Located in an unassuming former automotive garage, Ben’s Beer and Sake Garden (Ben’s Tune Up) looks a little out of place from the outside. The juxtaposition only continues once you’re inside, as the mixture of Asian inspiration and Appalachian culture wouldn’t seem to go together at first glance. Somehow, though, Ben has managed to put together a sake distillery, craft beer garden, Asian and Southern restaurant, and live music venue that all goes together perfectly — and is a lot of fun.
The sake that Ben’s distillery makes is true sake that comes from rice, but it’s a distinctly American version of this traditionally Asian spirit. The sake is made from U.S.-grown rice and Appalachian water, and it comes lightly carbonated in bottles and cans like Americans will recognize. If the label weren’t on the container, this might be mistaken for a beer that tastes a little different.
If you prefer beer, Ben’s Tune Up offers an array of local craft beers from the region. From hoppy light selections to the area’s darkest stouts, there’s something for every beer aficianado’s taste.
To keep the stomach full while enjoying some adult beverages, Ben’s Tune Up serves up both Asian-inspired and classic Southern dishes. Fried Tofu, BBQ Smoked Pork Nachos, Seaweed Salad, Asian Cobb and Ben’s Burger show the unique combination of the two cultures’ foods. There are also several more filling options, such as various types of Udon, a PuPu Platter of appetizers, and a few different sandwiches.
Live music keeps the atmosphere at Ben’s place exciting Tuesday through Sunday. All shows are free, and they’re usually on the earlier side of the night so non-night-owls can enjoy them.
With so many different things offered, Ben’s Tune Up attracts lots of different people. It has something for everyone, making it a great place to take large groups — and perhaps the only thing more diverse than the offerings are the patrons who come here.
A few of our menu favorites at Ben’s Tune Up include:
When at a sake distillery, do as the distillers do. Ask them for a tasting, and try a few new sakes.
If sake really isn’t your thing, go with one of the craft beers. There’s plenty of variety to please different tastes, and drinking a local craft beer is a fun way to get to know an area.
An unlikely take on the classic Philadelphia sandwich, the Duck Philly replaces the staple fillings with Asian-insipired counterparts. Duck meat is piled high with onions, peppers and shitake mushrooms, and then everything’s topped with spicy mayo. The truly American components that are kept are American cheese and the hoagie roll.
An amalgamation of various appetizers, this is the perfect dish for sharing. Edamame, eggrolls, fried tofu, Brussels sprouts, spicy popcorn and wings are all included.
Coconut Cold Brew Float
If the live music is after your bedtime, the Coconut Cold Brew is available for reenergizing. House-made coconut ice cream is combined with cold-brew coffee, and finished off with whipped cream and a cherry. It’s part coffee, part float, part sundae and all delicious.
The staff doesn’t always make it clear when a server is working and when you’re supposed to seat yourself. Assume the latter when you arrive, and go up to the bar to order after taking a table. If you’re mistaken, the bartender will let you know and a server will come by shortly. Otherwise, you could end up waiting for a server when none are currently working.