Help celebrate 2023 openings and what’s forthcoming in 2024

Raleigh, N.C. (January 17, 2024) – If you haven’t visited Raleigh recently, there’s no time like the present, and 2024 is packed with exciting new dining experiences, events and attractions. Raleigh is an ever-evolving capital city that artfully blends tradition with innovation, creativity with sciences and excitement with relaxation. Here’s a glimpse of what we’ve celebrated in 2023 and what we’re most looking forward to in 2024.

Exciting Openings From 2023:  

  • SAAP: SAAP, which means 'delicious' in Laotian, is the newest restaurant from Chef and Laos native Lou Bounsanga, formerly of Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana. SAAP's menu is divided into small plates, large plates and a wok section for fried rice and noodle dishes. The restaurant overlooks the stunning Downtown Cary Park.
  • Madre: A celebration of motherly hospitality and the beautiful way of life along the Mediterranean that offers fresh and inventive Spanish tapas. Madre's interior was thoughtfully conceived by local designer, Bryan Costello, well-known for his collaborations with Heights House Hotel and the NCMA Cafe
  • Ajja: Beloved Raleigh Chef Cheetie Kumar and partner Paul Siler opened their much-anticipated new restaurant in the Five Points neighborhood. Kumar’s new eatery features an indoor-outdoor area with bright, fresh Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.
  • Downtown Cary Park: This new seven-acre park offers an iconic public gathering space including food and beverage facilities, interactive water features, a great lawn and an outdoor entertainment pavilion.
  • N.C. Freedom Park: A long-planned park aiming to honor the Black struggle for freedom and liberty for all opened a few blocks from the North Carolina State Capitol. The park includes phrases and quotes from famous Black North Carolinians engraved throughout the space, and a large sculpture in the middle of the park shines a light into the night sky—the Beacon of Freedom—to reflect the fire for freedom.
  • The Westin Raleigh-Durham Airport: The newest hotel in the Airport Meeting District opened its doors to business and leisure travelers seeking a comfortable and luxurious stay near RDU International Airport. This new hotel is only a short three miles from RDU and steps away from the Brier Creek Commons shopping and entertainment area.

And Then Some…
Eastcut Sandwich Bar, specializing in East Coast sandwich culture, was the first restaurant to open in Raleigh’s new Iron Works development. Now open in the Smoky Hollow District is Midwood Smokehouse, a wildly popular Charlotte-based barbeque joint known for its all-hickory-smoked barbeque. After much success with his northern Virginia and Maryland locations, Chef Victor Albisu opened Taco Bamba in Raleigh with its menu honoring traditional flavors and boasting Raleigh-themed items like the Sir Walter torta with Carolina-style beef franks and the Wolfpack poutine. Local restauranteur Giorgios Bakatsias opened three new restaurants in Raleigh in 2023: Giorgio Pizza Bar, Las Ramblas and East End Bistrot. Finally, downtown Raleigh is now home to Chido Taco, a casual Mexican restaurant serving traditional street tacos, quesadillas and burritos while also offering an assortment of tequilas and mezcals.

A Refreshed Nightlife Scene That Highlights Raleigh’s Unique Culture:
A slew of new breweries and bars opened last year including Ashley Christensen’s Fox's Liquor Bar (re-opening after a three-year hiatus), East Bower Cider Company (Raleigh's first cidery), Cuya Cocktail Bar (a cocktail bar and music garden perched in the middle of Glenwood South and the sister bar to Cortez), Incendiary Brewing (from Winston-Salem) and Gussie’s (a comfortable, lounge-like space for the community with a grab-and-go retail shop and bar known for specialty drinks and chef-driven sharable bites) to name a few. Long-time Raleigh favorites, Kings and Neptunes have both reopened post-pandemic under new management offering live music and always a good time. Finally and fortunately, Raleigh's oldest movie theater The Rialto Theater was saved, renovated and reopened. Originally built in 1942 in the Five Points neighborhood, this classic and historic theater features live music, comedy acts, showings of foreign and independent films as well as the Rocky Horror Picture Show every third Friday at midnight.

What We're Looking Forward to in 2024:

Iconic New Restaurants and Eateries:

  • Samad Hachby of Mulino Italian Kitchen & Bar will open a terrace dining concept, La Terrazza, at The Dillion in Raleigh's booming Warehouse District in early 2024. The restaurant will focus on southern Italian and Mediterranean offerings accompanied by a beautiful view of the city.
  • The most recent chef de cuisine of Poole's Diner, David Ellis, will open his first restaurant in early 2024. Figulina: Pasta and Provisions is an Italian concept with an emphasis on fresh hand-made pasta while utilizing local ingredients that add a Southern flair. The restaurant will also include a small market for take-home prepared foods, cookbooks and more.
  • Co-owners Mike Kathrani and Tina Vora are set to open Tamasha Modern Indian, an extravagant and upscale Indian concept in North Hills in 2024. Chef Bhavin Chhatwani will introduce innovative and genuine Indian cuisine to the Raleigh community, enhancing the city's already diverse food scene. 
  • Acclaimed James Beard-nominated chef Scott Crawford will open his latest venture in Raleigh Iron Works, Brodeto, with a menu inspired by his trips to the Adriatic region. Brodeto is a Croatian-Italian eatery featuring the restaurant's namesake dish, a traditional fish stew with a rich tomato-wine broth.
    • Scott Crawford is also slated to open Sous Terre, an underground basement bar in the Oakwood neighborhood, Crawford's Genuine, an upscale bar and grill concept at RDU Airport, and Crawford Brother's Steakhouse in the mixed-use Fenton development in Cary.
  • Mala Pata, from Angela Salamanca of Raleigh's Centro and Gallo Pelon Mezcaleria and the folks behind Local's Seafood and acclaimed Ex-Voto in Durham is one of the most anticipated restaurant openings in 2024. The team is collaborating with local favorite Longleaf Swine and holding a pop-up brunch residency at Centro until they open their permanent space in Gateway Plaza7
  • Atlanta-based celebrity chef and James Beard semi-finalist Ford Fry is opening a new location Little Rey in Raleigh Iron Works. Centered around "al-carbon" wood-roasted cooking, the space will boast popular Tex-Mex dishes like pollo al carbon, charcoal-roasted whole chickens, traditional street tacos and more.

Unique Attractions and Lodging:

  • "Dueling Dinosaurs" at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is an exhibit 67 million years in the making featuring what's thought to be the only 100% complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaur in the world (plus a Triceratops skeleton, among the most complete ever found). An entire new lab—opening in April 2024—has been painstakingly built for this exhibit, and visitors can get up close and personal with the fossils and meet some of the scientific team as they uncover long-buried secrets.
  • Raleigh Iron Works’ historic industrial site outside of downtown is home to offices, residential units, retail shops and restaurants. Spaces open now include Eastcut Sandwich Bar, Andia’s Ice Cream, Amelia's Flowers and Beatniks. Later, Bond Brothers Brewing will open NOCO in the adjacent Salvage Yard development, and Jaguar Bolera, an entertainment restaurant that will feature duckpin bowling, karaoke and more will open in Raleigh Iron Works.
  • Beech Bluff County Park in the southeast corner of the county adjacent to the towns of Garner and Fuquay-Varina is under development. The 300-acre site will include hiking trails, nature prairies, playgrounds and more. A flyover and rendering of the park can be viewed here.
  • RDU International Airport serves 62 nonstop destinations and counting, with at least two new additional nonstop international destinations slated for service in 2024. Also in 2024, the airport will see a flood of new openings with Black & White Coffee Roasters replacing Starbucks, Adios! by James Beard nominated chef Oscar Diaz, Conniption Gin Cocktails & Cuisine from local Durham Distillery, Bond Brothers Kitchen & Bar, the above mentioned Crawford's Genuine, Raleigh Beer Garden and more.
  • Oberlin Hotel is the first hotel from the Curio Collection by Hilton in the Raleigh area. The property will be situated in the heart of the Village District and have 153 guest rooms (including presidential suites), a high-end restaurant, rooftop bar and courtyard. The hotel's inspiration is to honor the black history of the neighborhood with artwork and descriptions of notable black figures who were influential in the construction of the area and Raleigh as a whole.

Mark Your Calendars for These 2024 events:

  • Art in Bloom at the North Carolina Museum of Art, March 13-17 – Art in Bloom displays the stunning creativity of floral designers who interpret works of art in the museum collection and attract art and floral fanatics from near and far. Proceeds from Art in Bloom support Museum programming and exhibitions and benefit the NCMA Foundation.
  • Dreamville, April 6 & 7 – A thoughtfully curated, multi-stage music event from J. Cole, who was raised in nearby Fayetteville, N.C. The festival offers an opportunity for J. Cole to give back to his home state that shaped the artist he has become with a one-of-a-kind celebration of local culture, food and art featuring a curated selection of music performers blending some of today’s biggest national acts with exciting up-and-comers. Headlining artists in 2023 included J. Cole himself, Usher and Drake.
  • Brewgaloo, April 26 & 27 – N.C.'s largest craft beer festival featuring 100 breweries, 50 food trucks and drawing over 30,000 people. Brewgaloo has free admission on Saturday and allows attendees to taste and purchase craft beer to their heart's content.
  • The Soccer Tournament, June 5-10 – A 7 vs. 7 event with a $1 million winner-take-all prize returns to Cary this year with the addition of a women’s tournament, also with a $1 million winner-take-all prize, making this the highest stakes women’s professional soccer event in the world.
  • Hopscotch Music Festival, September 5-7 – This three-day festival brings 150 bands and musicians to multiple venues downtown, including free day parties. The acts and genres are as wide-ranging as the venues they play in, from the 5,000-seat Red Hat Amphitheater down to small dive bars. Previous headliners include Denzel Curry, Japanese Breakfast, Soccer Mommy and Sunny Day Real Estate.
  • World of Bluegrass, September 24-28 – Bluegrass musicians from all over the globe perform in clubs, on street corners and in hotel lobbies (basically, anywhere they can find a place to jam) during the week. It’s capped off with IBMA Bluegrass Live!, a free two-day festival that sets up five stages of music, dancing, tons of art and food vendors and more.

About the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh):
As the official destination marketing organization for Wake County, the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh), is responsible for promoting Wake County as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work. Through the impact of travel, the organization strengthens the economic position of and provides opportunity for people throughout Wake County. Raleigh, N.C./Wake County welcomes nearly 18 million visitors annually whose spending tops $3 billion. The visitor economy supports over 24,500 local jobs in Wake County and generates $287 million in state and local tax revenues, saving each Wake County household $601 in taxes annually.

Media Contact:
Jessica Holt
Director of Public Relations and International Tourism

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