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Asheville: North Carolina's artist, foodie mecca

Upon returning from my Christmas trip to Asheville, N.C., I recommend the following restaurants and art galleries:

People watching in Asheville, North Carolina, Dec. 29, 2012.
  • Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar (1 Page Ave.): Peruse used books while listening to musicians play archaic instruments, like the hammered dulcimer. Be sure to try the gingerbread cheesecake. (Imagine gingerbread, but with the texture of pumpkin pie.)

  • Doc Chey’s Noodle House (37 Biltmore Ave.): If you have one night in Asheville, eat at this restaurant. Do not be discouraged by the queue; the wait is worthwhile: The Chinese Chicken Noodle soup is the best soup I have ever eaten.

  • Laughing Seed Café (40 Wall St.): This farm-to-table eatery specializes in vegetarian cuisine, fusing tastes of Thailand, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean.

  • Mellow Mushroom (50 Broadway Ave.): Born out of the 1970s Hippie culture, this trippy chain establishment is known for its pizza crust recipe and craft beers.

  • Salsa Mexican Caribbean Restaurant (6 Patton Ave.): Who would have thought fruit and cabbage on a taco could be so delicioso?

  • Tupelo Honey Café (12 College St.): From the complimentary biscuits to the fried green tomatoes, this restaurant offers contemporary twists on traditional southern recipes.

  • 21st Annual National Gingerbread House Competition (1 Page Ave.): Select entries included a gingerbread replica of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire arena, a Bavarian village, a tree house, and an old red barn. The competition’s grand prize went to Kimberly Thalman of Franklin, Wis., for her panda bear scene.

  • K2 Studio (59 College St.): A bohemian look, blending antique and modern furniture and accessorizing them with eclectic items like sea shells, glass bottles, driftwood, and pine. A notable chandelier was made of upside down glass bottles.

  • Kress Emporium (19 Patton Ave.): Built in 1928, the emporium showcases “something for everyone;” a variety of paintings, soaps, and candles from about 80 regional artists.

  • Woolworth Walk (25 Haywood St.): Asheville’s largest local art gallery, boasting jewelry, glass, metal, pottery, photography, apparel, textile, and wood. Walter Arnold’s “The Art of Abandonment” exhibit includes strangely beautiful, yet slightly dark, photographs taken in abandoned historical structures around America.

  • ZaPow! (21 Battery Park Ave.): Comic and pop culture art, with a dash of psychedelic. Imagine a painting of The Beatles’ Abbey Road (1969) album cover, but with teddy bears and Disney’s Alice in Wonderland characters in the background.

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