Foothills Deli And Butchery: A Revolution Awaits in Black Mountain
Last December, when our house suddenly felt like a post-Christmas pressure cooker bursting at the seams with irritability and too-much-togetherness, we realized it was high time for a change of scenery. Without a lot of thought or planning, Jay and I strapped the three boys into the car and headed up Highway 25, eager for some fresh air and, as it turns out, fantastic meats.
Midway up the mountain, we realized we were heading in the right direction to finally check out the latest creation of an old friend from home, Casey McKissick. A little Facebook research and messaging revealed that yes, Foothillls Deli & Butchery is open on Sunday and yes, we should most definitely go there.
Located on Old Highway 70 in Black Mountain and emblazoned with a MEATS sign that’s as wide as the shop itself (as much throw-back kitsch as it is pragmatic advertising), Foothills is at once hard and easy to miss. Hard because the sign sitting atop the tin-roof front porch beckons you to come in, sit, relax; easy because, like most good things that are local, thoughtful, and perhaps the slightest bit mysterious despite their apparent transparency (MEATS , anyone?), it can be intimidating to try something out of the ordinary. But if you don’t, you’ll likely be missing out on some magic.
Jay and I have known Casey since 1990. He’s the kind of guy that radiates humility and good humor, the kind of person whom you always imagined doing something worthwhile. Thanks in large part to social media, we knew that he and his family started Foothills Family Farms in 2002, and that his NC State agricultural background coupled with a knowledge of sustainable farming then parlayed into a butcher shop, which opened in October 2013. Insofar as the food we grow and prepare at our tables is an extension of ourselves— what, who and how we value—it stands to reason Casey would open the kind of shop with the kind of staff that treats both humans and animals with kindness and humanity.
There’s a sense when you walk through the door that Foothills is a place where locals and travelers alike find community, not only in the shared appreciation of honestly- farmed local meats, but in the talent, knowledge and friendliness of the folks that work there. We sat off to the side with an impromptu charcuterie of pepperoni and salami made in-house, paired with cheese curds from a farm up the road. Customers drifted in and out, chatted about the day, connected with one another while ordering a pound of bacon, some chops, a housemade sausage or two. My kids got a lesson in hog anatomy, walked through the cooler, held a cleaver, and polished off enough pepperoni that they could skip lunch.
Not that you’d want to here...we watched the early lunch crowd come and go, while the kitchen produced such delightful dishes that I wanted to stay all day sampling every last thing that crossed the bar. Flat top burgers (ground in-house daily), homemade hot dogs and hand-cut French fries are the foundation of the menu with alternating deli-style sandwiches, slow-smoked pork barbecue and hearty stews appearing depending on the day, the weather, and what is fresh in the butcher shop. Foothills takes these and many other great foods on the road with their catering services. From wood-grilled rib eye steaks, charcuterie and cheese platters to hot dogs for the kids, the catering menu has something for every occasion.
Foothills makes it easy for us to do the right thing; they’ve built their business by working with local farmers that raise animals outdoors on pasture and don’t use added hormones or routine antibiotics. Passionate about the commitment to their claim that “healthy animals make healthy meat,” Foothills takes the guesswork out of whether or not we can wholeheartedly get behind what we’re buying. They know the farmers—many of the staff are farmers themselves—and they know that best practices are happening where they source, and in the shop itself.
We left the shop that Sunday with beef bacon, pork bacon, ground beef, several different kinds of sausage, several rolls of pepperoni and salami, cheese curds, a Foothills hat, and a Foothills t-shirt that read: I came for the meat, I stayed for the Revolution. Three days later, we had quite possibly the best New Year’s Day brunch ever, sharing our finds with family and friends and realizing that, indeed, we’re ready.
Foothills Deli and Butchery
1196B Old Highway 70
Black Mountain, NC