An impressive lineup of new (and upcoming) restaurants has visitors and residents alike falling in love with new dishes and reconnecting with acclaimed Raleigh chefs. Raleigh’s food scene is booming thanks to tasty endeavors from a community that is passionate about good eats and drinks. The City of Oaks boasts many unique culinary experiences, enticing food enthusiasts globally to experience it first-hand. Raleigh’s newly opened restaurants push the boundaries of flavor and innovation, making Raleigh an exciting destination for foodies.
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 2,600-square-foot, 70-seat restaurant includes 10 bar seats, a 10-seat private dining room and 16 seats on the patio overlooking Downtown Cary Park.
Undoubtedly one of Raleigh’s most hotly anticipated restaurant openings of 2023 was the Mediterranean-inspired small-plate restaurant created and named to celebrate motherly hospitality. Recently opened in Raleigh’s lively Smoky Hollow district, Madre’s menu—salmon crudo, Spanish octopus, Calabrian chicken, salchipapas and more bright flavors—pairs perfectly with the interior vibe: warm, upscale and sleek, with just enough restraint for relaxed date nights and late nights with friends.
For five-time James Beard Award nominee chef Cheetie Kumar, Ajja is not so much an attempt to reinvent her beloved restaurant Garland—which shuttered after a near decade run in downtown Raleigh in 2022—as it is a chance to build upon its legacy. Tucked within a growing neighborhood just north of downtown Raleigh, Kumar’s new eatery features an indoor-outdoor area with bright, fresh Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.
Fox Liquor Bar
This subterranean drinking den features classic and contemporary cocktails from James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef Ashley Christensen. Dedicated to and named after Christensen’s late father, Fox’s interior is decorated with art and memorabilia from his personal collection. Newly reopened after a three-year hiatus, Fox Liquor Bar offers food, drinks and a regulation-sized shuffleboard for guests to enjoy.
Chef Scott Crawford’s newest concept, Brodeto, is expected to open in late 2023 or early 2024 at Raleigh Iron Works, a mixed-use development combining new construction with the adaptive reuse of two impressive historic structures. Named for the centuries-old dish of the same name that is traditionally a simple tomato-based fish stew, Brodeto will feature a menu highlighted by said dish, along with specialty plates from both Italy and Croatia (where Crawford’s travels along the Adriatic coast sparked the idea for the new restaurant). The 4,800-square-foot space will feature a large bar and outdoor patio, an open kitchen with a live-fire hearth, and an expansive beverage program.
Restaurateur Samad Hachby’s next project, the highly anticipated La Terrazza, is slated to have an outdoor dining patio that will boast beautiful downtown Raleigh skyline views. The ninth-floor location at The Dillon—a mixed-used building that opened in Raleigh’s Warehouse District in 2018—features floor-to-ceiling windows with a picture-perfect view of the city skyline that can’t be found in any other public space in Raleigh, plus an expansive terrace (hence the name). The menu will focus on Mediterranean and southern Italian offerings—a heavy selection of fresh seafood and artisanal pizzas—alongside a bar emphasizing champagne and craft cocktails.
Figulina: Pasta and Provisions
The most recent chef de cuisine of Poole’s Diner, David Ellis, will open his first restaurant in 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 of take-home prepared foods, cookbooks and more.
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