Six of This Year's Best New Restaurants in Raleigh, N.C.
Thursday, March 14, 2019, 4pm by Kristen Baughman Taber
2019 has certainly started off on the right foot for foodies! From Japanese-Italian fusion to wood-fired bagels, the Raleigh area's food scene is bursting with flavor. With so many unique options and an ever-growing list of new restaurants, we’ve rounded up six of the best new restaurants that have opened so far in 2019.
Benchwarmers, serving wood-fired bagels and craft coffee in downtown Raleigh's brand-new Transfer Co. Food Hall, is an exciting new collaboration from the masterminds behind Jubala Coffee—one of Raleigh's beloved, local coffee shops—and Boulted Bread, a bakery that earned acclaim with one of Food & Wine’s Top Croissants in America and Bon Appétit’s Best New Bakeries in 2016. Not your average bagel shop, the menu—the work of chef John Knox—includes unique sandwiches like a house-cured lox with deviled egg spread and duck rillette with sour cherries and pickled onions. Pro tip: Get there right when they open (especially on weekends) because the line can get long!
Offering a global eating experience served tapas style in historic downtown Wake Forest, Bodega is the newest concept from chef-owner Nunzio Scordo of Driftwood Southern Kitchen in North Raleigh's Lafayette Village. The restaurant’s rustic, wine country cooking style is inspired by Scordo’s travels internationally and uses local and imported artisanal ingredients. Join Bodega for a night out with friends to sample a variety of tapas, from Parisienne gnocchi to grilled Spanish octopus. Pro tip: Order one of the rum cocktails—we’re big fans of the Rum Old Fashioned with Ron Zacapa 23-year rum, sugar, angostura and orange bitters.
Locals Seafood has delivered high-quality N.C. seafood to area customers since 2010, and Locals Oyster Bar is their first restaurant concept, quick to become a local-favorite dining spot. Located in Transfer Co. Food Hall, Locals Oyster Bar boasts a taste of the coastline in the middle of Raleigh. Chef Eric Montagne’s menu changes with the seasons and includes delicious offerings like peel-and-eat shrimp, oyster poutine, smoked fish dip and gourmet fish sticks. The highlight is the raw bar, which is focused on N.C.’s cultivated and wild oysters. The tides, season and weather determine which oysters Locals Oyster Bar will be shucking for hungry diners. Pro tip: After dining, head over to the fish market, which sells prepared foods alongside fresh shellfish, smoked seafood, fish and more.
Recently opened in The Dillon—the massive mixed-use development in downtown Raleigh’s Warehouse District—Oak Steakhouse is a modern take on the classic American steakhouse. The chef-driven menu from executive chef Todd Woods features a variety of Certified Angus Beef Selections® and showcases fresh N.C. ingredients. Start with the brûléed pimento cheese or crispy pig ears, followed by a juicy steak topped with horseradish-miso butter and served with a side of house-cut truffle frites.
Perfect for adventurous foodies! Experience worldly and interesting flavor combinations at Papa Shogun, chef-owner Tom Cuomo’s first solo restaurant project, located in Raleigh’s Seaboard Station. The only restaurant in the South fusing Japanese and Italian cuisine, Papa Shogun represents Cuomo and the experienced team's vision of giving diners new perspectives on familiar foods in a refined-yet-fun environment. Start with the fresh-pulled mozzarella served with kombu garlic bread, and opt for the kombu gnocchi with mushroom dashi, charred oyster mushrooms and ricotta salata.
Sushi Mon, the Chris Lee-owned Japanese restaurant on the edge of North Carolina State University’s campus, has been raved about since its opening days in Jan. 2019. The decor, elegant and intimate with soft touches of locally-sourced art, compliments a menu of sushi and Japanese cuisine that’s prepared and presented with impeccable attention to detail (plus an expertly-curated collection of rare Japanese sake). Creative small plates (a handful of orders of oysters with oriental salsa and the 24-hour pork belly would keep any table happy) and plenty of sushi rolls all bring fresh fish and complex flavors to the table. For date nights and diners seeking new palate pleasers, Sushi Mon should be at the top of your list!
Benchwarmers Bagels photo: Chair 8 Media