The Triangle is home to some of the most intriguing restaurants in the South—and the list of must-try eateries just keeps growing. Whether you’re in the mood for Latin fusion, exotic Malaysian or upscale pub fare served alongside a local cider, innovative chefs from Chapel Hill to Wake Forest have created a mouth-watering menu for you. Here are 10 noteworthy restaurants that have joined the Triangle’s culinary scene.
(Charcoal-Grilled Global Cuisine) Kamado Grille brings the flavors and ambiance of outdoor grilling inside, using kamado-style charcoal grills with a customized ventilation system to cook meats, vegetables and other dishes inside the restaurant, which features live trees, water elements and other natural accents that create a backyard vibe. Choose from entrees including Black Angus steak with compound butter, reverse-seared pork shoulder fillet with a sweet Bourbon glaze and St. Louis-style ribs with a choice of sauces. Shrimp and grits, maple-miso salmon and a vegetable platter, featuring marinated portabella mushroom and roasted vegetables, offer additional choices. 832 Springfield Commons Drive, Raleigh. 919.803.3662.
Death & Taxes
(Contemporary Southern) The latest addition to 2014 James Beard Award winner (for Best Chef Southeast) Ashley Christensen’s empire, Death & Taxes features inventive dishes cooked over a wood-fired grill in a showcase open kitchen. The ever-evolving menu includes marrowbones with potatoes and pickled shallot, littleneck clams with embered butter and thyme, and roasted butternut squash served on the half-shell. Dishes are served à la carte to allow patrons to sample the chef’s take on Southern cuisine. Save room for dessert, including pan-roasted apple crisp with ice cream and vanilla bean crème brulée. 105 W. Hargett St., Raleigh. 984.242.0218.
Mesa Latin Kitchen
(Nuevo Latino) Tucked into Durham’s Ninth Street District, Mesa Latin Kitchen serves lunch and dinner in a vibrant environment. Durham restaurateur Fares Hanna and Chef Douglas Rodriguez—a 1996 James Beard Award winner (for Rising Star Chef of the Year) and pioneer of pan-American cuisine—collaborated on the menu to infuse Latin-inspired tapas dishes with authentic zest. Enjoy Chef Oscar Hernandez’s shrimp ceviche with tostone tostadas, cassava flatbread with exotic mushrooms or crab and charred corn, and oven-baked Argentine beef empanadas. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are also available. Enjoy live Latin jazz weekly. 2701 Hillsborough Road, Durham. 919.973.2717.
Gooey’s American Grille
(Sandwiches and Macaroni-n-Cheese) Fulfilling the fantasy of cheese lovers everywhere, Gooey’s American Grille serves cheese-centric sandwiches and macaroni dishes in a laid-back, family-friendly environment. Choose from grilled cheese sandwiches topped with fried chicken, bologna, ham or even mac-n-cheese; or go for the macaroni and cheese combinations including Cajun, chili, veggie and bacon. Dial it back a notch with specialty sandwiches including the turkey bacon club, roast beef au jus, or bacon cheeseburger. Save room for dessert, choosing from sweet and savory donuts (such as the bacon and cheese), lava cake or ice cream. 950 Gateway Commons Circle, Wake Forest. 919.761.5191.
Black Twig Cider House
(Elevated Pub Fare) Black Twig Cider House features locally sourced sausages and the largest variety of cider in the Southeast. Mattie Beason, of Mattie B’s Public House and Six Plates, brings his passion for cider to Black Twig, the only U.S. restaurant to feature a txotx, a Spanish cider barrel. Executive Chef John Eisensmith prepares salads and sandwiches, including the Lamby Joe, a ground lamb and chorizo Sloppy Joe. Sausages include the Kingston Black (sweet Italian sausage with caramelized onions and peppers), Winesap (chicken sausage with smoked goat cheese) and Slack Ma Girdle (vegan sausage with pickled collards). 2812 Erwin Road, Durham. 919.321.0103.
(Asian) As the Triangle’s only Malaysian restaurant, Rasa Malaysia offers patrons a taste of Asia beyond the usual Chinese-American offerings. Chef and owner Winnie Leong, who took over the space formerly occupied by husband Simon Leong’s restaurant, Merlion, specializes in dishes from Taiping and Singapore as well as Malaysian-Indian fusion. Venture beyond familiar favorites to enjoy kampung (village) specialties such as curry laksa soup (rice noodles with tofu, fishcake, bean sprout and egg in coconut-spiced broth), nasi lemak (chicken curry with fried anchovies) and rendang lembu (beef in coconut gravy with lemongrass, galangal, onion, ginger and lime leaves). 410 Market St., Ste. 320, Chapel Hill. 984.234.0256.
Oiso Sushi & Korean
(Japanese and Korean) Chefs Young Kim and Myong Kim, fellow Koreans who worked together at Chapel Hill’s Oishii restaurant, have fused their culinary visions with their new Oiso Sushi & Korean restaurant, serving lunch and dinner in a deceptively modest location. Sushi offerings include 30 specialty rolls, such as the deep-fried Hurricane Roll (featuring tempura shrimp, crab, lobster and avocado) and the baked Volcano Roll (a California roll topped with spicy lobster, scallop and crab salad). Other entrees include Korean dishes such as kimchi, dolsat bibimbap and traditional pork or beef barbecue, in addition to Japanese dishes such as teriyaki, tonkatsu, udon and Bento boxes. 1305 NW Maynard Road, Cary. 919.655.5133.
(Contemporary) Tandem serves seasonal fare in an inviting space in historic Carr Mill Mall. Chef Younes Sabouh and partner Emma Dunbar, formerly of Chapel Hill’s City Kitchen, have focused their menu on regional American cuisine with international influences, sourcing ingredients from family-owned local farms. Enjoy artfully crafted dishes such as lamb shank with freekeh grain and baby turnips; chicken with savoy cabbage and chorizo sausage; and a burger with pork belly and onion compote. Food is offered à la carte and as shared plates. Wash it down with a craft cocktail, local artisan beer or wine. 200 N. Greensboro St., Carrboro. 919.240.7937.
(Farm-to-table Cuisine) The latest inspiration of prolific Triangle restaurateur Giorgios Bakatsias (Parizade, Vin Rouge, Bin54), Boheme focuses on the kitchen, garden and bar to provide patrons with farm-to-table cuisine in a relaxed and restorative setting. Located in the Durham retreat that was once home to artists Ormond Sanderson and Robert Black, Boheme builds its menus around whatever is locally available—or as Bakatsias puts it, “What is in the mystery basket of the day?” The restaurant serves dinner and weekend brunch among an open-air market and private event space. 5420 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham. 919.402.1520.
Oak & Dagger Public House
(Classic Pub Fare) Part bottle shop, part brewpub, Oak & Dagger showcases classic pub fare with a Southern spin that is expertly integrated with its beer menu. The taproom and bottle shop, known as the Research Library, opened with such beers on tap as Wicked Weed Tropic Most Gose, Founders Mosaic Promise (a single-hop ale) and Oskar Blues Beerito (a Mexican lager). The restaurant offers full views of the microbrewery that will create their eight menu mainstays, four seasonal offerings, and three cask selections. 18 Seaboard Ave., Ste. 150, Raleigh.