Sunday, June 20, 2010

12 Bones Smokehouse (3/10) - 5 Riverside Drive Asheville, NC 28801

M-F: 11a-4p
Sa-Su: Closed
(p) 828.253.4499

I was talking to a barbecue pitmaster in Atlanta and he essentially instructed me to make my way to 12 Bones Smokehouse whenever I was ever going to be in the Asheville, NC area.  He claimed that in addition to having great tasting smoked meat, 12 Bones had some delicious barbecue sauce recipes to take the meal up a notch.  My ladyfriend accompanied me on my drive from Atlanta to NYC, and she laid down some groundrules for our upcoming drive: one barbecue joint per day.  12 Bones Smokehouse was added to the itinerary and by the time we arrived a little before noon, a solid line formed out the front door providing assurance that this place indeed had product the locals thought was worth waiting for.

As the name suggests, a typical order of ribs contains 12 blades/ribs/bones.  12 Bones allows its customers to split the 12 rib orders in half, so I decided to sample the Blueberry Chipotle and Spicy Peach BBQ varieties and a pork sandwich.  My companion got a BLT (much to my chagrin), perhaps as a subtle objection to the amount of barbecue I've consumed over the past year.

The blueberry chipotle sauce didn't taste anything like chipotle or blueberries, and the spicy peach wasn't spicy nor peachy.  In a blind taste test, there would be zero chance that I could have deciphered each rib against the other.  They were basically slow smoked ribs with an application of a non-descriptive flavored sugary glaze.  It didn't take long before I determined that a disaster of a meal was quickly unfolding in front of me.  Shockingly, the pork sandwich was worse.  Bread, too firm and thick.  Pork, too dry and tasteless.  The sweet potatoes were adequate and the vinegary odor emanating from cole slaw was nauseating.

I was alloted one barbecue meal for the day and I blew it.  Also, the bacon in my ladyfriend's BLT was delicious, and I was upset about being out-ordered in a barbecue joint.  The owners/chefs need to focus less on being creative and put a lot more emphasis on executing the basics when it comes to smoking barbecue.

12 Bones Smokehouse on Urbanspoon


  1. Twelve Bones is great. Sorry your experience wasn't to your liking, but every point in your review is off-base or so biased one can't take it seriously. Try it again, if you can.

  2. Not sure how I could be biased considering I went into the experience with an optimistic open mind, not to mention I love barbecue and want to enjoy every experience. The pork sandwich bordered on inedible and the ribs weren't incredibly impressive either. What is your typical order that brings you back?

  3. I love Twelve Bones myself, but I have to disagree with the above comment about your review. Sounded like you just told it like it was based on your experience. I love their ribs, but one thing you might try next time you're around is the "Hogzilla" sandwich... truly decadent and tasty, not your traditional sandwich!

  4. just ate there ... the sides are delicious ... the ribs are cooked well and have plenty of smoke.

    the blueberry chipotle i had tasted neither of chipotle or blueberry. i think when the order comes in they unwrap ribs, brush them with sauce, then heat them up.

    they do a huge volume ...

    the sides though are delicious. the collard greens, jalapeno-cheese grits (not much jalapeno), and the cornbread were well-executed.

  5. Next time your in town I hope you stop by Circle B Ranch BBQ located across from the Asheville Regional Airport. They top 12 bones by far!

  6. There is one obvious bias in this review. The blogger (note: not a chef, not a pitmaster, not a restaurant critic; just a blogger with a lot of spare time and obviously a job that takes them all around the country) DOESN'T LIKE VINEGAR.

    If you read multiple reviews by '3rd Degree' (I focused specifically on the NC Q joints as I have tried every one reviewed-- plus a few in other regions I have tried personally~ Dinosaur BBQ etc)
    You will notice that he has a distinct bias against vinegar... Vinegar-based slaws, vinegar based sauces, etc... He's given a negative review of every BBQ place he tried in NC.

    What makes this especially ironic is he laments "Being out-ordered in a BBQ resturant" by his female companion.. Yet he ordered 12 Bones Slaw which is listed on the menu as "SWEET VINEGAR COLESLAW""

    So yes, he didn't like the coleslaw, the 'reek of vinegar was nauseating'.. Yet he hasn't liked a vinegar-based slaw or sauce he's tried yet. So our intrepid blogger (nay, expert) ordered something he knows he doesn't like, then not only complains that he doesn't like it, but also whines that his dining companion 'out ordered' him. Some expert, he doesn't even know how to read a menu and determine what to order based on his own personal preferences. 12Bones offers over 10 sides (probably like 15?), and the slaw and sweet potatoes are definitely not what they hang their hat on! Home boy shoulda got the corn puddin,, smoked potato salad or Jalapino Cheese grits... any of the 100's of locals in line could have directed him to do so. Of course a blogging BBQ expert probably has no use to ask the 600+ people who eat there daily.

    I will agree the Peach BBQ sauce is not very good. I have tried several incarnations (they always have different sauces cycling thru). But again I must question his entire approach.. If you are only trying a 'Q place once; why not order the Nekked (salt and pepper dry rub) or Brown sugar rub ribs? These are the "plain" flavors and anyone with a bit of BBQ acumen knows; if you really want to judge a BBQ joint objectively, you try the meat plain. Without any fancy sauces.

  7. anonymous..where does "blogger" claim to be an "expert"?

  8. Hey 3rd Degree, I wish you'd start writing again. Your reviews are so fun, it stinks to see this space not updated!

    Oh, and the next time you are in Asheville, try Louella's, for real.

  9. Richard - I appreciate the encouragement. I've eaten at some pretty great places since I last posted, but since I have gotten a full-time job again, I havent made the effort to get back in swing of things. Per your request, I'll post some over the upcoming weeks. Thanks for reaching out.

  10. Could I just echo Richard Bagge's request that you resume writing? Your reviews are such fun, and I've enjoyed using them as a reference as I put together the BBQ chapters at my blog, Marie, Let's Eat!. You're absolutely one of the most entertaining writers in the hobby and I would love to see somebody with your talent and passion rising in the ranks at Urbanspoon again.

    I sympathize with burnout - I took a thirteen-month sabbatical from my 2000 AD blog, Thrillpowered Thursday, equal to your current one - but I'm sure you really do have an audience who would love to read you again and engage with you in the comments. I hope to see you blogging again very soon!

  11. I would suggest if you are ever in the area again to check out Webo's BBQ. It's a little place connected to a gas station but it is fantastic! You can check out their reviews on Urbanspoon, 97% likes.


Ratings and Reviews

In order to provide a consistent grading standard across each restaurant/region, I order a barbecue pork sandwich (and other meats/sides if a restaurant/region specializes in another specialty). In addition to comparing the quality of food, I will also take into consideration other intangibles (ambiance, atmosphere, service, authenticity, etc.) in my ratings as I deem appropriate.

Basically, a 10/10 represents an incredible meal, while a 6/10 score indicates a decent dining experience but a substantial number of dishes fell short of great. Lower scores indicate unpleasant experiences which I would most likely not even recommend to my worst enemy (Jonas Singer).

I reserve the right to continuously edit/update previous posts and to change rating scores as I see fit.