12 Bones Smokehouse is famous around Asheville as Obama’s favorite BBQ joint because much like that girl Lauren you worked with once whose favorite city is Paris even though she only did a spring-break exchange program there for 5 days once in 2007, Obama visited 12 Bones once in 2010.
I mostly knew 12 Bones as the BBQ joint in Asheville with the most frustrating hours. It’s River Arts location is currently open M-F 12-5, and not on weekends for whatever reason. I thought maybe this had to do with COVID restrictions, but a friend recently shared that they’ve always pulled their hours out of their ass.
I approached 12 Bones with the growing cynicism 4-years of watching blue-collared Americans don Make America Great Again hats while complaining about socialism has blessed me with and expected to find 12 Bones either overrated or straight up bad.
12 Bones is delicious. I went for the first time in March when my brother was visiting and I took a Monday off. We each got “3 bones” (3 ribs) and a side of pulled pork. I love when restaurants offer the option for tiny portions like this for days I’m feeling dainty (or want to sample without commitment to a full plate or platter). I got the brown sugar ribs and blueberry chipotle bbq sauce on my pulled pork. Both were outstanding.
I recently went back to 12 Bones for the full-glutton experience. I had their smoked turkey sandwich which includes smoked turkey breast, sugared bacon, what felt like a half a wheel of brie, and pesto mayo piled between two thick, crunchy slices of Texas Toast. It’s as glorious as it sounds. Additionally, they didn’t try to muck it up with any hipster additions like pickled veggies, kimchi, or slaw of any sort. One of my main gripes against Asheville sandwiches is that they often have one too many ingredients.
As a side, I had mac and cheese (nothing to write home about, but not bad by any means) and a side of “3 bones” that was actually five (#blessed). My friend had the smoked potato salad that was delicious when cold, but very upsetting after it warmed up. I will be getting the potato salad in lieu of mac and cheese on my next visit, but eating it first, before it can even warm a little.
But, the highlight of this 12 Bones visit was the grandfather/great uncle in line behind me trying to sell Asheville to his visiting grandson/grand nephew.
“We’ll take a ride around and look at all the breweries,” the older man said enthusiastically. “They have the very best IPAs.” If I’m judging books by their covers, this was a man who exclusively drinks Miller LItes trying to show his grandson/nephew that he pays attention to what the kids today need. I say this with zero cynicism, as it reminds me of how my own father will suggest checking out a new brewery because he knows that’s something I like and then asking the servers to give him something that “tastes like regular beer.” I find it endearing in my father and I found it endearing in this gentleman.
“Then we could drive down Haywood Road where all the clubs are,” he continued. “You could go clubbing later.” Truly, bless this man. I zoned out of their conversation for a while, but when I tuned back in, they were talking about Asheville’s rich and famous.
“You know,” the old man said, “we have a lot of celebrities living here. Maybe you’ll see Andie MacDowall out at a club.”
Now, I only know Andie MacDowall as the woman from shampoo commercials when I was a kid, and the grandson was at least 10 years younger than I. There’s no way this kid had any idea who the hell Andie MacDowall is, which in turn, only made me cherish the old man more.
I’m going to use this tactic from now on anytime I feel a friend needs convincing to visit. “Maybe if you come down we’ll see Andie MacDowall at a club.” How can that fail?