Good food often comes with a great legacy. Restaurant openings around the Triangle are helping to reinvent history by restoring old spaces into culinary hangouts.
Downtown Raleigh got a boost this month with the opening of the Busy Bee Cafe (225 S. Wilmington St., 424-7817, busybeeraleigh.com). The place is already abuzz, livening up a spot that had its heyday in the 1920s. A long, sleek bar, shiny wooden floors and exposed brick lend to a warm environment that welcomes patrons starting at 6 a.m. for coffee and in-house baked goods, and serves them all the way through lunch, dinner and late-night drinks. The menu includes Counter Culture coffee, fancy cocktails, draft beers, and sandwiches and entrées made from organic, local farm ingredients. The grilled chicken sandwich with poached pear, fresh basil and a touch of honey is becoming quite a favorite. It comes with a choice of side (try the fried green tomatoes) for $8—not bad for recessionary dining. An outdoor patio up top will be a great place to usher in warm summer nights.
Slated to open by the end of this month, Artichoke Basil Pizza has taken over the former Aladdin's spot at 153 E. Franklin St. in Chapel Hill. Run by owner Errol Jenghis and chef Yilmaz Bulut, the restaurant specializes in its namesake. Jenghis says it's one of the most delicious pizza crazes to ever hit New York City. (He and Bulut bring at least 15 years of combined food experience in the Big Apple.) Other precocious menu items include crab pizza and "cupped" hamburgers (which are grilled in a steel cup to keep them juicy), with natural ingredients imported from Italy. And if you catch yourself doing a little jig in the revamped, brightened space, it may not be just that pizza. One wall is lined by mirrors salvaged from the famed, now-closed Fazil's Dance Studio in NYC—a 73-year-old staple that catered to stars like James Cagney and Gregory Hines.
There's something new in Durham, too. ShabaShabu, Raleigh's Thai and Japanese fusion restaurant, has opened the doors to its second Triangle location, in the former Macaroni Grill building (4020 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., 237-1935, shabashabu.net). Take advantage of their specials: $5.99 lunch or $8.99 dinner for the daily Thai entrée or sushi roll special.
If the sunshine draws you outside this weekend (April showers, get outta here!), check out the Carolina Garden Co-op Grow-Down, Friday, April 24, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Learn how a community garden operates and lend a hand. Or just enjoy square dancing around the maypole to live music. Meet at the garden at the end of Wilson Street off Cameron Avenue in Chapel Hill.
Finally, there's still time to get your ticket for the Piedmont Farm Tour this weekend. Visit carolinafarmstewards.org or Carrboro's Weaver Street Market for more info.
Know about a fun food happening in the Triangle? Send it to Now Serving at firstname.lastname@example.org.