Restaurant dishes

Here are 8 Triangle restaurant dishes to try in 2022

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Raleighs(ish) delicatessen makes a homemade pastrami or corned beef sandwich with braised Swiss, super Russian, purple cabbage on Boulted rye bread. It is served here with a potato salad with grilled onions and seasoned with olive oil and mustard.

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What is the future of restaurants?

Nearly two years into the coronavirus pandemic, diners are more used to navigating menus on their phones, flashing vaccine cards and reheating takeout. Now, choosing where to hang out includes a new option: hang out or not. We explore how COVID has reshaped dining, what it’s like to go out for a meal, and how the Triangle’s famous dining scene is progressing. Plus, we’ll tell you which new restaurants — and meals — are drool-worthy.


Diners will have a full plate in 2022, with dozens of restaurant openings and return visits to old favorites.

Here are some special dishes to look for in the new year:

Kimchi fries

Bolkogi has been one of the Triangle’s most popular food trucks for years. Joining Boxyard RTP, Joe Choi said he was able to add kimchi fries to the menu, which he was unable to do in the trucks. These baskets of waffle fries are topped with marinated bulkogi beef, kimchi, cilantro and a fried egg.

“It represents who I am,” Choi said. “I grew up in Chicago eating hot spots and fries. I couldn’t eat kimchi at school because the kids made fun of me saying it was too stinky. But I would make this dish at home with leftover fries and I’d feel good. I’ve been eating these for a long time.”

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Bulkogi Korean BBQ opened a brick and mortar at the new Boxyard RTP. The restaurant offers favorites including kimchi fries topped with an egg. Juli Leonard [email protected]

Emma’s cake

Cakes are known as slices and shards, but Plum puts the pastry chef Emma Shank’s weekly creations for all to see in their original glory, with each piece cut to order.

Most tables order dessert, said Shank, whose husband, Trent, is Plum’s head chef. Cake is the top seller, usurping banana pudding once it entered the menu in late summer.

In September, Shank put his own wedding cake on the menu, salted caramel frosting and sauce with yellow cake. It’s impossible to predict what the flavor will be from week to week, but expect a seasonally appropriate slice.

Recently, that has meant eggnog cake with a cocktail, or spiced gingerbread with molasses topped with orange buttercream frosting, cheesecake topping cream, a dusting of crushed gingerbread and whole ginger cookies gently resting on puffy rosettes.

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Pastry Chef Emma Shank’s Plum Southern Kitchen & Bar Gingerbread Cake is made with cream cheese filling, orange buttercream and Juli Leonard gingerbread cookies [email protected]

Fonda Lupita gorditas

There’s no hotter restaurant in North Carolina than this Mexican restaurant in Sanford, than the online cooking publication Eater named as one of the top 11 spots opened in the country last year.

The restaurant is named after the owner’s mother Biridiana Frausto, Fonda Lupita, and his specialty is his gordita. These freshly made tortilla pockets are grilled and then stuffed with steak or pork or stew.

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In 2020, Mexican restaurant Fonda Lupita moved into a former breakfast spot in Sanford just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to hit the United States. After surviving its first year and a half, Fonda Lupita was named one of the best new restaurants in the country by Eater. Raleigh

(finally) Reuben

Matt Fern spent years designing the perfect Reuben sandwich, and it’s hard to say he didn’t pull it off. Diners can choose pastrami or corned beef, but the (finally) Charcuterie Reuben comes with apple cider-braised red cabbage in place of sauerkraut, bursting with sweetness and flavor. The rye is custom made by Raleigh Boulted Bread, especially for this sandwich, with a dark, deep color and flavor without the caraway seeds.

Fern said he remained the top seller on a menu of stunners. But don’t sleep on the soon-to-be-hit breakfast sandwich, Green Eggs and Ham and Cheese, featuring braised cabbage spiced with tabasco, town ham and scrambled eggs.

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Raleighs(ish) delicatessen makes a homemade pastrami or corned beef sandwich with braised Swiss, super Russian, purple cabbage on Boulted rye bread. It is served here with a potato salad with grilled onions and seasoned with olive oil and mustard. Juli Leonard [email protected]

Old North Meats Fried Mushroom Sandwich

In this golden age of chicken sandwiches, this meatless wonder of Durham Food Hall can surpass them all. Owner Joel Schroetter smokes and then frys the oyster mushrooms, making them as crispy and mouth-watering as any piece of chicken. The sandwich is topped with celery and shredded lettuce, charred onions, and homemade green goddess ranch.

This sandwich is a real pleasure.

Strong Arm Miso Caramel Brownie

Biting into this brownie is like drowning in fudge. The Oxford bakery and sometimes the pizzeria is often the longest queue at Durham Farmer’s Market, luring fans in with delicate pastries, seasonal pop tarts and changing versions of brownies.

Here, the familiar salted caramel flavor is accented with miso. And the brownie itself has a dense sweetness that lives in two worlds, tapping into the illicit joy of licking off the rest of the brownie batter and chewing on a piece of crispy wedge. It’s a beautiful thing that happens to be a brownie.

Gym Tacos Nacho Tower

This hugely popular food truck opened its first brick-and-mortar last year and has another one on the way. Co-owner Gamaliel Romero kind of pokes fun at the quesabirria taco trend, believing that the fried, dipped taco style is too greasy to eat as much as his heart desires tacos.

But there is one Trending Instagram Gym Tacos adopted and perfected: nachos. With the opening of its North Raleigh sports bar, Gym Tacos added something it couldn’t find in a food truck, nacho towers.

A good plate of nachos is a feat of construction as well as cooking. The trick at Gym Tacos is to build a platter of nachos in a large metal box, layering crispy chips, steak, shredduce, jalapeno landmines, and a river of queso. Once the can is removed, it’s a mountain of nacho mastery.

“We wanted to do something to get people’s attention,” Romero said.

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Gym Tacos is opening a restaurant in the former HEUBOWL located off Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. Juli Leonard [email protected]

Wonderpuff cotton candy, carnival style

When you order your carnival-style cotton candy at the new Wonderpuff in Durham, what you’re saying is that you want to eat it immediately. Rather than a tub, carnival-style orders come on a paper wand, the silky threads of candy wrapped around and around, and the air smelling like toasted sugar.

The top flavor is the raspberry mojito, but watch out for the blueberry waffles. It’s a cloud of joy on a stick.

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Wonderpuff is located in the new Boxyard RTP. The company makes artisanal organic cotton candy in a variety of non-traditional flavors. Juli Leonard [email protected]

This story was originally published December 19, 2021 06:00.

Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the Triangle and North Carolina food scene.


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