What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Foodie news: Underground craft cocktail bar to open next week in downtown Raleigh

Posted April 7

Classic Cars, Classic Cocktails

— The latest on restaurant openings, closings, events, food trucks and more in the Triangle and beyond.

Featured Restaurant News

I'm beginning to wonder if we are on our way to 18 restaurants in the 18 Restaurant Group portfolio. Currently we sit at four with the recent opening of Cantina 18 in Morrisville's Park West Village. Congrats to owner and executive chef Jason Smith, who also owns the sister Cantina 18 in Cameron Village, Harvest 18 in Durham and 18 Seaboard in downtown Raleigh.

Wake County Restaurant News

Watts & Ward suggested via their Facebook page that they will open next week! This soon-to-open craft cocktail bar from Ireland native and Hibernian Hospitality owner Niall Hanley will be 6,000-square-feet of 1920s America underground spirit. Located beneath Caffé Luna and directly across from Moore Square, Watts & Ward will have multiple rooms and multiple bars, each with their own personality. Leather seats, booths and low-key jazz events all mean you'll need to carve out some time to swing by this speakeasy on a night out.

John Huisman, aka Triangle Explorer, tweeted last week that Oakwood Pizza Box is coming to Person Street in downtown Raleigh along the strip where Crawford & Son and William & Co are located. Apparently it will replace Cybergraph at 610 N. Person St. and is looking to open this fall.

Seasons 52, a new restaurant with a focus on seasonal ingredients, opened its first North Carolina location this past Monday at Crabtree Valley Mall. It is on the second floor near Banana Republic and also has a patio.

The Triangle Business Journal reported this week that Raleigh's Bella Monica Cucina & Vino is planning to open a new location in Cary's Parkside Town Commons near the intersection of Interstate 540 and Highway 54. Look for them to open in early May.

The owners of Serena Sicilian restaurant posted on their Facebook page that they have been proud to serve the north Raleigh community for the past four years and are excited to share the news that they have purchased a building and are moving Serena to this new location. We will keep any eye out for information about the new location. In the meantime, you can visit their RTP location at 5311 South Miami Blvd in Durham.

The daily blog The Point reported this week that Sir Walter Coffee opened its doors in downtown Raleigh last weekend, featuring local Joe Van Gogh coffee and iced tea cocktails. It is located at the base of the Edison Lofts at the corner of Davie and Blount Street.

Over in Cary, the blog Food Cary reported that Your Pie will open at 685 Cary Towne Blvd. in the former spot of Tom Yum Thai. No word yet on an open date.

Down in Holly Springs, WRAL reported that Mama Bird's Cookies and Cream will hold their grand opening on Friday, May 5th with Napoli wood-fired pizza, music, dance, bounce house, face painting, balloons and much more.

If you are down in Clayton and need gas and a great meal, swing into the Vallero gas station at the corner of Guy Road and Hwy. 42 and visit the recently opened Grab Hot Meals featuring made from scratch food from Margot Miles who is from the Philippines with Chinese ethnicity.

Reader Paul Prause informed us that Tropical Smoothie Cafe is taking over the old Moonlight Swirl location at Falls Village, next to NY Pizza and Smashburger.

Durham, Orange and Chatham Restaurant News

The News & Observer reported this week that One Fish Two Fish, a poke restaurant, opened in Carrboro Thursday. Poké, pronounced "poh-kay," is a traditional Hawaiian dish with marinated raw fish. One Fish Two Fish is owned by Scott and Lauren Kleczkowski who operate Goose Hospitality, which owns other restaurants on the same block that focus on one concept - Esperanza, which serves empanadas, and The Shoppe Bar and Meatball Kitchen.

In Chapel Hill, got word from the Herald-Sun that Chipotle in Eastgate Crossing will officially open on Thursday, April 20.

Got word from a couple of readers that there is a new Hawaiian shave ice stand, Shaka Shave Ice, at the corner of Merritt Mill Rd and Franklin St, just on the Carrboro/Chapel Hill line. Apparently this place is legit - not a snow cone, not Italian ice, nor a sno ball; it's authentic Hawaiian shave ice, with flavors made fresh daily and cream that is not simply condensed milk.

Over in Durham, Fullsteam Brewery launches the first phase of Fullsteam food tonight (April 7) with chef Kyle McKnight. For now he is focusing on beer friendly bar snacks and small plates (smoked paprika tortellini, braised pork belly, coastal poached shrimp, sorghum dumplings, and Working Man's Crunch and Paychex snack mixes). The menu will continue to evolve, as will the kitchen space.


None to report. Keep eating local, folks!

Food trucks

On April 23, The Hill Center in Durham will hold its annual school fundraiser - Hill Mile! There will be a one mile race & walk, a kids' dash and a fast mile on the track. All proceeds benefit Student Financial Aid at The Hill Center, a half-day school program for children with learning differences. Additionally, a mini food truck rodeo will feature: Caffé Bellezza, Flirting with Fire, Locopops, Only Burger and Sympathy for the Deli.

The food truck events in Knightdale are cranking back up this month. Every Thursday from April through June and September through November, they will host a new truck at Knightdale Station Park for lunch and dinner. Just look for it from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. near the amphitheater (rain or shine – shelters are covered).

And the food truck rodeos in Durham (just had one) and Raleigh are swinging back into full gear. Check out the Durham dates here and the Raleigh dates here.


The ninth annual ‘Cuegrass Festival will be held April 15 at The Pit beginning at noon. To date, the event has raised $107,000, which has gone right back into the community to help kids and families through BackPack Buddies and to help prevent child abuse through SAFEchild. Lawn chairs, dogs and kids are all welcome for a great line-up of five bands, local and regional beer and tons and tons of barbecue! As usual, it’s $5 at the gates.

The inaugural Cooking for a Classic series to benefit the Lucy Daniels Center moves into the final and championship round April 10 with the winner winning a beautifully restored 1969 Corvette Stingray. Tickets are still available for the six course dinner.

Families Moving Forward in Durham launched Chefs for Change, a fundraising dinner series that will pair the burgeoning Durham food scene with the needs of families experiencing homelessness. The series features a dinner every other month (beginning April 17) featuring one of the distinguished chefs serving three or more courses.

And if that is not enough food events for April 8, add the 19th Annual Lebanese Festival to the mix in downtown Raleigh’s City Plaza (400 block of Fayetteville Street). The festivities (food - amazing food, dance, cultural activities and tons of kid activities) will take place from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. The event is free. Get all the details here.

Acclaimed chef Scott Crawford is launching a guest chef series in April at his restaurant, Crawford and Son. “Oakwood and Friends” will serve food from Crawford and collaborators – chefs from renowned restaurants in the Southeast. The first dinner is Sunday, April 23, with Ryan Smith of Staplehouse.

Clear your calendar for April 8 for the Beer & Bacon Festival in Cary at Booth Amphitheatre.

Also on April 8, the Bull City Homebrew Chili Challenge will take place at Bull City Homebrew on Highway 54 near the intersection with Highway 55. It takes place from noon until 4 p.m. The event is free and kid friendly.

One of my favorite annual events is coming up soon – The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and Weaver Street Market present the Piedmont Farm Tour, an event hosted by 35 Triangle area farms April 22-23 from 2 to 6 p.m. each day. The tour, in its 22nd year, is the oldest farm tour of its kind in the United States. The family-friendly (and budget-friendly) two-day event features farms spread across Alamance, Chatham, Orange and Person counties. Tour tickets purchased in advance are $30 per car for all farms, all weekend – good for a full carload of people. Day of tickets are $35. The tour is rain or shine.

April 20-23 are the dates for TASTE, a huge culinary event that includes a series of culinary experiences. Now in its fourth year, TASTE invites and assembles more than 50 of the best chefs, culinary artisans, artists, brewmasters, sommeliers and mixologists in the local area.

The extremely popular craft beer festival, Brewgaloo, returns the weekend of April 21-22 all in and around downtown Raleigh. The weekend kicks off with a block party/sampler event on Friday night followed by Saturday’s big event from 2 to 10 p.m. featuring craft beer, food vendors and trucks, live music and more.

The SECU Family House in Chapel Hill is hosting a pig pickin on Thursday April 27, from 5:30-8:30 pm with fare by Chapel Hill Restaurant Group featuring an auction of artist-painted garden pigs and music by Honey Magpie.

On April 30, the Taste for a Cure Gala will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Rickhouse in Durham, where guests can sit back and watch the excitement while local, renowned chefs prepare a five course, farm-to-table feast showcasing local ingredients and inventive plate presentation right before your eyes. The evening will begin with a cocktail hour at 5 p.m.

Got word from event organizer Lisa Jeffries that the Raleigh Food & Wine Festival has set their dates for this year as May 18-21.

The restaurant and farm pairings for the 2017 Farm to Fork Picnic were announced this week. The 10th anniversary Farm to Fork Picnic Weekend, June 2-4 at Fearrington Village, will celebrate creative partnerships among Triangle farmers, chefs and culinary artisans. Pairings for the June 4 picnic, which has been dubbed "The Country's Best All-You-Can-Eat Feast" by Bon Appetit, represent more than 70 farms and restaurants.

The Blind Pig Supper Club in partnership with TerraVita Food & Drink Festival brings you an incredible evening on May 7 of amazing cuisine featuring eight chefs from across the state working together to create an eight-course meal. Eve of the Eighth will celebrate 2017 as the eighth year of the TerraVita Food & Drink Festival. Our "8" theme will appear visually on the plate and in ingredient selection and sourcing. To see a list of those amazing 8 chefs and purchase tickets ($88), click here.

The dates for TerraVita in Chapel Hill (one of the largest foodie events in the South) have been released. It will kick off on October 18 and end with the Grand Tasting on The Green on Saturday, Oct. 21. TerraVita has grown from one tasting event into a four-day festival led by James Beard Foundation-nominated chefs, nationally-acclaimed cookbook authors, award-winning journalists and food artisans, winemakers, baristas, craft brewers and distillers.


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