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asheville - looking for innovative shoestring budget lunches...

I adore Asheville's food scene - in my opinion, we are spoiled rotten in terms of both quality and variety - but I am always searching for the perfect lunch! I am looking for something that is well priced (under $10 preferably), not too heavy or grease-intensive (the 'day-killer'), and uses interesting ingredients and pairings that will not leave my palate yawning. So far, I have managed to find several close-to-perfect lunches, but i am in fear of eating them too often and spoiling them for myself. My favorites are: the 11:30 - 3 Zen sushi lunch special (this one is the best, probably, for value - you get a salad with ginger dressing, miso soup, and two rolls - for between 7-8 dollars, depending on the rolls), the Noodle Shop soup bowls (the Da Lu or Dan Dan with mung bean noodles are my favorites; they run about $7 and the staff is open to adding ingredients); Jerusalem Garden has a sampler plate that is delicious, although it comes close to exceeding the shoestring criteria...however, generally speaking, I end up only being able to find one or two items on each menu that are awesome and dont break the bank. I know that I have to 'shop around' - which is why im asking for some imput on specific menu items...any suggestions?

New York Prime.. Myrtle Beach

im actually getting ready to head down that way myself this weekend...in my experience, the best restaurants are actually in the surrounding areas - less tourist traps, better prices, and generally higher quality food. It does seem a shame, though, that you are looking for steak and lobster in an area that has such an abundance of fresh local seafood...however, the best place for food - of any kind - that i have found in the area is Murrell's Inlet, which is a tiny little town near Pawley's Island...they have an excellent steakhouse (Bovine's, I believe?) that is reasonably priced for the quality (somewhere around $15-30/entree). They also have a variety of local seafood and innovative pairings that may interest your (hopefully more adventurous) fellow dining companions. Most of the restaurants in this area are delicious - but its no longer a secret to the surrounding area, so be prepared to wait or make a reservation during peak season or on the weekend. if you prefer to make your own dinners, i would highly suggest Murrell's Inlet Seafood (store? i cant remember the name exactly)- they have the freshest and best, and will often give you a discount if you are buying for a larger group...last time I went, it was oyster season, and we got a sixty pound bag for under 25 dollars - and they were amazing. hope that helped a bit -

Mum's the Velveeta

obviously its the morality of the issue that's at stake here...and there are some grey areas. for instance, i dont believe that throwing a bit of bread in with the sauce is exactly tantamount to sneaking meat in a vegetarian's diet...for obvious reasons. the 'south beach' dieter is not averse to bread for any reason other than to lose weight - certainly not for moral or ecological reasons, nor allergies. i do agree that it is a little sneaky - but you also have to look at the whole picture. the chef in this instance literally *framed* the meal around the dietary restrictions of one of his/her friends so that they would be able to be included and enjoy dinner out, even while being on a new diet. I think that actually shows quite a bit of respect. If a little bread got thrown in the sauce as a desperate measure - and, when you think about it, probably less than half a crouton made it onto his plate - this seems to be excusable considering the time and effort that the chef had already made. And if half a crouton will ruin your diet - you should consider yourself a bit high maintenance.

Jan 24, 2008
cahlinny in Features