King Daddy’s origins lie in a dream shared by John and Julie Stehling. The couple opened their first restaurant, Early Girl Eatery, in 2001 with John as the cook and Julie as the conversation. Their venture was a hit locally and eventually nationally, allowing the couple to pursue even bigger goals. A decade and two kids later, King Daddy’s opened its doors in the heart of Asheville’s Rainbow Arts District.
King Daddy’s caters fantastically to born-and-raised chicken-and-waffle enthusiasts while also accommodating health-conscious diners with a surprising selection of vegan and gluten-free options. You’ll find everything from classic BBQ wings to a sesame and kale salad, shrimp & bacon grits to shiitake and rice. Desserts include waffles, pies, cakes, and pudding featuring fresh strawberries, bananas, chocolate, walnuts, and other wholesome ingredients. Drinks include a variety of sodas, juices, and teas and a full-fledged booze menu with dozens of choices. No matter what you order, you’ll get fresh, locally sourced ingredients, house-made sauces, generous portions, and friendly staff who will make you feel like a VIP King Daddy’s club member.
In fact, it’s the tight-knit community and genuine service that sets King Daddy’s apart from your run-of-the-mill fried chicken joints. John and Julie grew up knowing the value of freshly grown food, homemade cooking, wholesome conversation, and community involvement. And it really shows.
King Daddy’s is as much a culinary gem as it is a place to kick back with friends and family. If you’re heading to Asheville on an empty stomach, King Daddy’s is sure to fill your stomach and lift your spirits.
Chicken and waffles aren’t the only stars of the show. Here are our five top eats you have to try to get the true King Daddy’s experience:
Duck & Endive Salad
It’s rare for us to rave about a salad in a chicken and waffle house, but here we are. Local flavors propel this salad to stardom. Fresh and rightly bitter endive is the backdrop for fresh feta, apple, avocado, candied walnuts, and duck breast so rich and tender that you might consider breaking up with chicken. But don’t do that, because the reigning poultry has plenty to offer here.
Fried Chicken Livers
Some say that chicken livers are an acquired southern taste, but King Daddy’s take on this classic won us over instantly. Deep-fried to medium well, these livers join immaculate caramelized onions and shiitake mushrooms atop fried grit cakes. It’s finger food that begs to be shared.
Habanero Sweet Potato Chicken
King Daddy’s premier spicy entrée, this chicken is seriously hot. An expertly blended habanero sweet potato sauce awaits classic deep-fried chicken to deliver an unforgettable flavor. The sweet potato presence was so tasty that we battled through tears to finish the plate.
Fried Shrimp Sandwich
This sandwich takes you from land to sea with all the southern comforts you love. Fresh beer-battered shrimp, house-made remoulade sauce, romaine, and tomato join forces to deliver big flavor that gives chicken a run for its money. We picked sweet potato hush puppies as our side, but you can choose from winners such as fried green tomatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy, collard greens, sesame tofu, and fried apples.
A rejuvenating way to end your meal, the strawberry shortwaffle is delightfully simple yet oh so good. Fresh strawberries and mint meet whipped cream on a sumptuously fluffy and crisp Belgian waffle. It’s the freshness of the ingredients that really makes this dessert stand out.
-The place is usually crowded during lunch and dinner hours on weekdays. We recommend grabbing a bite for breakfast or stopping in between the late afternoon and night hours on weekends. You can make reservations for parties of seven or more throughout the week, with Saturday and Sunday dinners being the most accommodating.