A Time to Savor 7

Spanish-Style Tapas with Capella on 9

In Spain, food is savored. Paired with big glasses of rich wine or light cocktails, meals are served tapas-style, the spices of marinated vegetables and meats bleeding onto thick slices of crusty bread. They’re nibbled and sipped, bitten and chewed over the course of long, languorous meals. And always, they’re savored.

It’s this sense of savoring that pervades Asheville’s newest rooftop eatery and bar, Capella on 9. The menu, a collaboration between McKibbon Hospitality and Peter Pollay and Jordan Arace of Mandara Hospitality Group (and Asheville’s own Posana), is rife with flavorful, Spanish-inspired tapas.

Though the recipes are European (tapas-style menus are a signature of AC Hotels by Marriott, and Capella on 9 sits at the top of Asheville’s own AC Hotel), the ingredients are wholly Asheville. “We wanted to incorporate as many local ingredients as possible,” says Pollay, noting Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Mountain Food Products and even visits to the farmer’s market as inspiration and resource for the menu. The handcrafted cocktails also draw inspiration from our Carolina mountains.

Those mountains are hard to forget at Capella on 9—because of the fresh ingredients on every plate and in every glass, but more importantly, because of the stunning views that meet the eye at every turn. The destination may be in the heart of downtown, but up here the hustle of city life fades away and the mountains, in all their rolling beauty, take the cake (or rather, the tapas).

Capella on 9 is only the beginning of the collaborations between the two hospitality groups; Mandara will also serve as consultants in the opening of uptown Charlotte’s new AC Hotel and an independent rooftop bar. Separately, McKibbon and Mandara have partnered to open two independent restaurants in Asheville’s Hotel Arras in late 2018. The first will be a Mediterranean restaurant focused on large-format, shareable plates, and the second a more casual lounge space offering small plates and craft cocktails.

For now, though, it’s still about savoring—the subtle and spicy tapas, the ice-flecked cocktails, and those endless mountain views.