by Melissa (Missi) Hathaway
Asheville was placed as a top destination for America’s Greenest Dining, through a collaboration between Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute and Asheville Independent Restaurant Association (also known as AIR) and is set to continue its healthy dining initiative into the foreseeable future.
The green restaurant program includes dealing with issues of energy efficiency and waste management and a large number of eateries now support the drive and partner up with suppliers and with each other for further green ideas and developments. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Randy Talley of AIR claimed that ‘it’s good for the community, good for the planet, and good for our bottom line.’
Last year residents protested against a coal fired plant in the area, which was seen as damaging to the environment through its process of stripping coal from mountaintops, proving that Asheville takes its green issues very seriously indeed.
The move by restaurants has put Asheville on the map as America’s first Green Dining Destination and is drawing in tourists who are attracted by the green initiatives offered here and who are curious to see the results for themselves.
In February this year, Asheville managed to reach its goal of having 15 certified restaurants in the city go green, with the 16th being certified shortly afterwards, and this enabled the city to earn the accolade of America’s first green dining destination. The Mayor, Terry Bellamy, announced that ‘Asheville’s 15 Certified Green Restaurants are leading the way toward zero waste’ as well as sustainability and that they were giving diners a superior selection of establishments to choose from (airasheville.org).
The certified restaurants range from 2, 3 and 4 star dining destinations and they offer a wide range of food. All restaurants are located within Asheville. The choice includes:
French Broad Chocolates
Located on South Lexington Avenue, this eatery is all about chocolate. Visitors can relax in the chocolate lounge, sipping wine or hot chocolate and nibbling on chocolate brownies and cake. French Broad Chocolates also deliver to customers, who can browse the selection of truffles and caramels online. Locals have the option of ordering first and collecting at the restaurant.
Plant is situated on Merrimon Avenue and serves dinner from 5 to 9 Sunday to Thursday and 5 to 10 on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant offers plates featuring local flavors and is wholly vegetarian. On the menu are small plates of Seitan Satay Skewers, made with grilled pineapple and peanut sauce, and Smoke Hummus. Entrees include red curry tofu, mixed mushroom grill and smoked Portabello steak made with polenta, chard and grape tomato salad. Plant has received favourable reviews in WNC magazine and Mountain Xpress and was chosen as ‘best of WNC’ in 2012 by Mountain Xpress readers.
The Green Sage
This restaurant is located downtown and in South Asheville, and is a 4 star dining destination. Food is local and organic and the restaurant promotes healthy lifestyles with its gluten free and vegetarian dining, as well as preservative free meats. Guests can choose from grass fed beef, chicken or Tempeh sandwiches in classic, Swiss shroom or Greek Feta styles as well as Chipotle Jack burgers. Salads are a popular option at the restaurant, such as spinach and beet or Sage house salad.
The Green Sage has featured in articles about its sustainability in the Asheville Citizen Times, WNC magazine and UNC TV.
The ethos at Luella’s is great food made with honest, loving hands. The name of this Asheville restaurant comes from the owner’s grandmother Luella who was renowned for her astonishing cooking. Plates are cooked with soybean oil and used oils are recycled at Blue Ridge Biofuel. Guests can choose such dishes as dry rubbed sweet potato chips, smoked jumbo wings, chile rubbed beef brisket and smoked andouille sausage and there is also a selection of salads served.
Luella’s involves itself with the community through causes such as MANNA Foodbank and the American Red Cross.
Experience Asheville’s Green Dining for Yourself
Asheville is a popular tourist destination, famed for its scenery, food, art and beer. There are a wide variety of culinary delights on offer in the city, from Mediterranean to vegetarian plates and southern cooking with a twist. Asheville is proud of its cuisine and its new status as green dining destination means that there is an emphasis on healthy eating and local produce such as organic beef or mountain trout as well as seasonal vegetarian dishes and fresh salads. This is bound to attract even more visitors, particularly those for who green issues are important and like to do what they can to protect the environment. There are sidewalk cafes to sit out at and many of the city’s restaurants feature live music for their diners’ enjoyment. Tourists come to Asheville for the mountain attractions, the hospitality and food, as well as the craft fairs held throughout the year. There are online discount coupons available for visitors to Asheville, featuring special packages on local attractions, and with competitive flights available as well as online overseas car insurance deals, getting here is easier than ever. Compare the best prices from online insurance companies to make sure you are getting the best deal for your trip and visit Asheville, where green dining is taking the city by storm.