Friday Fun Food Facts – January 24, 2020

Triangle Restaurant News
Triangle restaurant news…that not everyone knows. Impress your co-workers at the water cooler.

Featured Restaurant News

  • If you love keeping up with the latest and greatest restaurant news (I assume you do and thus why you are even reading this), this is one of the things I look forward to each year – Greg Cox at the News & Observer puts together his list of the best restaurants in the Triangle. I don’t always 100% agree, but no one knows the restaurant scene, and their dishes, better than Greg Cox. He visited dozens of restaurants last year. These are HIS nine best new restaurants of 2019, and the best of everything else. One will be his Restaurant of the Year. Check out his list here.

Wake County Restaurant News

  • WRAL shared that Australia’s largest Mexican franchise Zambrero’s has opened its first location in Raleigh (and first in the Southeast) on the ground-floor of One Glenwood. The super-food menu includes customizable burritos, bowls, tacos, nachos, dos capas and quesadillas. Each come with hand-made salsas and sauces. All meat options are prepared by vacuum-sealing the meats in marinade and spices and submerging them in hot water and cooking for up to 18 hours. Additionally, all Zambrero locations participate in the Plate 4 Plate initiative where for each burrito, bowl or bottle of water purchased, Zambrero donates a meal to someone in need. They are holding their grand opening today (Friday) serving $5 burritos all day as well as a drawing for guests to win a free burrito catering event for up to 25 people. They will also be opening a location in Durham’s University Hill. No word on the timeline for that. Get by and check them out soon.
  • WRAL also shared this week that Ashley Christensen’s three fast-casual chicken restaurants will be called BB’s Crispy Chicken. The restaurant will first open in Raleigh’s Midtown East (Wegman’s), followed by Durham’s University Hill and Cary’s Parkside Town Commons. With that comes a new website!
  • High school buddy and the best dentist around, Dana McCall shared the news this week that the newest location of Mezeh Mediterranean Grill has opened at 832 Spring Forest Road in Raleigh. This is their second Raleigh location (original location is on Hillsborough Street). If you are not familiar with Mezeh, their food is made in house every day from all natural and fresh ingredients. You choose you base, your protein and all your toppings and enjoy your concoction in a bowl, flatbread wrap or pita pocket. Get to know them here.
  • No one is more excited than Raleigh native Gordon Brown after getting the news this week from York Properties that Noodles & Company is coming back to Cameron Village. Looks like they are moving into the Sugarland space. Gordon has been wandering the streets of Raleigh since October, 2018 looking for a good dish of Pesto Cavatappi (no, he doesn’t care that there are six other locations in the Triangle – it is a convenience thing). His wait is soon over. Re-familiarize yourself with them here.
  • Reader Peter Abrams shared with us that a new Cajun seafood restaurant Crab du Jour opened recently at Plantation Square in Raleigh at 6320 Plantation Center Drive. Get to know them and see their menu here.
  • Also in Raleigh, WRAL reported this week that the husband-and-wife duo behind The Cookie People is opening their first brick-and-mortar storefront in Mission Valley in mid-February. The Cookie People will open in the old Planet Smoothie space at 2237 Avent Ferry Road. April and Darrin picked the location because it’s close to N.C. State University, their home and the North Carolina State Farmers Market, where the business first got its start and continues to sell fresh-baked treats. Visit them on Facebook here.
  • Over in Cary, V Pizza, the Jacksonville, Florida based pizza concept, is in soft-open mode in Cary in the former La Stella Pizzeria location in the Shoppes of Kildaire. This is their first location outside of Florida. Keep up with them on their Facebook page here.
  • Up in Creedmoor, the folks behind Pulcinella’s Italian Restaurant in Durham (and Magone Italian Grill & Pizza in Chapel Hill’s Timberlyne Shopping Center) opened a new restaurant this week in Creedmoor. Instead of using the Pulcinella’s name, they are calling it Rino’s Italian Grill & Pizza to keep the spirit of Rino Fevola alive, who we lost in 2019. Head up to Creedmoor and check them out!
  • Over in Knightdale, it was announced yesterday (after waiting for what seems like forever) that Prime Barbecue will be opening in Knightdale in late March. The restaurant will be located adjacent to Knightdale Station Park at 403 Knightdale Station Run. Owner Christopher Prieto is a champion pitmaster, author, barbecue judge, teacher and barbecue eating expert. They offer a plethora of smoked meats, including brisket, house made beef sausages, beef and pork ribs, pork shoulder and turkey breast. A traditional Eastern Carolina style whole hog will be featured on Saturdays. Keep up with announcements and get to know them here.

Durham, Orange & Chatham Restaurant News

  • It is open! Executive chef Matt Kelly and his team at Saint James Seafood are now  shucking oysters, steaming shrimp and frying fish again – opening yesterday after having been closed for nine months following the natural gas explosion on nearby North Duke Street. Time to refamiliarize yourself with St. James, located adjacent to Brightleaf Square, and their new menu.
  • Durham’s University Hill continues to unveil a fairly impressive list of dining options heading our way. Thanks to Carrie Brogren of the Chapel Hill Carrboro Foodies group, we learned that Happy + Hale will open a second location in late Spring, 2020. This will mark their 4th Triangle-area location (two in Raleigh, and one on Ninth Street in Durham). Visit Happy + Hale here.
  • Following up on last week’s announcement that Jake Wood was bringing his Lawrence BBQ to Boxyard RTP, Carrboro’s Carrburritos shared on their Facebook page this week that they too will be part of the mixed-use shipping container project led by the Research Triangle Foundation. Boxyard RTP will open summer 2020. Visit Carrburritos Facebook page here.
  • Art Sheppard, aka the Wandering Sheppard, notified us that popular food truck Mr. Cheesesteak will be opening a brick and mortar location in March in Durham at 5400 S Miami Blvd. in the former Lina’s Cafe spot. Now you can get a hand sliced Angus Beef cheesesteak anytime! Get updates on their Facebook page here.
  • WRAL reported this week that after 11 years in business, Café Meridian, at 2500 Meridian Parkway in Durham,  is searching for a new home. Despite efforts to extend his lease (and even expand), owner Rich Kazazian has until the end of March to find a new home. Visit them here.
  • Over in Chapel Hill, Brandwein’s Bagels first Pop-Up of the year is this Saturday, January 25th from 8 a.m. until noon at Midway Community Kitchen. Keep up with their latest (including possibly a big announcement in 2020) on their Facebook page here.
  • And down in Pittsboro, I saw on the Chapel Hill Carrboro Foodies Facebook page that a new restaurant has opened at Copeland Springs Farm. Their certified, naturally grown farm surrounds their vegetarian/vegan kitchen where their menu changes monthly based on what is harvested. Kinda gives true meaning to “farm to fork.” They share a “campus” with Fair Game Beverage Company, Starrlight Mead, Chatham Cider Works, Smelt Art Gallery, Chatham Axes and Hempsmith Clothing, with more to come. There is a playground, a walking trail and it’s generally just a cool place to hang out and eat and drink. Check this oasis out here.


  • Reader David Larson shared with us that Xoco on Glenwood South is apparently closed for an upfit. Stay tuned to see whether it reopens as Xoco, something else, or not at all.
  • Reader Burke Williams was creative in letting us know that we lost The Lost Cajun at Bent Tree Plaza off Falls of Neuse and Strickland. They have closed permanently and their phone is forwarded to corporate.
  • Triangle Business Journal reported this week that In a rather unexpected post on Facebook on Jan. 17, Raleigh’s Brice’s Brewing Company said it will be closing its brewery on Jan. 25.
  • Over in Cary, reader Chris Creighton notified us that Bruegger’s Bagels on Maynard off Kildaire Farm Road has closed.

Food Trucks 

  • The Durham Central Park Food Truck Rodeo is an all-ages Sunday afternoon gathering of dozens of the Triangle’s most popular food trucks, five times each year. And the first one is this Sunday, January 26! Get more details and updates here.
  • As things get cold, here are a  couple of sites to find and stalk your favorite food trucks here and here.


  • The Inter-Faith Council will host their 26th Annual Taste of Hope Gala on Sunday, January 26th at the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel at 4100 Main at North Hills Street. Proceeds from the six-course dinner and silent auction will provide critical funds for Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s hunger relief efforts. The evening also includes a special giving opportunity for the BackPack Buddies Program, which provides healthy meals and snacks to children struggling with hunger. There is still time to be a sponsor and/or donate an item for the auction. Get all the details and purchase tickets to attend here.
  • Crook’s Corner, the beloved Chapel Hill restaurant, will host their January Supper Club on Wednesday, January 29th at 6 pm. The January Supper Club is a four-course, family-style meal prepared by chef Justin Burdett with beer pairings from Saxapahaw’s Haw River Farmhouse Ales. The cost is $65 per person for four courses and beer pairings (plus tax and gratuity). Advanced reservations are required and seating is limited. To make a reservation, please visit here.
  • The Triangle Wine & Food Experience is the Triangle and Carolina’s premier wine event encompassing tastings, dinners, and a Grand Gala and Auction over a three day period, January 30 through February 1. The event draws some of the world’s best wineries and the Triangle’s best restaurants and chefs. Last year, over 1,800 people participated in 44 winery dinners; the Gala and Grand Auction was attended by over 600 people who enjoyed the food of 15 award-winning chefs and 70 of the world’s top wineries. All proceeds from Triangle Wine & Food Experience benefit the Frankie Lemmon Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Frankie Lemmon School & Developmental Center, a preschool for children with and without special needs in Wake County. Get tickets and all the details here.
  • The Cary Rotary Club is holding its 17th Annual Chili Dinner fundraiser for hunger relief where they will be serving 1400-1500 lunches and dinners on January 31. Individual tickets are $8 which includes: 8oz. bowl of chili (vegetarian available), cheese, pasta salad and cornbread. Lunch is served from 12-2:00 p.m. and dinner is served from 5 – 7:30p.m. Meals are prepared by Whole Foods Market and will be served at Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church at 200 High Meadow Drive in Cary. Additional details can be found here.
  • The 8th Annual Bull City Food and Beer Experience will take place on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the DPAC. The event pairs delicious local restaurants, with breweries from across the nation. Unlimited food and beer samplings will be spread throughout all three floors at DPAC, plus the On Stage Experience will bring guests up onto the performing arts stage to showcase even more food, beverages and live music. Get all the details here.
  • The 4th Annual Cooking for a Classic benefiting the kids at the Lucy Daniels Center begins with round one on February 24-27 and tickets are just $75 each. Two chefs each night will prepare three courses each with at least one secret ingredient per dish, and attendees and guest judges decide which chef advances to the next round. Rond One features the following chefs: Monday, Feb. 24 – Eli Rodriguez of so·ca vs. Kevin Smith of 41Hundred at the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel Tuesday, Feb. 25 – Blake Gotliffe of Under the Oak vs. Kyle Teears of Whiskey Kitchen Wednesday, Feb. 26 – Kyle Fletcher of Wye Hill vs. Scott Ruzicka of Mia Francesca Thursday, Feb. 27 – Andres Kaifer of Vidrio vs. Carey Ball of STIR. All events take place at 1705 East in Raleigh. New this year, enter a raffle to win a triple-black loaded 1969 Chevy Camaro! Get tickets and all the details here.
  • The 5th Annual Raleigh International Food Festival will be held on Saturday, June 6 from noon until 10 p.m. in the 100-200 block of Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. While there you will be able to try authentic international food, desserts as well as  imported beer and wine! There will also be lots of music and entertainment at this child and pet friendly event. Admission is free and parking on the street is as well. Get all the details on their Facebook event page here.
  • The Thrive NC Food Festival will return to downtown Raleigh this spring on May 7 and 8. Thrive NC, which held its inaugural festival in 2018, was developed to help raise awareness about food insecurity in the Triangle, where more than 1.5 million North Carolinians struggle with hunger on a daily basis. The first day will include a food summit that delves into ways to address hunger in the state. A service project will be held on the second day involving members of the community in partnership with a local non-profit. Each night includes a food festival with more than 65 local restaurants and beverage purveyors, live entertainment, chef demonstrations and music. Tickets for Thrive NC’s food festivals are $30 each and go on sale Feb. 27. Tickets have sold out each year. Get all the details here.

Food Bank Corner

  •   Did you know that 2020 marks the 40th year that the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina has been serving our communities with food for daily nourishment, supplies during disasters, programs that serve families, and education that empowers our community? Join me in wishing them a happy 40th! No One Goes Hungry. Make a donation today here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.