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Another Asheville Resturant Row!

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4/14/2007 - Another Asheville Resturant Row!
by ACT

.ASHEVILLE - The menu options range from a jumbo hot dog with chili to Thai rice noodles to Mexican-style lamb. Not at one restaurant, but at the varied row of eateries that have blossomed along the Page Avenue side of Asheville's Grove Arcade.

"My choices are all here," said West Asheville's Wes Burke, 34, after enjoying a breakfast plate of scrambled eggs with cilantro, plantains and av0cado sauce at Latin-themed Chorizo. "I like the opportunity to pick and choose. I don't have to drive anywhere."

Burke has also dined at Modesto, Thai Basil and Cats and Dawgs, which join Carmel's, True Confections and Sante wine bar to create a burgeoning restaurant row along a picturesque downtown block.

"It's the place to be," said Asheville restaurateur Hector Diaz, who opened Chorizo about two weeks ago, after launching Italian-flavored Modesto next door last fall.

The downtown location, historic setting and outdoor ambience are all part of the Grove Arcade's appeal, Diaz said. "This is the Park Avenue of Asheville," he said. "I see a future here."

A stroll along Page Avenue offers a culinary tour of the United States, Latin America, Italy and Thailand, with coffee and wine bars complementing the full-service eateries.

Restaurant owners said having plenty of culinary company benefits the whole group.

"We feel that the more restaurants that open up, it only helps all of us," said Carole Bowers, co-owner and executive chef of Carmel's Restaurant and Bar, which opened in December. "It becomes a destination."

'Festival every weekend'

The emergence of restaurants along Page Avenue happened by demand more than design, said Ruth Summers, executive director of the Grove Arcade Public Market Foundation.

The ornate building reopened as an office, residential and retail facility in November 2002 after extensive renovations that followed decades of use as a federal office building.

With recent apartment lease signings, the building is now sold out of residential and business space, Summers said.

"It was very lonely for a while," noted True Confections owner Carole Miller, who opened her eatery back in January 2003 before her Page Avenue neighbors.

The rest of the arcade includes more culinary attractions, from fresh produce to frozen custard to specialty cheeses.

The cluster of restaurants is also drawing more locals to the arcade, traditionally a popular spot with visitors. Locals and tourists alike are also drawn by the availability of outdoor tables, which gives the arcade a metropolitan vibe.

"People come to Asheville for the weather," Bowers said. "It's a great place to come and sit and watch Asheville go by."

To celebrate the season, Carmel's will begin offering live music later this month on Fridays and Saturdays through the summer.

"It will be a festival every weekend," she said.

by By Michael Flynn , MLFLYNN@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM published April 18, 2007 12:15 am

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