1. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
When Popeyes opened in Winston-Salem on Nov. 8, people took time off work. High school students left campus for their free periods (or maybe longer). Cravers of the now-legendary chicken sandwich lined up outside the North Point Boulevard restaurant, crowded into adjacent lots when the main parking area filled up and even dashed across busy streets to get their hands on the most-wanted meal of the year.
2. Payper Plates
When a drive-thru on the main drag in Clemmons opened in July, JournalNow.com readers were interested enough to make it one of the most-read restaurant stories of the year, second only to the Popeyes opening.
Payper Plates on Lewisville-Clemmons Road (between Pizza hut and sam's Ice Cream) offered Southern cuisine to go. Think fried bologna, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and collard greens.
But owner Faye Simmons said in December that the concept wasn't working, and the restaurant closed. She is, however, looking into a different location with space to eat in.
3. Duck Donuts
The first Duck Donuts to call Winston-Salem home began coating, topping and drizzling its cooked-to-order treats Dec. 16 in Burke Mill Village.
The chain, originally founded in the Outer Banks town of (you guessed it) Duck, N.C., makes cake-style doughnuts and operates here as a mainly take-out shop with coffee, tea and ice cream (for donut sundaes and the like) also available.
4. Bobby Boy Bakeshop
Posh pastries, flaky croissants and other baked goods struck Winston-Salem's fancy in October with the opening of Bobby Boy Bakeshop on Reynolds Road.
Owners John Bobby, the former executive chef of Rooster's: A Noble Grille, and Lucia Bobby, a pastry chef who has worked at such places as Amelie's French Bakery and Cafe and the Ritz Carlton in Charlotte, make everything fresh and in limited quantities.
And they share space with Caviste wine shop.
5. Zito Pizzeria
Zito Pizzeria + Grill reopened on Healy Drive nearly four months after owner and family patriarch Evangelos Manginas, 60, was hit by a car while crossing the street just outside the restaurant.
It has been a tough time for the Manginas family. Evangelos Manginas suffered serious burns in August when he slipped in the kitchen while carrying a 10-gallon vat of hot marinara sauce.
Fortunately, Victoria Manginas was here then, and the time she spent with her father as he recovered from his burns may well have planted the seeds to continue the restaurant after his death.
6. 237 Fifth ramen and sake spot
The former Burger Batch spot by Small Batch Beer Co. made a low-key entry into downtown Winston-Salem's culinary scene late in the year.
The sign out front has no name, just a logo with a drawing of noodles and sake.
People in the know found 237 Fifth on Instagram, but you won't see much in the way of online presence for the ramen and sake place, which is under the same ownership as before with Burger Batch/Small Batch.
7. Little Richard's Smokehouse Bar N Que
The fifth Little Richard's barbecue restaurant is the biggest so far for the chain, and the South Stratford Road location has a broad menu that goes way beyond the typical pulled pork offerings.
The owners completely renovated the former Five Points building and have 250 seats with a private dining room, massive bar, sunroom and patio.
8. Koto Japanese Sushi & Steak House
Koto brought a full menu of sushi, hibachi and other dishes to Clemmons in February.
One noteworthy touch: The menu features 34 different special sushi rolls, in addition to the standards.
You'll also find a bit of Chinese and Thai cuisine on the menu, although it's mostly Japanese.