America is a divided nation when it comes to barbecue. Regional factions may debate the merits of vinegar vs. tomato-based sauce, but there’s no denying that 12 Bones Smokehouse plays by its own rules.
“We don’t adhere to any one traditional style of barbecue,” says Bryan King, who owns 12 Bones with his wife, Angela. “We do it our own way for a creative Asheville twist.”
An afternoon at 12 Bones is equal parts irreverence and nostalgia — from the cheeky signs in the parking lot to the generous portion of cornbread that tastes like it came straight from Granny’s cast iron skillet.
The restaurant’s signature blueberry chipotle ribs have a devoted following. President Obama stood in line to snag a rack during his vacation in Asheville and visitors from as far away as Germany seek out its union of sweet and spicy flavors.
“It’s pretty amazing during summertime — all the accents you can hear floating around the restaurant,” says Bryan.
In April 2015, 12 Bones released a cookbook designed for ambitious home pitmasters as well as casual corn pudding dabblers. “It’s a little something for the fans, especially those that don’t live near us,” Bryan explains. “They can come out and try to recreate some of the dishes at home.”
It takes a certain kind of magic to recreate the atmosphere of 12 Bones; it transcends a simple list of ingredients. “There’s a lot more to the restaurant than the recipes,” Bryan notes. “It’s about the people and the sense of family.”
“It’s a really creative town and people do things a little differently here.”