Okay, friends and minions, pop quiz: what are three things I don’t have in my possession? If you answered money, the ability to be cheerful in the morning, and a social life, congratulations! You passed. So you can imagine my surprise when I agreed to meet up with a friend and a couple of his friends-people I didn’t know-for breakfast. It was one of those things where you hang up the phone after agreeing to it and immediately wonder who stole your asocial, nocturnal brain and replaced it with a normal one. But whatever, everyone knows Asheville breakfast is the best breakfast anywhere, my friend was covering the cost of the meal, and we weren’t technically meeting till early afternoon, so I was in. Besides, I’d been wondering if this place, Rise n’ Shine Cafe, was any good. I’d passed it all the time driving up and down Merrimon Ave, noticed it snuggled up next to The Hop Ice Cream Cafe, but never stopped in to check them out.
Note to Asheville peeps: Stop in and check them out. Seriously.
The first thing I noticed about Rise n’ Shine was how bright it was inside. Not tacky or blinding, just sunny and warm, like sitting in the kitchen of an old friend. The servers didn’t do anything to dispel that impression, either. They greeted us with smiles, and didn’t bat an eyelash when they overheard bits of our rather unorthodox breakfast conversation. After all, this is Asheville, and Rise n’ Shine wouldn’t be a genuine Asheville Breakfast joint without a bit of debauchery over eggs and jam, right?
Speaking of eggs and jam and other tasty breakfast fare: Rise n’ Shine does it right. A true Asheville-grown business, the cafe kitchen is stocked with as many local ingredients as the owners can get their hands on. Rise n’ Shine Cafe isn’t one of those places that puts on the down-home face and trucks everything in from places far and wide; they use locally-grown, responsibly-farmed ingredients whenever possible. And believe me, it shows. I had the Smooth Herb omelet with cheddar and feta cheeses, and I’d put money (if I had it) on the herbs being fresh-picked. The obligatory side of bacon was cooked just right, and the whole-grain biscuit was delicious with the homemade jam Rise n’ Shine is famous for. The prices on the menu are almost as good as the food itself. Breakfast in Asheville can sometimes be pricey, but Rise n’ Shine keeps the prices reasonable, especially when you consider that the local, organic ingredients tend to cost a little more than their conventionally-grown counterparts. I think my omelet with biscuit, bacon and hash browns was under six bucks. Even my broke self can afford that once in a while.
So what’s the verdict on this social experiment? I’m going to call this one a win. The company was great, the food was delicious, and the atmosphere at Rise n’ Shine was casual and welcoming, with tables spaced far enough apart that there was no need for forced interaction based on close proximity. The wait staff were attentive without being pushy, which I really appreciate. Rise n’ Shine is the kind of place I’d feel good about taking my kids, but also the kind of place where you can linger over coffee with your sweetheart or catch up with old friends over bacon and more bacon. If you’re looking for a good breakfast in Asheville, give Rise n’ Shine a shot. You won’t regret it, and you might even see me there.