Until you’ve eaten at Michael Lee’s M Tempura in Durham, you haven’t had tempura at its best
Welcome to the new South, where a New York magazine praises North Carolina for its bagels and Chinese dumplings.
Bon Appetit released its list of America’s 50 best new restaurants Tuesday morning, naming four Triangle spots among the country’s most exciting openings of the last year.
The trend-loving food magazine highlighted Raleigh’s Benchwarmers Bagels and Heirloom Brewshop and Durham’s M Tempura and Sister Liu’s Dumplings. In Asheville, Bon Appetit named Appalachian restaurant Benne on Eagle to the Top 50.
Benchwarmers is perhaps the least surprising, as Bon Appetit has rightly gushed over the wood-fired bagel collaboration from Boulted Bread and Jubala Coffee, posting a number of bagel sandwich pictures on Instagram over the year. Watch out, Benchwarmers is currently testing pizza. It’s located in Transfer Co. Food Hall.
The three others highlight the Triangle’s diversity as a growing player in the Southern food scene.
Heirloom Brewshop opened earlier this year in the Dillon as one of the most visually stunning food and drink spaces in the area. Ostensibly a tea and coffee counter, Heirloom has impressed with its sake and food menu, with Bon Appetit shouting out their Taiwanese fried chicken.
Durham chef Michael Lee added two new restaurants to his growing empire this year, with Bon Appetit loving his omakase fry bar M Tempura. The tasting menu of lightly fried seafood and vegetables also caught the attention of The News & Observer’s dining critic Greg Cox, who also named it one of his favorite openings this year in a four and a half star review.
Somewhat hidden away off US 15-501 in the eclectic wonder of Straw Valley, Sister Liu’s has quickly developed a cult-like following. It isn’t a full-fledged restaurant, but there’s a deep menu of dumplings and the locally unique Chinese burger. Those who can’t wait until they get home can have their dumplings steamed on site and devour them on picnic tables outside.
When it compiles its annual list, Bon Appetit editors always seem to give at least one nod to the Triangle. In 2017, Brewery Bhavana was named the magazine’s 10th best new restaurant in the country. Last year The Lakewood was named among the top 50 in a cruel bit of timing. It had just closed.
On Sept. 17, Bon Appetit will name its top 10 best new restaurants.