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A smash burger from Queen Burger.
Queen Burger

11 Hottest Restaurants in the Triangle, October 2022

From pandemic-pivot burgers to a Charlotte-based brewery

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A smash burger from Queen Burger.
| Queen Burger

Each month we update our Triangle Heatmap. Unlike our other maps, this map constantly tracks some of the newest (and hottest) restaurants, bars, and cafes that have recently opened. Despite still being in a pandemic, and notwithstanding a few high-profile closure announcements (pour one out for Saint James and Garland), there is an uptick in new restaurants opening after the usual summer lull. Take a look at some of the area’s newest hotspots below.

Have a lead on a soon-to-open or new spot? Send us a tip.

New to the list:

October 2022: Queen Burger, NoDa Brewing Tapas
September 2022: Colletta, M Sushi Cary, Prohibitive, Lovegrass Kitchen, Glasshouse Kitchen
August 2022: Krill, Little Barb’s Bakery
July 2022: Bluebird
June 2022: Bendito, Cheeni Indian Food Emporium
May 2022: Apéritif, Fine Folk
April 2022: A’Verde, La Buena Vida
March 2022: Lechon Latin BBQ, the Durham Hotel, Littler
February 2022: Craften, Saint James Seafood

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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NoDa Brewing Tapas

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Beloved Charlotte brewery NoDa planted a flag in the Triangle with a new taproom and small plates concept in Chapel Hill. NoDa partnered with the folks behind BottleRev Chapel Hill and RTP Uncorked for its first concept outside of the Queen City. The opening menu includes items like smoked prawns with citrus and pickles, a bean tartine, and a sweet tea-brined Cornish game hen. NoDa beers are available to enjoy with tapas or take home, as well as wine.

Bluebird

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Chef Brandon Sharp (of Hawthorne & Wood fame) recently opened Bluebird in Chapel Hill’s Meadowmont development. The restaurant declares itself “an unapologetically French bistro,” and the menu reflects that dedication. Foie gras pate, a green salad with Julia Child’s vinaigrette, croque madame, blanquette de veau, and duck confit are just a few of the classics on offer. Bluebird also launched a Sunday brunch right off the bat. There’s beer and wine behind the bar alongside a barrel aged cocktail program. And never fear — there’s always steak frites.

Queen Burger

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Queen Burger was perhaps the Bull City’s most popular pandemic pivot, popping up in the parking lot behind Kingfisher as owners Sean Umstead and Michelle Vanderwalker tried to figure out how to survive. The simple menu of smash burgers and fries was an instant hit, and after taking a backseat for a bit as the pair reopened Kingfisher and opened Queeny’s, they are now available again at the new brick and mortar location on Blackwell Street next to the Durham Bulls stadium. In addition to burgers, there are ice cream sandwiches from Katie Meddis (Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings, & Sweets), as well as batched cocktails.

A cheeseburger next to a veggie burger.
Queen Burger offers meaty and vegan versions of its smashburger.
Queen Burger

Little Barb's Bakery

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A hobby-turned-word-of-mouth-business has now found a brick and mortar home. Little Barb’s Bakery is the first commercial venture from former healthcare worker Barbara Nigro, who has set up shop at the Durham Food Hall. Nigro’s cakes and confections earned her a dedicated following from friends and former coworkers at Duke University Hospital, and now sweets like her peanut butter chocolate cake, peach cobbler cheesecake, and b’mores [Barb]-tarts can be found on Foster Street seven days a week.

Krill Restaurant

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Krill promises “Southeast Asian funk” with a menu of Asian dishes with influences from Taiwan to Thailand and places in-between. Diners can choose from dishes like Peking duck lumpia, king oyster mushroom skewers, squid ink tagliatelle, and a whole fried fish. The restaurant, a partnership between Parizade chef Jason Lawless and Giorgios Bakatsias (his 11th), has been Durham’s buzziest opening in recent memory, but has faced some controversy and criticism for appropriating Asian stereotypes for its messaging and decor, as detailed in a recent Indy Week article.

A table full of colorful dishes.
The fare at Krill.
Forrest Mason Media

Glasshouse Kitchen

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Finally, a reason to go to, or stay in, RTP after work hours. Glasshouse Kitchen opened last month on the AgTech Campus (check out Eater Carolina’s previous coverage) to great fanfare. Owners Sara Abernethy and Chris Borreson (of Raleigh’s Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing) scooped up chef Savannah Miller from Durham’s M Tempura to helm the kitchen. A seasonally rotating menu of small plates and sandwiches, like blistered shishito peppers, steamed mussels, pizzas, and the Glasshouse burger, can be paired with post-work beverages. Hurry along as soon as it's quitting time because for now, they are only open Monday-Friday until 6 p.m., but there are plans to expand to dinner hours soon.

A dining room with floor to ceiling windows.
Glasshouse Kitchen.
Forrest Mason Media

Lovegrass Kitchen

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The gluten-intolerant and gluten-avoidant can rejoice — Lovegrass Kitchen in Holly Springs has a menu designed around the ancient Ethiopian grain teff, which is gluten-free. Founded by Meron Afework Kassa, the cafe offers items like waffles, crepes, and pancakes all made with teff. There are sweet and savory options, along with salads, acai bowls, smoothies, and a full menu of espresso drinks.

Prohibitive Cary

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With the new speakeasy-inspired bar Prohibitive, Cary looks to up its cocktail game. Located downtown in the historic Matthews house, the bar offers classic cocktails like the Paper Plane, Last Word, and a daiquiri, done Hemingway-style (no blender in sight). A menu of small plates like prosciutto-wrapped dates, mushroom fritters, and chicken lollipops (with a Cheerwine glaze), along with a rotating selection of desserts sourced from local vendors accompanies the cocktails.

Colletta

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Charleston-based Indigo Road Hospitality opened a second location of its Italian concept Colletta (the first being in Atlanta) in Cary’s Fenton development at the end of August. Wood-fired pizzas and handmade pasta dominate the menu. Standouts include a chicken parm that could easily feed four, tender beef and pork polpette, and a black truffle ice cream with chocolate-coated hazelnuts that is likely the only dessert of its kind in the state. For groups, check out the family-style three-course option for the whole table.

Tagliatelle with pork tesa and an egg yolk.
Tagliatelle with pork tesa at Colletta.
Colletta

M Sushi Cary

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Cary’s Fenton development looks to be the Triangle’s most exciting dining destination for the next few months — case in point is chef Mike Lee’s first foray outside of Durham with a second location of his flagship M Sushi restaurant. Handcrafted sushi and sashimi sourced fresh daily and a menu true to Japanese and Korean culinary tradition is the draw here. Opt for an omakase experience (available in multiple course formats), and pair with a drink from the cocktail, wine, and sake list.

Bendito

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Chef Kevin Ruiz (formerly of Cortez) returns to the Raleigh food scene with his first solo project Bendito. Inspired by his family recipes, Ruiz built a menu that celebrates his Puerto Rican heritage, with items like swordfish skewers with ancho chili sauce, pork belly empanadas, and tembleque. There is an extensive section of shareable dishes like beef tartare (with a chipotle aioli), shrimp ceviche, and arroz con gandules (description — “it is what it is”), as well as tropical-inspired cocktails and an abbreviated wine list.

NoDa Brewing Tapas

Beloved Charlotte brewery NoDa planted a flag in the Triangle with a new taproom and small plates concept in Chapel Hill. NoDa partnered with the folks behind BottleRev Chapel Hill and RTP Uncorked for its first concept outside of the Queen City. The opening menu includes items like smoked prawns with citrus and pickles, a bean tartine, and a sweet tea-brined Cornish game hen. NoDa beers are available to enjoy with tapas or take home, as well as wine.

Bluebird

Chef Brandon Sharp (of Hawthorne & Wood fame) recently opened Bluebird in Chapel Hill’s Meadowmont development. The restaurant declares itself “an unapologetically French bistro,” and the menu reflects that dedication. Foie gras pate, a green salad with Julia Child’s vinaigrette, croque madame, blanquette de veau, and duck confit are just a few of the classics on offer. Bluebird also launched a Sunday brunch right off the bat. There’s beer and wine behind the bar alongside a barrel aged cocktail program. And never fear — there’s always steak frites.

Queen Burger

A cheeseburger next to a veggie burger.
Queen Burger offers meaty and vegan versions of its smashburger.
Queen Burger

Queen Burger was perhaps the Bull City’s most popular pandemic pivot, popping up in the parking lot behind Kingfisher as owners Sean Umstead and Michelle Vanderwalker tried to figure out how to survive. The simple menu of smash burgers and fries was an instant hit, and after taking a backseat for a bit as the pair reopened Kingfisher and opened Queeny’s, they are now available again at the new brick and mortar location on Blackwell Street next to the Durham Bulls stadium. In addition to burgers, there are ice cream sandwiches from Katie Meddis (Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings, & Sweets), as well as batched cocktails.

A cheeseburger next to a veggie burger.
Queen Burger offers meaty and vegan versions of its smashburger.
Queen Burger

Little Barb's Bakery

A hobby-turned-word-of-mouth-business has now found a brick and mortar home. Little Barb’s Bakery is the first commercial venture from former healthcare worker Barbara Nigro, who has set up shop at the Durham Food Hall. Nigro’s cakes and confections earned her a dedicated following from friends and former coworkers at Duke University Hospital, and now sweets like her peanut butter chocolate cake, peach cobbler cheesecake, and b’mores [Barb]-tarts can be found on Foster Street seven days a week.

Krill Restaurant

A table full of colorful dishes.
The fare at Krill.
Forrest Mason Media

Krill promises “Southeast Asian funk” with a menu of Asian dishes with influences from Taiwan to Thailand and places in-between. Diners can choose from dishes like Peking duck lumpia, king oyster mushroom skewers, squid ink tagliatelle, and a whole fried fish. The restaurant, a partnership between Parizade chef Jason Lawless and Giorgios Bakatsias (his 11th), has been Durham’s buzziest opening in recent memory, but has faced some controversy and criticism for appropriating Asian stereotypes for its messaging and decor, as detailed in a recent Indy Week article.

A table full of colorful dishes.
The fare at Krill.
Forrest Mason Media

Glasshouse Kitchen

A dining room with floor to ceiling windows.
Glasshouse Kitchen.
Forrest Mason Media

Finally, a reason to go to, or stay in, RTP after work hours. Glasshouse Kitchen opened last month on the AgTech Campus (check out Eater Carolina’s previous coverage) to great fanfare. Owners Sara Abernethy and Chris Borreson (of Raleigh’s Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing) scooped up chef Savannah Miller from Durham’s M Tempura to helm the kitchen. A seasonally rotating menu of small plates and sandwiches, like blistered shishito peppers, steamed mussels, pizzas, and the Glasshouse burger, can be paired with post-work beverages. Hurry along as soon as it's quitting time because for now, they are only open Monday-Friday until 6 p.m., but there are plans to expand to dinner hours soon.

A dining room with floor to ceiling windows.
Glasshouse Kitchen.
Forrest Mason Media

Lovegrass Kitchen

The gluten-intolerant and gluten-avoidant can rejoice — Lovegrass Kitchen in Holly Springs has a menu designed around the ancient Ethiopian grain teff, which is gluten-free. Founded by Meron Afework Kassa, the cafe offers items like waffles, crepes, and pancakes all made with teff. There are sweet and savory options, along with salads, acai bowls, smoothies, and a full menu of espresso drinks.

Prohibitive Cary

With the new speakeasy-inspired bar Prohibitive, Cary looks to up its cocktail game. Located downtown in the historic Matthews house, the bar offers classic cocktails like the Paper Plane, Last Word, and a daiquiri, done Hemingway-style (no blender in sight). A menu of small plates like prosciutto-wrapped dates, mushroom fritters, and chicken lollipops (with a Cheerwine glaze), along with a rotating selection of desserts sourced from local vendors accompanies the cocktails.

Colletta

Tagliatelle with pork tesa and an egg yolk.
Tagliatelle with pork tesa at Colletta.
Colletta

Charleston-based Indigo Road Hospitality opened a second location of its Italian concept Colletta (the first being in Atlanta) in Cary’s Fenton development at the end of August. Wood-fired pizzas and handmade pasta dominate the menu. Standouts include a chicken parm that could easily feed four, tender beef and pork polpette, and a black truffle ice cream with chocolate-coated hazelnuts that is likely the only dessert of its kind in the state. For groups, check out the family-style three-course option for the whole table.

Tagliatelle with pork tesa and an egg yolk.
Tagliatelle with pork tesa at Colletta.
Colletta

M Sushi Cary

Cary’s Fenton development looks to be the Triangle’s most exciting dining destination for the next few months — case in point is chef Mike Lee’s first foray outside of Durham with a second location of his flagship M Sushi restaurant. Handcrafted sushi and sashimi sourced fresh daily and a menu true to Japanese and Korean culinary tradition is the draw here. Opt for an omakase experience (available in multiple course formats), and pair with a drink from the cocktail, wine, and sake list.

Bendito

Chef Kevin Ruiz (formerly of Cortez) returns to the Raleigh food scene with his first solo project Bendito. Inspired by his family recipes, Ruiz built a menu that celebrates his Puerto Rican heritage, with items like swordfish skewers with ancho chili sauce, pork belly empanadas, and tembleque. There is an extensive section of shareable dishes like beef tartare (with a chipotle aioli), shrimp ceviche, and arroz con gandules (description — “it is what it is”), as well as tropical-inspired cocktails and an abbreviated wine list.

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