2017 was an excellent year for the Raleigh restaurant scene as we witnessed a lot of activity and progress. Local foodies saw exciting new restaurants opened up by seasoned chefs as well as newcomers. It seemed that all eyes were on Raleigh’s food scene after Brewery Bhavana landed on Bon Appetit’s list of America’s Best New Restaurants at the #10 spot, after just being open for a few months! They also published a follow-up story just recently and we are sure more great coverage and press is coming in 2018.
The foodie world needs to keep its eyes on us because there’s more where all of that came from. Check out this list of Raleigh’s best up and coming restaurants who are going to keep things interesting into 2018.
St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar
Chef Sunny Gerhart learned the ins and outs of the restaurant business from the legendary local Raleigh based restaurateur Ashley Christensen. St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar opened to high expectations and has well exceeded them.
The New Orleans-inspired menu features items such as red beans and rice, along with a selection of fresh oysters. The restaurant also has exciting daily specials, so we suspect there will be additions to the menu in 2018. We can’t wait to see what Chef Gerhart brings to the table!
As chef Sunny Gerhart puts it: “It’s a little nod to New Orleans, but it’s not any sort of traditional New Orleans menu. It’s not New Orleans deconstructed, either.” The menu reflects a decidedly Southern, by way of New Orleans, interpretation of North Carolina seafood — Creole spices and flavors enliven the bounty of Southern farmers, oyster beds, and fishers. The restaurant is named after Gerhart’s old neighborhood in New Orleans.
The Cortez Seafood + Cocktail
The owners of the popular Mexican restaurant Jose and Sons opened The Cortez Seafood + Cocktail in early 2017. Here you will find fresh oysters in addition to eclectic seafood dishes such as Tiger Style Ceviche and Poached NC Shrimp Tostada. The tropical-themed restaurant has been a hit so far and suspect that it will continue to be a favorite in 2018.
Located in Glenwood South, The Cortez is a fresh seafood and small plates experience with a freshly kept selection of tropical cocktails that draw on unique food memories, travels through the years, and Mexican-American heritage. Chef Oscar’s menu is a reflection of his weekly walks through the farmer’s market, and the bounties brought in by local fishermen. The beverage menu is rounded out with rotating craft beers and a curated wine list.
Saigon Grill & Bar
Raleigh Restaurateur John Tang teamed up with Executive Chef Richard Fong to open Saigon Grill & Bar on Glenwood Avenue in 2017. Tang is no stranger to the Raleigh restaurant scene – he is also the owner of Sushi O, which is on the same block. The menu features Asian fusion and Vietnamese inspired dishes. With Tang’s business acumen and Fong’s industry experience, we think Saigon Grill & Bar will be a sure hit in 2018.
The restaurant offers a flavorful lunch and dinner menu utilizing a variety of local ingredients. The exquisite menu focuses on both small and large plates with an assortment of dishes ranging from a Street Vendor Clay Pot with Canadian Black Mussels to Ha Long Bay Walnut Shrimp and Saigon Shabu Shabu made with homemade hot and sour Thai broth, fresh vegetables, noodles and choice of protein – perfect for the coming Winter months.
Lunch-only items include a wide selection of Banh-Mi sandwiches like the “Wolfpack” made with Lemongrass chicken, avocado, tomato, mix greens and jalapeño as well as Saigon Street Vendor Tacos made with a choice of pork belly, shrimp, chicken, beef oysters or catch of the day. The restaurant also has a gorgeous, full bar that offers a robust bar menu offering local and imported wines, microbrews and creative, Asian-inspired cocktails.
Saigon Grill and Bar is owned and operated by John Tang, and his best friend and now business partner Richard Fong. Tang is also the owner of the successful Sushi O Bistro and Sushi Bar which has been a fixture in the downtown Raleigh restaurant scene since 2010. Fong brings his own resume of success to this partnership with a long history of working in some the country’s best kitchens including New York City’s Windows on the World and the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
When the owners of the award-winning Pho Nomenal Food Truck announced that they were opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, there was a lot of excitement and high expectations. Like the food truck, the MOFU Shoppe menu includes unique, Asian-inspired dishes such as Honey Sriracha Brussel Sprouts and Gochujang Chicken Pasta. So far, the restaurant has received rave reviews, and we expect that trend to continue in 2018.
MOFU Shoppe derives its name from several sources: “Fu” means fortune in Mandarin Chinese. MO (more) FU (fortune); more food; more fun.
Sunny and Sophia started their journey to food by dreaming about building and running a food truck in 2013. With the help of a successful Kickstarter, they finished building the truck and started service in 2014 as a truck that sold dumplings and pho cheekily called the “Dump Pho King Truck.” After a year in operation, they were approached by Food Network and invited to compete, along with their high school friend Becca Plumlee, in Season 6 of the reality TV show The Great Food Truck Race with Tyler Florence under the name “Pho Nomenal Dumpling Truck.”
Despite setbacks, including a blown engine in the very first episode, the truck eventually went on to become the first and only all-female team to ever win a season of The Great Food Truck Race. After being crowned champions of Season 6, Sunny and Sophia decided to keep the “Pho Nomenal Dumpling Truck” name and put their $50,000 winnings from the show towards their brick and mortar restaurant in Downtown Raleigh – MOFU Shoppe.
Raleigh’s Foodie Scene Is HOT!
Asian-inspired eateries seem to the latest trend in Raleigh food offerings. Poke Go and Pho Sure also opened in North Raleigh in 2017. In 2018, Tonbo Ramen and Kaiju Bowl will add more Asian-inspired options to Downtown Raleigh. Other restaurants we’ll be keeping an eye on in 2018 also include Southern Charred and Oakwood Pizza Box.
So which restaurants do you think will make a big splash on the Raleigh restaurant scene in 2018? Please be sure to hit us up on Twitter @919BlogNC or visit our Facebook page at FB.com/919Blog and let us know! We would love to hear from ya.
This post was created in collaboration with 919 Blog contributor Amy Howard for exclusive digital publication on 919Blog.com