Football season is upon us, and every Saturday we get a handful of guests on our Asheville food tours that are checking scores as we go and are ready to hit a spot with televised games in the evening. Being a town that is all about food, art, and local businesses, Asheville is not always the easiest place to figure out where to take in a game. But as the popularity of great cuisine has risen to the levels of sports fandom, we are lucky to be home to a few great Asheville restaurants who have embraced serving high-quality food and drink alongside the flatscreens that many of Asheville’s best restaurants shun. So for those of you who appreciate watching a game accompanied by something more than wings and a sterile chain restaurant environment, I figured I’d give you a rundown of the best Asheville restaurants where you can catch a game and a great meal.
Downtown, the champion of sports bars is of course the Bier Garden. While these guys have been offering televisions, games and the largest selection of beer in WNC since the last millennia, not many people realize the evolution their kitchen has undergone in the last few years. As the Asheville culinary scene has grown into its Foodtopia status, Bier Garden has become a foodtopia of its own, adding some serious eats to its vast beer and pub grub repertoire. Bier Garden is still a great place to get a sandwich, wings or nachos, but did you know they also prepare the likes of seared duck breast, fresh Mahi and risotto, Ahi Tuna with endive, pork tenderloin with barley pilaf and Kobe beef burgers? I didn’t either until we started running tours there this year, and every week I am impressed by the innovative cuisine they are offering up alongside there amazing selection of NC Craft Beer, pool, video games and enough televisions to have all possible games on.
For a not-so sporty, more urbane downtown Asheville restaurant and bar where you can still enjoy live sports, the definite choice is the Social Lounge. The Social Lounge offers Anthony Cerrato’s modern gastropub fare alongside some of Asheville’s best craft cocktails, with 2 flatscreens right behind the bar downstairs, where you can sit back, relax and catch the game in a loungy fashion.
For more sport viewing plus gastronomical fulfillment, some of Asheville’s best restaurants are tucked away in West Asheville, only a mile and a half away from downtown. Buffalo Nickel is a killer option for sports, featuring an upstairs lounge and gameroom with plenty of screen acreage, separate from the dedicated dining room on the first floor. Chef Ryan Kline’s full menu is available up at the bar, and it is some of the best Asheville restaurant fare going these days, representing local farms on a super-creative changing menu alongside Stephen Wheeler’s equally creative farm to table cocktail menu.
A couple of doors down is Nine Mile, the best Asheville restaurant for Caribbean cooking with Appalachian ingredients courtesy of chef Amy Lawson and these guys offer a great lineup of genuine Caribbean cocktails. Their tubes are visible from the bar and most of the dining room, and Nine Mile epitomizes what a hospitable neighborhood restaurant and bar should be.
Head across the street to Pour Taproom, for lots of games and lots of beers, as Pour offers the world’s largest selection of pour your own beer with close to 50 taps featuring NC craft beer that you pay for by the ounce, meaning you can sample indefinitely. Pour serves the full menu from neighboring Asheville Sandwich Company, so you can eat a great meal and enjoy the interactive beer experience. Pour also has a killer game room with a 100-year old shuffleboard table.
This weekend check out some of these spots for gridiron action plus great food and drinks. These joints are some of Asheville’s best restaurants and are definitely way up the food chain from the rest of the Asheville bars and restaurants offering television access. And if you want to get a preview, give us a call and we’ll set you up on Asheville’s best walking food tour!