New Year, New Restaurants
As 2018 came to a close, a flurry of new restaurants came onto the scene. Of course, amidst the busy holiday season, it’s likely some of these new spots swooped in under the radar. To be sure you’re up to speed, we compiled a list of all the new restaurants and major food announcements from late fall and winter. Be sure to check out all of these new spots in 2019!
Estimated read time: 3 minutes
Photos by Amber Watson, Bites of Bull City
At the tail end of October, People’s Coffee, a modern coffee shop and casual daytime hangout, opened in South Durham.
Golden Belt is filled with new energy upon the arrival of the highly anticipated Hi-Wire Brewing, which hails from Asheville, N.C. This extra large space features 24 taps, covered patio space/beer garden, full-sized shuffleboard courts, soccer pool tables and plenty of indoor space for groups to gather.
A new and trendy co-working/socializing club called Union Member Social House opened on East Main Street. Along with providing a hip spot for members to socialize, network, and host community events, the club serves coffee and food — and has its own bar.
Namu, which serves casual and delicious Korean food, expanded into the building next door and created a spacious beer hall where you can still order food from the restaurant/cafe's kitchen. Namu's outdoor garden was already a great place to meet up with friends — the beer hall adds a cool new indoor option as well.
It took a little while for the rolled ice cream craze to hit Durham, but now we have a couple of options, including the newly opened Sweet Charlie's in Hope Valley Commons Plaza (South Durham). This is the first (and currently only) Sweet Charlie's in North Carolina and is owned by a local Durham family.
East Durham welcomed a locally-owned neighborhood pizza joint called Sofia’s in December, located at 2201 Angier Ave. Jorge, the chef and owner, started El Rey del Taco food truck and is excited to now have a stationary kitchen at the restaurant, which he runs with his wife, Emily.
The newly opened Earth to Us (a fast-casual vegan comfort food restaurant located at the Shops at Northgate) is getting lots of attention from vegetarian and vegan diners. Jenny Pubill is the owner of this family-operated restaurant. Once a food truck, the new brick and mortar offers an expanded array of vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free options with a Latin twist.
As far as arcades go, Boxcar Bar and Arcade has it all: over 70 games, including pinball, skee-ball, racing games, Dance Dance Revolution, and an actual Nintendo bar. Boxcar has a large wraparound bar filled with 24 craft-brewed American drafts and a variety of local brews, liquors, and wine — and when you get hungry, there is brick oven pizza. Its prime location on Foster Street overlooks the old Durham ballpark, has a private event space, and an outdoor patio that faces Geer Street and is scheduled to open this spring.
Also along that bustling area of W. Geer Street is a new neighborhood bottle shop, bar, and intimate event space. LouElla offers curated wine, craft beer, and fortified selections from family operated producers. The owner and proprietor, Cam Davis, has been a part of the Durham restaurant scene for over 20 years and kept a majority of the building’s original charm intact, including the use of reclaimed wood for the counters and shelves.
In other news, Jack Tar & The Colonel’s Daughter introduced Sunday Supper, featuring chef Gray Brooks fried chicken with three seasonal sides served family-style, and optional champagne pairings every Sunday night.
If you’re hungry for even more than fried chicken, Deeluxe Chicken expanded its menu to include more grilled items, such as hamburgers, and now offers online delivery and pick-up.
COPA also expanded its menu to include pasture-raised pork chicharrones.
The Durham Hotel launched family-style feasts, welcoming parties of 2-8 for a four-course sharing menu for the whole table.
In food truck news, American Meltdown and owner, Paul Inserra, appeared in an energetic and mouth-watering episode of Food Truck Nation on the Cooking Channel.
So far this year, there have been several successful food-focused vendors at Pop-up American Tobacco. The first was food truck Soul Fresh Spring Rolls, which serves healthy, fast, creative, made-to-order spring rolls. In February, the Latin-American plant-based eatery Soul Cocina and gluten-free, handmade and fair trade chocolates from Chocolatay Confections made a talented pairing.
Fullsteam Brewery took home another Good Food Award this year in the beer category for its Southern Basil beer. The Good Food Awards honor artisan products deemed exceptionally tasty, but also made through sustainable practices and local sourcing. Fullsteam remains the only N.C. brewery to win since the awards began in 2011. Additionally, Fullsteam owner Sean Lilley Wilson (a James Beard Foundation award semifinalist in 2012 and 2013) was nominated again this year for the distinction of Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional.
Speaking of awards, The World Gin Awards recently named Durham Distillery’s Conniption Navy Strength Gin the best in the United States in the Navy Strength category. The distillery is the only one in the American South inducted into the prestigious Gin Guild in London. Their American Dry Gin received a silver in the “Contemporary Style Gin” category this year.
Food Town Documentary
Food Town: Durham, N.C. is a project from Durham-based production company, Markay Media, which also produces the Emmy, James Beard and Peabody award-winning PBS series “A Chef’s Life.” In case you missed it last fall, this half-hour documentary aired on PBS and goes behind the scenes in Durham’s vibrant restaurant community, featuring spots like M Sushi, Pizzeria Toro, and Saltbox Seafood Joint.
Amber Watson is the creator and writer of the local Durham food news blog, Bites of Bull City. For more, follow @bitesofbullcity.com