The Raleigh restaurant scene is constantly evolving. Sure, every year it seems that we lose a few favorites here and there, but there are always new foodie adventures to look forward to, and 2018 is no exception. Localvores will be thrilled to learn that some of the best local chefs and largest restaurant groups have been staying busy behind the scenes, planning to open several cool new restaurants with fresh concepts in the coming year.

Transplants that are missing regional chains from back home may also find their old favorites in Raleigh sometime soon too! Here are some highly anticipated soon-to-open restaurants coming to Raleigh in 2018:

Tonbo Ramen

Raleigh locals have been wishing for a ramen shop, and that wish will finally come true in 2018! Tonbo Ramen, a two-story noodle shop, will open on Wilmington Street. The first floor will be traditional ramen shop, with bar stools and tables, mainly serving shio, shoyu, and tonkotsu ramen. The second floor will be more of a bar-type setting featuring small plates and Japanese whiskey.

Developed by a team of local restaurateurs with over 80 years of experience in the Triangle, Tonbo Ramen will be joining the exciting vibe of the Moore Square District. “Tonbo,” which is Japanese for Dragonfly, is a Samurai symbol of power, agility, and victory. Tonbo Ramen will bring the luscious flavors of authentic Japanese ramen to 211 South Wilmington Street by the end of 2017.

Entering Tonbo Ramen, you will be enveloped with the aroma of our broth that is patiently prepared over 20 hours. Slide onto a stool at the ramen bar or at an intimate table and be prepared for delicious, authentic ramen made from scratch. Chat with your chef and select from quintessential Japanese ramen dishes prepared to suit your taste. Tonbo will also have vegetarian options.

The upstairs will be set up as a Japanese speakeasy — where you can enjoy craft cocktails and small plates, offering the unique flavors of Japan, like steamed buns and yakitori. When the windows slide open, you’ll hear the sounds of downtown Raleigh. Whether you’re enjoying drinks, appetizers or a satisfying ramen bowl, you’ll want to share the Tonbo experience.

Tonbo Ramen will become a downtown destination for those interested in a delicious meal matched by the warm atmosphere. “The menu at Tonbo will feature freshly-prepared ramen dishes with select ingredients to complement the broth,” said Chef Alex Cordova. “Ramen is meant for sustenance and delight at the same time. Tonbo is intended to provide both.”

Pooleside Pie

Raleigh’s most famous chef, Ashley Christensen, announced via Instagram that her new venture, Pooleside Pie, would open in 2018. Pooleside Pie will be located, you guessed it, right beside her flagship restaurant Poole’s Diner. It will feature Neapolitan pies with wood-fired crusts.

Kaiju Bowl & Bao

Kaiju Bowl & Bao is the latest restaurant concept from Ken Yowell, who also owns Raleigh favorites Calavera Empanadas and Tequila and Oak City Meatball Shoppe. It will be located on East Davie Street, besides his other restaurants. The menu is still a bit of a mystery, but Yowell told the News & Observer that there will be “Asian noodles and steamed buns and lots of surprises.”

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema concept started in Austin, TX and the award-winning franchise has locations all over the country. The folks behind Alamo Drafthouse Cinema take film, food, and beer seriously, so this is sure to be an amazing addition to East Raleigh in 2018.

The Alamo Experience is simple: “The best film, food, and drinks all in one seat.”

  • Watch: From blockbusters to oddities, they’ve all got a home here. They also have live events, famous guests, quote-alongs, retrospectives and exclusive restorations.
  • Drink: Alamo’s obsession with movies is paralleled only by their obsession with beer. They pride themselves on serving only the finest craft beers and supporting the best microbreweries.
  • Eat: The best food served directly to your seat. They have a full, multi-course menu where every meal is prepared from scratch specifically for you.
  • Enjoy: Alamo will have the best projection and sound, supporting both digital and film projection. Fewer seats ensure the best viewing experience wherever you sit. One thing you won’t ever find in their theaters is talking or texting.

Cold beer, hot movies, and delicious snacks and meals; The Alamo Drafthouse is dinner, drinks, movies and events, all under one roof. Alamo’s attention to detail in film presentation and programming has made them a second home to movie fans all over the planet and earned accolades from the likes of Entertainment Weekly (#1 theater in America), (Coolest Movie Theater in the World) and (One of the Best Theaters in the Country).


Tacos and tequila are coming to North Hills! Bartaco offers tacos and rice bowls along with fresh squeezed juices and cocktails. The resort-themed restaurant already has several locations in North Carolina, but this will be the first Raleigh location.

The Bartaco experience is inspired by the beach culture of Brazil, Uruguay, and Southern California. Bartaco is upscale street food with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment. They offer freshly-squeezed juices, specialty cocktails, and beer out of a bottle.

Bartaco evokes a visit to a stylish beach resort and creates an unforgettable experience thanks to the white-washed interiors, wanderlust-inspiring photography on the walls, woven basket light fixtures, and a sprawling bar at the center, it feels like you may be transported somewhere to South America.

Morgan Street Food Hall & Market

Ever since the Morgan Street Food Hall & Market concept was announced by the Hibernian Hospitality Group nearly two years ago, Raleigh locals have been looking forward to its completion. The group presently owns and operates numerous businesses in Raleigh, such as the Raleigh Beer Garden, Solas Nightclub, Hibernian Irish Pub, Watts & Ward, The Station, and Xoco.

The excitement was fed by the steady announcements of local vendors opening up spaces in the market which include: Cousins Maine Lobster, Makus Empanadas, and Sassool, just to name a few! It’s expected to open sometime in early 2018. We cannot wait!

The Food Hall is a 20,000 square foot venue which will bring 60+ different food stalls, restaurants, and market opportunities. It will also feature expansive seating and event programming options. This entire complex will sit in the approximate center of the downtown Raleigh Warehouse District and will be adjacent to the upcoming transportation hub, Union Station, the newly announced 17 story Dillon development and Citrix Sharefile.

The general vision for the food offerings will be a series of stalls and shops offering high quality, chef-driven specialty foods with a wide range of diversity. Some establishments will be a cooked-to-order mentality, while others are specialized offerings in a market setting. Each stall will offer a limited number of highly specialized and targeted culinary offerings, artisan and local in design and execution, with affordable prices typically found in food halls serving food counter-style.

Each stall will present its own unique personality/trade dress in a size ranging from 30-550 square feet depending on location, menu and what we consider might be the best ‘neighbors’. Most stalls will feature local Triangle area chefs/restaurateurs looking to expand their brand identities or trying to create a new one using Morgan Street Food Hall & Market as an incubator/innovative test kitchen. Morgan Street Food Hall & Market will reflect the best of food trends, innovations and exciting offerings that may be unique to the Greater Raleigh area.

2018 Is Going To Be A Great Year!

Other restaurants we can look forward to in 2018 include Growler USA, a microbrew pub franchise based in Oregon and Wahlburgers, a burger joint owned by former pop stars Donnie and Mark Wahlberg. There are also plans for a new beer bar, Craft Bar to open on Glenwood Avenue, in the old home of DIVEbar and Raleigh Beverage Mart.

So what are some of the restaurants that are coming to Downtown Raleigh in 2018 that you are most excited about? Please be sure to hit us up on Twitter @919BlogNC or visit our Facebook page at and let us know! We would love to hear from ya.

This post was created in collaboration with the Downtown Raleigh Blog editorial team and 919 Blog contributor Amy Howard for exclusive digital publication via TBN