We make everything from scratch. Our meats are smoked long & slow over select hardwoods, oak and cherry. We don’t believe there’s only one right style of barbecue and we’re not big on rules. You’ll find our recipes draw inspiration from all over the South (and sometimes the North), from old family favorites to new ones we’ve just whipped up. We believe in simple ingredients & lots of care in preparation make the best food. Some things on the menu change daily… if you can’t live without a rib flavor you had 2 weeks ago then holler, we’ll make it again if you make enough of a fuss!
12 Bones Smokehouse began its life in the belly of a squat and unassuming cinder block shack. It was square in the middle of a floodplain in Asheville, North Carolina. In fact, the building was still filled with river scum after it had lost its last restaurant—a greasy spoon frequented by the warehouse workers and dump truck drivers—to chest-high floodwaters. The previous owner simply gave up.
The founders, Tom Montgomery and Sabra Kelley, cleaned things up, hung a few signs, and got the smoker running. They hoped to lure a little more than a hundred diners into the restaurant daily with the sweet smell of smoked meat and a marquis outside advertising: “Tender Butts and Sweet Racks.”
Partly due to that sign, Sabra says that the first calls to the restaurant were from people asking if they were opening a strip club. But by the time Tom and Sabra passed the restaurant on to current owners, Bryan and Angela King, the transformation of 12 Bones was nearly unfathomable.
In those intervening years, Barack and Michelle Obama had eaten 12 Bones’ sweet racks three times. But they weren’t the only fans. The little ‘cue shack that could began pushing close to a thousand customers some days. The entire neighborhood around the restaurant continued to change as well. Boutique restaurants and breweries became a stone’s throw away instead of a car’s drive. But the restaurant has stayed more or less the same place it always was: a quirky little joint, where people eat off metal plates and write on the walls.
When it comes to style, 12 Bones makes no apologies and declares no major allegiances. Want to argue about what city makes the best barbecue? That’s all fine and good, but 12 Bones makes room under its roof for all types. You’ll find odes to Memphis-style ‘cue sitting beside a sauce that would be right at home in eastern Carolina—and there’s a recipe or two that would make folks from Kansas City smile. Of course there’s also that rib sauce made with blueberries and chipotles, which might just be as close as you can get to Asheville-style barbecue.
So let the purists be the purists, fire up the grill, and enjoy some southern ‘cue, 12 Bones style.
Our crew works hard to bring good food to you homemade from scratch every day. We make our food fresh and try not to run out, but making just enough food for each day ensures there is no waste and that we can make the next day’s food fresh for you, never reheated. Our chefs come up with specials based on local ingredients and the home cooking that inspires them. We are only open for lunch so that our employees can have time to recharge after a busy day. We love our team and hope you’ll come join the 12 Bones family!
We offer our signature sauces for purchase at our locations and you can take 12 Bones recipes home with you in our cookbook, available for purchase at our restaurants or on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.