Firestorm Cafe and Books is tucked into a small street right in the heart of the downtown area, and has two separate eating areas; one in the front with tons of natural light and the second in the back where there are computers and study areas.
When we visited, there were tons of students working on laptops and reading, and there were even people who came and went just to visit the bookstore section of the store. The vibe at Firestorm Cafe is very friendly, and it attracts a diverse crowd, so we never felt like we stuck out.
And, probably the coolest part is that it's worker owned, so they have fun signs up about not having bosses, and you get the feeling that each person who works there actually cares about what they're doing. Working for yourself doing something you love and are passionate about is the best feeling in the world.
In what seemed to be a growing trend on our tour of all things vegan in Asheville, I was really hungry by the time we made it to the restaurant, and so I bolted right past the bookstore section and made a beeline for the food counter.
They have a nice selection of sandwiches, salads, and soups, and a few pretty vegan desserts at the front counter. We picked the TLT (tempeh, lettuce, and tomato) and the maple BBQ panini.
The TLT was full of taste and had great texture. They cut thin strips of tempeh, which I imagine is to imitate bacon more closely, but I wouldn't have minded having either thicker slices or a few more of the thin strips. Their lettuce was fresh, the bread had lots of seeds and was crunchy, and they used just a small amount of vegenaise, so it was a really good sandwich.
We also tried the Maple Barbecue Tofu Panini, a great sandwich. The maple barbecue sauce was sweet without being overpowering, and it came with a fairly large side salad.
From the side view, you can see the pretty layers of color in the maple BBQ sandwich. We also had a steamy hot apple cider with cinnamon that was good.
We wrapped everything up with a homemade macaroon that was amazing. It was slightly crunchy on the outside with a diverse inside texture, and if they'd left it that way it still would have been good. Instead, they dipped half in chocolate and sprinkled coconut on top, and that pushed it over the top.
And check out this cute lavender orange cupcake they gave us to compensate for a small mix up on our drink order...