens is $3.00. Read more about the hostel, the gardens, and the available tours on the garden website, here.
In my last post I discussed the amazing hostel that is the Secret Garden Cotopaxi. I briefly mentioned that included with your stay is a free guided hike to some of the nearby waterfalls, but I wanted to share more about what that was like.
For me, it wasn't that great.
While this was a fantastic opportunity to explore the area and see some amazing scenery, I highly recommend allowing yourself to acclimate to the altitude before attempting any type of physical activity. I personally arrived in Quito the night before, slept for about six hours, and then headed straight to the mountains. I do not recommend doing this.
I somehow managed to make it through the hike, which was quite honestly not terribly difficult. I was just very sleep-deprived from traveling and not at all adjusted to the higher elevation.
If you enjoy hiking, waterfalls, and trudging through knee-deep water uphill in gigantic rubber boots, this is the activity for you. The hostel will provide you with the boots needed, and while they may be uncomfortable and awkward to walk in, I cannot stress enough how much I recommend that you wear these and not whatever pair of hiking shoes you brought with you. It. Is. Muddy. And wet and slippery and messy.
The part that I vividly remember the most is scaling a low all over the river, arms stretched out in front and behind me along a ledge, muddy and wet, when the girl behind me suddenly exclaims, "Oh my gosh your ring is GORGEOUS!" She was referring to my engagement ring, which at that exact moment was streaked with mud and I probably should not have been wearing. Forgetting the position I was in, I of course responded, "oh wow that is SO nice thank you SO much."
The entire hike was made worth it when we caught a brief glimpse of the volcano peak for which the park is named after. That sight with the sun shining after a quick rainstorm was the cherry on top. Of course, getting back to the hostel and enjoying a nice dip in the jacuzzi was an added bonus.
In case you missed it, I wrote an earlier post about horseback riding through the Andes mountains of Ecuador. What I didn't share with you was that, because of the three hour van ride from Quito, this was not exactly an easy day trip. This required some additional lodging and boy did we pick the right place.
The Secret Garden of Cotopaxi is a hostel located deep in the Ecuadorian countryside, roughly a three- hour bumpy van ride from Quito. You can arrange lodging and transportation from the sister hostel of the same name, located in Quito.
From here, we were able to book the horseback riding excursion that I detailed in an earlier blog post (you can find it here).
One of the biggest draws of staying at the Secret Garden, besides its utter adorableness, is its proximity and access to Cotopaxi National Park, and more specifically, Cotopaxi volcano. If you're lucky, during your stay you will be able to witness a sighting of the volcano- which is truly a gift as it provides a stunning landscape.
When selecting your lodging, you have the choice between several options, including small dorm-style housing, bird's nest cottages, or hobbit holes. I personally stayed in one of the hobbit holes, which was a very basic but very cozy room that featured a warm and comfy bed, some basic furniture, and a great view of the park.
Included in your stay at the Secret Garden is a free guided hike to some nearby waterfalls, which you can read about here. You will also be provided lunch on the day of your arrival and departure, as well as all other meals during your stay. You have access to unlimited water, coffee, and tea, as well as little snacks such as fruit or bread.
The hostel staff can help you book excursions with outside organizations, including the horseback riding tour through Cotopaxi National Park that I opted for. You can also choose from a variety of different hikes through the park or to the volcano. Read more about the available excursions here.
You'll definitely want to take advantage of the heated jacuzzi, where you can enjoy views of the park and a comfortable place to relax. If you're lucky, you may even spot a llama or two.
Check out the amazing video below to get an inside look at the BEAUTIFUL grounds and surrounding park at The Secret Garden in Cotopaxi.
The capital city of Quito is Ecuador's largest and most populous city, with almost 3.5 million people within the metro region. At 9,350 feet in elevation, it is the second-highest capital city in the world and the closest to the equator. In 2008, Quito was designated as the headquarters of the Union of the South American Nations. As one of the world's first World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1978, Quito has one of the best-preserved historic centers in the Americas.
While in Quito, I was on my own to explore the city. I knew I wanted to see the best the city had to offer, but because of its massive spread, it's not the type of place that's easily walkable. So, I decided to start in the heart of the city at the Basilica of the National Vow.
The Basilica is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas with a spire height of 377 feet. With the first stone laid on July 10, 1892, the basilica was constructed for almost the next 20 years. Pope John Paul II blessed the basilica on January 30, 1985 and inaugurated on July 12, 1988 but remains technically unfinished. According to local legend, the completion of the basilica would signal the ending of the world.
When visiting, you will want to make sure you have enough time to walk the grounds and explore the various nooks and crannies. While the basilica itself is gorgeous, you will not want to miss the experience of seeing the sprawling expanse of Quito from the top. You can take an elevator from one of the main towers to the top, then walk across a catwalk through the attic, before arriving on an outdoor walkway. While you're high up, there's more to go! Be sure to locate the iron staircase that takes you to the very top- it is from here that you will find yourself eye-level with the clock towers while gazing out upon unparalleled views of the city landscape and surrounding mountains.
Once your knees stop shaking from experiencing the shear height, you will want to take some time to appreciate the unparalleled views of the city. On your way back down, be sure to take a peek at the workers repairing and assembling the beautiful stained glass found throughout the basilica.
I like hidden gems, hole-in-the-walls, and offbeat destinations