2022 was a very interesting year for the dining and bar scene in the NC Triangle! What struck me as a bit different in 2022 was a heavier mix of quick-casual restaurants along with a spurt of businesses that opened up towards the end of the year. Several spots that made my Best New Restaurants and Bars of 2022 list are really new and that is one of the reasons why I wait until mid-January to publish this year-end overview. From French to burgers, Tex-Mex, and Polish eats, we’ve got it all and I hope you find a couple of new favorites on this list!
So here you go, my Best New Restaurants and Bars of the Triangle, 2022 edition
The list below is in alphabetical order, click on the business name for a review or their website. Click on the address for a Google map. And a big congratulations to those who made the final cut for 2022!
1. a’Verde Cocina & Tequila Library – Opened on March 18
2300 Walnut Street, Cary NC 27518
A bright and upscale take on Mexican cuisine from the culinary mind of Chef Katsuji Tanabe (Top Chef). a’Verde brings a lot of flavor and flair to the usually basic food scene at Cary Crossroads. Offering up fun dishes like Grandma’s Cornbread, adobo fried rice, and cochinita pibil, a’Verde doesn’t skimp on the flavor and offers a variety of very Instagrammable cocktails and desserts for you social media mavens. Now serving lunch, dinner, and brunch seven days a week, drop in any time for a great meal!
2. Atlas Bar – Opened on March 26
118 E Main St, Carrboro, NC 27510
A fun and nicely decorated destination that sits squarely between bar and lounge, Atlas offers up cocktails, wine, and more in a relaxed setting. Located on the very busy stretch of E. Main Street in Carrboro, it’s a good option for conversation and a more adult drinking experience in this college town.
3. Bluebird – Opened on July 9
601 Meadowmont Village Circle, Chapel Hill NC 27517
Over the course of the year, I knew pretty quickly that Bluebird would be on my Best Restaurants of 2022 list! From decor to service along with a well-executed menu and decent prices, Bluebird hits all the high notes and more. The place just feels right whether doing brunch or dinner and the area definitely needed another strong option for French cuisine. Enjoy their delicious croque madame, French onion soup, or steak frites for a Gallic taste of the continent.
4. CowBar – Opened on April 13
201 Park at N Hills St, Ste 100, Raleigh, NC 27609
Who doesn’t love a great hamburger? And the new CowBar at North Hills is grilling up some of the best burgers in the area! This bricks-and-mortar location is a great step forward from their kiosk at the Morgan Street Food Hall, offering up a fun and quirky (think colorful cows) space to enjoy your gourmet burger or hot dog in. Don’t miss their truffle burger which is loaded with smoked gouda, caramelized onions, truffle shavings, and truffle butter, it’s an umami-laden bite!
5. Five Star – Opened on December 19
318 Blackwell St #2884, Durham NC 27701
It’s fun to see a Raleigh favorite open up a new location in the Bull City, here’s a big welcome to Five Star Durham! Long known for its Asian and Chinese-American menu in a funky space, Five Star Durham ups the ante with a great location in the American Tobacco Campus near DPAC. Five Star shows out with a mix of bright, graffiti-laced murals along with a sleek and mod ambiance for its bar and lounge. Another end-of-year opening, I’ve had the chance to stop in a couple of times and think their food may be a touch better than Raleigh’s offerings.
6. J Betski’s – Opened on November 5
1916 Bernard Street, Raleigh NC 27608
As a long-time Raleigh resident, it’s wonderful to see classics like J. Betski’s come back to life. Transitioning from a more formal dining experience to a refreshed, modern take on E. European cuisine was a smart transition that occurred during the pandemic. J. Betski’s is still offering up their fantastic potato and cheese pierogies along with the popular chocolate torte with bacon and caramel sauce in their new spot! Love to have their menu back given the lack of good E. European-German-Polish offerings in the Triangle.
7. La Mala – Opened on December 10
110 Corcoran Street, Durham NC 27701
A late addition to the Durham bar scene, La Mala comes to you courtesy of the folks behind La Santa Mexican in Raleigh! La Mala holds down a prime corner spot off of Main Street in Durham making it a good spot for a drink before your DPAC show. Inside, the space is modern and a bit clubby with Latin-American-tinged music streaming through the speakers overhead. The drinks and cocktails are focused on margaritas, tequila, and mezcal along with some small plates and bites to tide your hunger while you imbibe.
8. Longleaf Swine – Opened on November 4
300 E Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
After years of doing pop-ups, the team from Longleaf Swine finally has a permanent home and it is impressive! Located in a tight corner spot off of Edenton Street, Longleaf managed to squeeze in a smokehouse, dining room, main bar, and a large covered patio with a second bar, phew. And the smoked meats here are quite good: barbeque, chicken, brisket, and ribs along with some chef-driven Southern sides make for a great meal. Good luck with the parking but Longleaf Swine is worth the effort of a short walk.
9. Superica – Opened on September 26
Fenton Main St Suite 110, Cary, NC 27511
So excited to have Superica and its upscale Tex-Mex in town and at Fenton in Cary! From the cool concrete block patio to the bright, colorful sunroom and smartly decorated main dining room, Superica pays attention to all the details and it shows up in the menu as well. Enjoy their classic migas plate or tacos al carbon for a taste of the Southwest! While the menu is a bit pricey and there’s usually a wait, make sure to give Superica a try the next time you’re at Fenton.
10. ZincHouse Winery & Brewery – Opened on October 29
6225 Wake Forest Hwy, Durham, NC 27703
Located in the quiet, rural region of Durham near Falls Lake, ZincHouse opened up quietly during the fall season but I’m glad I finally stopped in. Part events venue and part bar, the ZincHouse offers up three floors of space with an extensive array of patios to enjoy a glass of wine on. The muscadine grape vines and brewery operations are still ramping up but I can really see this place being something special during the warmer months. They are currently hosting food trucks, live music, and bringing in wine and beer from other vendors but that will not stop you from enjoying the views and space right now!
If you’re interested in seeing the entire list of the new restaurants I tracked in 2022, please find it here. So congratulations to those who made the NC Triangle Dining Best New Restaurants and Bars of 2022 list! Honorable mentions go out to the Pink Boot, the BBQ Lab, Miso Ramen Bar, Mezcalito, and Colletta who were on the shortlist. I’m already looking forward to 2023, there’s definitely a lot that will be coming online soon and I’m tracking them on my Coming Soon to the Triangle – New Restaurants and Bars page which will be updated throughout the year.
And f you’re interested in a look back at what I saw in 2022, please check out my A Look Back at the NC Triangle Dining Scene, bon appetit!