Text and photos by Madison Heltzel
Like many sub-rural stretches of Western North Carolina, my neck of the North Asheville woods is graced with an abundance of small burger-and-shake joints. In fact, there is one located directly across the street from my humble abode. However, whenever that inevitable burger-craving hits, I usually find myself hopping on a bike and riding a bit farther up the street to Nick’s Grill.
What makes Nick’s, a local diner, worth riding the extra couple blocks on a dusty road? For me, it’s more than the genuine flame-grilled burgers. It’s the cozy, classic Americana vibe which permeates Nick’s along with the welcoming aroma of quality food. Don’t be turned just because the exterior doesn’t look like a Red Robin—it’s nothing fancy, and the humorous and quirky messages on the marquee were, to be honest, probably what piqued my curiosity and persuaded me to visit this establishment in the first place. The interior is dive-y but bright and inviting, and there is plenty of shaded outdoor seating for sunny days. Fun vintage signs and chalkboard messages adorn the walls, and local papers and magazines are available to read while you enjoy lunch or dinner.
This spot has been a local fixture for over 25 years, and has quite the following of regulars who contribute to the friendly and laid-back atmosphere. They offer specials every day of the week, encouraging diners to branch out and try new combinations by making the already reasonably-priced dishes more affordable. Not only does Nick’s serve the traditional burgers, fries, and shakes that you would expect from such an establishment, they also offer a wide variety of innovative and tasty alternatives including gyros, subs, specialty burgers, and a selection of local craft beers. A customer favorite is the Nickburger: a grilled burger with all the fixings served in a pita—the best of both worlds!
In the relatively short time that I have lived in the neighborhood, I have already seen the menu go through a series of changes, constantly striving to improve and accommodate. Beer snobs, families with kids, adventurous eaters, burger purists, and vegetarians will all find something they can enjoy. The milkshakes are a fairly recent addition to the menu and if I wasn’t already won over, I would be with this development! There is nothing I like better than dipping crunchy, salty fries in a chocolate shake while sitting on a patio after an energizing bike ride.
I am so glad that I found myself in this local diamond in the rough, and to share a neighborhood with such an excellent business. I plan on visiting often to keep up with their constantly evolving menu and rotation of seasonal brews.