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Best Bagel in the Triangle

Brandwein’s Bagels

As the only bagel shop on Rosemary Street, Brandwein’s Bagels fills a special (and very necessary) niche with its promise to serve classic New York bagels that are boiled and baked right here in Chapel Hill. Since its opening by a UNC graduate in 2020, the shop has seen nothing but success—and that boom is about to get even bigger. The beloved restaurant announced in 2021 that it’s expanding, meaning more parking, faster service, and most importantly: more bagels. From the colorful tables that countless UNC students have sat around catching up with friends to the delicious Green Goddess Spread, Brandwein’s has something for everyone, and further proves the power of a Kenan-Flagler graduate with a dream, some ambition, and a lot of love for bagels.—HK

Finalists: Everything Bagels, Benchwarmers Bagels, Isaac’s Bagels

Best Bakery in Durham County

Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Biergarten

Finalists: Loaf, Ninth Street Bakery, Monuts

Best Bakery in Orange / Chatham County

Guglhupf Bake Shop

Finalists: Weaver Street Market, Hillsborough Bakeshop, Phoenix Bakery

Best Bakery in Wake County

La Farm Bakery

Since La Farm first opened in Cary in 1999, the European-style bakery has grown in leaps and bounds. Its original location has expanded into the storefront next door, giving people plenty of room to settle down for a quick lunch or cortado. Husband-and-wife team Lionel and Missy Vatinet have also opened three other locations in Cary and Fuquay-Varina, along with a food truck, and started selling fresh loaves at local grocery stores. The bread itself is what all bread should be—delicious, airy, and crusty. La Farm is the neighborhood bakery everyone longs for, a welcoming local place where you can find breakfast, specialized ingredients for a dinner party, or simply something on your regular grocery list.—JG

Finalists: Boulted Bread, Union Special Bread, Yellow Dog Bread Co.

Best Barbecue in Durham County

The Original Q Shack

Finalists: Picnic Durham, Backyard BBQ Pit, Lawrence BBQ

Best Barbecue in Orange / Chatham County

Allen & Son BBQ

Finalists: The Pig, Hillsborough BBQ, The Spotted Dog

Best Barbecue in Wake County

The Pit

Finalists: Sam Jones BBQ Raleigh, City Barbecue, Prime BBQ

Best Biscuits in Durham County

Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken

My favorite section of Rise’s menu is The Build, where you can pick a biscuit flavor and customize it from a ginormous list of toppings. There are so many topping options that The Build sort of feels like a bastardization of the concept of choice—I calculated the number of possible combinations and it has 44 digits—but that’s what makes it fun. Get a blueberry biscuit with American cheese and hot sauce! No one’s stopping you.—LG

Finalists: Monuts, Biscuitville, Debbie Lou’s – True Flavors

Best Biscuits in Orange / Chatham County

Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen

Finalists: Rise, Neal’s Deli, Village Diner

Best Biscuits in Wake County

Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken

Finalists: The Flying Biscuit Cafe, Bojangles, Jubala

Best Bloody Mary in The Triangle

The Blind Pelican

I’ve long maintained that the Bloody Mary holds a sacrosanct space in the mixological world of spirits and libations—not quite a cocktail but heartier, not quite a meal but certainly a vehicle for supplying nutrition or replenishing essential vitamins and minerals lost after a long night of boozing. But The Blind Pelican, a seafood restaurant in Holly Springs, takes the already multi-faceted concept of the Bloody Mary to a new level altogether. It’s a cocktail, it’s a meal, and if you’re going with one off of their Ultimate Bloody Mary menu, it’ll cost somewhere around $100. It’s worth the price tag: where else can you get jumbo shrimp, bacon, grilled cheese, crab legs, lobster tail, and filet mignon served up to you in your cocktail glass? Trust, it’s less zany (and more delicious) than it sounds, and we’re glad to have The Blind Pelican—whose bartender, Joshua Self, also won in our categories of Best Bartender/Mixologist and Best Draft Slinger in Wake—in our humble corner of the county.—JP

Finalists: Jack Tar & the Colonel’s Daughter, Motorco – Parts & Labor, NoFo at the Pig

Best Bread in Durham County

Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Biergarten

Finalists: Ninth Street Bakery, Loaf, Whisk & Rye

Best Bread in Orange / Chatham County

Guglhupf Bake Shop

Finalists: Weaver Street Market, Great Harvest Bread Co, Chicken Bridge Bakery

Best Bread in Wake County

La Farm Bakery

Finalists: Boulted Bread, Union Special, Yellow Dog Bread Co.

Best Breakfast in Durham County

Elmo’s Diner

Finalists: Monuts; Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Biergarten; Jack Tar and the Colonel’s Daughter

Best Breakfast in Orange / Chatham County

Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen

Finalists: Breadman’s, First Watch, Breakaway Cafe

Best Breakfast in Wake County

Flying Biscuit Cafe

Fluffy, buttery, sweet biscuits with homemade cranberry apple butter—what could be better? Like all the best breakfast restaurants, Flying Biscuit sells eggs, bacon, and other breakfast items all day, every day, starting at 7 a.m. for those early risers. And every meal comes with a serving of their homemade biscuits, some of the best in the Triangle. The rest of Flying Biscuit’s menu is equally appealing. The chorizo hash is a savory feast, while the french toast with raspberry sauce and honey creme anglaise lives up to its heavenly name, especially for those with a sweet tooth. Flying Biscuit is always a great stop for brunch as well, with a drinks menu that includes mimosa flights, bloody marys, and Irish coffee. The trick is to arrive an hour before you want to eat, put your name down on the list, and enjoy some shopping in Cameron Village before settling down to a gourmet breakfast.—JG

Finalists: Big Ed’s, First Watch, Brig’s

Best Brewery in Durham County

Ponysaurus Brewing Company

Finalists: Fullsteam, The Glass Jug Beer Lab, Durty Bull

Best Brewery in Orange / Chatham County

Steel String

Finalists: Carolina Brewery, Top of the Hill, Vecino

Best Brewery in Wake County

Trophy Brewing Company

Finalists: Bond Brothers, Lynnwood Brewing Concern, Big Boss

Best Burger in Durham County

Bull City Burger and Brewery

Finalists: Only Burger, QueenBurger, Burger Bach

Best Burger in Orange / Chatham County

Al’s Burger Shack

Finalists: Wooden Nickel, Hawthorne & Wood, Buns

Best Burger in Wake County

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

Finalists: Char-Grill, MoJoe’s, Five Guys

Best Burrito in Durham County

Cosmic Cantina

Finalists: Ex-Voto, La Vaquita Taqueria, NuvoTaco

Best Burrito in Orange / Chatham County


There’s nothing like a good restaurant name pun. Sorry, let me reword—there’s nothing like a good restaurant name pun that also happens to serve amazing burritos. So hop in your car and drive to Carrboro for Carrburritos, a family-owned California-Mexican restaurant with locations in Carrboro and Davidson, NC. Carrburritos has both classic and unconventional burritos, including a customizable burrito that comes with one filling choice out of eight options, including shredded pork, grilled vegetables, or guacamole. The chips taste exactly how tortilla chips should taste—thick, salty, and somewhere right in the middle of crunchy and soft so that they melt perfectly in your mouth. Jarritos fruit-flavored sodas are available upon checking out, and don’t forget the margarita specials on Wednesdays and Thursdays.—HK

Finalists: Cosmic Cantina, Fiesta Grill, Monterrey

Best Burrito in Wake County

Gringo A Go Go

Finalists: Armadillo Grill, Dos Taquitos, Dank Burrito, Baja Burrito

Best Caribbean or Cuban in the Triangle


Rooted in the philosophy that “mise en place begins in the soil,” the nation’s only farm-to-table Cuban restaurant places great import on using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients—many of which are harvested from the owners’ farm in Hillsborough—and provides guests with a transportive yet grounding experience by surrounding them with traditional music and decor that encourages them to acknowledge the origins of the food they’re eating. COPA’s menu is packed with historical tidbits that are tied to its authentic fare; the “La Diosa Negra” cocktail, for instance, is named for a woman who initiated such radical reform in Cuba that people called her a “Black goddess.” When you leave COPA, you’ll realize that you received not just an exquisite meal but a vacation, an education, and a meditation.—LG

Finalists: Boricua Soul, Spanglish, Carmen’s

Best Cheap Eats in Durham County

Cosmic Cantina

Finalists: Elmo’s Diner, Cook Out, Queeny’s

Best Cheap Eats in Orange / Chatham County


Finalists: Cosmic Cantina, Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, Time Out, Blue Dogwood Public Market

Best Cheap Eats in Wake County


Finalists: Char-Grill, Gym Tacos, MoJoe’s

Best Chef in Durham County

Carrie Schleiffer at Alley Twenty Six

Finalists: Ricky Moore, Matt Kelly, Michael Lee, Steph Bell

Best Chef in Orange / Chatham County

Vimala Rajendran at Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe

Finalists: Christian Patterson, Aaron Vandemark, Brandon Sharp

Best Chef in Wake County

Ashley Christensen of AC Restaurants

Finalists: Cheetie Kumar, Scott Crawford, Sunny Gerhart

Best Chinese Restaurant in Durham County

Happy China

Finalists: Shanghai, Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant, Orient Garden

Best Chinese Restaurant in Orange / Chatham County

Gourmet Kingdom

Finalists: Jade Palace, Red Lotus, Hunam

Best Chinese Restaurant in Wake County

Five Star

Finalists: Beansprout, Taipei 101, Chuan Cafe

Best Chocolate in the Triangle

Videri Chocolate Factory

Finalists: Escazu Chocolates, Matthew’s Chocolates, Miel Bon Bons

Best Cocktail Bar in Durham County

Alley Twenty Six

Finalists: Kingfisher, Bar Virgile, Corpse Reviver Cocktail Bar

Best Cocktail Bar in Orange/Chatham County

The Crunkleton

Finalists: Hawthorne & Wood, Belltree Cocktail Club, Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar

Best Cocktail Bar in Wake County


Finalists: Dram and Draft, Bittersweet, The Blind Pelican, SideBar

Best Coffee Shop in Durham County

Cocoa Cinnamon

Cocoa Cinnamon’s owners prioritize sustainability and inclusivity in every step of the journey “from cup to crop and crop to cup”: they make a point to support producers who use sustainable practices and are women of color; hire diverse employees and pay them a living wage; provide Spanish translations and adding churros to the menu at its Lakewood location to make the community feel welcome; and upcycle their coffee grounds into fertilizer for local gardens. The result? Exquisite coffee, a warm and accessible space, a happier planet, and a “Best of the Triangle” win every single year since it opened.—LG

Finalists: Joe Van Gogh, Bean Traders, Cloche Coffee

Best Coffee Shop in Orange / Chatham County

Caffe Driade

Finalists: Cup A Joe, Open Eye Cafe, Grey Squirrel

Best Coffee Shop in Wake County

Cup A Joe

With Cup A Joe, the name says it all. A traditional, low-maintenance coffee shop, NC State students and Raleigh natives alike pour in weekday mornings for their daily caffeine fix. The baristas have coffee-making down to a science, so it’s easy to pick up a cup to go. If you have a big deadline coming up, though, the funky, chill shop is also an easy place to settle down to work for a few hours. Cup A Joe’s rotating specials ensure there’s always something new to try—usually something flavorful, light on the sugar, and heavy on the espresso. But if you just want a simple cup of joe, you won’t be disappointed.—JG

Finalists: Sola Coffee Cafe, Jubala, NoRa Cafe

Best Cupcake in the Triangle


Finalists: Gigi’s Cupcakes, The Cupcake Shoppe, Taylor Street Sweets

Best Deli in the Triangle

Mediterranean Deli

If your stomach is growling louder than a lawn mower and you’re seeking out a meal that will be both fast and filling, Mediterranean Deli is the way to go. The bustling, spacious restaurant’s seemingly never-ending array of menu options puts visitors in a trance as they gaze from pastas to side salads to potato dishes… and back to pasta again. That’s not even mentioning the entrees, with gyros, pitas, and shawarmas that you can fill with as much tzatziki or tahini sauce as you please. At the Franklin Street location, outside seating is also a plus, with giant fans gusting cool air onto diners during the hot summer months.—HK

Finalists: Neal’s Deli, Ideal’s, Deli Edison

Best Desserts in Durham County

Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Biergarten

Finalists: The Parlour; Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings, and Sweets; Mad Hatter’s; Sweets by Shayda

Best Desserts in Orange / Chatham County

Guglhupf Bake Shop

Finalists: Weaver Street Market, Hawthorne & Wood, Coco Espresso – Bistro & Bar

Best Desserts in Wake County


Finalists: Bittersweet, Bonafide Bakeshop & Cafe, Kandy Apples by K

Best Distillery in the Triangle

Durham Distillery

Finalists: Mystic Farm & Distilling Company, TOPO, Young Hearts Distilling Company

Best Donut in the Triangle


Finalists: Duck Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Baker’s Dozen Donuts

Best Draft Beer Selection in Durham County

Beer Study

The nearly six year-old Beer Study shares space with the Starpoint Brewing Company. “We have about 15 types of beer on tap from Starpoint and 40 total,” says manager Kerri Hoffman. “We have two wine drafts, two cider drafts, and a kombucha CBD.” And oh what a selection on tap: there are pilsners and IPAs, Hefeweizens and porters, amber ales, wheat ales, lagers, pale ales with jalapenos, stouts with coffee, milk stouts and fruited IPAs.  Need something a little more exotic? Try the Beer Study’s Salud Cerveceria, Tiki Dairelynerweisse, a sour with pineapple, strawberry, banana, coconut cream, and hibiscus. Or, for the more lowbrow, albeit still cosmopolitan palette, check out the Perennial Suburban Beverage, a gose with Meyer Lemon, Valencia Orange, and Key Lime. How about a Rare Barrel, Illusions of Forever, that features Golden Sour with red plums aged in an oak barrel, or maybe the Fonta Flora, Doodle Juice, a blend of strawberry double IPA, dry hopped with Belma and Huell Melon? The beer hall also offers Royal Jamaican alcoholic ginger beer, and has an import section that includes beers from Belgium, Estonia, and Germany.—TM

Finalists: Growler Grlz, The Glass Jug Beer Lab, Pour

Best Draft Beer Selection in Orange / Chatham County

Beer Study

Finalists: Wooden Nickel, House of Hops Pittsboro, Old East Tavern

Best Draft Beer Selection in Wake County

Raleigh Beer Garden

If you’re looking for a fresh pour, look no further than the Raleigh Beer Garden. The three-floor establishment on Glenwood Avenue set the world record for most beers on tap in 2015, with 369 drafts. Raleigh Beer Garden’s number of drafts has since grown to nearly 400, so whatever your poison, there’s something for you. RBG’s excellent garden, complete with fairy lights and space heaters, means there’s always a wonderful place to enjoy a pint, whether it’s a chilly winter evening or warm summer night. The garden’s ever-rotating draft list also means there’s always something new for beer entrepreneurs, whether it’s a funky sour or seasonal summer shandy. Have analysis paralysis? Don’t worry. The garden’s digital beer menu is searchable by beer style, alcohol content, and bitterness. And if you need some food before the next round, the garden’s pretzel, baked or fried, is the perfect salty snack to satisfy any craving.—JG

Finalists: The Flying Saucer, Cellar 55

Best Food Truck in the Triangle

Chirba Chirba

Whenever I’m out at an event or festival in downtown Raleigh, I always check the map to suss out whether my favorite food truck—the Triangle’s very best food truck—will be making an appearance. Of course, that food truck is Chirba Chirba. If I’m in luck and the festival is blessed with that yellow, smiling dumpling-adorned truck, at some point during the day, I’ll rally my friends and make them stand with me in the inevitably long line to order. (That line is the result of the enduring popularity of Chirba Chirba.) No one usually minds standing in line with me, you see, because they, too, want to eat Chirba Chirba. So we wait. We order our Juicy Buns and jiaozi, slather them in all the piquant sauces, and scarf them down. Then, a few shows, laps, beers, or hours later, we’ll get back in that line all over again for more Chirba Chirba. That’s just how good it is—so nice, they named it twice, and twice is how many times in a day I’ll show up for the inimitably delicious fare from the food truck Chirba Chirba.—JP  

Finalists: Epic Vegan Food Truck, Cousins Maine Lobster Truck, Stairway to Veggin’

Best French Restaurant in the Triangle

Vin Rouge

Finalists: Rue Cler, Coquette, Jolie

Best Fries in the Triangle

Bull City Burger and Brewery

Finalists: Al’s Burger Shack, Heavenly Buffaloes, Queeny’s

Best Frozen Treats in the Triangle

The Parlour

Finalists: Two Roosters, LocoPops, Goodberry’s

Best Greek/Mediterranean Restaurant in the Triangle

Mediterranean Deli

Finalists: Neomonde, Sassool, Kipos Greek Taverna

Best Hot Dog in the Triangle


Finalists: King’s Sandwich Shop, Roast Grill, Accordion Club

Best Indian Restaurant in the Triangle

Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe

For the past 12 years, Vimala Rajendran has served up a marvelous selection of traditional Indian dishes at the Curryblossom Cafe, while abiding by a set of values that prompted her to pay her employees a living wage long before it was in vogue, and by relying on locally grown  produce and meats to support local farmers. “We are local fare with a global flair,” Rajendran tells the INDY. The airy restaurant is just off the beaten path of Franklin Street in the green, rather serene Courtyard, where it sits like a culinary oasis within the folds of a lotus flower. Rajendran, who grew up in the bustling city of Bombay, moved to the United States as a 21-year-old, pregnant and dependent spouse of a research scientist. Rajendran says she began cooking at a very young age and as she became older it became a way to take care of her family and instill life and cooking lessons to her staff. Her day starts at 7 a.m. when she arrives at the restaurant to oversee the preparation of “lots and lots of onions, lots and lots of ginger and green chilies.” “Each dish is distinct and brought up from scratch each day,” she says. “I’m around to taste it, tweak it, and eat it. I’m learning myself how to make something better.”—TM

Finalists: Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar, Viceroy, Sitar Indian Cuisine – Durham, Indian Monsoon

Best Irish Pub in the Triangle

Bull McCabe’s

Finalists: The Hibernian, James Joyce, Trali Irish Pub

Best Italian Restaurant in the Triangle


Finalists: Mothers and Sons Trattoria, Cucciolo Osteria, Osteria Georgi

Best Japanese Restaurant in Durham County

M Sushi

Finalists: Dashi, Kanki, Yamazushi, Kurama

Best Japanese Restaurant in Orange / Chatham County

Akai Hana

Finalists: Iza Whiskey & Eats, Spicy 9, OiShii

Best Japanese Restaurant in Wake County


Waraji doesn’t just have the freshest sushi in the area, it’s also the best place in the Triangle to immerse yourself in an authentic Japanese dinner experience. Hidden behind a nondescript brick facade in a strip mall on Duraleigh Road, Waraji boasts a broad selection of sushi and sashimi, as well as the largest selection of sake in North Carolina, whether you prefer it hot or cold. The interior is a beautiful, cool contrast to the restaurant’s tiny entryway, with Japanese art on the walls and private dining nooks with on-the-floor seating. Overall, it’s the perfect place for an intimate, fancy dinner for two.—JG

Finalists: Kanki, City Market Sushi, OSHA, Ajisai

Best Juice Bar in the Triangle


Finalists: Raleigh Raw, Kwench Juice Cafe, Clean Juice

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant in the Triangle

Elmo’s Diner

Finalists: Pompieri Pizza, Kwench Juice Cafe, Blue Dogwood Public Market

Best Late Night Meal in Durham County

Cosmic Cantina

Finalists: Motorco – Parts & Labor, Heavenly Buffaloes, Queeny’s

Best Late Night Meal in Orange / Chatham County

Cosmic Cantina

If you happen to be strolling down Franklin Street anytime from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., you might find yourself marveling at the 20-person line out the door filled with hungry college students. As a hungry college student myself, I can attest: this line is no one-time thing. Cosmic Cantina really is that good. The nighttime environment is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and while most college students have plans to party or bar hop on a Saturday, some of my best memories are from a late night Cosmic run. Cosmic’s signature hot sauce beats out Texas Pete any day, and the restaurant’s loud, bustling environment just adds to the fun. Of course, it’s also pretty good during the daytime—but trust me when I say that nighttime is when the chicken burrito will work its true magic.—HK

Finalists: Time-Out, Northside District, Buckets in Chapel Hill

Best Late Night Meal in Wake County

Cook Out

Finalists: My Way Tavern, MoJoe’s

Best Latin American Restaurant in Durham County

Alpaca Chicken

Finalists: La Vaquita, Luna, Boricua Soul

Best Latin American Restaurant in Orange / Chatham County

Luna Carrboro

With a menu that marries the flavors of South America and the American South, Luna offers a taste of home to immigrants and native Durhamites alike, serving up dishes that offer a thoughtful interpretation of the cuisine chef-owner Shawn Stokes grew to love during his years working in Latin America and after moving to the Bull City. The restaurant gets all sorts of bonus points for its business practices (sourcing sustainably-raised meats, offering employees paid time off, providing free lunches for folks in need during the pandemic … and just for being cool—like when they turned an anti-masker’s one-star review into a viral T-shirt).—LG

Finalists: Monterrey Mexican Grill, Fiesta Grill, El Restaurante Ixtapa, O’Ya Cantina

Best Latin American Restaurant in Wake County

Gonza Tacos y Tequila

Finalists: Guasaca, Centro, SOCA

Best Locally Made Cider in the Triangle

Bull City Ciderworks

Finalists: Botanist & Barrel, Ponysaurus, Dingo Dog Brewery

Best Locally Made Craft Beer in the Triangle 

Trophy Wife – Trophy Brewing

Finalists: Rocket Science IPA – Fullsteam Brewery, Hop on Top – Lynnwood Brewing, Dad Fuel – Steel String Brewery

Best Locally Made Liquor in the Triangle

Durham Distillery – Conniption Gin

Finalists: Durham Distillery – Conniption Navy Strength Gin, The Brothers Vilgalys – Krupnikas, Bedlam Vodka, 

Best Locally Made Mead in the Triangle

Honeygirl Meadery

Finalists: Honeysuckle Tea House, Starrlight Mead, Moon Dog Meadery

Best Locally Made Wine in the Triangle

Botanist & Barrel

Finalists: Melanated Wine, Chatham Hill Winery, Cloer Family Vineyards, Iron Gate Winery

Best Locally Owned Franchise in the Triangle – Food

Alpaca Peruvian Chicken

Finalists: Rise, Guasaca, Al’s Burger Shack

Best Mexican Restaurant in Durham County

La Vaquita

Finalists: Chubby’s Tacos, NuvoTaco, Dos Perros

Best Mexican Restaurant in Orange / Chatham County


Finalists: Monterrey Mexican Grill, Fiesta Grill, El Restaurante Ixtapa

Best Mexican Restaurant in Wake County

Gonza Tacos & Tequila

Finalists: Centro, Totopos, Los Tres Cary Park

Best Middle Eastern Restaurant in the Triangle

Mediterranean Deli

Finalists: Neomonde, Sitti, Sassool, Tallulah’s

Best New Restaurant in Durham County

PRESS Coffee Crepes Cocktails

Durham has long been devoid of 1) a crepe place and 2) a brunch spot with a wait time under 30 minutes. PRESS, which opened last year in the American Tobacco Campus, has filled both needs with one deed. The European-inspired café has excellent customer service, reasonable prices for its massive portion sizes, bomb-ass crepes, a vast selection of coffee, tea, and alcoholic beverages, and enough indoor and outdoor seating that there’s pretty much no chance you’ll have to endure the unpleasant experience of waiting for a table to open up while you’re hungry and hungover.—LG

Finalists: Ideal’s Sandwich and Grocery, Queeny’s, Monsoon Indian Restaurant

Best New Restaurant in Orange / Chatham County

Hawthorne & Wood

Finalists: Lime & Lemon Indian Grill & Bar – Chapel Hill, Osteria Georgi, Coco Espresso – Bistro & Bar

Best New Restaurant in Wake County

Element Gastropub

Finalists: Pure Vegan Cafe, Fine Folk, Catalan Tapas Bar, Hank’s Downtown Dive

Best Outdoor Dining in the Triangle

Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Biergarten

Finalists: Namu, Wye Hill, Hawthorne & Wood

Best Pie in Durham County

Foster’s Market

Finalists: Bean Traders, Phoebe Lawless Snack Service, The Refectory

Best Pie in Orange / Chatham County

Weaver Street Market

Finalists: Kim’s Bake Shop, New Hope Market, Cup A Joe

Best Pie in Wake County

Angus Barn

There it is, towering magnificently over Glenwood Avenue. Is it a hotel, a farm, a wedding venue? No, it’s Angus Barn—home to the best pie I’ve ever eaten. Those who claim to be “cake people” will quickly be persuaded by the barn’s delicious Chocolate Chess Pie. The recipe was formulated in the 1960’s by the current owner Van Eure’s mother, and around 50,000 pies are now made and sold every year. You can even have the pie shipped to you anywhere in the country, so if you choose to travel and are missing good ol’ North Carolina, you can quickly have a rich, chocolatey slice of home at your doorstep. The recipe has perfected just the right combination of salty and sweet, but Eure isn’t secretive about the ingredients. In fact, the full recipe is posted online, allowing you to turn a trip to the restaurant into a trip to your kitchen (but at the end of the day, Angus Barn makes it best.)—HK

Finalists: bittersweet, Slice Pie Company, Bonafide Bakeshop & Cafe

Best Pizza in Durham County

Pizzeria Toro

Finalists: Hutchins Garage, Tomato Jake’s, Pompieri Pizza

Best Pizza in Orange / Chatham County

Pizzeria Mercato

Finalists: Napoli Pizzeria & Gelateria, Italian Pizzeria III, Coronato

Best Pizza in Wake County

Lilly’s Pizza

Finalists: Trophy Brewing Company, Oakwood Pizza, Pizzeria Veritas

Best Restaurant in the Triangle

M Sushi

In my opinion, the other three restaurants in Mike Lee’s M-pire are equally deserving of this title, but as the first to launch, M Sushi gets the most love because it’s where many Triangle residents lost their omakase virginity. An omakase meal often spans hours, with diners relinquishing all control over the menu to the chef—the word translates to “I leave it up to you” in Japanese—and watching the preparation and plating occur right before their eyes. It’s an experience that sticks with you, especially when the ingredients are as fresh and flavorful as they are at M Sushi. If you’ve struggled to land a reservation, don’t fret: a second location is set to open in Cary’s Fenton development this month.—LG

Finalists: Mateo Tapas, Angus Barn, Hawthorne & Wood

Best Salad in the Triangle

Happy + Hale

Finalists: Cava, Toast, The Spotted Dog

Best Sandwich in Durham County

Eastcut Sandwich Bar

Eastcut’s menu embraces sandwich styles from a variety of regions along the East Coast: the Spicy Gabagool evokes an Italian sub from New York City; the Balboa Beefsteak is authentic to Philly; and the Jaybird rings true to the fried chicken sandwiches that many native Durhamites grew up eating, complete with a generous smear of Duke’s mayo. The restaurant’s win in this category reflects not just the flavor and composition of their sandwiches, but the taste and makeup of Durham residents in 2022, many of whom are transplants from up and down the Atlantic seaboard.—LG

Finalists: Parker and Otis, Toast, Ideal’s Sandwich and Grocery

Best Sandwich in Orange / Chatham County

Merritt’s Grill

Finalists: Neal’s Deli, The Spotted Dog, Deli Edison, Coco Espresso – Bistro & Bar

Best Sandwich in Wake County

Village Deli

Finalists: Union Special Bread, Bonafide Bakeshop & Cafe, State of Beer, Ish Deli

Best Seafood Restaurant in the Triangle

Saltbox Seafood Joint

Finalists: St James Seafood, 42nd Street Oyster Bar, Locals Seafood

Best Small Plates/Tapas in the Triangle

Mateo Tapas

Finalists: Taberna, Barcelona Wine Bar, Catalan Tapas Bar

Best Southern Food Restaurant in the Triangle

Mama Dip’s

Finalists: Dame’s Chicken & Waffles, Picnic, Lucky 32

Best Sports Bar in Durham County

Tobacco Road

Finalists: Bull McCabe’s, The Boot Room, Dain’s Place

Best Sports Bar in Orange / Chatham County

Carolina Brewery

Finalists: Hickory Tavern, Carolina Ale House, Old East Tavern

Best Sports Bar in Wake County

Players Retreat

Finalists: Carolina Ale House, My Way Tavern, Woody’s at the City Market

Best Steak in Durham County


Finalists: Vin Rouge, Metro 8, Gocciolina, The Restaurant at The Durham

Best Steak in Orange / Chatham County

Bin 54

Finalists: Hawthorne & Wood, Stoney River, Farm House Steaks – Chapel Hill, Acme

Best Steak in Wake County

The Angus Barn

Finalists: Stanbury, Sullivans, Vinnie’s Steakhouse, Capital Grille

Best Sunday Brunch in Durham County

Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Biergarten

Finalists: Elmo’s Diner, Jack Tar & the Colonel’s Daughter, Vin Rouge, Alley Twenty Six

Best Sunday Brunch in Orange / Chatham County

Carolina Inn

Finalists: Acme Food & Drink, Venable, Kipos Chapel Hill, Coco Espresso – Bistro & Bar

Best Sunday Brunch in Wake County

Irregardless Cafe

Finalists: Coquette, Wye Hill, Element Gastropub

Best Sushi in Durham County

M Sushi

Finalists: Shiki Sushi, Sake Bomb, Sushi Love

Best Sushi in Orange / Chatham County

Akai Hana

Finalists: Spicy 9, Elements, HTOO Asian Fusion

Best Sushi in Wake County


Finalists: City Market Sushi, Sushi Thai, Kai Sushi and Sake

Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurant in Durham County

Refectory Cafe

Finalists: Pure Soul, Earth to Us, Dos Perros

Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurant in Orange / Chatham County

The Spotted Dog

Finalists: Sage, Vegan Flava Cafe, Coco Espresso – Bistro & Bar

Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurant in Wake County

Fiction Kitchen

Finalists: Irregardless Cafe, Pure Vegan Cafe, Element Gastropub

Best Veggie Burger in Durham County

Bull City Burger and Brewery

I’ve eaten upwards of 50 veggie burgers from Bull City over the course of my life, so when I tell you they slap, you better believe me. During middle and high school, I regularly ordered the Joan Jett (three-bean patty, lettuce, garlic aioli) as part of the restaurant’s “Grade A Burger” deal, which offers free meals to students who make the honor roll. After graduating college, I applied to work at Bull City—partially because I knew I’d get a discount on their veggie burgers—and during my tenure there, I grew especially fond of the restaurant’s rotating selection of plant-based burgers, which range from beet-quinoa to sweet potato-chickpea. It’s rare that a burger joint has more than one veggie patty on the menu, so Bull City stands out in this regard, but above all else, the restaurant cinched this category because their veggie burgers celebrate, instead of mask, the ingredients that make them; amid the faux meat craze, Bull City has stood its ground, proving that veggie patties don’t have to compromise their integrity to be impossibly good.—LG

Finalists: Pure Soul, Only Burger, QueenBurger, Elmo’s Diner

Best Veggie Burger in Orange / Chatham County

The Spotted Dog

Finalists: Al’s Burger Shack, Wooden Nickel, Buns

Best Veggie Burger in Wake County

Fiction Kitchen

Finalists: Element Gastropub, Pure Vegan Cafe, MoJoe’s

Best Wine List in the Triangle

The Angus Barn

Finalists: Glasshalfull, Louella, Hawthorne & Wood

Best Wings in Durham County

Heavenly Buffaloes

Not to beat the dead horse (or buffalo), but this restaurant’s wings can only be described as heavenly. With bone in, boneless, and vegan wing options, and 27 different sauces and flavors, no two visits to Heavenly Buffaloes should ever look the same. While the wings are what puts this bright orange building on the map, their fries offer another exciting variety of choices: Idaho or sweet potato, plain rubbed or dry rubbed, to share with your family or not to share with your family (selfishly, I think we all know the right answer to that one). Aside from the food itself, the outdoor seating after a Tar Heel game day is always lively and exciting, and the interior decor is hilariously buffalo-heavy.—HK

Finalists: Tomato Jake’s, Chicken Bee, Pie Pushers

Best Wings in Orange / Chatham County

Heavenly Buffaloes

Finalists: The Wooden Nickel, The Spotted Dog, Armadillo Grill

Best Wings in Wake County


Finalists: Lynnwood Grill, MyWay Tavern, Wingin It

Correction: Brandwein Bagels (Best Bagel in the Triangle) is on Rosemary Street, not Franklin Street as was originally written.  

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