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Mountain trout

Mountain trout tacos from the Thirsty Monk in Asheville, North Carolina.

What: Since 1948, family-owned trout farm Sunburst Farms, some 30 miles southwest in Canton, has kept Western North Carolina in steady supply of delicious trout, raised in the clean, fast-flowing mountain streams that run through the federally protected Shining Rock Wilderness Area in the Pisgah National Forest. Over the years the fish—and the myriad ways of serving them, in fillets, as dip or jerky, caviar, hot- and cold-smoked, etc.—has become a staple in area restaurants, for whom, given their naturally locavore bent, serving local trout is a no-brainer.

Good to know: The farm takes care to maintain the quality of its fish as well as its environment, employing green measures like composting waste and using no animal products or by-products in their trout feed.

Where: Pictured are the smoked-trout tacos—sadly no longer on the menu, as of Jan. 2013—from downtown beer bar Thirsty Monk (two locations including 92 Patton Ave., map), beloved for its 62-plus rotating local-craft and Belgian taps. Note: Its “south” location at Gerber Village is also a brewpub, but the menu there does not offer any trout.

When: Mon-Thurs, 4pm-midnight; Fri, 3pm-2am; Sat, 2pm-2am; Sun, 3pm-10pm

Order: Despite the trout tacos being gone, you can still try the smoked trout a few ways here: blended with cream cheese and sour cream into a dip, served with pita chips ($9); in a baguette with aged Gouda, tomato reduction, and aioli ($10); or thrown on top of your salad or specialty pizza. The trout pairs well with a saison or pilsner.

Alternatively: This trout isn’t hard to find at local-centric Asheville eateries. We loved the seared trout on offer at Rezaz (28 Hendersonville Rd., map), where, during our visit, it was given a Mediterranean twist with dill basmati pilaf and tzatziki sauce. At The Market Place (20 Wall St., map), where all ingredients hail from within 100 miles of Asheville, there’s a Sunburst Farms trout dish with lentils and smoked bacon, or you might try the pecan-crusted mountain trout for dinner at Corner Kitchen (3 Boston Way, map), in South Asheville. If you want to pick up some trout dip or jerky to take home with you, there’s a number of stores in the Asheville area selling Sunburst trout products, such as West Village Market & Deli (771 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, map) and EarthFare supermarkets (multiple locations including 1856 Hendersonville Rd., West Asheville, map).


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