Friday Fun Food Facts – January 26, 2018

Triangle Restaurant News

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

Featured Restaurant News

  • And let the water cooler debates begin. The much-anticipated “Restaurant of the Year” list has been released by the News & Observer’s Greg Cox. The annual release of the areas best restaurants was unveiled this week and a huge kudos (and much deserved nod) goes to Scott Crawford and his Crawford & Son restaurant as this year’s top restaurant. Lots of other restaurants also earned Cox’s praise. Check out this year’s list in the News & Observer here.

Wake County Restaurant News

  • It is time for pizza. More specifically, The Pizza Times. That’s right, The Pizza Times joins downtown favorites The Raleigh Times Bar and The Morning Times and is serving up pizzas by the pie and by the slice. They are open 11 am – 2 am around the corner from The Raleigh Times at 210 Wilmington Street in downtown Raleigh. Check them out here.
  • Over on Wake Forest Road in Raleigh in the same shopping center as Trader Joe’s, the Jersey Mike’s location has closed to make way for the first North Carolina location of a healthy fast casual restaurant concept called Gusto which seems to feature hand-crafted, fast-fired pizzas and yummy salads. Look for a late spring, early summer opening. Find out more about Gusto here.
  • Got word from reader Michelle Hillison that a location of Pastries “N” Chaat is coming to Cary at 2711 Highway 55 in the space formerly occupied by La Carreta near the intersection with High House Road. The Indian franchise has locations in Arizona, Utah, California, Florida and Colorado. This is the first in North Carolina. Check them out here.
  • Plates Neighborhood Kitchen is celebrating their 4th year with some exciting changes, beginning with bringing back chef Sam Bradford as chef and Stephanie Schenck as general manager. Additionally, they are now open for lunch and have refreshed and renovated their dining space and outdoor patio. Congrats on 4 years and the new changes. Check out Plates here.
  • Over in Morrisville, Michael DePersia of National Restaurant Properties notified me that they recently sold The Red Dragon Chinese Restaurant (4051 Davis Drive) to the group that also recently purchased David’s Dumpling and Noodle Bar on Hillsborough Street. They plan on keeping things the same and not making any changes. Check out Red Dragon here.
  • And how do you make Taco Bell tasty? Booze, lots of booze. And that is exactly what is happening with a new Taco Bell coming to the ground floor of Raleigh’s 2304 Hillsborough Apartments according to the folks over at ITB Insider. They noted this week that a Taco Bell Cantina is set to open later this year and will offer, in addition to their normal fare, Sangria, wine and draft beers.

Durham, Orange & Chatham Restaurant News

  • Over on Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street, my twitter colleague Burgeoning Baker brought it to my attention that Bonchon Chicken has opened in the former McAlister’s location. Bonchon is a franchise specializing in Korean-style fried chicken and a variety of savory Asian fusion dishes. They have 236 restaurants in nine countries with more than 63 in the United States. Get familiar with them here.
  • Also on Franklin Street, got a note from Michael DePersia of National Restaurant Properties that they sold Artisan Pizza to a local restaurant group that will be converting it to a Hibachi style quick service restaurant. They plan to open in the next few weeks after completing a nice remodel. Stay tuned for additional information on that.
  • In Durham, the folks over at Taste Carolina brought it to my attention that The Bullpen on Blackwell Street, adjacent to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, recently had a grand re-opening of their kitchen. Their new kitchen is serving up a brand new expanded menu that highlights the beer offerings by Bull Durham Beer Co, and food items that include veggie melts, grain bowl salads, and beer infused chicken chili verde. Check them out here.
  • And a quick kudos to owner and chef Bret Jennings of Elaine’s on Franklin in Chapel Hill as they celebrate 18 years! To commemorate the occasion, chef will hold a special anniversary dinner on January 28th. Get a look at the menu and all the details here.



  • Got word from reader Katie Zimmerman that Tarbouch on Creedmoor Road in Raleigh has closed.
  • And it looks like Menchie’s at Sutton Square in Raleigh has closed.

Food Trucks

  • Two great sites to keep up with your favorite food trucks. Street Food Finder is one – find it here. And another, aptly named, is Roaming Hungerfind it here.


  • Here’s a great time. I mean a really great time. The guys behind the NC Food & Beverage Podcast (Max and Matt) have teamed up with John May over at Piedmont in Durham to offer up their first dinner called “Pork & Rum” on Sunday, January 28th. They will be pairing rums from Lassiter Distilling with a menu by May – think Caribbean-meets-Hawaiian-meets-North Carolina. And for the best part, it’s family-style, i.e. big tables, big plates and flowing cocktails. Tickets are $65. Get your tickets and all the details here.
  • Also, the dates for the Lucy Daniels Center 2018 version of their popular Cooking for a Classic have been set. This year’s event consists of three rounds and eight chefs vying to win a restored ’49 truck. It is gorgeous! The first round kicks off on Monday, January 22 and continues through the week. The semifinals are the following week and the final showdown will be on Wednesday, February 7th. This year’s competing chefs are Trey Cleveland of Top of the Hill, Chapel Hill; Matt Hannon of Ironwoods Cafe, Southern Pines; Jonathan Ballard of Dean’s Kitchen and Bar, Cary; James Patterson, McConnell Golf Dining; Troy Stauffer, City Club, Raleigh; Aaron Matyac, Whiskey Kitchen, Raleigh; Dean Thompson, Raleigh Renaissance Hotel; and Nick Fay, Coquette, Raleigh. Get a peek at the truck and all the details here.
  • Triangle Restaurant Week runs through this weekend ending on January 28. During TRW, participating restaurants offer special three-course menu options and fixed pricing, a great opportunity to try places you’ve never been before – or to enjoy your old reliables with a new twist. No reservations, tickets or passes required. Get all the details and a list of participating restaurants here.
  • The Cary Rotary Club is hosting its 15th annual Chili Dinner fund-raiser to Stop Hunger on Friday, January 26 at Kirk of Kildare Presbyterian Church (200 High Meadow Drive in Cary) between the hours of 12 and 2 p.m. and 5 and 7 p.m. This year they are working toward providing 94,000+ meals internationally and generating $11,000+ to support local hunger relief efforts. Each $8 ticket purchased will send ~19 meals internationally and $2.40 to relieve hunger in our own neighborhoods.  International meals are typically served in schools. Doing so encourages attendance and supports education/literacy. Delicious meals prepared by Whole Foods Market will be served at lunch and dinner. Get details on their Facebook event page here.
  • Tyler’s Restaurant & Taproom and Sam’s Quik Shop will host the 6th Annual Bull City Food and Beer Experience on Sunday, February 25. The event features 30 restaurants paired with 30 breweries spread throughout all three DPAC floors featuring unlimited samplings and the Harris On Stage Experience showcasing local food trucks with the help of County Fare, a daily food truck rodeo opening soon. Get all the details and tickets here.
  • March 17th is the date for the second annual Food Shuttle Garden Gallop 5K to benefit the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Growing School Gardens program (better known as the Sean is Faster Than Gordon race). Put it this way, if I can do it, you can do it! Come on out and support a great cause. Register and get all the details here.
  • Durham Magazine, Chapel Hill Magazine and Chatham Magazine return with their popular culinary event, Taste to take place April 18-22 highlighting the culinary talents along the Durham/Chapel Hill corridor. The event will feature over 30 of the area’s top chefs at four unique events throughout the week. Keep up with the latest and get tickets here.
  • And looking ahead a bit, it was announced this week that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will host a culinary event called Thrive NC set to take place at downtown Raleigh’s City Market on May 10-11. The two-day event will highlight the fact that 1.5 million people in the state struggle to buy affordable and fresh foods. A highlight of the event will be a two-day food festival featuring top chefs from 50 North Carolina restaurants serving food and drink samples against a backdrop of live music each night. Tickets will go on sale in February. Keep up with the details as they unfold here.

Food Bank Corner

  •  Go ahead and mark your calendars and get your tickets for the Food Bank’s Chef’s Feast at Fearrington Village coming up on March 22. Four renowned chefs will prepare, and serve favorite recipes through four courses in an intimate environment. Guests will enjoy beverage pairings, an opportunity to bid on unique auction items, and learn more about what the Food Bank and its partner agencies are doing in the community for those facing food insecurity. Get more information and tickets here.

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