Tupelo Honey Café is one of those landmark dining spots that actually deserves its popularity. Tourists and locals alike go to the Asheville restaurant for Southern comfort food with a modern twist. It’s a high-volume place (and a second location was added last year), so I don’t know what the local-sourcing ratio is, but for sure it’s there. You can read a little more about that below in the entry I wrote on them in my book.
Longtime fans and newcomers will enjoy their just-out cookbook, “Tupelo Honey Café: Spirited Recipes from Asheville’s New South Kitchen” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $29.99), written by Asheville writer Elizabeth Sims with Tupelo chef Brian Sonoskus. (For you local readers, the pair will be doing signings and tastings at A Southern Season on June 5 from noon to 2, and The Regulator Bookshop on June 6 at 7 p.m. I can’t get to either, dangit.)
The hardcover book is highly stylized, heavy on the design side and filled with fantastic photos of both mouth-watering dishes and Asheville scenes, past and present. Recipes (they all look fairly simple) include Green Tomato Salsa, Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower, Nutty Fried Chicken, Mondo Mushroom Ragout, and Goat Cheese Basil Grits. The beer pairings for each main dish are my favorite touch (don’t worry, there are wine pairings too), a nod to the city’s numerous breweries and brewpubs.
Here’s my Tupelo entry in “Farm Fresh North Carolina”:
Tupelo Honey Café opened in downtown Asheville in 2000 as a laid-back breakfast and lunch spot for southern comfort food with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. In its first decade, it grew into a tourist mainstay, adding dinner hours and a line of merchandise. In 2008 new owner Stephen Frabitore stepped things up even more, opening a second location and arranging a deal for a Tupelo Honey cookbook, to be published in 2011. Throughout this time, chef Brian Sonoskus has continued to draw customers with his creative, affordable dishes, many relying on area farmers. Much of the produce comes from Sonoskus’s own Sunshot Organics, a twelve-acre farm he started in 2007. He grows vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, loads of blueberries, and even raises some laying hens. As for the Tupelo honey found on every table? That’s from Florida, but we’ll let it slide.
12 College Street, 828-255-4863; 1829 Hendersonville Road, 828-505-7676; Asheville (Buncombe County), www.tupelohoneycafe.com.