Twelve Bones Smokehouse

“When I get a hankering for some good barbeque…”  Okay, you’ll never actually hear that come out of my mouth.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally get a hankering for a good barbeque restaurant.  I do.  Frequently.  Particularly when it’s Twelve Bones.  Twelve Bones may have the distinction of being the only restaurant in Asheville that President Obama has visited twice.  (Feel free to correct me on that if I’m wrong.)  And there’s good reason.  Nestled in the heart of Asheville’s hip River Arts District, Twelve Bones is tasty, surprisingly inventive, and has a sort of cheeky, casual atmosphere that just makes you happy to be there.  Oh, did I mention that they have great vegetarian food as well?

It may take you a few minutes of waiting to get to the counter, but once you get to there,  you’ll find that you have several tasty options.  My husband’s favorite is the Smoked Portabella sandwich (or the “MLT”).  It’s served on sturdy wheatberry bread with fried green tomatoes, lettuce, and pesto mayo.  It’s astonishing that my husband will agree to eat anything with mayo on it, so this is testament to how good it is.  I almost invariably get the assortment of vegetarian sides.  The nice folks at Twelve Bones are kind enough to put information on the board about items that are gluten-free, and they are quick to tell you when you ask if any of the veggie sides are off limits to vegetarians (usually it’s the collard greens and the baked beans ).   You’re allowed four (which includes a complimentary piece of corn bread), but my absolute favorites are the Smoked Potato Salad (which really is deliciously smoky) and the (“Damn Good”) Corn Pudding.  Yes, they really do call it that, and it lives up to its name.  It is creamy, just a tiny bit sweet, and supremely satisfying.  Also well worth a try are the Buttered Green Beans, which are seasoned with generous doses of black pepper, and the Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  (Yes, it’s a bit of a starch-fest, but well worth it, in my opinion.)  If you’re in the mood for cheese, it would be hard to go wrong with the Jalapeno Cheese Grits or the Macaroni and Cheese.  The Mac and Cheese is not my personal favorite, because I prefer a baked Mac and Cheese with a sharply delineated crust, but I know lots of people who find it delightful.  If you’re looking for something a little fresher and lighter, try the Cucumber Salad or Sweet Vinegar Cole Slaw.

Also on the lighter side, Twelve Bones offers a Green Salad which you can supplement with Portabella if you choose.  It includes feta cheese, dried cherries, candied pecans, tomatoes and cucumber, and even though I’ve never tried it, it definitely looks intriguing.

One of the only drawbacks about this place is that they’re only open for weekday lunch.  The other is that they are usually VERY busy for weekday lunch, which means that there’s usually a long line to get in…not especially conducive to enjoying a half-hour or hour-long lunch break.  (Their other location, in Arden, is open for lunch on Saturday if weekdays are definitely not an option for you.)

Twelve Bones is one of those places where you never have to feel sheepish about taking your meat-eating friends.  And if they seem put-off by the humble location by the railroad tracks and the cinder-block plainness of the building, you can always pull out the “Hey, if it’s good enough for the President of the United States, it should be good enough for you” argument.  If the POTUS goes there once, it’s an experiment and a fact-finding mission based on a suggestion by the locals.  If he goes there twice, it probably means he’s found something really special.  I think you’ll agree.

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