Asheville and its environs are definitely making their mark, and we're not just talking about the preponderance of tattoos to be found here.
It'll come as a surprise to few locals that the city was recently dubbed "an Appalachian Shangri-La" by the New York Times. A travel writer's 36-hour tour of the city gives props to everything from the WNC Farmer's Market to Old Europe Cafe to the arts in the River District. The article was a quick and therefore basic guide on how to spend 36 hours here, but it will doubtless draw even more visitors who wish they could stay.
That's all well and good, but when you reside here full time, you see -- and live -- the finer points. You know where to get your barbecue, massages and tattoos, and where to find the bands, artists and businesses that satisfy. As this year's Mountain Xpress "Best of WNC" results prove, you know what's good about our standbys and our newbies.
What entices the ever-growing number of newcomers and the ever-loyal group of natives to live in this nook of the world? The results offer some answers.
To begin with, despite all of the the changes going on here, some things remain the same. "The mountains" win again and again for "best reason to live in Asheville," because they've long been the reason big-city dwellers and small-towners from nearby have flocked here.
Looking to less mountainous matters, it's clear that many of our readers have strong opinions about smaller -- but no less important -- facets of life. If we shift our horizon to where we shop, eat, play and relax, or to who we read, listen to and aspire to be, we can see WNC residents making some steady, shifting and smart choices as change comes their way. There are quite a few new "Hall of Famers" -- repeat winners who have won at least four times -- and a whole lot of new winners as well, as we've added more than 30 new categories to our annual poll about the best our area has to offer.
And while many people and places seem to keep winning the main categories year after year, 2007's contest suggests there's nothing to stop a new vibe, establishment or personality from putting their imprint on us all -- as long as they're "the best." Read on to find out what and who gives life to the lives of Xpress readers.
Coordinator: Mannie Dalton. Asst. coordinators: Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt, Jon Teeple and Jon Elliston. Design and layout: Kathy Wadham. Photographs: Jonathan Welch. Copy editing: Nelda Holder and Rebecca Bowe.