If you read “The Fine Art of Dining Alone” you may already know of my affinitiy for doing things alone.
Specifically, doing things alone in public.
When you’re a fiercely independent extrovert, that can be a solid solution to the complexity that is your life.
There are days when all I want to do is read a good book, drink a great bourbon, and write.
But, the thought of sitting at home alone and doing that makes me sad or even just sleepy.
So, I’ve spent a significant amount of time reading and writing alone in bars.
That’s good news for you because I’ve already gone to the wrong ones.
I’ve attempted to read in bars where you’re guaranteed to get hit on, the bars where everyone is there to party and you stand out like a sore thumb, the bars where the seats are uncomfortable and the music is off putting.
I’ve already gone to the wrong ones so that you don’t have to.
Lucky you, I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 bars in Asheville in which to read a book!
1. MG Road
Go early evening on a weekday and hit this popular bar before the crowd does. Sit at the bar and talk to the amazing bartenders about your drink or sit on one of the comfortable couches and make believe that you too would purchase furniture that fancy. Treat yourself to one of their great liqour options or to one of the subtle and complex cocktails on the menu. MG Road is great because it’s set up comfortably, the bartenders are talented and friendly, and it’s lit in a way that even when it is crowded you don’t feel watched, you can kind of sink into your own world and pretend like no one can see you.
This brewery situated just below Farm Burger feels like a very well kept secret. You enter through an alley and two large metal doors. It’s the kind of place that both feels like you need a passcode to gain access to and takes you right out of your regular life when you enter. It feels like a pub in another country so much that you may forget where you are. Situate yourself at the bar or at one of the tables, get yourself a black ipa, and sink into The Hobbit or something else that will make it feel magical that you are underground in what feels a lot like a cave.
3. Sante’ Wine Bar
This is one of my favorite places to go. So much so, that I considered not even writing about it so that I could keep it to myself. However, the wine selection is incredible and the staff is well informed. The seats at the bar are perhaps the most comfortable bar seats I’ve ever encountered and there are several little cozy nooks where you can tuck yourself away if you’d like. In the warmer months their patio is large and comfortable with large umbrellas to shield you from the sun. (a fact which is important if you were born with delicate ginger skin)
4. Burial Brewing
I’ve never taken a trip to Burial that I regretted. Whether I’m there to play games with friends, for a tasting, or by myself to read a book. It’s set up in a way that makes you feel at ease. The staff is always friendly and the beer is always good. I’ve also enjoyed the way they support their neighboring breweries by offering their beer on tap as well. I recommend not sitting at the bar as it’s a high traffic area and there’s no way you’ll get any reading done. Instead, sit at the bar along the front window or out back on the patio.
5. Wicked Weed
This seems like a strange one to put on the list because it may be one of the most bussly and loud bars we have in town. This is one I never even considered until a friend recommended it to me as a great reading spot. It is quite hectic, however, if you make your way downstairs and onto the patio you can take advantage of the large crowd. You will fall into it and go unnoticed by most. If you’re able to read among quite a bit of noise OR if you really like the idea of eaves dropping while you appear to be reading, then this is a great spot to do just that.
6. The Southern
The trick with The Southern is to hit it early on a weeknight in the summer. If you can catch it when the patio is empty it can be downright magical. Read F. Scott Fitzgerald or Anais Nin and lose yourself. However, if the patio is full keep walking or be prepared to be sandwiched between elated tourists and a set of bro’s that want to know why a pretty girl like you would be reading a book all alone at a bar.
7. Crow & Quill
This bar seems to be created as a place for great writers to meet and share ideas. Reminiscent of what I imagine it used to feel like at the absinthe room. Get a great scotch, drink it neat, situate yourself on one of the great couches and get carried away in something classic and fantastical.
8. Sovereign Remedies
This high-end cocktail bar is bright and open. It’s the perfect place to go if you’re in need of sunshine but it’s too chilly for a patio. The cocktails are creative and the atmosphere is beautiful. Sit at either end of the bar and enjoy the peace that this location can bring to all of your senses. Take in the aesthetic, savor your cocktail, and give yourself permission to slow down.
9. The Vault
The trick with The Vault is to go before 10. After 10pm on any night of the week and the place turns into the go-to spot for locals and tourists alike to go and get weird. Go before 10 and walk past the filled patio of regulars, order your drink and find your way to the back where you’re likely to find an empty vault room with a giant leather couch for your private reading pleasure or if that is unavailable situate yourself just outside the vault on one of the comfortable leather chairs. If you do choose to sit inside the vault, be prepared for people to come and just look inside and the most gracious of solo readers would relinquish their spot when you notice a group of people wanting to settle in there. Ultimately, it’s meant for them anyway.
10. The Double Crown
The only west asheville bar to make the list. The Double Crown is one of my favorite places to go when I’m in a variety of moods. It’s great for Friday and Saturday night dancing, Sunday night karaoke, and late night drunk meeting strangers. But, early evening before the crowds descend I like to make my way to one of the cozy booths with a book, a shot of whiskey, and a PBR. People tend to leave you be and it’s easy to go unnoticed inside of one of the giant booths anyway. If I could, I’d recommend reading Kurt Vonnegut, Augusten Burroughs or perhaps Henry Miller while you’re there.
What about you?
Do you make it a habit to read alone at bars, do you think I missed one?