Story by Belle Crawford
Critically acclaimed and locally loved, Early Girl Eatery was one the first Asheville restaurants to source and serve local/regional ingredients. With two locations in Asheville, Early Girl provides delicious, made-from-scratch, farm-to-table Southern comfort food in a casual, charming atmosphere.
“We are committed to a three-tiered approach to ingredient decision making and evaluate every menu item that we buy,” says Early Girl co-owner Jesson Gil. “Because we are truly committed to supporting the local community, our first goal is to source local ingredients whenever possible. Buying local reduces our carbon footprint; it’s fresher and we have a personal relationship with local farmers, some of whom we have been working with for more than 17 years. There is a real synergy to using local products,” Jesson adds, “because it keeps the money and jobs in the local economy.”
Early Girl’s second goal is to bring in seasonal ingredients. “Eating seasonal is good because it tastes better and, like regionally sourced products, it reduces the amount of gas necessary to acquire the products,” says co-owner Cristina Gil.
Next, the Gils focus on keeping things organic and fresh instead of frozen. This commitment to real food is obvious in both taste and appearance, and is one of the reasons customers return to Early Girl again and again.
“We are also dedicated to making the dining experience comfortable for those with food sensitivities or special diets,” says Jesson. “We want to make it easier for customers to quickly find information about vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, as well as information about sugar content or other common allergens.”
To offer customers a special dining experience instead of a predictable restaurant meal, the Gils will soon be updating their dinner menu to replace “meat and two” options. “Asheville is a competitive foodie town and people are always looking for something truly special,” says Jesson. “Our chef is working hard to create some new dinner entrées, which we are excited to introduce.”
Early Girl’s West Asheville location has recently expanded its bar to include five additional beers on tap, Bloody Marys, mimosas and craft cocktails. Popular classic Southern Breakfast, featuring eggs, grits and homefries, and the Local Sausage and Sweet Potato Scramble, eggs scrambled with house made sausage, shiitake mushrooms and NC sweet potatoes. Other favorites are the grilled pimento cheese sandwich, the free-range, grilled chicken and the locally raised, hormone-free burgers.
“We were farm-to-table before it was cool,” says Jesson. “The local and whole foods movements are important to us, both for human health and the health of the planet.”
Early Girl Eatery has two locations: 8 Wall Street in downtown Asheville and 444 Haywood Road in West Asheville. For more information, including recipes, hours of operations, a complete list of menu items and fun Early Girl merchandise, visit EarlyGirlEatery.com.