The VI2018 conference will be held on-site at the Crowne Plaza Resort in Asheville, NC. (Please note the hotel is now completely booked for the conference weekend. As alternates, try the nearby Country Inn and Suites, or else an easily drive-able location on the I-240 corridor.)
Looking for a roommate? Need a ride to/from the airport or to the Biltmore? Conference attendees are encouraged to share information and needs on this shared document.
Looking for things to do and places to eat? Asheville’s Visitor’s Bureau has compiled an extensive page for Victorians Institute conference goers about the city, the region, activities, and cuisine. VI attendees will find discounted tickets to the nearby Biltmore Estate in their conference folders. Conference participants may also be interested in a special exhibit of Victorian Mourning practices at the Smith-McDowell House and Museum.
The Victorian Institute’s Cameron Dodworth has also provided the following guide of Things to Do in Asheville: Particularly considering its size, Asheville is one of the better food and beverage cities in America. It may be the beer capital of North Carolina, and conference attendees are welcome to join our closing brewery tour. Asheville has fantastic restaurants, good cocktail bars, and even some local wines. With plenty of interesting bookstores, coffee houses, and diverse specialty shops spread all over the city, the best recommendation would be to just take some time to walk and explore. Below are a few highlights.
Options close to the hotel
Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack
1455 Patton Ave.
Rocky’s does Tennessee-style hot chicken, as well as other Southern and soul food classics. They have beers on tap, and they also do live music, so check out their music schedule on their website, if you’re interested.
575 Haywood Rd.
The Tastee Diner does breakfast all day, has some decent vegetarian options, serves beer, and has a pretty cool and classic diner-style décor. They also do burgers and fries, as well as hot chicken, and several of their offerings have a Korean and Hawaiian spin on biscuits and breakfast fare.
White Duck Taco Shop
1 Roberts St.
White Duck is a small regional franchise with 3 locations around Asheville, 3 more in South Carolina, and one just across the border from North Carolina in Tennessee. They have an eclectic menu of taco ingredients with a lot of potential for multicultural fusion, including Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Jamaican, American, Mexican, Spanish, and Greek items. Convenient, tasty, and relatively inexpensive.
River Arts District and West Asheville
As the conference hotel is not far from the R.A.D. and West Asheville, these are also great places to explore. Both neighborhoods are flush with restaurants, pubs, shopping, artist studios and showrooms, and even a couple of breweries.
Upper Echelon Restaurants
13 Biltmore Ave.
Can’t say enough about Cúrate, as it is arguably the best restaurant experience that Asheville has to offer. One of the best chefs in America (in all seriousness), Chef Katie Button has put together a wonderful tapas restaurant, in a beautiful venue, with great sherries and cocktails, right in the middle of downtown Asheville. Of course, this implies a couple of obvious things: 1) if you’re interested, make a reservation, and do so ASAP; 2) it ain’t cheap. However, if you don’t mind spending a bit of extra money on an incredible food and beverage experience, then Cúrate is highly recommended. Try to stretch your comfort zone with your tapas selections, or even let your server curate (hey-oh!) a tapas experience for you. And particularly if you go with a larger group, it is well worth the money to splurge for the cochinillo (one quarter of a roasted suckling pig). It’s the most expensive tapas plate on the menu, but it is amazing.
32 S. Lexington Ave.
Nightbell is another one of Chef Button’s creations, but is more focused on local Appalachian ingredients and craft cocktails. So, if you’d like to try some high-quality Southern and regional fare, then Nightbell is a fantastic opportunity for it. But of course, reservations and the willingness to splurge are again also required.
13 Eagle St.
Speaking to Asheville’s relative wealth of quality restaurants, as well as its diversity in food and beverage options, Limones is a high-end Mexican restaurant with a great food menu as well as a great selection of margaritas. They also open for brunch on Sunday, so if you are willing to acknowledge the fundamental truth that Mexican breakfast is amazing, then have a wonderful one before heading back home from the conference. Again, Limones is not cheap, and reservations are highly recommended.
Other Great and Diverse Restaurant Options
7 S.W. Pack Square
Another regionally-acclaimed chef, Chef John Fleer, has put together another great example of a menu with interesting takes on local ingredients. Also more on the expensive side, Rhubarb showcases some great regional fare with a great cocktail list.
62 N. Lexington Ave.
Another relatively expensive but high-quality option, Bouchon will satisfy your cravings for some classic French comfort food. Focusing on farm-to-table local ingredients, you can get your escargot fix at this French bistro, complete with a quality French wine list. They don’t take reservations, but will certainly be busy during weekend peak hours, so plan accordingly.
Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria
42 Biltmore Ave.
Barley’s has good pizza and a great beer selection. With plenty of TVs around the restaurant, it’s more of a sports pub atmosphere and is therefore a great place to watch a game. They also have pool tables and occasionally have live music. Definitely a good place to unwind after a day at the conference.
White Duck Taco Shop
12 Biltmore Ave.
Another location. See description above.
Tupelo Honey Café
12 College St.
A bit larger of a franchise, but mostly based in the Southeast, Tupelo Honey does some great Southern classics and cocktails. They also do a good brunch and breakfast. It is reasonably-priced, but does get rather busy during peak hours.
The Lobster Trap
35 Patton Ave.
If you feel like seafood, The Lobster Trap is a great Asheville classic, boasting the preparation only of fresh seafood, caught by trusted domestic purveyors, who practice sustainable fishing techniques. Seafood is expensive, so do keep that in mind, but The Lobster Trap does have a more casual atmosphere.
417 Biltmore Ave.
Another small regional franchise, Biscuit Head has 2 locations in Asheville and one more in Greenville, SC. A couple of other breakfast options have already been mentioned in Limones and Tupelo Honey Café, so why does Biscuit Head headline the Breakfast section? Is it because of the biscuits? Well, they are indeed pretty good, and even though they aren’t quite as big as one’s head, they’re still pretty darn big for biscuits. But Biscuit Head also does something rather unique, and really quite magical if you’re a fan of breakfast food. Two words: Gravy Flight. What’s a gravy flight, you ask? Well, if you’re familiar with a beer flight or a whiskey flight, then you at least understand the concept, but substitute those wonderful beverages with your choice of 3 gravies from a list of no less than 7 uniquely-flavored gravies, and now you truly understand the magic. They also do other great breakfast items, but don’t embarrass yourself by walking through the doors of Biscuit Head with someone in your party failing to order a gravy flight. But be warned: especially on weekends, this place gets extremely busy during peak breakfast hours with a line well out the door and extending across the parking lot. So, get there early and get that gravy!
Early Girl Eatery
8 Wall St.
Over Easy Café
32 Broadway St.
Coffee Shops and Book Shops
13 Broadway St.
Old Europe does good coffee and tea, and they also have some really nice pastries and desserts.
World Coffee Café
18 Battery Park Ave.
The World Coffee Café serves Counter Culture Coffee, which is darn tasty, and they also serve basic pastries. They are housed in the Historic Flatiron Building, which is also home to SkyBAR (which will be discussed more below).
French Broad Food Co-Op
90 Biltmore Ave.
No, this is not exactly a coffee shop, and is actually a cooperative grocery store. However, their bulk coffee is particularly good. Buy some to take home or to brew up in your hotel room coffee maker (but don’t forget to grind it first!).
Battery Park Exchange & Champagne Bar
1 Page Ave.
A very cool-looking bookstore with new and used books, an espresso bar, and yes, a wine bar!
Malaprops Bookstore & Café
55 Haywood St.
An actual independent bookstore! They do still exist! Also serves organic coffee.
The Captain’s Bookshelf
31 Page Ave.
Great selection of used and rare books, and not far from the beautiful Basilica of St. Lawrence.
A Few Other Cool Shops to Get You Started on Your Wanderings
Mast General Store
15 Biltmore Ave.
First established in Valle Crucis, NC in 1883, Mast has 9 locations throughout the Carolinas and Tennessee, and their Asheville location is definitely a good one. Lots of great gift items and quality outdoors/mountain gear and clothing. A great callback to the general stores of old.
66 Broadway St.
Has a great selection well beyond the many fantastic beers of Asheville and the rest of North Carolina. Plenty of unique finds available.
Asheville Wine Market
65 Biltmore Ave.
Pretty good wine selection with tasting opportunities available.
Some Interesting Bars to Get You Started
7 Rankin Ave.
Great Cocktail Lounge with cool décor, a good atmosphere, and also some pretty good burgers and tater tots (as well as other various food items).
7 S.W. Pack Square
If Rhubarb is too busy and you can’t get a table, the R-Bar is a great place to wait for an opening, or to just go for drinks. It’s separate from the rest of the restaurant in its own smaller area, which gives you direct contact with your friendly bartenders. Great Cocktails and beer selections at the R-Bar.
20 Battery Park Ave.
SkyBAR is affiliated with the World Coffee Shop, as discussed above, and is also located in the Historic Flatiron Building. They do some pretty good cocktails, but honestly, they could serve Old Milwaukee Light exclusively and it would still be a great place to get a drink. Walk into the lobby of the 20 Battery Park Ave. entrance and step into an elevator, and once you arrive at the SkyBAR above, you’ll see what I mean. While sipping on a quality cocktail you can enjoy one of the greatest open-air views available of Asheville and the surrounding mountains. Especially at sunset, it’s pretty stunning. Compound that with the fact that there will still be plenty of color from the changing leaves around the time of our conference, and you’ve got a potentially fantastic visual experience to go along with your beverage. But keep in mind that you’re not the only one with this great idea in mind, so time your visit just right. They also do accept reservations.
Jack of the Wood
95 Patton Ave.
If you want to follow up your great visual experience at SkyBAR with an entertaining auditory experience, while continuing to get your drink on, the head over to Jack of the Wood. They do decent and classic English pub fare, and their drinks are also decent. They also have a great beer selection. But what makes Jack of the Wood the most unique is their live music. Those that play Jack of the Wood specialize in Old Time, Bluegrass, Celtic, Americana, and also Cajun music, so Jack of the Wood is a great opportunity to hear some real live mountain music from its source. Check out their music schedule on their website to see what piques your interest.
The Yacht Club
87 Patton Ave.
Who loves dive bars? Who loves tiki bars? Who loves nautical themes? Well, I’m 3 for 3…how ‘bout you? If you’re sick of all of these classy joints I’ve listed above, then The Yacht Club is your jam. They also do late-night food. Late night at The Yacht Club is always entertaining! Maybe I’ll see you there…