Another year has passed and not to be surprised, the NC Triangle food scene took another step forward. With the economy slowly picking up steam, new restaurants and bars slowly got built out and premiered in 2015. In all honesty, I think 2014 might have had some better new offerings but not to worry, there was plenty of goodness this year!
First up on my Best of 2015 list is Blaze Fast-fired Pizza! I know it’s a chain but wow, they are really doing good pizza in an innovative format (customized, all the toppings you want). Add in the cool, Cali ambiance and reasonable prices and you’ve got yourself a winner. A fantastic take on high-quality thin-crust pizza in a quick service format. I should be buying stock in this company, they recently just opened up their 2nd Triangle location in Garner.
KoKyu Na’mean also makes my list as a high-quality sandwich shop doing interesting things with their flavors and fillings. Flip from Kokyu BBQ is putting out some very tasty sammiches (baht mi, chicken-fried bacon) with powerful flavors out in Durham. Part of me likes that KoKyu Na’mean has a different menu than the food trucks. The other part of me wants those duck fat tater tots! But you’ll still enjoy the fusion of Mexican and Asian here at KoKyu Na’mean and you don’t have to sit on a sidewalk curb.
Mesa Latin Kitchen out in Durham also makes my best of 2015 list. Odd location but worth the effort, Chef Robert Rodriquez is putting out some great Latin American eats that are both funky and flavorful. He stays true to his roots while still moving the cuisine forward for the Triangle region. I’ve been here for two events and have loved their Cuban sandwich sticks along with charred corn.
Gallo Pelon Mezcaleria makes it on my list for their great mezcal cocktails and super-hip space. Discretely located above Centro, they’ve got a nice bar, side-room and cool patio. Even after only one visit I knew they would most likely make my Best of list and they are also serving small plates and food. Curious to see how this place may evolve over time but it’s fantastic as is today.
Taverna Agora’s new location on Hillsborough Street is a huge dining home-run for the area. Love their space, it ranges from a front patio, bar area, two main dining areas and then the beautiful roof-top garden patio. With a good menu of Greek-Mediterranean eats and brunch, I find myself liking this place more and more with each visit.
Juju is doing a great job with Asian-fusion tapas and is doing it in a wonderfully stylish setting. Located on 9th street in Durham, it stands out with a beautifully designed dining room, interesting take on Asian eats (noodles with red roasted pork, pork belly buns, etc) and solid service. Perfect for a date or a girl’s night out, just add some Juju for a fun evening.
One late addition to my best of 2015 list is the newly opened more. in Raleigh. I had the chance to do a media preview in November and recently got back for a paid visit. From the subdued and sexy ambiance to the excellent service and great small plates, it’s a great offering in the S. Glenwood neighborhood. Don’t miss the mac n cheese or fried duck over fontina cheese biscuit. Both offer toe-curling flavor and umami for the palate.
And finally three restaurants that I have on the edge of my list are Cave 1912, Dashi and Standard Foods. I’ve only had a chance to visit them once and I enjoyed them all but need more time to figure out what their strengths are. All three restaurants have strong culinary pedigrees so I need to get back for re-visits and may add to this list!
So enjoy these restaurants from my Best of 2015 list and I’m curious to hear what you think! I’m sure your foodie list may be different and I’m sure I may have missed some places in my travels but here’s what stood out in my head and stomach over the past 365 days. Mangia and enjoy, I’m already curious to see what pops up in 2016! M-sushi, anyone?!