Early Girl Eatery is the perfect reflection of Asheville. It's artsy, casual, classic, modern, and delicious all at once. The menu, a combination of North Carolina and vegetarian food works surprisingly well. But then again, Asheville is surrounded by farm country and what was once farm country.
The hip interior features tables covered in brown paper and walls covered with the work of local artists, some of whom take to using the brown paper as canvas. I wish I could tell you what lunch or dinner are like, but I was only there for multiple breakfasts. I even snuck in a last time the day I left Asheville to get some pumpkin bread to take on the plane.
Proprietor John Stehling grew up in the mountains and parts of Central and Eastern North Carolina, a state that has lost more than 6,000 farms and 300,000 acres of farmland since 2002. He is committed to buying as much local produce and meat as he can. Using what's local and in-season makes sense to him, serving plenty of vegetarian fare is what makes sense to his wife and co-proprietor, Julie. The restaurant participates in a CSA program and has a "keep it simple" philosophy.
I fell in love with the place after dipping in to a bowl of grits topped with andouille sausage gravy, and plump, juicy shrimp. Little flavorful bits of peppers, tomatoes and chopped scallions added brightness to this Southern dish.
The next day a simple biscuit with egg and sausage also put a smile on my face.
Prices are affordable to make sure locals keep coming. John told me some folks eat here everyday of the week. Many order the same thing daily. The customers on any given day also include vegetarians, college kids, artists, vegans, and more cosmopolitan tourists too. Their web site has a few recipes posted and while I would have snapped up a cookbook in a minute, they are happy to share their recipes. If you make it to Asheville be sure and stop by.
Early Girl Eatery
8 Wall St
Asheville, North Carolina
(call or visit web site for hours)