As you may recall, last March the NY Times ran an outstanding piece highlighting our beloved City of Oaks titled, 36 Hours in Raleigh. N.C. The article featured some the local restaurants, shops and museums that have helped put Raleigh on the map in recent years.
I’ve lived in Raleigh for almost twenty years now (wow time flies), so needless to say I have seen how much our great city has changed for the better. The growth has been steady, strong and smart. I have always lived and worked close to downtown, so keeping up with what new restaurants and businesses are opening and thriving has become a personal passion for me.
A few weeks ago, my college roommate came to visit for the weekend. When she left Raleigh in 2001, there were only a handful of good restaurant options and downtown certainly was not the destination it is today. My husband graciously offered to take the kids out of town for the weekend, so I had the chance to serve as tour guide and show my dear friend how things have changed in a “36 Hours in Raleigh” of our own. So, for today’s Friday Five, here are a few of the spots we visited along the way.
Friday Night – 8:00 p.m.
For dinner on Friday night I chose one of my favorite spots downtown, Poole’s Diner. Time after time Poole’s does not disappoint. My husband and dine here often and always prefer sitting at the bar, which helps trying to get a seat on a busy weekend night. The vibe, cocktails and menu are consistently good. We choose a few menu items to share and it was perfection.
We also had the most wonderful chocolate dessert at Poole’s made with Videri chocolate from the local chocolate factory in the Raleigh Depot. Videri is BYOB and has a great patio, so it’s a perfect spot to enjoy one last glass of wine and some delicious chocolate before heading home. They also offer factory tours and serve up Stumptown coffee if you are in the neighborhood have a chance to stop by in the morning. The owners, Sam and Starr Ratto, have really created something special.
Saturday Afternoon – 2:00 p.m.
We spent the afternoon on Saturday shopping, and since we both have young children, we had to stop in one of my favorite children’s boutiques in Five Points, Progeny Shoppe. Store owner, Lauren Hood, has created a curated collection of modern, hip clothing, accessories and toys for little ones. The store is delightful and it’s almost impossible to walk out empty handed!
Saturday Night – 6:30 pm
For dinner Saturday night I decided on another favorite of mine, Bida Manda. We started with a moscow mule and shared the lettuce wrap appetizer. The service is always fantastic, and the décor creates a warm atmosphere that draws you in off the street. A creature of habit, I always get the Pad Tai and am never disappointed.
Sunday Morning – 8:00 a.m.
I couldn’t think of a better way to end our weekend than with breakfast at Joule. Joule has quickly become my hands down favorite spot for leisurely weekend brunch, or for a quick breakfast during the week. I love the coffee, the hipster vibe, the vibrant décor and the community table. Obsessed with the grits and sourdough toast with avocado…what a great addition to downtown!
These are only a few of the spots we visited during our weekend tour – there were so many more we didn’t have time for. I was proud to see what Raleigh has become through her eyes. What also became clear along the way is that Raleigh has achieved the best of both world’s…home to an amazingly talented group of chefs, small business owners and entrepreneurs, Raleigh has maintained a local, organic, laid back feel. Nothing fancy, just good people, good times and really good food.