As we move into 2017 and the new year, it’s always fun to look back at what has transpired over the past 12 months. And 2016 was a pretty busy year for the Triangle when it comes to restaurants and dining. Lots of action at the front and back ends of the year with not much happening in the middle. But there’s plenty of new places to be excited about. Here are my favorite new restaurants for 2016 (in alphabetical order) and I hope some of these are your favorites, too!
- Crawford and Son (Raleigh) – This highly awaited restaurant sitting in the Person Street corridor lived up to all the hype for me! From its sleek and modern decor, to its carefully curated menu of upscale comfort food, Crawford and Son is already a top-notch restaurant for Raleighites. Expect more and better from this restaurant as it continues to hit its stride in 2017, my full review is coming soon!
- Dame’s Chicken and Waffles (Cary) – Combine the sweet of waffles and syrup along with the salty of fried chicken and you’ve got yourself the irresistible combination that Dame’s serves up! This well-appointed cafe offers excellent food, solid service and at good prices for the Cary crowd. And any others willing to travel for this mouth-pleasing food pairing.
- The Haymaker (Raleigh) – Serving up an array of excellent cocktails and punches, I love the adult ambiance of the Haymaker tucked away behind the new Charter Square building. Open space, classic decor and offering up eclectic design touches like a moose head mounted above and beautiful floral mural, the Haymaker delivers classy drinks with a quirky spin.
- Himalayan Range Nepali (Cary) – When you pull together some fantastically spicy eats paired with pleasant service AND really inexpensive prices, you’ve certainly got my attention. And Himalayan Range Nepali consistently serves up some great naan, Indo-Chinese appetizers, tikka masala and more. Their lunch menu is a particularly great deal but don’t miss this hidden gem for its ethnic eats at any time of the day.
- M Kokko and M Sushi (Durham) – Now I’ve always been a fan of Chef Mike Lee but it’s great to see his next new culinary projects come to life in M Sushi and M Kokko. While both offer very different dining experiences, the focus on quality ingredients, careful preparation and presentation with excellent service provide a common bond between the fabulous sushi and delicious chicken offered at each. M Sushi may be doing the best sushi in the Triangle today, while M Kokko is playing around with a variety of preparations for the humble chicken. But they are doing fantastic food and raising the bar in their respective culinary categories.
- Mothers and Sons (Durham) – From the wonderful ambiance, excellent service to authentic, hand-made pastas, Mothers and Sons is dishing out some amazing Italian food with a fantastic dining experience for Durhamites. A really wonderful restaurant hitting on all cylinders right when it launched, don’t miss out on their great Italian food in 2017 if you haven’t tried them yet, reservations recommended.
- Motto (Durham) – An under-rated offering in between downtown Durham and Brightleaf Square. The beautiful space at Motto is now matched by some wonderful food from Chef James Huff which makes for a great dinner and evening. Love the mix of Italian cuisine with Southern ingredients, Motto has stepped up its foodie game, perfect before your DPAC show.
- Tre Forni (Durham) – While the outside may not look like much, Tre Forni may be putting out the best Neapolitan pizza in the Triangle right now. The three large, wood-fired ovens bear witness to the ambitious goals of this pizzeria. But from the dough proofing, to the quality ingredients used for the cheese and sauce, Tre Forni is doing a premium pie in more humble and simple surroundings.
- Whiskey Kitchen (Raleigh) – A wonderful new space and patio is supported by a short but well-curated menu of Southern eats at Whiskey Kitchen. I fell in love with the design and decor of the space but was pleasantly surprised by the delicious and fresh fare offered up by Whiskey Kitchen for lunch AND dinner. While Whiskey Kitchen works best in warmer weather, it’s still a worthwhile visit in the cold days of winter.
Beyond these carefully chosen favorites, I had several other new Triangle restaurants that nearly made the list but still deserve kudos: Bare Bones, H-Street Kitchen, Viceroy and Lucky’s Delicatessen. Loved them all but I had to limit this list to 10 choices. There were also several late additions to the Triangle food scene that I either haven’t been able to visit yet or need to visit a second time to decide: City Market Sushi, Royale, Pizza La Stella and the District. But who knows, you may see them on my best new restaurants of 2017 list!
So now that we’ve wrapped up 2016, I’m already looking forward to 2017, the upcoming Morgan Street Food Hall and lots more. Stayed tuned food fanatic, because there will be a lot more coming on NC Triangle Dining in this new year!