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A white plate with shrimp and fufu on a wooden table.
Supa kanja at Bintu Atelier in Charleston.
Mike Ledford

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Insiders From the Carolinas Name the Best New Restaurants for 2023

With so many new openings across North and South Carolina, who came out on top?

In keeping with Eater tradition, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. To kick it off in the Carolinas, Eater asked the group eight questions, ranging from the restaurants they frequented to the saddest surprises of the year. Responses are in no particular order, and readers are encouraged to leave answers in the comments.

Q. What newcomer on the scene excited you this year?

Stephanie Burt, writer and host of The Southern Fork

Kultura (73 Spring Street, Charleston). Every dish seems to hit just right despite the logistic challenges of that restaurant kitchen. I think this restaurant is only beginning to show what it can do.

In the Midlands, I was also excited to see City Limits Barbeque (1119 Methodist Park Road, West Columbia) open a permanent spot. Both of these restaurant followings were built through grassroots work (pop-ups and a food truck), so they already have a loyal following.

Barbara Skidmore, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering South Carolina and Savannah

Strangebird (1220 Barnard Street) in Savannah is a welcome food truck turned brick-and-mortar and provides a needed lunch option in the area. Kultura (73 Spring Street) in downtown Charleston brings diversity to the dinner scenes. Honeysuckle Rose (237 Fishburne Street) brings a high-end, all-inclusive, dinner-and-show option to the Westside of Charleston.

Parker Milner, food editor, Post & Courier

Nikko Cagalanan’s Kultura (73 Spring Street, Charleston) has been everything we hoped for, in terms of food, atmosphere, and service. Bintu Atelier (8 Line Street, Charleston) was another exciting newcomer and the place where I had my favorite meal of the year: thieboudienne, buttery sliced grouper with broken red rice.

The bicol express at Kultura in Charleston.
Ryan Belk

Stephanie Burnette, Eater Carolinas contributor

Scoundrel (18 N. Main Street) in downtown Greenville, City Limits Barbeque (1119 Methodist Park Road) just outside of Columbia, and Kultura (73 Spring Street) in Charleston all for different reasons. Scoundrel brought exceptional fine dining to Main St; City Limits is crushing Texas-style ‘que in the Midlands; chef Nico Cagalanan and his team at Kultura feel of the moment.

Erin Perkins, editor Eater Carolinas

I really like what chef Bintou Ndaw is doing at Bintu Atelier (8 Line Street) in Charleston — her supa kanja was good enough to make me want to sit outside in the heat of Charleston summer to try it. I traveled to Greenville, South Carolina, several times this year and always had to stop in at Scoundrel (18 N. Main Street) for a martini, perfectly dressed salad, and crispy fries — the other food is great, too, but that’s the minimum order. I’ve only been to new Italian restaurant, Costa (320 Broad Street) once, but the service, the room, and the food were impeccable — get the eggplant Parmigiana.

Kay West, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering Asheville

Like many in Asheville, I was super excited for the June opening of Elliott Moss’s take on comfort classics at Regina’s (1400 Patton Avenue) in the former Happy Hill diner. And then in a head-spinning turn of events, one month later, he abruptly and without public comment packed up his knives, recipes, and some kitschy decor and severed ties. Other than a couple of barbecue pop-ups he has not resurfaced in a cooking capacity, and Regina’s is still in search of its identity. And I’m still missing that perfect club sandwich.

Eric Ginsburg, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering North Carolina

In Raleigh: Ajja (209 Bickett Boulevard), East End Bistrot (2020 Progress Court), and Las Ramblas (141 Park at N. Hills Street)
In Chapel Hill: Bombolo (764 M.L.K. Jr Boulevard)
In Durham: Littler (110 E. Parrish Street), Cheeni (202 Corcoran Street), Isaac’s Bagels (1003 W Chapel Hill Street), and Zweli’s Ekhaya (4600 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard)
Best new bar I tried was the Velvet Hippo (119 Orange Street) in Durham. And Proximity Brewing (491 S. Driver Street), Durham’s first Black-owned brewery, just opened!

Cele and Lynn Seldon, Seldon Ink

Locals Raw Bar (97 Sea Island Parkway) in Beaufort features a Lowcountry-meets-Asia menu of creative and Instagram-worthy sushi, luscious crab bisque, varied steam buns, Japanese fried chicken, tasty just-harvested South Carolina oysters, cabbage pancakes, lobster rolls, shellfish fried rice, and poke bowls filled with local fish. It’s all created in a tiny open kitchen by culinary wunderkinds Hunter and Jessie Cozart, who earned their chops at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville and Herons at The Umstead in Cary.

A bar with red stools and small lights overhead.
The bar at Beautiful South.
Mike Ledford

Mike Ledford, photographer and Eater Carolinas contributor

Beautiful South (128 Columbus Street). Beautiful space, nice menu, great people.

Hanna Raskin, editor and publisher of The Food Section

I was so impressed by the food and hospitality at Bintu Atelier (8 Line Street, Charleston) that I wrote a whole story about how West African interpretations of the traditional French bistro ought to emerge as the South’s signature restaurant format.

Stacey Sprenz, photographer and Eater Carolinas contributor

Cheeni Durham (202 Corcoran Street)

Catherine Currin, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering the Triangle
Madre (518 N. West Street, Raleigh) is a welcomed addition to the neighborhood. A fun girls' dinner spot or for a cocktail and appetizer!

Kayleigh Ruller, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering Charlotte

Larry Suggs and Andrew Schools are not newcomers, but their new sit-down bar, Humbug (2501 the Plaza), is. Humbug quickly changed Charlotte’s standards for a bar— keeping stakes high and luring drinkers across Charlotte inside this dark, moody, Fernet-obsessed cocktail spot. It’s neither divey nor refined; it’s really just cool and seriously thought-out, with drinks that don’t exist anywhere else in this city.

Matthew Lardie, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering North Carolina

There are a few I’ve been really excited about, but two in particular stand out to me — Olivero (522 S. 3rd Street) in Wilmington and Little Bull (810 N. Mangum Street) in Durham.

Timothy DePeugh, Eater Carolinas contributor, covering Charlotte
Vicente Bistro (2520 South Boulevard) in Charlotte. The croissants are among the most textbook-perfect — in the world.

Melissa Howsam, editor-in-chief, Raleigh Magazine

East End Bistrot (2020 Progress Court, Raleigh). French fare is the moment and Giorgios Bakatsias’ luxe Parisian-inspired eatery at the hands of top toque William D’Auvray delivers from fare nonpareil to stunning ambiance — and especially that champagne terrace. It’s collectively transcendent.

Jai Jones, food writer and photographer

King BBQ (2029 Carver Avenue, North Charleston). Barbecue has quickly become a big part of the Charleston food scene over the years, and this new concept from the team behind Jackrabbit Filly brings Chinese barbecue with a few influences from North Carolina barbecue to the city. The barbecue meats on rice with chopped pork has quickly become a personal favorite, plus a side of baby bok choy.

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