Food & Drink

The Year in Southern Restaurants: Brewery Bhavana

Think of this Raleigh, North Carolina, collective as a food hall writ-small, with fresh flowers, microbrews, and powerful pan-Asian flavors all in one place

photo: Courtesy of Brewery Bhavana

The interior at Brewery Bhavana, which functions as a book and flowers shop in addition to serving microbrews and dim sum.

We’re profiling five of 2017’s most exciting new restaurants in the South—one per day, in the order they opened.

Brewery Bhavana
Raleigh, North Carolina
Opened: March 2017

It’s hard to tell if Vansana Nolintha is being droll or earnest when he says, “No one in Raleigh asked for a place that has books on peace and conflict resolution, that sells flowers and that serves dim sum. But we all long to be in community together, and if we can do that at a brewery…”

Welcome to the unlikely and original world of Brewery Bhavana. Nolintha calls it a “stage for people and experiences.” Fans call this shop/restaurant/brewpub a brilliant mashup that makes the case for serving Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine alongside handcrafted Belgian-style beers.

photo: Julia Wade

Dim sum dishes.

Nolintha and his sister, Vanvisa, run the much loved restaurant Bida Manda, where they serve the food of their native Laos. For their second act, they decided to team up with brewer Patrick Woodson, and after throwing around some obvious menu ideas—cheese, charcuterie—they figured guests would appreciate char siu barbecue pork bao and xiao long bao soup dumplings with a glass of “Sneaky Fig Dubbel” or a Mango-Peppercorn saison.

photo: Julia Wade

Handcrafted Belgian-style beers.

“There’s no historical connection,” says Nolintha, “but the South has become this crossroads of cultures and ideas. Yes, the South is barbecue, but it’s also dim sum. The impact of immigrants has transformed and inspired Southern cooking in such an organic way. We’re all living the Southern experience.”

Don’t miss: Scallion pancakes with oxtail in bone marrow and coconut soy jam. Wash it down with Amaranthus, an aged beer that gets a tertiary fermentation over North Carolina blueberries.