Welcome to a special issue dedicated entirely to one of our favorite topics: restaurants. Specifically, the new restaurants that have opened across the South.
You don’t need me to tell you that the past two years have been excruciating for the restaurant industry. You’ve likely seen the evidence every time you dine out, whether it’s a restaurant’s reduced hours, news of another business shuttered, or the ongoing rise in menu prices. It has been a crisis level struggle, and it’s hit the industry nationwide.
And yet… These past two years have also seen a slew of restaurant openings in our region. Delayed projects broke free from the havoc of Covid-19 to open their doors. Concepts that were born in the pandemic—built for takeout, designed to feed people at any comfort level—not only opened but thrived. And as devastating as it was to watch restaurants and bars shutter, some of those vacant spaces have given rise to new ventures.
Here at the Local Palate, we are BIG fans of restaurants. Essential to our micro-communities, restaurants and bars nurture, feed, and excite us. They bring joy and comfort as well as a place to celebrate or commiserate. They inspire us to try new things in our own kitchens. Or give us a fine reason not to cook. Some of us map out nearly every meeting, date night, errand, and get together in our lives around which menu items we’re craving that week. (Ok, maybe that’s just me.) The point is, we’re just a little bit obsessed with this industry and care deeply about its continued success.
To that end, our team of writers and editors set out across the South to report on the most notable restaurants that have opened since the start of 2020. What we found was not only a list of excellent and exciting new places to eat and drink, but also a tremendous number of stories about grit, entrepreneurship, and standout flavor.
Opening a new restaurant during this unprecedented time took incredible courage, faith, and guts, not to mention sheer will—and maybe just a little bit of crazy. These restaurants prove that the people who pour their hearts into this ever-evolving industry will always rise. Cheers to every one of these teams for doing what it took to open the doors. Now it’s our turn to get out there and support them—we hope this issue gives you a good place to start.
Erin Byers Murray
Editor in Chief
- by Hannah Lee Leidy
- by Hannah Lee Leidy
- by Amber Chase
- by Emily Havener