A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

UNC Greensboro alumnus Tal Blevins has lived in three states and traveled all over the world, but when he decided to move away from San Francisco’s traffic congestion and high

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

UNC Greensboro alumnus Tal Blevins has lived in three states and traveled all over the world, but when he decided to move away from San Francisco’s traffic congestion and high

A Spring Day in Greensboro

UNC Greensboro alumnus Tal Blevins has lived in three states and traveled all over the world, but when he decided to move away from San Francisco’s traffic congestion and high cost of living, it was Greensboro’s strong sense of community that drew him back home.

Blevins felt that the Triad city would be a great place to start a restaurant, which had always been a dream for him. In 2020, he opened MACHETE, featuring ever-changing offerings inspired by global flavors. Chefs Kevin Cottrell and Lydia Greene develop new recipes seasonally, then refine the dishes throughout the season — tweaking ingredients, changing the preparation. “We are trying to perfect everything that we do and give everything a little more balance, a little more flavor,” Blevins says.

A meal at MACHETE is just one of the many must-dos on our itinerary for spending a beautiful spring day in Greensboro. Come along as Blevins shows us around his hometown.



 

Stop into French-style café Chez Genèse for a delicious start to the day. Photography courtesy of UNC GREENSBORO

Breakfast at Chez Genèse

Your first order of business: cinnamon French toast, quiche du jour, and lemon-ricotta pancakes to kick off the day.

Kathryn Hubert developed an appreciation for French food culture — the time that goes into preparing a meal and enjoying it with good company — while spending a year in the country after culinary school. After returning home to Greensboro to earn a degree in hospitality and tourism management from UNCG, she opened Chez Genèse on South Elm Street, striving to bring the French experience to downtown Greensboro, and providing dishes prepared with the freshest — and fewest — ingredients possible. “We don’t like to overcrowd our dishes with lots of ingredients,” she says. “We really want you to taste the lemon and the blueberry in the lemon-ricotta pancakes, and to taste the cheese in your omelet.”

 

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum is home to an entire original section of the lunch counter where the Greensboro Four sat. photograph by Visit Greensboro

Explore Downtown

When you’ve wrapped up breakfast, check out the shops, restaurants, and museums along Elm Street near Chez Genèse. Hudson’s Hill makes and sells clothing and accessories, including made-in-house leather coasters, and jeans made in the USA exclusively for the store by HARDENCO.

Grab a coffee in Scuppernong Books’ coffee shop and browse the store’s shelves, which are packed with works by local and national authors. “You can lose a couple of hours in there really easily,” Blevins says.

At the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, see the original F.W. Woolworth’s lunch counter that launched the sit-in movement. “The Civil Rights Museum is always something that, when we have guests from out of town, we either take them there or tell them they need to go down there,” Blevins says. “What a revolution was started right here in Greensboro, and what an amazing piece of history to be able to see and feel and walk through.”

 

Admire Art in LeBauer Park

Greensboro is one of the best places in the state to experience public art. A short walk from Elm Street, in downtown’s LeBauer Park, 35 miles of fibers, their colors changing every five years, are stretched and draped 60 feet above the grass. The 90-foot-long aerial sculpture, created by artist Janet Echelman and titled Where We Met, billows in the breeze. Look closely: Its fibers span out from the center, symbolizing the rail lines that once connected Greensboro — the Denim Capital of the World — to its surrounding textile mills.

Other works of art that can be viewed at the park include the News & Record bench created by Jim Gallucci out of silicon-bronze sheets of newspaper and magazines in honor of former News & Record publisher Van King; the Peace Haven Community Farm Sensory Wall, which celebrates and engages visitors with sensory disabilities; and Asheville artist Carl Powell’s stained-glass window installation De Dans at the Greensboro Cultural Center.

 

See new works from student and faculty artists, as well as members of Greensboro’s arts community, displayed among the ever-changing exhibits at the Greensboro Project Space. Photography courtesy of UNC GREENSBORO

Continue Your Art Exploration at Greensboro Project Space …

Owned by UNCG’s School of Art, the off-campus Greensboro Project Space is a contemporary art space that hosts exhibitions and programs by students, faculty, and community members. “We’re a place where artists that are involved can experiment and explore and try ideas out,” says Director Caitlyn Schrader. And with new exhibitions every one to two weeks, there’s always something new to see here.

Coming in spring 2024, five solo exhibitions by current UNCG MFA students will display a wide range of artistic mediums from painting to performance art and social practice to installation. There will also be the inaugural “Community Small Works Show,” representing the depth of creative intrigue, personal expression, and artistic liberation from our vibrant community it’s open to all artists. Be sure to keep keep an eye on GPS’s upcoming projects for two UNCG student-curated exhibitions that highlight the school’s bachelor of arts and bachelor of fine arts members. This spring, student artists can also apply to Greensboro Project Space’s second annual residency program in May through August, Summer Studios: Arts on Site! 

 

Art takes many forms at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, like this special event celebrating art-inspired performance featuring artists from UNCG School of Dance. Photography courtesy of UNC GREENSBORO

… and the Weatherspoon Art Museum

Just a quick drive from downtown, your art appreciation continues: With more than 6,000 works representing all major movements from the 20th and 21st centuries, UNCG’s Weatherspoon Art Museum maintains one of the Southeast’s best permanent collections of modern and contemporary art. Works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Enrique Martínez Celaya, and Elizabeth Catlett are exhibited on rotation along with exhibitions of emerging artists and UNCG’s faculty and students.

Spring 2024 exhibitions include “Lalla Essaydi | Falk Visiting Artist,” “Art on Paper 2023: The 47th Exhibition,” and the collection installation “Making Room: Familiar Art, New Stories.” The Weatherspoon will have a special Artist Talk with Lalla Essaydi on Thursday, April 4, at 4:30 p.m. Immediately after the talk, visitors can join WAM staff for the Spring 2024 Open House.

 

Order a Carolina dog and a scoop (or two) of something sweet at Yum Yum Better Ice Cream. Photography courtesy of UNC GREENSBORO

Grab a Hot Dog and a Treat at Yum Yum Better Ice Cream

After an art-filled morning, head down the street to the iconic Yum Yum Better Ice Cream, established in 1906, for a casual but delicious lunch. “Yum Yum is one of those institutions in town that, man, if it was ever gone, it would feel like a big part of Greensboro was missing,” Blevins says.

Hot dogs and ice cream are the only things on the menu at this cash-only restaurant. Order a red dog Carolina-style — topped with chili, slaw, onions, and mustard — and slide into a booth to enjoy your meal. For dessert, choose from about 20 flavors of ice cream, including banana, pineapple, and butter pecan. Blevins prefers classic chocolate — what’s your favorite?

 

Cross the aerial bridge or stroll through a canopy of oak, hickory, maple, beech, and elm trees in Peabody Park. Photography courtesy of UNC GREENSBORO

Take a Stroll & Look for Birds in Peabody Park

When you’ve refueled, explore nearby Peabody Park on the north side of UNCG’s campus. The park, which was established for educational purposes in 1901 and continues to be used for teaching and research, features more than 34 ecologically diverse acres — including an oak-hickory forest, streams, and wetlands — that are perfect for spotting wildlife. Take a walk along the aerial bridge that traverses the forest’s canopy and look for a nesting pair of yellow-crowned night heron in the branches of an oak. Walking at ground level, you might see the red head and polka-dotted breast feathers of a common flicker foraging for ants and beetles on the forest floor. In the park’s Buffalo Creek, look for the belted kingfisher diving for fish. In the Piedmont prairie near the creek, keep an eye out for ruby-throated hummingbirds drinking nectar from wildflowers.

 

See animal exhibits at the Greensboro Science Center. photograph by Visit Greensboro

Discover the Greensboro Science Center

The Greensboro Science Center is all about getting in touch with the natural world — earth, sea, and sky. Look for Ralph, the 500-pound pygmy hippo, wallowing in his mud hollow and see a flock of pink Caribbean flamingos eating algae in the zoo. Touch a cownose ray in the aquarium’s touch tank and watch Pumpkin the giant Pacific octopus dance for a crowd. Catch a show in the OmniSphere Theater and learn about black holes and the history of flight. “It is so interesting and so magical to see that we have such a fantastic science center in Greensboro now and how that has expanded,” Blevins says. “It’s just a great experience for both adults and kids.”

 

Tal Blevins’s restaurant MACHETE was named a James Beard Best New Restaurant Semifinalist in 2022. Photography courtesy of UNC GREENSBORO

Have Dinner at MACHETE

Just two years after opening, Blevins’s restaurant was named a James Beard Best New Restaurant Semifinalist — but it’s not just the food that keeps diners coming back to MACHETE. The vibrancy of the dishes — like the Denver steak with hickory, kohlrabi, and spring onion — is reflected in the atmosphere. “We don’t want people to feel like they have to whisper when they’re in our restaurant,” Blevins says, “Because that’s not how you celebrate life. When you get together and you are having a great meal with somebody, you want to laugh, you want to enjoy yourself, you want to share stories.”

 

Before opening night, students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts rehearse in front of an empty auditorium. Photography courtesy of UNC GREENSBORO

See a show at UNCG

With venues ranging in size from the intimate 130-seat Organ Hall to the 1642-seat UNCG Auditorium, the College of Visual and Performing Arts offers a never-ending schedule of productions, concerts, recitals, and exhibitions by both in-house and visiting performers. This spring, enjoy the UNCG Concert and Lecture Series performances, like Garth Fagan Dance Company on April 5. UNCG’s Jazz Ensemble will perform alongside saxophonist Tim Warfield on April 19. “You get to see talent that is accessible for an affordable price,” says James Goins, University Auditorium Production Manager. “It feels like you are a part of something that’s special.”

 

Stay the night at Proximity or O. Henry Hotel

After a full day of exploring the Gate City, check into Proximity Hotel or O. Henry Hotel and wind down for the evening. Both hotels feature art from artist-in-residence Chip Holton, a UNCG master’s in fine arts alumnus. Have a nightcap on the creekside terrace at Proximity’s Print Works Bistro or enjoy one of the 500 wines on offer at O. Henry’s Green Valley Grill. In the morning, both restaurants feature phenomenal breakfasts with dishes like eggs benedict and avocado toast. “You can always take somebody from out of town to one of those restaurants, and they have such a good variety, they can always find something that will appeal to them,” Blevins says. After breakfast, relax in Proximity’s Bluebell Garden or O. Henry’s Cloister Garden before checking out and heading home from a fun-filled Greensboro weekend.

This story was published on Mar 22, 2024

Rebecca Woltz

Rebecca is the staff writer at Our State.