Friday Fun Food Facts – March 1, 2019

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

Featured Restaurant News

  •  WRAL reported that Raleigh’s own Ashley Christensen is a semi-finalist for a national James Beard Foundation award, often referred to as “The Oscars of Food.” Christensen, who owns Poole’s, Death and Taxes, Beasley’s, and Chucks, is up for the award for Outstanding Chef in the country. She was a finalist for the honor last year and was awarded the best chef in the southeast in 2014. Durham’s own Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam Brewery is a semi-finalist for outstanding wine, spirits or beer producer in the country. And the best chef in the southeast award semi-finalist list includes: Steven Devereaux Greene of Herons in Cary; Oscar Diaz of The Cortez in Raleigh; and Cheetie Kumar of Garland in Raleigh. The James Beard Award finalists will be announced March 27. The awards will be presented at a gala on May 6 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. See the full list here.

Wake County Restaurant News

  • Got word from Michael DePersia of National Restaurant Properties that up in Wake Forest, Filippo Fanfani has purchased Bruno’s Italian Bistro located at 1248 S. Main St and will bring many recipes from his Italian homeland. He will also rename the restaurant Amalia’s Authentic Italian Restaurant. Don’t have a website for Amalia’s, but you can visit Bruno’s Italian here.
  • Over in Raleigh, reader Hugh Autry noticed that a Eastern Gate Cafe has opened in the old Applebee’s spot at the corner of Hillsborough Street and Gorman Street. It is a coffee shop/hookah bar. Not much on their website, other than a really cool car parked out front. See for yourself.
  • And down in Fuquay-Varina, got the official press release that Vicious Fishes Brewery has expanded to a second location, opening a new restaurant in downtown Fuquay Varina at 132 S. Fuquay Avenue. Named Tap & Kitchen to reflect the presence of a taproom and full restaurant, the 8,350 square foot location features 16 taps of Vicious Fishes beer and an eclectic food menu, as well as wine, local cider and a full liquor bar. Get to know them here.

Durham, Orange & Chatham Restaurant News

  • In Chapel Hill, Michael DePersia also shared that the old Sugarland space on Franklin Street will be the new home to Blue Spoon Microcreamery serving up ice cream made in-house with liquid nitrogen. The Daily Tar Heel added that Cindy and Dave Somasunderam will open the ice cream shop on April 1.  They’ve been making ice cream for 45 years and have owned ice cream shops all over the US. We were unable to find an online presence, so stay tuned.
  • Also on Franklin Street, The Daily Tar Heel also shared the news that restaurant chain Peño Mediterranean Grill plans to expand to Chapel Hill to replace Tama Cafe at 105 Franklin Street that recently closed. The new Chapel Hill location will be the seventh for the franchise. Their menu includes gyrö sandwiches, wraps and bowls. Their site also indicates a location is coming to Raleigh. Check them out here.
  • Reader Nidia Salazar shared the news that Pho Happiness has opened on the West end of Franklin Street at 508-A Franklin Street in the former Guru India Restaurant spot (next to Italian Pizzeria III). She notes that they offer great food, prices and amazing bahn mi all day long! That will make anyone happy! Check them out here.
  • And rounding out the news in Chapel Hill, reader Charles Harrington shared that a sign for Japan Express is up in front of the former Pizza Hut location on Estes Drive in Chapel Hill. There was a Japan Express on Elliott Road, and there is one in Durham. But I don’t know if there is any relation to either of these. Stay tuned. Thanks Charles!


  • None to report! Keep eating local, folks!

Food Trucks 

  • Go ahead and mark down the dates for 2019 for the Durham Food Truck rodeos – they are: March 24, June 16, September 1 and November 3! Get all the dates here.


  •  Cooking for a Classic 2019 is in full gear at 1705 East in Raleigh! The chase for the prize (a restored 1982 JEEP Scrambler) enters the second round next week and the Finale is March 11. Tickets are $100 for the Second Round and $125 for the Finale. You can get all the details here and tickets here. Each evening features six plated courses. All proceeds benefit the Lucy Daniels Center’s mental-health programs for children in the Triangle. Get all the details here. And tickets here.
  • On Tuesday, March 5, participating restaurants are donating a percentage of sales to the Ronald McDonald House of Durham and Wake as part annual gala week. The proceeds from this evening will help to support children and their families who are facing a critical illness. View a (growing) list of participating restaurants here.
  • BBQ lovers should put March 9th on their calendar. That is the day of Jimbo’s Annual Backyard BBQ Competition up in Youngsville. Basically it is a 36 team BBQ competition run under a KCBS backyard style. For $20 attendees get to sample all entries and award a “People’s Choice” award to the best cue. In addition to the competition BBQ, they will have a couple food trucks, beer, wine, sodas, water and a raffle to win a $1700 Myron Mixon BarQ-1700 Pellet Cooker. All proceeds this year will go to The Carolina Cavalry, a civilian disaster response organization. Find out more about Carolina Cavalry here. Get all the event details here, including registering your BBQ team.
  • Toast to the Triangle will be on Sunday, March 10 from 6-9pm at the McKimmon Center on NC State’s campus. The event brings together 30 of the Triangle area’s best restaurants and beverage providers competing to be the favorite flavor of the night by providing samples of their fare. In between bites, guests can bid on over 100 silent auction items and packages, purchase a mystery bottle of wine, snap a photo in the green screen photo booth and more! All of the money raised is to support the Tammy Lynn Memorial Foundation for the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities. Tickets are $100 each for the event and can be purchased here.
  • Brewery Bhavana announced that they will host a Soft Beer Fest on Sunday, March 31 from 2 to 6 p.m. featuring beer and cider samples from Brewery Vivant, Civil Society, Fonta Flora, New Belgium, Oxbow, Shacksbury, Trve and Zillicoah Beer Co. The festival will be centered on soft and delicate beers, full of flowers, soft music, and friendly faces. The full beer list and band list is expected to be announced in the next two weeks. Only 300 tickets will be sold for the event. Those tickets, which are $70 each, go on sale online at noon on March 6. Your ticket covers unlimited pours, food and music. Get all the details here.
  • Also this past week, Brewgaloo was nominated as one of the top beer festivals in the country! That’s right, in the country! Right now we sit atop the leaderboard, but we need your vote to stay there. Please click through here and keep us there! Thanks to Jennifer Martin for bringing this to my attention.
  • Cary’s 4th annual Fest in the West festival returns on Saturday, May 4th from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the USA Baseball National Training Complex. The event features old-fashioned contests (like pie eating!), artists, beer, food trucks (10) and live bands on multiple stages. (Rain date is May 5). Get all the details here.
  • Tickets are on sale now for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Thrive NC, scheduled for May 9 -10 at City Market in downtown Raleigh. The inaugural event attracted thousands of members of the community to celebrate North Carolina’s culinary roots, while also initiating critical conversations about food insecurity in our state. The highlight of the two-day event is the festival which will feature more than 60 of the area’s best restaurants serving food and drink samples as well as live entertainment, including chef demonstrations and music. Get all the details here. Get all the details here.

Food Bank Corner

  • Our first Fork + Bottle Dinner of 2019 is Thursday, March 21. Join award-winning chef Thomas Card as he welcomes local favorites The Kast Brothers to Counting House and 21c Museum Hotel Durham. Alex Kast is the director of Chapel Hill Creamery and brother Max Kast of Broadbent Selections, Inc. is the only Master Sommelier in the Southeast. The night will start with a tour of our current exhibition, Portraying Power and Identity: A Global Perspective, followed by cocktail hour and dinner. Chef Card has designed a menu to pair with Chapel Hill Creamery selections and wine will be poured to accompany the meal. Tickets are $75 a person and a portion of every ticket sold will benefit the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. Visit their Facebook event page here for all the details.

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