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“Tupelo, it’s right above Onepelo.” – Mudbone

Lindsay and I spent last Friday night in Asheville, North Carolina for the “Laugh Your Asheville Off” Comedy Festival.  One of my best friends, Rory Scovel, was headlining the show that night and was kind enough to comp two tickets for us.  Before the show started Lindsay and I met up with another comedian friend of mine from Washington, DC, Jon Mumma.  Rory, Jon and myself started comedy together in DC and it was so great to get to spend some time with my old buddies & have them meet Lindsay.

Before the show Lindsay, Jon and I went and had dinner at Tupelo Honey Café.  I was really impressed with this small, casual diner-like restaurant.  I discovered them online while searching for cool, hip places to eat in Asheville and was not let down.  We arrived at 6:30 and had a 45 min wait, but it was well worth it.  They have a small little “lounge” area in the back where we waited and had drinks.  Lindsay and I each got a sample rack of beer.  We each had the Gateway Kolsch and Pisgah Pale Ale, but mine finished with a Green Man IPA and the “Wee-Heavy-er” Scotch Ale, while Lindsay had the Gaelic Ale and Seasonal Draft.  They were fantastic and the Scotch Ale seemed to have a hint of bacon!  Beer and bacon…what else could you ask for?  45 mins flew by thanks to the good conversations and quality alcohol.  We got lucky and got to sit at the counter/chef’s table.  It felt like we were sitting on the line.  Several times during the course of the meal, one of the cooks would pop in and check to see if we were happy.  That’s such a wonderful thing and it really made us strangers feel like regulars.

We all ordered very well.  Jon went with the pork chops.  They were thin cut, bone in chops that were seared and finished with a peach-fennel salsa.  For an additional side he got an ear of fried, Parmesan crusted corn.  Wow.  That was some damn tasty corn.  Lindsay and I got an appetizer of croquettes.  Delightful, deep fried balls of cheesy, curried cauliflower, with andouille sausage and served with braised figs.  Not too heavy and super tasteful.  Then we split the “healthy” option of the Veggie Plate.  Our “healthy” selections were: fried green tomatoes, mac & cheese, and fried okra.  I could totally be a vegetarian with those types of selections.  The okra, or as they call it, “southern popcorn” was spot on.  Not greasy or salty.  The mac & cheese had some sort of bacon product in there, as well as several cheeses.  It was thick as mud…real stick to your ribs type of food.  The fried green tomatoes were simple, but had a wonderful flavor.  The cornmeal batter for the okra and tomatoes did not hide the flavor of the veggies/fruit.

In addition to the quality food, the restaurant provides quality characters in their staff.  Asheville is an artistic town that is a safe haven for freaks, weirdoes, and the folks who are just left of center.  The only qualification to be an employee at Tupelo Honey Café seemed to be a visible tattoo.  Beautiful full sleeve tattoos adorned most of the staff, as well as coils of dreadlocks.  They’re simple, open-minded, peace-loving stereotypical hippies…my kind of people.  They all seemed to be proud of their restaurant and happy to be at work, despite the fact that they were slammed and probably in the weeds.  I’ll totally go back and enjoy this place again.  Hopefully, it’ll be in the fall and I can sit on the patio and soak up some fresh mountain air with Lindsay.

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