A mere five-hour drive through the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, this Low Country hot spot is a nexus of international cuisine and craft beer.
Start by booking your reservations at Cúrate at least a month out. Under the watchful eye of chef/owner Katie Button—a protégé of Ferran Adrià and José Andrés—a small battalion of line cooks prepare tasting flights of Spanish ham (the inimitable Jamon Iberico is from pigs fattened exclusively on acorns), crispy patatas bravas, and tender medallions of octopus tentacle with pimenton and aioli. In 2005, Table put Asheville on the map for farm-to-table efforts, and Jacob Sessoms and his crew continue to turn out a stellar array of charcuterie, rabbit, beef, and trout all sourced from less than 100 miles away. While the wine list is extensive, the cocktails are both creative and hyper-seasonal.
South of the border staples are well within the wheelhouse of Mexico City native Hugo Ramirez, who infuses each with a modern sensibility at Limones. Don’t miss his lobster nachos, trio of ceviche, or short rib sopes. The margarita list is lengthy, but it’s the carrot and habañero iteration you must try. Fancy some French? Gallic transplant Michel Baudouin’s charming bijoux bistro, Bouchon, serves up all-you-can-eat “redneck-prep” mussels (steamed with PBR, of course), steak tartare (Thursdays only, sadly), and saumon a la nage. A staunch supporter of the Asheville beer community, his bar taps rotate pours from Green Man, Highland, and Pisgah breweries.
Blown away by all the culinary creativity on display? Inspired to try your hand in the kitchen back home? Look no further than The Captain’s Bookshelf, which features an irresistible selection of second-hand and antiquarian rare books with a strong emphasis on French cuisine (think Alain Senderens and Georges Blanc), not to mention philosophy and Civil War history. Just down the street at the Battery Park Book Exchange, sip something sparkling (they offer more than 100 varieties of wine and champagne) while perusing their massive selection of cookbooks.