Mayfel’s owner, Loretta Wooley, grew up in Louisiana and moved to Asheville in the early 1990s. She opened a breakfast and lunch café in 1998 called Loretta’s that earned a reputation for good soups, sandwiches and salads served quickly and without fuss. Four years later, Loretta opened a new restaurant, Mayfel’s, named after her Louisiana grandmother. Mayfel’s offers a completely different cuisine and vibe than Loretta’s eponymous lunchtime cafe.
Two food cultures come to mind when thinking about the bayous of Louisiana and Mississippi. Cajun and Creole. Many of the dishes carry over from one cuisine to another, but the ingredients differ. Cajun developed through the French Acadians who settled into the bayous throughout Louisiana back in the 18th century. Cajun was considered country cooking because of its use of indigenous and common ingredients. It’s cousin, Creole, was born in city kitchens where fresh ingredients were more accessible. You’ll find samplings of Creole and Cajun at Mayfel’s, along with typical Southern foods this region is known for.
Mayfel’s looks and feels like a New Orleans café. The décor is elegantly eccentric, with beads dripping from artwork; walls trimmed with china plates, cooking utensils, and flatware. Guests can sit indoors or outdoors on the patio and watch people pass along the street. Outdoor dining is dog-friendly, with servers bringing water dishes and a chew bone to canine guests.
Open Thursday through Monday, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mayfel’s is the place to go for brunch any day they’re open. Let’s begin with beignets, that New Orleans confection that turns hardened sailors into cream puffs. They’re light and fluffy here, buried in a blizzard of powdered sugar. They’re perfect with coffee, but they’ll go just fine with a cocktail, wine or beer. Order a bloody Mary and you’re awarded a trip to the bloody Mary bar where you can dress your drink with a number of hot sauces, veggies and other surprises.
The brunch and dinner menus have many of the same items, with additions and subtractions to each that make it distinctive. Appetizers are the same on each menu, a stand-out being the Cajun frog legs dredged in spiced cornmeal, fried and served with maque choux, arugula and rémoulade. The baked trout dip gets plenty of kudos, too. Try some seafood gumbo from the soup section in a cup or bowl size, depending on your appetite.
Each menu has dishes to which you select one or two sides from their impressive list: fried okra, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, parmesan grits, red beans, coleslaw, sweet potato fries, French fries, and home fries. Cornbread is served with all entrees.
Brunch picks include four styles of eggs Benedict, as well as steak and eggs, fried chicken biscuit, shrimp and grits, and several other options you expect at breakfast. Those seeking a heartier lunch can choose from six Blue Plates, which are basically a meat and two sides. A favorite among these is the southern catfish, which is fileted, cornmeal breaded and fried golden brown. Burgers are pasture-raised beef and can be ordered with a selection of toppings and are served on potato rolls. You’ll see more bayou influence in the sandwich line-up which includes a po’boy sandwich chosen from shrimp, fried oyster, catfish or chicken options, a muffuletta grilled panini style, a crab burger and a BLFGT (bacon, lettuce and fried green tomatoes).
Dinner gets crazy with sumptuous options as Bourbon Street pork chop, a brown-sugar-brined, bone-in pork chop seared medium well, topped with a bourbon cherry demi-glace and served over mashed potatoes. Or how about blackened trout served over stone ground parmesan grits? A real spin on the jambalaya is served with a grilled chicken breast. Try the seafood etouffee for a dish full of shrimp and crab in a classic Creole sauce.
Mayfel’s has a full bar with signature cocktails, along with a wide selection of craft beers and wine by the bottle and glass.
Visit on Thursday for the $3 craft beer special. Try the frog legs for something new and distinctive. Dog friendly seating on street-side patio. Parking along street or in parking structure around the corner.